Nancy's Reviews > Shadowmarch

Shadowmarch by Tad Williams
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's review
May 28, 2011

it was ok

the online Shadowmarch project was an amazing idea: Tad Williams originally pitched this world and storyline for a tv show, but it wasn't picked up by a network, and ultimately he decided to do it as an online serial book, with a fan community to revel in world creation along with him and perhaps influence the story by their speculation and combined creativity. i'm sorry to have missed it, i only found about it once it was winding down(2002) so i can't compare. but still i picked up this book with some trepidation.. will it translate back to a novel?

i'm somewhat disappointed and annoyed. i LOVE Memory Sorrow and Thorn, and Otherland. LOVE LOVE LOVE. but i think the features that make me love them are not as strong in this book. the characters seem less human, real, believable. at times they seem hasty, sketched instead of filled in. it seems like every character is making stunningly bad decisions at every turn, which gets hard to take!

the intensity of the dark mood from the very beginning, the dreams and madness and foreshadowing are just distracting. this first in a trilogy reads like the typical doom-and-gloom second book, except there's still so much exposition to be done. in the other series, the reader gets to know the characters in an everyday way, an accessible way through politics and personalities before the world *really* falls apart. so then you're already part of it when you find out the extent of the crisis. in this one, it took me a lot longer to care, and the bafflement of finding new crucial details out even in the final chapters was really bothering me. every chapter seems to bring a new race, magic, character, secret, suspicion, and not all of them are made relevant. the other series certainly had touches of this careening confusion(any epic of this scale would be hard put to avoid it), but this time it feels out of control, and unfortunately cliche. like a group of fantasy geeks got together and brainstormed over beers, and every single idea made it into the story. i feel like i got dropped in the deep end!

i still suspect there's some interesting themes developing. so i'd say if you're a Williams fan, stick with it. but otherwise, I'd recommend his other books over this series.
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