By: Tad Williams
Synopsis: 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 devastating 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?
Format: Shadowmarch is the first book in the Shadowmarch series. It is 762 pages long, and follows a compelling cast of characters through great upheaval. It was first published in 2006 by DAW Books Inc.
My Thoughts: Well first, and most important, WOW. This book is as compelling as they come. You get to follow a cast of characters as their world is changing, and not necessarily for the better. Each of these characters is interesting and relatable, and has wants and desires that change how they act and interpret actions of the other characters. You get to watch multiple characters grow in response to their changing environment, and it makes everything seem so real!
To continue the realism, Tad Williams is just descriptive enough to really let you imagine the world he has created, while always maintaining the suspense of the plot. I honestly felt like I have been to Southmarch, and that is pretty amazing! The differing peoples in this book are intriguing, as is the use of more esoteric items and magic, but none of them are a crutch to hold a slow plot. No, not at all. The plot is what will keep you awake at night reading this book. You will be left breathless, aching to know what happens next, yet also slightly dreading it. In a masterful twist, Tad Williams lets us connect to his characters, and then slowly makes us worry for their well-being.
My favourite part of this book however, is it almost felt like I was reading a historical account of what happened in a far off land. Obviously, there is some perspective differences between an actual historical account and this book, but I just felt so connected with the place and the characters it felt real. Very exciting and enthralling, and I recommend having the next book in the series, Shadowplay, easily available for when you have finished Shadowmarch!
Let me know your thoughts on this book below!