Volume One in the Shadowmarch Series
An army was passing, hundreds and perhaps thousands of shapes riding, walking — some even flying, or so it seemed: teeming shadows fluttered and soared above the great host, catching the moonglow on their wings like a handful of fish scales flung glittering into the air. But although Vansen could feel the tread of all those hooves and feet and paws and claws in his very bones, the host made no sound as it marched. Only the voices on the wind rose in acclaim as the great troop passed.
The first Marchlands kingdom, Southmarch (commonly called “Shadowmarch”), lies directly on the edge of the mysterious Shadowline, a shroud of endless mist that marks the entrance to the realm of the fairy-folk, the Qar. Crossing the Shadowline is said to drive any human mad, but, as far as anyone knows, the line has not moved any further south for centuries. Now, inexplicably, it has begun to creep slowly but surely deeper into the lands of Southmarch, bringing an unknown menace with it.
Coupled together with this threat is the dissension and endless political maneuvering of many of Southmarch’s nobles. The king of Southmarch has been captured and is imprisoned in a distant land, and when the prince regent is murdered, the burden of rule falls to the inexperienced princess, Briony, and her moody brother, Barrick. Faced with invasion, betrayal, and conniving nobles seeking to take advantage, it is up to them alone to hold Southmarch together.
“Breathtaking in scope, lyrical, frightening, intriguing, and–above all–wildly entertaining…” Paul Goat Allen
PRAISE FOR SHADOWMARCH
“Williams opens another of the intricate, intriguing sagas that are his stock-in-trade. A page-turner.”
“For readers who discovered Tad Williams through his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn fantasy cycle, the opening chapters of Shadowmarch will be an unreserved treat. Williams stage-manages an immense cast with remarkable deftness. There are no unrelieved heroes or one-dimensional villains anywhere in sight; every one of the characters, even those not accorded primary viewpoint status, emerges as a unique figure with his or her own virtues and vices… the first volume of Shadowmarch leaves readers with a broad, well-balanced portrait of a world on the brink of cataclysm. Tad Williams is already regarded as one of fantasy’s most skilled practitioners, and this latest work more than confirms that status.”
— Amazing Stories
“Fantasy lovers waiting to immerse themselves into the next great epic will be thrilled with Shadowmarch. Magic and suspense weave through each chapter, and Williams’ attention to detail… 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.”
“In the impressive opening installment of his first new high fantasy trilogy in a decade, Williams 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. 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. The author’s richly detailed world will enchant established fans and win new converts. Williams’ imagination is boundless.”
— Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“The Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series established Tad Williams’s preeminence in fantasy. Now, after an absence of more than a decade, the New York Times bestselling author has returned to high fantasy with his Shadowmarch trilogy. Exciting, ambitious, intricate, and insightful, Shadowmarch demonstrates that Williams is still America’s best high fantasist.”
— Cynthia Ward, Amazon.com editorial review
“As he has done in the past, Williams takes up the various threads of high fantasy and weaves them into an exciting and convincing tale, one in which magical events seem almost mundane as he tests his characters against situations designed to break their spirits. The first volume will leave you impatient for the rest of the story.”
AWARDS AND HONORS
- SF Site Best SF and Fantasy Books of 2004: Readers’ Choice
- Locus Magazine 2004 Recommending Reading List and placed 15th as Best Fantasy Novel in the annual Locus Awards
- Best of 2004 Emerald City by Cheryl Morgan
- Nominated in 2006 for the Phantastik Preis Award (Germany) in the category of Foreign Novel
- Nominated for the Quill Award and the British Fantasy Award