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This review is from: Shadowheart: The Shadowmarch Sequence (Shadowmarch 4) (Hardcover)
After three heavyweight tomes, Shadowheart concludes the series with another large chunk of tree, surprising since the final two volumes were supposed to be just one book. The myriad of characters, ranging from the Southmarch royals, the faerie Qar, the god-king Autarch, the Funderlings and half a dozen others, finally converge story arcs as war comes to Southmarch. What could have been a simple siege tale is anything but. With so many stories and characters the siege event is almost obscured, however Williams has bigger plans than a simple revamp of other fantasy stories. In the final third the finale is nothing short of cataclysmic, breaking free of the usual genre shackles and evidencing his talent.
What makes this quartet great is also the Achilles' Heel. Too many strands, with too little time spent on each to keep momentum up, is hard going. Especially is minor characters turn up and become rather important more than once. There are some rather coincidental moments which stretch credibility too, at times there's a faint aura of Australian soap opera. Where previous chapters balanced emotional impact well, there are less moments of real magic in the final volume, although the elongated pre-epilogue epilogue makes as many amends as possible.
Those points aside, Shadowheart is true to the quartet and worthy finale. It is daring and despite it's length it does not feel bloated, even though Williams' narrative style is far from concise. Another great fantasy epic under Tad's belt - recommended.