Book #9 on my 2017 Reading Challenge is Shadowmarch by Tad Williams, a book with over 500 pages. This book isn’t the only book on my list over 500 pages, and at 762, it isn’t even the longest.
I fell in love with Tad Williams’s writing many years ago when I first read one of his other series, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn which is still one of my favorite epic fantasy series of all time. The Shadowmarch series promises to be just as breathtaking.
Shadowmarch is book one of four and sets the stage for another epic fantasy adventure. The opening of this story introduces us to the Eddons of Southmarch. The Eddons are the ruling family of the most northern of the human kingdoms, a once larger domain, now centered around the last remaining stronghold. However, the king has been captured and is being held for ransom by another kingdom, leaving his eldest son and heir, Kendrick to rule as regent in his absence.
But when Kendrick is murdered, it falls to fifteen year old twins Barrick and Briony Eddon to take up the mantle of rulership. They are faced with enemies on every side. There is an ancient fairy-like race known as the Qar who have lived behind what’s known as the shadowline for centuries. Now they seek to reclaim what was once theirs. Then there is a powerful and ambitious god-king in the south as well as a rising internal threat.
Williams has set up a world here that is stunningly intricate and beautiful, filled with dozens of fascinating characters. Besides the humans and the Qar, there are Funderlings, Skimmers and Rooftoppers. He is a master world-builder. I was drawn into this story and compelled forward with every word.
The book may read at a slower pace than others, but Williams has tied things together in such a way, that suspense is not lost. And though there are characters that seem to have no connection to what I saw as the main plot, I still did not feel these passages pulled me away at all from the growing tale. By the end of the book, many of these connections are still tenuous. Many questions are left unanswered.
I’m pretty sure I would buy anything written by Tad Williams. And I will be reading the rest of the series just as soon as I can find the time.