It begins,” he says. Now the stillness of the hall is broken. A rising murmur fills the mirrored room, a wash of voices that grows until it echoes in the dark, thorn-carved rafters. As the din of singing and shouting spills out through the endless halls of Qul-na-Qar, it is hard to say whether the terrible noise is a chant of triumph or mourning.
The blind king nods slowly. “Now, at last, it begins.”
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, after centuries of stability, that boundary line is moving outward, threatening to engulf the northernmost land in which humans still live: the kingdom of Southmarch. A magical darkness is growing — reaching foggy tendrils from beyond the Shadowline, and those unfortunate men caught in the sorcerous mists of the Qar either never return, or are forever changed.
“Williams opens another of the intricate, intriguing sagas that are his stock-in-trade. A page-turner.” Booklist
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 and head of the family, 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 youngest Eddons, the twins Barrick and Briony, that the heaviest burdens fall. Crippled Barrick, haunted and sickly for most of his life, and tormented by inexplicable nightmares, must cling to his love of his family and especially of his sister, which may be all that can save him from madness or worse. Briony in turn can only watch helplessly while her brother grows more and more strange, even as she fights with strength she did not know she had to hold onto her family’s heritage in the face of secrets and perils that no living mortal could have imagined.
But as the Qar end their isolation of centuries and reach out to destroy humankind, Southmarch is also threatened by more familiar enemies. The Autarch, great, mad emperor of the south, whose ambitions are as wide as the world and whose power matches his ambition, is poised to strike. And other human despots with conquest-dreams of their own, not to mention spies and traitors within the Eddons’ own court, attempt to strike down the Eddons in their time of weakness. Then a brutal murder turns the kingdom upside down, and the twins discover they can trust no one — perhaps not even themselves.
Briony and Barrick Eddon, 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?
“Impressive… packed with intriguing plot twists, this surreal fantasy takes the reader on a thrill ride… The author’s richly detailed world will enchant established fans and win new converts.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
There are 4 volumes in the Shadowmarch Series:
- Shadowmarch (November 2004)
- Shadowplay (March 2007)
- Shadowrise (March 2010)
- Shadowheart (November 2010)
PRAISE FOR TAD WILLIAMS’ SHADOWMARCH SERIES
“Tad Williams’s epic fantasy series is rich with detail and interesting characters.”
– Denver Post
“Williams takes up the various threads of high fantasy and weaves them into
an exciting and convincing tale.”
“Tad Williams is already regarded as one of fantasy’s most skilled practitioners, and his latest work more than confirms that status.”
– Amazing Stories
“An incessant build-up of action, suspense and drama.”
– Fantasy Book Critic
“Fantasy lovers waiting for the next great epic will be thrilled.”
“Eddon Family Portrait” by Tad Williams. Header design by Lisa Tveit. All images ©Tad Williams.