Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Shadowrise by Tad Williams
DAW Books, The Penguin Group, March 2010
Hardcover , 564 pages
Shadowmarch Series #3
ISBN-13: 9780756405496
very highly recommended

Southmarch Castle is about to be caught between two enemies, the ancient, immortal Qar and the insane god-king, the Autarch of Xis. Meanwhile, its two young defenders, the king's children Princess Briony and Prince Barrick, are both trapped far away from home and fighting for their lives.
Barrick is lost behind the Shadowline, facing all the terrible dangers and mysteries of that magical twilight land. Briony is alone in a treacherous foreign court, struggling to survive with no weapon left to her but her wits. And in the midst of all this, something unbelievable is awakening underneath Southmarch, something powerful and terrible that the world has not seen for thousands of years.
In this third volume Barrick and Briony, along with Qinnitan – the Autarch’s desperate, escaped slave – a loyal soldier named Ferras Vansen, and a tiny handful of other folk, ordinary and extraordinary, must find a way to save their world, or else witness the rise of a terrible new age – an age of unending darkness.

My Thoughts:

Shadowrise, the third book in the Shadowmarch series by Tad Williams, picks up right where the second volume, Shadowplay, left off. Williams includes a synopsis of Shadowmarch and Shadowplay (if you choose not to read them back to back, but trust me, it will be better if you do), as well as several maps and an appendix of people, places, things and animals, all of which can be very helpful in keeping track of the many characters and their travels.

Let me start off saying that I feel Shadowrise is the best book in the series so far. There is no middle of the series slump here, which is a great comfort when you are this many pages into a huge, epic series. All the characters are in place, and the action and intrigue felt non-stop. And let me reiterate, there are a lot of characters, mythology, plots, and subplots to keep track of in the complex world Williams has created.

What has helped keep all the various plots and subplots interesting is Williams ability to fully develop all his characters while intensifying the revelations as his complex story unfolds. In this third book, we can begin to see the true monumental struggle all the characters face and at the end we see where the various characters are heading and have a good idea where the final battle is going to take place. However, since the fourth and final volume, Shadowheart, is over 700 pages I have a feeling that there are still several twists and turns left before I reach the conclusion.
Very Highly Recommended (based on the series - you have to read the first two books before Shadowrise)


"Tell me the rest of the story, bird." opening, prelude

Briony would have been one of the first to admit that the throne room back in Southmarch might be dignified, even impressive, but it was not awesome. The ceiling was full of fine old carvings but they were hard to see in the dark chamber except on festival days when all the candles were set blazing. The ceiling itself was high, but only in comparison to most of the rest of the rooms – there were higher ceilings within many of the great houses of the March Kingdoms. And the colored windows that in her childhood had formed her strongest idea of heaven were not even as nice as those in the great Trigonate temple in the outer keep beyond the Raven’s Gate. Still, Briony had always thought that there could not be much difference between her home and the other royal palaces of Eion. Her father was a king, after all, and his father and grandfather had been kings before him — a line that went back generations. Surely the monarchs of Syan and Brenland and Perikal did not live much more grandly, she had thought. But since she had come to famous Broadhall Palace, Briony had quickly lost her illusions. pg. 7

It was another reminder that Briony was at best a distraction for these Syannese, but more likely an annoying problem. Either way, she had no power here, nor any friends she could count on. She let herself be led back across the gleaming, echoing throne room, through groups of staring courtiers and the more discreet but just as interested servants, already thinking about how that balance might be changed for the better. pg. 12

Alone. It was a thought he had not dwelled on, for fear of it overwhelming him. He had spent his entire childhood as half of "the twins," and entity his father and older brother and the servants had spoken of as though they were not two children but one tremendously difficult, two-headed child. pg. 30

"You see, I know what is beneath your castle, Olin of Southmarch. I know the curse that has bedeviled your family for generations, and I know what caused it. But unlike you, I will shape that power to my own will. Unlike you, I will not let heaven rule me with ancient tales and infantile warnings! The power of the gods will be mine - and then I will punish heaven itself for trying to deny me!" pg. 48

"The master of the Great Tent, our blessed autarch, is going to wake the gods themselves from their long sleep." The priest drained his tea and held out the bowl until the slave could come and take it from him. "And all it will cost is the northern king's life. A trivial price to pay to bring heaven to our corrupted earth, dear Paramount Minister Vash, don't you agree...?" pg. 95

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