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Shadowmarch (Shadowmarch Series #1)

Shadowmarch (Shadowmarch Series #1)

3.9 83
by Tad Williams

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Shadowmarch begins Tad Williams' first epic fantasy trilogy since his best-selling Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. Rich with detail and exotic culture, and filled with a cast of characters both diverse and three-dimensional, Shadowmarch is a true fantasy achievement, an epic of storytelling by a master of the genre.


Shadowmarch begins Tad Williams' first epic fantasy trilogy since his best-selling Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. Rich with detail and exotic culture, and filled with a cast of characters both diverse and three-dimensional, Shadowmarch is a true fantasy achievement, an epic of storytelling by a master of the genre.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Tad Williams's wildly anticipated return to epic fantasy after more than a decade's hiatus, takes place in a mythical realm on the brink of utter chaos. With their father being held for ransom, the young twin regents Barrick and Briony must deal with a kingdom unraveling at the seams. While powerful foreign conquerors plot to annex the kingdom and factions within Southmarch scheme to usurp the vacant throne, Barrick and Briony are forced to deal with a much more frightening foe. The Qar, a race of nightmarish non-humans who have lived behind the mysterious Shadowline for centuries, are now on the move and killing every living thing in their path. Their objective is clear: to retake what was rightfully theirs for eons before the arrival of the humans -- the lands of Southmarch.

Williams is world renowned for complicated multivolume sagas like Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, and Otherland; and this series is no different. With dozens of major characters and literally hundreds of important races, places, and historical events, it's no surprise that the book includes a 14-page appendix. The numerous main characters in this story are all so skillfully portrayed, so fully realized that, on a purely emotional level alone, readers will not be able to put this book down. And Williams's use of surreal and poetic descriptive terms for the Qar and its Twilight Lands throughout the book gives the story the spectral ambiance of a fantastical horror not unlike an Algernon Blackwood or H. P. Lovecraft tale.

Breathtaking in scope, lyrical, frightening, intriguing, and -- above all -- wildly entertaining, Williams's Shadowmarch is, simply stated, a magnificent literary achievement. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
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. Agent, Matt Bialer. (Nov. 2) FYI: Williams's most recent novel is a stand-alone fantasy, The War of the Flowers (Forecasts, Apr. 28, 2003). Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Fantasy lovers waiting to immerse themselves into the next great epic will be thrilled with Shadowmarch. Williams' three-part volume takes readers to the world of Eion and its many kingdoms, including Southmarch, just beyond the Shadowline that divides the twilight land of Qar from the human lands of the light. In the main plot, King Olin of Southmarch has been kidnapped, leaving his oldest son Kendrick to rule in his stead and to raise the ransom money demanded by his captives. When Kendrick is brutally murdered, his twin siblings, young Barrick and Briony, must take over the rule and free their father. In one parallel story line, Qinnitan is a priestess of Nushash in the southern continent kingdom of Xis who is chosen to leave her order and become the bride of the God. In yet another story line, the Chert, one of the small people who specialize in stonecraft, realizes that the Shadowline is moving, encroaching on the human land. Williams shifts from story to story, building the plots to the point where they meet. Magic and suspense weave through each chapter, and Williams' attention to detail, including maps and a glossary for support, brings his world into sharp focus, a place where readers can walk among the many characters and live for a while in their lands. Complex and meaty, Shadowmarch is for the serious fantasy reader who can tether multiple plots together for a rich reading experience. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Penguin, DAW, 656p. maps., Ages 12 to 18.
—Michele Winship

Product Details

Publication date:
Shadowmarch Series , #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.75(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Tad Williams has held more jobs than any sane person should admit to—singing in a band, selling shoes, managing a financial institution, throwing newspapers, and designing military manuals, to name just a few. He also hosted a syndicated radio show for ten years, worked in theater and television production, taught both grade-school and college classes, and worked in multimedia for a major computer firm. He is cofounder of an interactive television company, and is currently writing comic books and film and television scripts as well. Tad and his family live in London and the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find Tad Williams at tadwilliams.com. 

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Shadowmarch 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
cormacru999 More than 1 year ago
Let me start by saying I have a very biased opinion when it comes to Tad Williams. He is my favorite male author. Period. To review this book, Shadowmarch, I say first that the only problem I had with the Memory, Sorrow & Thorn series, was the sluggish beginning. Since then, as he continued to write brilliant books, he has refined his craft, becoming better at introducing his detailed & complex stories. His characters are all well-rounded & all equally interesting in the depth & complexity. Not since Tolkien has a writer organized his world so carefully. You can learn new days of the week, names of months, new holidays, & 4 separate, distinct but connected religions. Tad also doesn't create a world then franchise it; he creates anew, each time, a new world with as much depth as our own. This is the story of royal twins, Briony & Barrick, she attempting to prove her worth alongside any man while their kingdom is surrounded by hungry forces. Barrick, eventually on his own adventure, is plagued by a possible hereditary curse passed down by their imprisoned father. Ferras Vansen, Captain of the Royal Guard, who loves the princess more than he should, also struggles to prove himself after a horrific failure. Chaven, normally a sage man, also immersed in his addictions to a powerful unknown force he doesn't fully understand. Chert Blue Quartz, a diminutive earth shaper (but don't call them dwarves!), caught up in the whirlwind events after adopting Flint, a mysterious lost boy who comes from beyond the Shadowline, but may have some connection to the royal family. Yasammez, Scourge of the Shivering Plain, a warrior of the Qul-na-Qar, the lords of the otherworldly faery races, leads her inhuman army to attack the world of man. Shaso, the disgraced warrior who tries to guide the royal children in the only way he knows how. Qinnitan, a lowly caste girl, selected by the powerful Autarch, the ruler of the entire Southern continent, who hungers for more, leaving the twins trapped between his forces & the Qar. These are just the main characters of the beginning story. I don't need to go into depth about the different castles, landscapes & empires where there are many other people living within this strange but familiar world. I cannot recommend this book enough. It's tad's finest work to date.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm not normally drawn to this genre, but had the book given to me which was fortuitous, as I absolutely loved the book, and spent a few late nights reading through it. The first in a trilogy of the rulers of the mythical March Kingdom, the book is full of well-rounded complex characters, deeply detailed and entertaining historical backgrounds, and personal struggles. Wonderfully entertaining, I enjoyed it very much, and will be counting the days until Volume 2 is released!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wonderful and engrossing! Brilliant and suspenseful, Williams tells us enough but not too much. It is full of the unexpected yet it's all there: the foreshadowing; the hints; the well-developed plot; action; and life-like characters, young and old, with personally relevant inner struggles. They 'reveal' themselves through their 'lives' and choices. Their complex motives are drawn from very human tendencies and the paradoxes of power and of love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Another great book by Williams. I think this series will prove to be on par with Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. I'm impatiently waiting for volume II.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutly amazing, the characters are so real and detailed. I cant wait for the next volume! my advise to buyers is to read this book, you wont regret it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw this book and was debating buying it till I read the cover. I loved reading his Otherland Series and The War of the Flowers but I have to say his best series previously written was Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy. This book was intriguing from word go and has a deep plot that will keep his wonderfully rich characters busy as well as his readers absorbed into the series to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
With his MEMORY, SORROW & THORN series Tad Williams has written one of the modern classics of the fantasy genre which helped breathing new life into many old and tired tropes. Now, 11 years after the publication of 'To Green Angel Tower' Williams returns with the first volume of a brand-new fantasy trilogy. And 'Shadowmarch' has everything you could ask for in an epic fantasy novel. An interesting cast of characters (the royal twins Briony and Barrick are particularly well done), a strong and mysterious plot that moves along quite nicely, and detailed world-building. However, with two more volumes to come this is just the beginning of the story. Anyway, I am sure this will become yet another winner for Tad!
Guest More than 1 year ago
First, let me say I loved Memory, Sorry, and Thorn and have re-read them many times. Tailchaser's Song was fun, and I liked The War of the Roses as well. I slogged through the Otherland series and enjoyed parts of it. Shadowmarch is disappointing to the extreme. I honestly would have stopped reading it if I had had another new book to read. The characters and plot are boring and predictable, the attempt at intrigue and political manuever clumsy, and the development of the various cultures lacks compelling realism. I'll finish this one eventually, but unless the story picks up in the second half I'll leave the rest on the shelf.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I am reviewing the whole series, other than the whininess that is characteristic of at least one of his characters in his books. This is the best Tad Williams series I have read. Wonderful, I would love to know what happened next. Can we have a book 5?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading Mr. Williams Otherland (which i liked) series and Dirty Streets of Heaven, I figured since I've been longing to read a good fantasy series (after reading Lord Of the Rings as a teenager) I would give this series a try...Unfortunately I struggled to get to page 75 before I gave up. Mr. Williams does get long winded at times but bearable enough for me to continue. The characters for the most part were depressing, dysfunctional, and forgettable. They walked around having conversations about nothing that seemed important to the story. Maybe I am impatient but I was truly bored to death.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kfcnhc More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this. In the beginning it felt a little slow to catch my attention. As I read on it got better as more of the picture came together. Just ordered the 3 other books in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MsRaye More than 1 year ago
Tad Williams enjoys twisting traditional fantasy 'rules' up. Shadowmarch is a world where fairies aren't the cute little forest loving fliers we've become accustomed to. In fact very little is as it should typically be. Don't skim over paragraphs thinking you know what the hero will do to defeat the encountered foe, like you might with another author. I urge you to read every word on every page or you will miss "it". Well, I'm anxious to find out what's next for my newly met odd residents of Shadowmarch. Journey on.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable reading,great story line
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When I bought this book, I just wanted a quick easy read. I ended up finishing it in ten days because I just couldn't put it down. I would reccomend this book to anyone with time to just sit down and read, because if they are like me, they're life will revovlve around reading. I am very excited to read the other books.
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