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Shadowmarch: Volume 1by Tad Williams
Synopses & Reviews
International best-selling author Tad Williams, creator of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and Otherland, makes his triumphant return to epic fantasy with Shadowmarch, a vast tale of magic, intrigue, terror, sacrifice, and war.
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.
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 two 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 that 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?
"In the impressive opening installment of his first new high fantasy trilogy in a decade, Williams (the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy) 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 (the line of demarcation between the Qar and the human lands) and claimed their ancient stronghold of Southmarch (aka Shadowmarch) on the continent of Eion. The March kingdoms, whose ruler, King Olin, is held captive by the empire of Hierosol's Lord Drakava, are in turmoil after the assassination of Prince Regent Kendrick, whose twin siblings, Briony and Barrick, must struggle to keep their domain together. Soon after the fairy war begins, the Qar dump a mysterious boy beyond the Shadowline, where he's discovered by Chertz Blue Quartz, a little 'Funderling,' whose stone-working people live beneath Southmarch. 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. Much of the imagery seems inspired by Arthur Rackham with a hint of Edvard Munch. The author's richly detailed world will enchant established fans and win new converts. Agent, Matt Bialer. (Nov. 2) FYI: Williams's most recent novel is a stand-alone fantasy, The War of the Flowers (Forecasts, Apr. 28, 2003)." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Shadowmarch begins Tad Williams's first epic fantasy trilogy since his best-selling "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn." Rich with detail and exotic culture, and filled with a cast of characters both diverse and three-dimensional, Shadowmarch is a true fantasy achievement, an epic of storytelling by a master of the genre.
Williams continues his first epic fantasy trilogy since his bestselling "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn" with this second novel in the Shadowmarch saga.
"When it comes to inventing new worlds, he's as skilled as J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert." -Christopher Paolini, bestselling author of Eragon.
Southmarch Castle is about to be caught between two implacable enemies, the ancient, immortal Qar and the insane god-king, the Autarch of Xis. Meanwhile, its two young defenders, Princess Briony and Prince Barrick, are both trapped far away from home and fighting for their lives.
And now, something is awakening underneath Southmarch Castle, something powerful and terrible that the world has not seen for thousands of years. Can Barrick and Briony, along with a tiny handful of allies, ordinary and extraordinary, find a way to save their world and prevent the rise of a terrible new age-an age of unending darkness?
Ive been told to go to Hell more times than I can count. But this time Im actually going.
My names Bobby Dollar, sometimes known as Doloriel, and of course, Hell isnt a great place for someone like me—Im an angel. They dont like my kind down there, not even the slightly fallen variety. But they have my girlfriend, who happens to be a beautiful demon named Casi¬mira, Countess of Cold Hands. Why does an angel have a demon girlfriend? Well, certainly not because it helps my career.
Shes being held hostage by one of the nasti¬est, most powerful demons in all of the nether¬world—Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell. He already hates me, and hed like nothing better than to get his hands on me and rip my immortal soul right out of my borrowed but oh-so-mortal body.
But wait, it gets better! Not only do I have to sneak into Hell, make my way across thousands of miles of terror and suffering to reach Pan- demonium, capital of the fiery depths, but then I have to steal Caz right out from under Eligors burning eyes and smuggle her out again, past demon soldiers, hellhounds, and all the murder¬ous creatures imprisoned there for eternity. And even if I somehow manage to escape Hell, Im also being stalked by an undead psychopath named Smyler whos been following me for weeks. Oh, and did I mention that he cant be killed?
So if I somehow survive Hell, elude the Grand Duke and all his hideous minions and make it back to the real world, Ill still be the most hunted soul in Creation. But at least Ill have Caz. Gotta have something to look forward to, right?
So just pour me that damn drink, will you? Ive got somewhere to go.
About the Author
Tad Williams is a New York Times and London Sunday Times best-selling author of fantasy and science fiction, with novels translated into more than twenty languages and a global readership. He hosted a syndicated radio show for over a decade, co-created the first completely interactive television program, and is currently involved in film, television, comic books, computer games, and other multimedia projects. He was recently awarded the prestigious German Corine Award for 2004 for Otherland. He and his family live in California.
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