Volume Two in the Shadowmarch Series

The Dreamless — Barrick shivered at the name. Will we have to cross their lands, too? he asked.

At some point, all who go to Qul-na-Qar, the great knife of the People, the city of black towers, must cross their lands. For a moment, there was something almost like kindness in Gyir’s thoughts — almost, but not quite. But don’t fear, boy. Many survive the journey. He considered for a moment; when he spoke again, his thoughts were somber. Of course, none of your kind has yet tried it.

Shadowplay by Tad WilliamsA year ago the March Kingdoms were at peace, the Eddon family held the throne, and all was right in Southmarch Castle and the north of the world.

Now the family has been shattered. King Olin Eddon is a prisoner in a faraway land. Olin’s heir Kendrick is dead–slain by treachery and dark, bloody magic–and Kendrick’s younger brother and sister have barely escaped attempts on their own lives.

With their father and brother taken from them, the royal twins Barrick and Briony have done their best to hold the kingdom together, but now Barrick has been captured in a failed war against the immortal Twilight People and Briony has been forced to flee the castle. Everywhere in the north the fierce Twilight People, led by the ageless warrior-witch Yasammez, hold sway. Old magics are stirring beneath the ancient castle and behind the Shadowline, and the machinations of gods, fairies, and mortals threaten to spread devastation across the entire world.

Meanwhile, the Autarch, the insane god-king of the southern continent, has set in motion his plan to bring the entire northern world–and most especially Southmarch Castle–under his sway.

As she flees Southmarch, Princess Briony finds both allies and deadly enemies in unexpected places far from the land of her birth. In her quest to survive and win back her family’s throne she encounters spies and murderers, traveling players, and ancient gods.

Behind the Shadowline, Prince Barrick Eddon of Southmarch is lost and spellbound in the land of the fairies. Though he has barely begun to uncover the strange secrets of his own past, Barrick must also solve the mystery of his even stranger destiny–a destiny which will lead him to places no man has ever gone and force him to take on a burden even the greatest hero couldn’t bear–preserving the lives of all humans and fairy folk.

During their desperate journeys the twins discover that even a land’s rulers may know little of its true history, and that both families and nations can hide dark and terrible secrets.

“Bestseller Williams once again delivers a sweeping spellbinder full of mystical wonder.” Publishers Weekly


“An incessant build-up of action, suspense and drama that picks up immediately from the cliff-hanger events of Shadowmarch.”
Fantasy Book Critic

“A superb thriller… the storyline is action-packed…fans of Tad Williams will enjoy this complex political fantasy.”
The Midwest Book Review

“While juggling a complex epic fantasy plot may be child’s play for veteran word-wizard Williams (Otherland), the bewildered star players of the fine second volume in his Shadowmarch trilogy must deal with a very adult world being transformed by war, magic, secrets and a weird, powerful scrying-mirror. Back in Southmarch, Hendon Tolly has usurped the throne, while King Olin’s held in captivity in Hierosol. Olin’s young twins, Princess Briony and Prince Barrick Eddon, struggle to survive in exile on separate but equally perilous paths. Barrick’s trapped behind the Shadowline with Capt. Ferras Vansen; Gyir the Storm Lantern, a formidable, faceless fairy; and Skurn, a quirky talking raven. Briony’s helped by a forest demigoddess and winds up with a band of endangered traveling thespians. Bestseller Williams once again delivers a sweeping spellbinder full of mystical wonder.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

Shadowplay blew me away… [Tad Williams] is still at the top of the genre.”
The Book Swede

“Vast in scope and details… the world building is a notch or two above what is currently the norm among [Williams’] peers.”
Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist

“Truly *epic* fantasy… It’s a tale of ambitious scope and it’s achieved in style.”