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Shadowmarch: Shadowmarch Trilogy Book One (Shadowmarch Quartet) [Paperback]

Tad Williams
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

2 Mar 2006 Shadowmarch Quartet

An epic tale of magic and mystery, duty and betrayal, Tad Williams' SHADOWMARCH trilogy is destined to become a classic of modern fantasy.

At the uppermost edge of the northern kingdoms, towers shrouded in mist, lies Southmarch Castle. For hundreds of years it has remained hidden from the affairs of empire. Now its isolation can protect it no more. Southmarch is under siege; from both its neighbours, without, and the more insidious enemies who would destroy it from within.

Even further to the north, within the ancient walls of Qul-na-Qar, in a land of silence and gloom, the Twilight People gather to hear Ynnir, the blind king, pronounce the dark fate of human kind. In the south, the Autarch, the god-king who has already conquered an entire continent, now looks to extend his domain once more.

It is upon Southmarch that the armies advance, and to its people that darkness will speed.

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Frequently Bought Together

Shadowmarch: Shadowmarch Trilogy Book One (Shadowmarch Quartet) + Shadowplay: Shadowmarch Trilogy Book Two (Shadowmarch Quartet) + Shadowrise: Shadowmarch Quartet Book 3
Price For All Three: £22.67

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Product details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (2 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841494437
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841494432
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Skilfully merges world-building description with intriguing plots ... a sublime piece of storytelling (SFX)

A page-turner full of character, atmosphere and action (Starburst)

Book Description

The launch of the most exciting new epic fantasy series of the decade.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully crafted novel 27 April 2007
This book screams quality. The author has created a believable world and populated it with interesting, well rounded characters. The story is slow to get going, but stick with it and you will be rewarded with a tale that promises to make an excellent trilogy.

My one complaint about this book is that, particularly at the start, it skips between characters so fast it is difficult to develop a rapport with them. I don't think the number of characters is a problem, as it is good to have a large cast for an epic fantasy series - it is just a bit frustrating to read only a few pages at a time on each character before being whipped off to a different one. This doesn't by any means ruin the book, but it prevents it being as good as it could have been.

On the whole, an excellent novel that I hope is the start of an excellent series.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Tensions wrack the court of Southmarch Castle. King Olin has been captured by the bandit rulers of Hierosol in the distant south and is being held for ransom, but raising the money is beggaring the kingdom. Olin's heir Prince Kendrick is trying to hold the country together whilst his younger twin siblings, Barrick and Briony, have their own problems to face.

Meanwhile, in the far north, beyond the enigmatic Shadowline, the Twilight People are raising fresh armies to return to the March Kingdoms and avenge their defeat in a war three centuries ago. Far to the south, on the continent of Xand, a common girl is taken to wife by the Autarch, the god-emperor of Xis, for reasons utterly unknown to anyone. And far below Southmarch Castle, ancient secrets wait to be discovered...

Shadowmarch is the first book in the four-volume series of the same name, and is epic fantasy at its most straightforward. Tad Williams made his name with Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, a big series which arguably helped establish the modern fantasy paradigm (Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire followed in the trail it blazed) before switching to the far more original SF cyberfable Otherland. With Shadowmarch, Williams has returned to his roots, going once again for that big fat fantasy sweet spot.

This is a questionable choice for those who are familiar with the genre, since there are elements of Shadowmarch which recall not only other big fantasy series, but Williams' own prior work. With the best will in the world, it's hard not to feel that Shadowmarch Castle is a rebuilt Hayholt, a feeling enhanced by the presence in both works of sinister faerie folk and a race of diminutive good guys.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Tad Williams obviously has a rich imagination and the world in which Shadowmarch is set is very well thought out. The inhabitants of this world are also enigmatic and interesting, there's the dwarf-like Funderlings, the fairy-like Rooftoppers, the mysterious Twilight People, as well as countless warring factions of humans.

But the book falls down in the huge number of characters that Williams throws in, then singularly fails to do enough with. He jumps between story threads, flicking from one character to another, but never dwells too long on any of them, revealing little to the reader. He only really scratches the surface of the main characters and after a great deal of reading you feel as if you hardly know any of them.

Because of this thin characterisation it becomes difficult to establish any attachment to the characters and you find your interest in the story starting to fade. Considering this book is a stamina-sapping 800 pages you can't help but feel Williams could have done much more to engage the reader with the characters, there seems far too much padding here.

It's a pity as the central storyline is a good one and certainly has the depth to stretch over the length of a trilogy, but the lack of any real standout characters, with the emphasis seemingly more on quantity of characters rather than quality, let's the story down and leaves you with no real urge to read anymore in this trilogy.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
I [...]
In Shadowmarch, though, unlike MS&T, the menace is ratcheted up until you almost feel you're reading a ghost story. Williams knows how to build an uncomfortable atmosphere until you're scared - but not quite sure what of - now THAT's brilliance.

Williams' talent isn't so much about inventing new things to go into high fantasy, it's in the quality of his writing - he's writing high fantasy in a different manner. He can really write, and I can see how he's improved (which doesn't make me a whit less enamoured of his earlier works). If Williams wrote in any other genre he'd win the Booker prize, or something equally prestigious, for Shadowmarch.

But don't let that put you off if you hate contemporary literature! Williams' writing isn't contrived or showy, just quietly brilliant. He's always focused on telling the story and, I'm sorry, I disagree that he switches viewpoints too often - I think my fellow reviewer just is snatching too-small pieces of time for reading, and though I sympathise, you really have to give an author a chance. You wouldn't intermittently listen to your mp3 player at the theatre, would you? That's why Williams 'caught' him later than other readers would be caught - because he WILL catch you.

I think this would be a good book to read as your first ever fantasy novel, which is the highest praise I can think of. Other than that, just read it, people! (NB the first book in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is 'The Dragonbone Chair' - and don't forget Tad Williams' stand-alone book 'The War of the Flowers', or his more sci-fi-y 'Otherland' series - all are more than worth your time).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good series my daughter had the last two books in ...
Good series my daughter had the last two books in the series I was happy to find the first two books on amazon for such a good price quick delivery thanks.
Published 23 days ago by Elaine Balster
3.0 out of 5 stars shodpwmarch
another book bought for someone else. so unable to make a comment re the contents. all i know is they read and enjoyed it.
Published 10 months ago by isle of wight gal
5.0 out of 5 stars Storytelling at it's best.
I really enjoyed this book,so much that I have just started the second one Shadowplay.I was instantly drawn into the story like a magnet, which is obviously one of Tad's writing... Read more
Published 17 months ago by mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Shadowmarch
I have been looking for this book for quit awhile as I needed it to complete the trilogy. Have not read the book yet, but it appears to be in good shape and was delivered very... Read more
Published 20 months ago by M. Gayler
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard Work
This was my first experience of Tad Williams and I have to say I struggled to finish it. The pace was hamstrung by the constant changing of point of view making the narrative flow... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Mr. B. Hardie
4.0 out of 5 stars With the return of bestselling author comes a transcendent,...
After a decade Tad Williams returns with a new trilogy that takes the fantasy genre to new heights, with the most ambitious and impressive work that I have encountered this year. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Lucinda
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable fantasy
As other reviewers have mentioned this is quite a derivative fantasy series. There are several parallels with another more famous series:

-Focus on a "northern noble... Read more
Published on 10 Sep 2012 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read - but some of the main characters are not believable.
This is a book well worth reading. As with all of Tad William's multi-part stories, this one also spins a tale along multiple threads. Read more
Published on 11 July 2012 by Dune2
5.0 out of 5 stars Faerie like never before
I just finished the final book of this series - Shadowheart and absolutely loved it. I'm writing my review here as Shadowmarch is where it all starts. Read more
Published on 31 Jan 2012 by E. Glass
4.0 out of 5 stars hard to get into but good
I really liked Tad Williams books but I've found this hard to get into. Knowing this series has 4 books in it I'm going to persevre 'cos i enjoyed the Otherland series so much.
Published on 13 Jan 2012 by hotburns
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