Posted on March 22, 2010 by Monica Valentinelli
Available at Amazon.com
Tad Williams returns to his current epic fantasy series with the third (and not-yet-final) installment of a novel entitled “SHADOWRISE.” This particular tome is well over five hundred pages, and continues the story of the betrayal of the Eddon family and the battle between the faeries and the mortals.
If you’ve been following my work here on FlamesRising.com, you might recall that I reviewed SHADOWPLAY, which was the second book in this series. After reading that book, I ended up going back and buying the first volume entitled SHADOWMARCH in order to get caught up on the series. I feel that’s a pretty important distinction to make, since there is a lot that happens between books one, two and now…three.
The first thing I noticed about this volume, was that an optional summary of each book in the series was included at the front of the book. That, in my humble opinion, was brilliant thinking because it quickly reminded me of what I read. So, when I started to read Chapter One, I didn’t get a long diatribe of “what came before.” This book is really “the book o’ big fat secrets,” so I’m going to do my best not to spoil too much for you.
There are several plot threads that weave together with a full cast of characters, much like they did in the previous books. In SHADOWRISE, however, a lot of attention is spent on congealing the stories of the world. We found out in the last book, SHADOWPLAY, that the gods were very much alive. In this book, you are able to dive deeper into the world of the fae through Barrick Eddon’s eyes, a world that is twisted, contorted and conflicted. In my mind, I felt that the chapters focusing on Barrick were the strongest because Williams was able to take us to a place we hadn’t seen before in other dark faery tales. The fae land behind the shadowline isn’t one singular “territory,” but rather a dark collection of dangerous landscapes that are full of sorrowful and vengeful faery creatures who hate mortals with every fibre of their being. In this land, we also learn the secrets of the fae and what role Barrick might play in the upcoming SHADOWHEART finale.
Briony’s tale takes her to a new country where the Syannese court is a bit skeptical of the “country princess.” She seems to struggle with what she’s “supposed” to do versus how she really is, and that does get her into hot water. Matthias Tinwright and Quinnitan’s stories are not as prevalent as those of Ferras Vansen or King Olin, in part because they don’t need to be. In many ways, this book acts as a fulcrum to propel several characters into Southmarch where their stories will converge.
To tell you any more would give the book away, so instead I’ll talk about what I liked and what I didn’t. I liked the attention to how the different faiths and legends diverged, because it gave the story a sense of time and culture. These legends didn’t just develop over fifty years, they evolved over centuries. At times, I did find that some of the stories (like Tinwright’s up until the very end) weren’t as powerful as what was happening to Barrick, but again, that was probably because I felt that there was more setting exposed (and more dangerous adventures) that took place behind the Shadowline. I also didn’t like the interjection of a few characters (Kayyin for one) because they seemed to come pretty late in this particular story.
Admittedly, I’m pretty anxious to see how the story ends because I really, really want “the bad guys” to get what’s coming to them. There’s been a lot of build up to highlight the treachery that happened in Southmarch, and it will be great to read who survives and who triumphs. In particular, I can’t stand the Autarch of Xis and would love to see him…well…mangled.
Fortunately, I don’t have to wait very long to see what happens. The next and final installment will be available in November 2010. If you enjoy reading dark fantasies and you like an epic tale, I think you’ll really enjoy the SHADOWMARCH series by Tad Williams. As I mentioned earlier, there is a full synopsis of the prior two books, so even if you can’t remember what happened in the previous books, it would be a good refresher for you.
Review by Monica Valentinelli