Caliban’s Hour

Caliban is a monster. This much we know from William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. But what drove him to evil? Was it Prospero? Or his witch-mother Sycorax? Or something unknown and unknowable?

In Caliban’s Hour, Tad Williams takes one of Shakespeare’s most mysterious characters and makes him breathe. Prospero’s Isle and its rough magic live again.

Caliban's Hour by Tad Williams

“Since your father has escaped my justice, it is you who must hear my words.”
“Words. You keep saying…”
“Because that was the gift your father gave to me. And the curse that ruined me as well, changed my life to wretched misery. There are hours yet before the guard comes — nay, eons. An eternity, in fact. This is my time, Miranda. Now you will have your words back: before I kill you, you will hear my tale… and you will know what you have done.”

A fantastical sequel to Shakespeare’s The Tempest replete with elements of both Beauty and the Beast and Robinson Crusoe. One night, twenty years after Prospero and his daughter Miranda sailed away from their island of exile, a dark visitor arrives in Miranda’s room — Caliban. Vowing to kill the primary source of his pain and disillusionment, Caliban holds Miranda captive, forcing her to listen to the wrenching tale of his early years on the island both before and after the fateful arrival of the banished duke of Milan and his beautiful daughter, a tale of the magical and terrible things which led him to his villainy.

Are magic and romance really so separate? In this rich fantasy novel, Tad Williams explores the tangled roots of sorcery and passion, and gives us an astonishing answer. Caliban is the Beast who finds in Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, the Beauty to whom he tells his incredible story — an extraordinary tale of dark desires and shining wizardry. A lyrically romantic voyage of discovery charting the mysterious depths of the human heart and soul.

Williams (To Green Angel Tower) takes a break from his bestselling fantasy epics, venturing into Shakespearean territory with this intriguing retelling of The Tempest. The story begins years later, when the abused slave Caliban, now fully grown, has made his way to Italy and into the chambers of Miranda, Prospero’s daughter, whom Caliban once loved and was punished for pursuing. Prospero is long dead and Miranda is now a matron, but Caliban remains bent on revenge — and on having someone hear his story from his point of view.

He proceeds to describe his life on the island setting of The Tempest, his first encounters with the shipwrecked Prospero and Miranda and his feelings of betrayal and humiliation at their later treatment of him. Williams wisely focuses on the parts of the story that Shakespeare only hinted at — all the years of Prospero’s exile on the island — and though he doesn’t veer far from his source, he puts a very different spin on events. His prose is lucid and smooth, and his storytelling effortless, but the tale suffers from familiarity; only at the very end, when Caliban debates whether to kill Miranda, does Williams add an original touch of drama to the tale. Still, this version of Caliban’s story has charms of its own. —Publishers Weekly

Driven by the twin ghosts of revenge and love, the misshapen creature known as Caliban leaves his island to confront the object of his hatred and his desire: Prospero’s daughter, Miranda. The author of To Green Angel Tower departs from epic fantasy in this graceful retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Filtered through the perceptions of Caliban, a tale of rescue becomes a story of abandonment, with salvation and atonement for seemingly unattainable goals. Williams has previously demonstrated his ability to craft original fantasy on a large scale; here he reveals his talent for exploring the hidden recesses of one all-too-human heart. —Library Journal


eBook Details

© 1994 by Tad Williams
Publisher: The Beale-Williams Enterprise (July 2011)
eBook cover art by Deborah Beale and Lisa Tveit

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