Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely good (A Book Swede Review), 9 Aug 2007
This review is from: Shadowplay (Shadowmarch Quartet) (Hardcover)
Well first, I'd like to say a massive thank you to Tad Williams for personally sending this one out to me, all the way from the US! It was a great feeling to receive a review copy of a book from one of my favourite authors.

That said, I was looking forward to this one with a mixture of pleasant anticipation, and dread. You see, I didn't really enjoy the first book, Shadowmarch, that much. As other reviewers have said, though, what Tad produces, even if weak for him, is still at the top of the genre.

But Shadowplay blew me away. The story moved a bit slower than to be expected in the second volume of a trilogy, but I have no doubts that Tad Williams will wrap it all up with the consummative skill he has shown in his other works. I remember feeling the same way with Book 2 of his amazing, debut trilogy, Memory, Sorrow & Thorn.

It's been said that nothing major happens in Shadowplay, which is in my opinion, a little true. Rather than the massive action and events that were expected from the conclusion of Book 1, lots of threads and storylines that seemed completely random in Shadowmarch, have been woven together to weave a story that is richer in characterisation and revelation than I think any of Williams' other works have ever been.

My favourite new characterisation was of one of the invading fairy folk. In Shadowmarch we got a glimpse of the Qar, invading fey from behind the Shadowline--a magical barrier stopping movement between the two races. In this book, though, the glimpse is much bigger when Prince Barrick, trapped behind the Shadowline meets Gyir, a high ranking soldier and personal friend to Yassamez, ruthless leader of the Shadow armies. Now don't worry if all these names sound crazy to you--Shadowmarch, Book 1 of the Shadowmarch trilogy, is obviously, very necessary reading.

It was nice to see that, for once in the fantasy genre, the bad guys aren't a nameless evil, attacking everything and anything for no reason. Cruel, deformed, mad, etc, a large majority of them may be but Gyir reveals the real reasons for their attack (though, old scores with the humans are of course to be settled. The Qar are long lived and they neither forgive nor forget...)

There were also a few moments of humour in this book. Most moments of this came (perhaps, tellingly) from the dark thoughts of Gyir.

Other characters developed well, too; Olin, kidnapped king, spoke of and reminisced of a lot in Book 1, actually plays a part in this book, and from the events of Shadowplay, an even larger part awaits him in Book 3; Princess Briony, forced from her home by traitorous courtiers, becomes very interesting, which makes a nice change as I found her annoyingly whiny in Shadowmarch.

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