For generations the misty Shadowline has marked the boundary between the lands of men and the lost northern lands that are the lair of their inhuman enemies, the ageless Qar. but now that boundary line is moving outward, threatening to engulf the northernmost land in which humans still live--the kingdom of Southmarch.
For centuries, the Eddon family has ruled in ancient, forbidding Southmarch Castle, guarding the border against the Qar's return, but now this powerful royal line has been dealt a devestating blow. The monarch, King Olin, is being held captive in a distant land, and it falls to his inexperienced heirs to lead their people in a time of growing danger and dread.
It is on the two youngest Eddons that the heaviest burdens fall. The twins Barrick and Briony, who in such evil times have only each other, may lose even that bond as darkness closes over them. As the Qar's power reaches out across their land, will Southmarch Castle, the only home they've ever known, become in fact what it has long been called--Shadowmarch?
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
A worthy read
Tad Williams knows how to put a story into place. This is a little old fashioned in that it builds a great deal, slowly and steadily from the beginning. It does not suddenly thrust you into a world like Goodkind (which I did love in Wizard's First Rule), but it opens slowly revealing little important details as the tale moves along. By the time the end of the book comes, the world he has created is rapidly spinning out of control. The characters a developed to different degrees with Briony, Barrick, and Vansenn being the most empathetic characters although there are several others that evoke connections. I am looking forward to reading Shadowplay next. Warning, pay very close attention because there is a lot to remember and it does move slowly at first, but it finishes with urgency.