Genre Fantasy Publisher Orbit Date Published 2006 Review Posted on 3/16/2009 Reviewer Rating
# of Ratings: 2 Average Rating: 7 out of 10
Shadowmarch, by Tad Williams
Reviewed by J Y Saville
If you've read this book, why not
Tad Williams has started his latest fantasy series in typical Tolkienesque style, with plenty of maps, hints of internally-consistent languages, and an index of people and places (there are plenty of both, so it's not hard to see why). Eion, a northern kingdom of men, stands between the southern kingdoms and their murmurs of war, and the far northern Twilight People ('fairies') who, after centuries of apparent acceptance, are stirring to reclaim their ancient lands. Eion's fate is in the hands of a young and inexperienced regent in the king's absence, and as if the external threats weren't enough, the nobles of Eion are restless and there is a hint of treason in the air.
Hardly the most original premise, but the unoriginality of a cream bun doesn't stop an artisan filling a patisserie with temptingly impressive confections. The language is rich and evocative, and the pacing near-perfect; at over 800 pages it would be easy to falter but it creates such an all-encompassing world that it draws you in and holds you there right to the end.
Concerning as it does the possible downfall of man, it is quite a dark book with a fair amount of death, blood and madness. Having said that, there are some characters that lighten the mood a little, while by no means being simply the comic relief, and in the midst of chaos there are some very realistic moments of humour as a reaction to an overwhelming situation.
As is usual with Williams, the attention to detail in creating each race or individual character is impressive. From names and languages to clothing, architecture and habits, the differences are so well drawn that the vast number of characters and the separate strands of the story never become confusing. On the whole the characters are suitably complex, rather than simply 'good guys' and 'bad guys'; the different approach to unpleasant or dangerous duties shown by various characters is a good example, as their behaviour isn't always as you might expect.
I imagine this book would be enjoyed by anyone who doesn't mind reading an epic fantasy where the swords sometimes have ancient and impressive names, but also doesn't mind that the tone isn't perfectly straight and serious the whole time.
Get the SyFy channel and your other favorite science fiction programming with Direct TV. Compare programming on Direct TV to Comcast and Dish Network to see why you should choose DirecTV. All your favorite Directv packages include quality programming, and now you can get NFL Sunday Ticket free with the purchase of select packages. Find out why direct tv is the best in satellite television programming.