Tad Williams: Shadowrise

Tad Williams: Shadowrise

Shadowrise is volume three of Tad William’s Shadowmarch series. Princess-in-exile Briony Eddon tries to gather support in Hierosol but soon becomes target of nasty gossip and even assassination attempts. Only Prince Eneas, old enemy-turned-ally Dawet and her actor friends support her. In Southmarch, the strained situation escalates: sensing Gyir’s death, Yasammez renews her attack on the castle, both below- and aboveground. Captain Vansen, who ended up in Funderling town by falling through the strange gateway in Jikuyin’s mountain, leads the Funderling defense with more success than expected; the valiant defenders will fall eventually, though, and can only hope to delay the attackers as long as possible.

In besieged Southmarch, Matti Tinwright struggles to keep his Elan safe and hidden while being forced into Brone’s service who desparately tries to find Chaven’s mirror. Other characters continue their travels: Barrick to Qul-na-Qar, Autarch Sulepis—with Olin and Vash in tow—to Southwmarchand Vo with Qinnitan to his master.

Shadowrise turned out to be a real pageturner with very gripping story lines in three levels: plot progress (Vansen, Barrick), politics (Briony) and history “dump” (Olin and Sulepis, Merelonna and Utta, Barrick). Other parts seem to be yet more setup for the final volume. The story takes up momentum and becomes increasingly compelling. Politics do not develop much, but spin a dense net of intrigue and betrayal—who can trust whom?

The history parts are very interesting—long overdue, even—and are often embedded well, for example in Olin’s part. In other instances, though, it seems that characters are put in unlikely places just to enable “gracious” info dumps, as in Utta’s case. The balance is fine, though. We get lots of mythology from three viewpoints—Qar, Eion humans, Xandian humans—giving these cultures and their history a lot of depth while also foreshadowing heavily.

I have only two items of criticism: there still is some deus ex machine, although mild cases; maybe this is only my sceptisism from Memory, Sorrow and Thorn talking. In fact, some instances create beautiful dilemmas which remain to be resolved. The second item is that this is not really volume three but rather 3.1 as it ends rather apruptly. But since books three and four were released only months apart, it is fine. I am looking forward to volume 3.2 now.

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