by Tad Williams
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
0 pages; ISBN: 0756402190
Rating: 10/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
Daw, Nov 2004, $25.95, 800 pp.
Before humans settled the land, the immortal Qar, creatures of fairy, lived there. At first humans and fairy lived together, but as mankind multiplied seemingly like rabbits to the Fairy, the Qar were forced to relocate onto unpopulated lands. When plague struck, humans blamed the Qar; they killed many and drove the survivors back into the wastelands of the north. When the humans try to expand northward, they run into the shadowline put their by the Fairy to prevent mortals from entering their land. Residents of Southmarch, the realm closest to the shadowline barrier, guard the wall to warn their brethren if the humans penetrate.
The Southmarch ruling family is the Eddons, but the patriarch is held hostage in the Southland and the Prince Regent is mysteriously killed leaving twins Briony and Barrick in charge. In Qar, the Fae Hesemnez is ready to take back the land stolen from her people, especially Southmarch. Meanwhile the co-regents worry about the Autarch to their south whose growing empire poses a threat and internally someone is willing to and has killed to rid the land of the Eddons.
SHADOWMARCH is fine fantasy on an epic scale in a world in which those wielding magic must battle those who vastly outnumber them (Israel with technology instead of magic vs. the Arab nations). Briony deals with court intrigue to include betrayal by those she trusts while preparing for war; her brother is haunted by nightmares but insists he must head their army against the Qar. Readers will hope that this heroic duo triumph over their enemies though it looks bleak as Tad Williams once again creates a series that rivals the best fantasists.
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