cover image Caliban's Hour

Caliban's Hour

Tad Williams. HarperPrism, $14.99 (201pp) ISBN 978-0-06-105204-0

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. Illustrated by the author. (Dec.)