Shadowrise. Tad Williams (Shadowmarch Quartet) Paperback – 2011
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"A master storyteller, equally adept at whatever genre chosen, and often on a grand scale."
A thrill ride...will enchant established fans and win new converts. ("Publishers Weekly," starred review) A page-turner. ("Booklist")
About the Author
Tad Williams is a California-based fantasy superstar. His genre-creating (and genre-busting) books have sold tens of millions worldwide. His considerable output of epic fantasy and epic science fiction series, fantastical stories of all kinds, urban fantasy novels, comics, scripts, etc., have strongly influenced a generation of writers. Tad always has several secret projects on the go. 2016 will see the debut of a number of them; March 2017 brings The Witchwood Crown, the first volume in the long-awaited return to the world of the Memory, Sorrow & Thorn novels. Tad and his family live in the Santa Cruz mountains in a suitably strange and beautiful house.
Top Customer Reviews
But, I'm a stubborn bugger, even at the best of times. Still determined to enjoy Williams' work, I eventually picked up Shadowmarch, the first volume in a new Epic Fantasy trilogy* and, finally, after years of trying, I really loved a Tad Williams novel. There were no more released volumes in that series, so I went back to The Dragonbone Chair for a fourth go around' and fell head-over-heels in love. After that, I burned through the rest of the trilogy and it stands, to this day, as my favourite completed Fantasy series of all time. I knew there was a Tad Williams fan inside of me, it just took a little bit of time and perspective to drag him out.
So, the Shadowmarch novels hold a special place in my heart. I recognize now that they're not quite so genre-defying as Memory, Sorrow and Thorn (hell, those novels inspired George R.R. Martin to write A Song of Ice and Fire!), nor does it have the mythological gravitas that made Memory, Sorrow and Thorn so entrancing, but there's something special about the series that has become more evident in its third volume, Shadowrise.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Book one was a typical starter novel: relatively slow-paced so as to introduce character, setting, necessary background information, etc. and leaving the reader with more questions than answers. It had its issues, was a bit uneven in its treatment of character and various storylines, but I found it mostly compelling throughout and found that Williams' characteristically sharp writing more than compensated for the few flaws and found ways to make even the hoariest of genre tropes feel relatively fresh. Shadowplay picked up the pace quite a bit, evened out the quality among the numerous storylines, and improved the readability of several of the more annoying or weak characters from Shadowmarch. And Shadowrise continues in that same strong vein.
Like the previous novels, Williams shifts point-of-view among several characters and plot lines, which are far too numerous and complex to go into at this stage of the series, save to say that narrative lines that seemed somewhat disconnected or even wholly separate are now starting to intertwine, in ways both expected and unexpected. The shifts themselves are fluid and easily followed, but more than in the others I felt a bit rushed through them at times and I found myself wishing Williams had let us spend some more time in each. Part of the reason for this, however, is that Williams is better here than in book one at offering up separate stories of equal narrative force.
Part of what I enjoyed so much in Shadowrise is the way he does this in varied fashion. We follow several characters preparing for small-scale battle (and a few actual skirmishes), another character's lone (save for a talking bird) trek through a strange land, another character's singular focus on escaping her captor, another's first moves into the realm of political intrigue as well as romance and so on. Each strand is compelling and suspenseful though the means of evoking that interest varies greatly.
While we're still working with some of the same-old, same-old fantasy tropes (twins, delvers, strange forests, etc.) as with the others, Williams puts enough of his own stamp on things and creates such fully fleshed characters that the standard forms don't detract from the reading experience. And they are more than offset by the segments in the twilight land where he lets his imagination run free.
I said in my review of book one that this series doesn't match the genius of his Sorrow trilogy (it was, after all, "genius") but is his strongest work since then and compares favorably to nearly any epic fantasy going now (with only a few exceptions). Through three books, I see no reason to change my mind. I'm looking forward eagerly to the book four, the concluding volume. Or, you know, not.
Where is his editor?
Unfortunately, and I hate to say it about a very favorite author of mine, this book suffers from a severe lack of judicious editing and restraint. Rather than be critical of a hotly selling author, they just let him publish THIS! It's not awful, but it starts very slow. There is a lot of stuff that just didn't need to be included. It could've been whittled down, sections reorganized, parts cut. I found it quite slow going and uninteresting in a lot of places.
I know, so many fans are going to rave about how fantastic it is no matter how fantastic it isn't, but I am significantly disappointed in the third installment and not very enthusiastic about the fourth one. Wait for paperback, it just is not worth $30. Those answers you were dying for are not here.
But now I find that this is NOT the concluding book, there is another one (or more?) coming out.
When you're reading a long series crammed with characters, events and details, it is very difficult to remember everything when you read the final book a long time later, which is why I always buy series only after they are finished. So, while the publishers may well be unethical people who would do anything to make a quick buck, I think it is incumbent on the author to at least try and make sure that the jacket work is not misleading. Assuming that the author himself doesn't want to make a quick buck by tricking people into buying his book early, which I couldn't believe of this author, anyway.
My hardcover copy also suffers from poor editing (many typos) and poor printing, even, with a long black smudge that ran through many of the first pages.
The series itself started brilliantly, Tad Williams' best by far since the Dragonbone chair, full of wonderful characters, people insights, and a series of events that play out in a way that overlaps with an interesting mythology - one that may not, in fact, be all myth. However, the second and third books are successively more diluted of content, with the main characters split apart and a lot of the fun of their interactions taken away, and we are reduced to watching them trudge through one landscape after the other, waiting for a few sparks of interest.
I want to know how it ends, and am grateful to the author for producing this series, but it would be nice if he could have done it in three or even two books, unless he really needed the money. Concentrate the magic.