For generations the misty Shadowline has marked the boundary between the lands of men and the lost northern lands that are the lair of their inhuman enemies, the ageless Qar. But now that boundary line is moving outward, threatening to engulf the northernmost land in which humans still live - the kingdom of Southmarch.
For centuries, the Eddon family has ruled in ancient, forbidding Southmarch Castle, guarding the border against the Qar's return, but now this powerful royal line has been dealt a devastating blow. The monarch, King Olin, is being held captive in a distant land, and it falls to his inexperienced heirs to lead their people in a time of growing danger and dread.
It is on the two youngest Eddons that the heaviest burdens fall. The twins Barrick and Briony, who in such evil times have only each other, may lose even that bond as darkness closes over them. As the Qar’s power reaches out across their land, will Southmarch Castle, the only home they’ve ever known, become in fact what it has long been called - Shadowmarch?
©2006 Tad Williams (P)2010 Brilliance Audio
As a longtime reader of fantasy novels, I understand that the first book in a series is many times a bit slower paced than the later books. The author has to paint the picture of an entire world and the characters and things within it. This book however was a bit of a yawner. Williams is a tallented writer as far as describing things in the universe that he has created, but he falls far far short on character development.
There are four main story lines in the book, with most of the book concentrating on the two most uninteresting characters in the story. A spoiled prince and princess. There is a pretty good storyline about a mysterious orphan boy and a dwarf (for lack of a better word). I'd like to fiind out what happens to them. I never will though, because after thirty plus hours of listening, I don't think I could take another book with the same boring characters.
You can have an interesting story and universe, but if you don't fill it with interesting characters, characters that readers will care about, then you just have a long boring slog to the end.
The narrator does a fine job on the book. He gives the characters very definable voices and livens things up. But try as he might, this book still falls short on several different levels.
Favorite authors lately: Robin Hobb, Jim Butcher, Guy Gavriel Kay. If you are a fan of these three authors I reccomend you stay away from this one.
I love Tad Williams. His Otherland series is one of my top three series. This series, however, is dreadfully slow. I've tried to get through it twice and keep listening to another book instead. I've finally restarted it with the goal of perservering and finishing the thing. Its a long slog through slow plot, whiny characters and annoying writing. I have always thought Williams to be an excellent writer, but the writing in this book is bad to the point of distraction. The characters are unbelievable, cardboard and just plan annoying. They are whiny and pretulant, and the reader adds to the whiny quality in the dialogue by reading all of them (especially the females) in nasal tones that drive me crazy! To top it off, I just finished reading G.R.R.Martin's Song of Fire and Ice books, and honestly, sadly, this latest series from Williams seems a rip off of that series, The plot, characters and all are very similar in too many ways, but its a shallow, hallow shell of a reproduction. I love Song of Fire and Ice as well, so if it had been a better representation, I'd have been happy to read it. I pray the next book in this series is better, because I bought it as well.
I've been an Audible member since 2005 and have listened to over 120 books. Some good, some bad, but I finished all of them. This is the first time I've started a book I won't finish. I've listened to the first chapter twice and still kept scanning back on the second attempt. I finally gave up after chapter three. Maybe the story would be good if I could follow it. It's just not worth the aggravation of listening to each chapter over and over until it sinks in. Maybe it's just me, but I'll skip this one.
My apology to the author, but I truly did find the whole thing confounding.
Hours upon hours of boring description, read by the most pretentious annoying narrator they could find. Give this one a miss and save yourself a credit and part of your life.
Sneak past the dragon and slay the princess!
Tad Williams takes his readers to places only a master story-teller can portray - he borders the perfect edge between too much detail (George R. R. Martin - though I do love losing myself in his novels too) and too little (any of your various Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms novels). This series is a testament to the author's abilities to narrate and to enrapture his readers.
It is about time some of his novels have become audio books!
It is part writing and part narration, but character seems really whiny. I realize that these characters were going through tough time, but at times it seemed that every sentence was melodramatic and whiny. I was not able to get past 3 to 4 hours of this book.
Perhaps someday i will try again, but i rather be listening to other books (even the ones i already have read).
While this story might end up being great, I'll never know as I could not get past the first few minutes of the painful and distracting narration. The narrator's (Dick Hill) style of over-acting and slow reading, coupled with his seeming inability to pronounce the letter "a," prevents the listener from falling seamlessly into, and enjoying, the story. Narration should be transparent (as with so many of the other books that Audible offers), not distract from the story. I will try to find another book to listen to, one with a different narrator???
A very complex and imaginative Fantasy world!
Dick Hill narration was nothing less than brilliant. Especially considering the very large cast of characters. I understand the criticism of the "tone" he used for Briony. I'm sure both he and the audio series Dir. had input into how she was voiced. Yes, it comes across as whiny in many spots...but I believe that this is as intended. Briony is an adolescent girl. As much as experience and setting may have conditioned her, her entire world has come apart in under a year. With the tragedies that transpire in this first book, I feel a bit of hopelessness and despair is warranted, especially given her age.
There is much of "setting the stage" here in the first book. Quite a bit of character exposition and development. Which I felt was fine and needed given the multiple storylines that are progressing and the alien cultures and history in which they reside.
I went in to this thinking it was the beginning of a fairly lengthy Fantasy story, where there is a bit of action and intrigue, this is not the equivalent of an "action film" , it is a story, with a cast of characters that draw you in and whom you begin to know and care about.
I felt it was a fantastic beginning to what "m feeling is going to be a grand and epic adventure.
Downloading the Second Book right now!
Best Regards and Good Listening,
S. E. Watson
The complexity of the various story-lines and the characters and setting.
I felt he did an amazing job!
A few surprises and twists...as well as moments of interest, happiness and sadness are found here.
A very enjoyable journey into a new and complex Fantasy world..come on in, the water's fine! ;)
yes. This is a terrific story and a great performance.
Vansen and Barrick behind the shadowline was most memorable to me.
Read the book! As far as listening to the story goes, Dick Hill was was remarkable. Unfortunately, his whiny voice for Briony was annoying and detracted from the intended feel of her character and the story itself, especially at first. Otherwise, the characters were superb. Unfortunately, when he read the storyline, the cadence of Hill's voice could also be very distracting and he over-performed at times. It could have been a masterpiece but these issues influenced the way the story came across. I did love his slow pace, his wonderful characterizations, his expert reading of this book. One of the best I've listened to despite the irritating flaws. One of my favorite books from Tad Williams.
I found this book to have no wasted words, a vibrant story that I will go back to.
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