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(Shadowmarch #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  10,904 ratings  ·  469 reviews
The maze-like castle of Southmarch stands sentry along the border between the human kingdoms and the land of the immortal Qua. Now, the darkness from beyond that border has begun to enfold Southmarch - or Shadowmarch - the Qua's ancient home. To stop the darkness falling, the Southmarch royal family must face their human enemies, supposed friends and the family curse. ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 796 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by DAW (first published November 2nd 2004)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  10,904 ratings  ·  469 reviews

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Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
It has been way too many years since I picked up a Tad Williams fantasy. I read the books surrounding the Dragonbone Chair back when they came out and I was extremely impressed by the writing quality and character, the slow burn and devoted character building, the inexorable finality of the grand explosion or magical release or bloodshed to come.

He builds slowly, carefully, and with enormous attention to detail.

Therefore, I knew very well what I was getting into here. These are long books and
Jordan Halsey
This book puts all of Tad Williams strengths and weaknesses on display. Whether the strengths or weaknesses dominate is a matter of personal taste I suppose. As for me, I enjoy his work, but his weaknesses definitely detract from that enjoyment.

First off, the strengths. As a fantasist (by which I mean creativity, ideas, inspiration and the use of pre-existing concepts - in a fantasy setting) and a world-builder, Tad Williams is very good. Perhaps the best we've got right now. None of the other
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me two weeks to read 200 pages from The Quiet War and I finished this mammoth of more than 800 pages in just one. This says something about how good and gripping is Tad Williams’ writing.

If you’re used to his style, then you’ll know that this book is just a longer prologue for future events. There are a lot of things happening here as well, but the story is just beginning to unfold.

Shadowmarch is, like the Osten Ard Saga, another epic fantasy with a multitude of main characters, all
Daniel Ionson
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Solid & well-written Fantasy. I decided to go with 4 stars simply because I thought it had some pacing problems. Instead of 800 pages, this felt like a tale that should have been edited down to 550 or so. Barring that, I enjoyed it.
Oct 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book, after reading and liking The Dragonbone Chair series by the same author. Unfortunately, this book suffered from distracting disconnect and fragmentary storytelling. The book constantly switched between plotlines and characters, often multiple times in a single chapter. Just as I'd start to 'get into' a story I'd find the point of view switched to another character, or another country entirely! Then when I was interested in that story, it would be switched again. I ...more
I'm a fan of Tad Williams. I've read his Memory of Sorrow and Thorn series twice, and plan to read Otherland again someday. But this one is just not for me. It's definitely in the category of Dark Fantasy, and I'm not ready to read 2500 pages of bleakness, hopelessness, and madness.

I know when it starts out bad only to get worse, when everything that could go wrong does, and everyone who started out solid begins to fall apart and twist into something else, that it's not going to improve through
May 15, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
Didn't finish. Got about a fifth of the way in and got tired of reading about all kinds of details but not having the story go anywhere. Skipped to end, and discovered that after six hundred some pages, nothing much more happened. Though I imagine there were lots of details.
Sotiris Karaiskos
The first part of a series where the well-known writer returns to the spirit of the series that marked him, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. These things I liked are here, with the plot and the writing style being very close.

The basic story is simple: in a kingdom that does not go through its best days, a threat from the past returns, a defeated race returns to take revenge, bringing chaos and destruction. The duty to deal with them falls on the young sons and the daughter of the king who, without
Nov 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is epic fantasy at it's absolute best, but I should also warn you: it is DARK. So if you're not a huge fan of dark epic fantasy, this might not be for you. If you don't mind a little dark, though, I really can't see how you will be disappointed.

What I Have to Say:
Lately, I have been rediscovering epic fantasy, and I don't know how, but I seem to pick only the most amazing books with which to rediscover it. Because that is exactly what Shadowmarch is. Amazing. Tad Williams has constructed a
Mickey Hoffman
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the first of a trilogy. Tad Williams is the best writer of fantasy or Science Fiction today. That's my opinion. He is a master of invention and description. If you haven't read his "Otherland" books, you could start there. Anyhow, Shadowmarch is a fantasy novel and the cast of characters is vast and incredibly seductive. The plot, as usual with his writing, is intricate to the extreme and keeps you turning the pages. If there were 6 stars for his books, I'd give them.
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
The middle of the book is intriguing. The first and last quarters are not that great. I don't really like any of the characters; I think Tad's verisimilitude lapses get worse as the book goes on, the bit about Yasammez and the mirror in particular; there is no reason for Quinnitan to be in this book at all; and she contributes to the choppy, nauseating flipping between viewpoints. Worst of all, as the last half of the book grinds on you realize that Tad is NOT going to give you all, or even any, ...more
Everything you could wish for in an epic fantasy, this one has it all. Multiple POVs, interesting characters, different folks with juicy politics, immense worldbuilding, lurking danger and most important a sense of wonder on every corner. During all those 800 pages I never get bored and enjoyed every beautiful written word. Yes it's slow sometimes and most things are just placed into position, but there is so much going on and it ends with a bang that throws me immediately to book #2 to dive in ...more
Eric Smith
I would say this was actually a 3.5. This is good and enjoyable and like a lot of epic fantasy takes a bit of time to get moving. I like most of the characters and where the plot is going and see quite a bit of potential for the story to really take off in the next book but for one reason or another I just couldn't get my normal reading momentum going on this particular book. I am still looking forward to reading the next because I still do not see where the story is going which I do like so I ...more
Jan 31, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I was about six hundred pages into this book - roughly 75% - when I looked again at the back of the book and noticed the word that I so horribly feared: TRILOGY.

I like Tad Williams. I think he's a lot of fun, and creates fascinating worlds that are well-built, deeply historical and full of complicated characters. But his stories are so. Damn. Long. They require a huge investment of time and energy, and by the end of this book I was mentally editing out passages that could have made it a lot
I liked “Shadowmarch”, but I wasn’t crazy about it.

Here’s why it earned the three stars: (1) Williams writes beautifully and descriptively. I love when he described a full moon as the top of a skull looming in the sky. He really knows how to place the reader in a setting. (2) Williams is astonishingly creative. I thought the whole concept of the Shadowline has great. (3) His opening storyline with the Qar returning a mysterious boy back to the humans for some unknown yet war-sparking reason
Mike (the Paladin)
Another library book...straight to the head of the "currently reading" list.

This is the first book/series by Mr. Williams I've read since his Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy ( The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower ) which I liked very much. I have his Otherland books on my shelves but haven't gotten to them...long term "to be reads". I truly hope that they are better than this series.

About chapter 5 it became apparent to me I wasn't going to be able to ingest enough
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
First of all, I hate when authors write with "you"-perspective. "You travel across the land and notice its blue waters and chrystal clear waters" etc. No, I don't, you can't make me! So I was reading the beginning of the book with gritted teeth, determined to at least get past the couple first chapters. Luckily the point of view changed.

It was quite a job to get the book read. There were so many people in so many different places and too much of nothing important. It just kept going on and on
Feb 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shadowmarch is a slow burning ember of a novel but its warmth is consistent throughout. Williams is often critisized for the slow starts to his novels. My only experience with Williams prior to Shadowmarch is The Dragonbone Chair and I have yet to finish Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn due to that same criticism. After reading Shadowmarch I know I will go back and rectify this gross error in judgement, but first I must finish this series because what starts as an ember will no doubt grow to burn with ...more
Justin  hight
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent old schoolschool with most Tad Williams books the first few chapters are mostly about character development and setting up the story. Many young readers now are used to comicbook fast paced novels and have a hard time with tad .I this k his fantasy books are rich and perfectly paced.this is no exception. Another great fantasy series from one of my favorite fantasy writers.
Edward Rathke
Nov 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This book reminds me of what I dislike about Williams' writing, but also what I enjoy about it. There's a depth to everything, and a texture to the world. Southmarch castle feels lived in is what I mean. It's not just a place on a map or a place where characters happen to be, but a place with its own history and weight.

That's what Williams does so well, I think. Making this unreal place as real as any ancient place one only reads about. And this is true of all the settings in the novel, even
Oct 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Tad Williams's first novel "Tailchaser's Song" was the first book I was ever sent to review (for the defunct Fantasy Review, back in the mid-'80s) and I was so lucky; it was such a great book! Then I discovered he was writing another book, a trilogy! called "Sorrow, Memory, and Thorn" (I think that's the right order), which was also a great book, even greater because it went on for hundreds and hundreds of pages! The 4-book "Outland" series I had to drop during the first book, because it just ...more
Jeffery Moulton
I really like Tad Williams' writing style. I can't say exactly what it is, but I really enjoy how he puts words together. Also, he has some impressive ideas for stories. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that everything he writes is golden. He has a tendency to drag things out and his characters are often less-than-likeable and on occasion, he is a bit disjointed while telling various threads of a story that have yet to come together. Shadowmarch, unfortunately, is a good example of all of his ...more
Crazy Uncle Ryan
This is the first book in the second series of Tad Williams that I have read. One of the things that distinguish Tad Williams’ books is that they are rather long. Another thing that I have noticed about his stories is that they tend to include numerous groups of characters who are having their own adventures. It takes a while for the reader to see how the stories of the various groups of people relate to each other. This is actually a strength in that it makes you want to keep reading to find ...more
Jan 01, 2010 rated it liked it
I've read other books by Tad williams that I liked more, so I expected more from this book and now I'm a little disappointed. The story just failed to grip me fully. It's just too 'ordinary' to me. Maybe it isn't the book's fault, maybe it's me. I have found myself preferring urban fantasy and other 'different' fantasy, in the past couple of years.

None of the characters are really likable. I can't identify with or fall in love with anyone. The only character I sort of like is the young Captain
Gina K
Jun 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, fantasy
I'm sorry I couldn't finish this. It had been on my shelves for months. Far, far too slow when considering the sheer length of the book (or perhaps I am just an impatient reader...), and up to the point that I stopped reading (around a fifth of the way through) it just felt the plot wasn't really going anywhere at all.
A bit disappointing really. It just wasn't my thing. That's not to say, though, that it isn't a book worth trying. I'm sure a more patient reader than myself would find all the
Jun 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2010
I was leery picking up another Tad Williams brick of a book after reading Otherland and being thoroughly disgusted by the last 15 pages (it made me mad enough to give the books away). I found Shadowmarch to be an okay high fantasy read, but the character I liked the best, Qinnitan, was obviously the least used POV in the book. I found the Funderlings to be too stereotypically good natured dwarfish, and there was rather a lot of them in the book. The Rooftoppers reminded me of nothing so much as ...more
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Reread-A host of singular shining threads interweaved to create a book that is part of a grand tapestry of a series.

A commitment to the long haul is the only way to approach this saga, impatience will do it no justice and the beauty will stay hidden as you fidget for immediate closure.

Heed this and you will find yourself wrapped in an unforgettable world that truly embodies the notion of Epic fantasy.
Steve Spaulding
Barrick and Briony might me the two most annoying protagonists in any book I've ever read. I listened to this as an Audio book so maybe the narration added to it, as the narrator voiced them both as extremely whiny. There were parts of the book I enjoyed. I liked the Chert and Flint subplot, but I dont think thats enough to keep me reading/listening to this series.
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a fun, unique series. It was a little slow in places, but overall I enjoyed it. I plan on reading these books again.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
'As the blind king said, this is the beginning...'
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Tad Williams is a California-based fantasy superstar. His genre-creating (and genre-busting) books have sold tens of millions worldwide, in twenty-five languages. His considerable output of epic fantasy and science fiction book-series, stories of all kinds, urban fantasy novels, comics, scripts, etc., have strongly influenced a generation of writers: the ‘Otherland’ epic relaunches June 2018 as an ...more

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Shadowmarch (4 books)
  • Shadowplay (Shadowmarch, #2)
  • Shadowrise (Shadowmarch, #3)
  • Shadowheart (Shadowmarch, #4)
“You see, that is the secret of history, little Briony—who tells the last story.” 1 likes
“If you are going to without trust. men tasks to do, then once they have proved themselves, you should let them get on without you standing over them. There is no point in giving responsibility wifh” 1 likes
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