"When it comes to inventing new worlds, he's as skilled as J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert." -Christopher Paolini, bestselling author of Eragon.
Southmarch Castle is about to be caught between two implacable enemies, the ancient, immortal Qar and the insane god-king, the Autarch of Xis. Meanwhile, its two young defenders, Princess Briony and Prince Barrick, are both trapped far away from home and fighting for their lives.
And now, something is awakening underneath Southmarch Castle, something powerful and terrible that the world has not seen for thousands of years. Can Barrick and Briony, along with a tiny handful of allies, ordinary and extraordinary, find a way to save their world and prevent the rise of a terrible new age-an age of unending darkness?
In the impressive opening installment of his first new high fantasy trilogy in a decade, Williams (the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy) injects hope and humor into an end-of-the-world conflict that pits "the strange, pagan Qar," a race of fairy folk, against the humans who forced them behind the Shadowline (the line of demarcation between the Qar and the human lands) and claimed their ancient stronghold of Southmarch (aka Shadowmarch) on the continent of Eion. The March kingdoms, whose ruler, King Olin, is held captive by the empire of Hierosol's Lord Drakava, are in turmoil after the assassination of Prince Regent Kendrick, whose twin siblings, Briony and Barrick, must struggle to keep their domain together. Soon after the fairy war begins, the Qar dump a mysterious boy beyond the Shadowline, where he's discovered by Chertz Blue Quartz, a little "Funderling," whose stone-working people live beneath Southmarch. Packed with intriguing plot twists, this surreal fantasy takes the reader on a thrill ride from a haunted wood where madness dwells and the sun never rises, to drafty castles and adventures deep underground. Much of the imagery seems inspired by Arthur Rackham with a hint of Edvard Munch. The author's richly detailed world will enchant established fans and win new converts. .
Customer ReviewsSee All
Well worth reading...
I enjoyed this trilogy, though I will admit to skimming pages on occasion, as the author could become didactic. Epic in scope, fairies, gods, villains, and flawed heros... Good stuff!
I could not put down the book until I am really sleepy. I feel like I'm on there with them.
Overall a pretty good read
I read all four books in this series consecutively, so this review is more comprehensive than just to this book alone. The series ended a lot like it started - slow, but with purpose. Don't get me wrong, "Shadowheart" moves very quickly and may contain a few surprises for most readers. I was pleased to watch the Eddon family members, their allies, and their enemies (especially the autarch of Xis) keep the story moving in fashion with their characters.
There are plenty of characters to like, relate to, and even loath as they are slowly revealed. Most of the main characters have bits and pieces of their makeup revealed as the story grows and most undergo significant changes of character by the end. Even some of the minor characters end up changed.
The overall story centers around a war that changes so that the war is a kind of character too. The reader will experience several different perspectives and the peoples involved in war,directly or indirectly. In the end, this series covers a lot of ground dealing with duty, love, forgiveness, and the quest for power.
My only complaints are pretty simple in retrospect. The series does get bogged down at times, but usually in an effort to cover important details that most authors would gloss over or fail to mention. The experiences of the world of the dead can be a bit overwhelming and vague at the same time, but that is probably better than being too specific. If you buy the Apple version of this series, you will find some formatting errors that happen occasionally, mostly at the start of some chapters, usually the form of two or more words/name running together without proper spacing.
Overall, it is worth reading as it does tell a compelling story that addresses the human condition in love, duty, forgiveness, and power. I like how Williams uses chapters as cliff hangers even though it usually meant reading at least two chapters before you read the continuation where the cliff hanger left off. The ending of the series is long and welcome as it gives a peek of the lives of e characters in the aftermath of such an epic war. It is not a fairy tale ending, but, rather, a more "realistic" one that provides one possible last twist on the story. Take your time and set a large chunk of time aside to read it as the entire series is roughly 5000 pages long. Enjoy!