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Shadowmarch Volume One
by Tad Williams
ISBN 0756402700 / 9780756402709 / 0-7564-0270-0
Publisher Daw Books
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The Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series established Tad Williams's preeminence in fantasy. Now, after an absence of more than a decade, the New York Times bestselling author has returned to high fantasy with his Shadowmarch trilogy. Exciting, ambitious, intricate, and insightful, Shadowmarch: Volume 1 demonstrates that Williams is still America's best high fantasist.
Shadowmarch: Volume 1 introduces a world conquered by humans, who have driven the Qar, or fairy folk, into the far north. There, the Qar hide behind the "Shadowline," a mysterious veil of perpetual mist, which drives mad any human who dares enter it. Bordering that mist and named for it is Shadowmarch, the northernmost human kingdom.
Shadowmarch has lately fallen on hard times. Its king has been captured by a rival kingdom, the regent has been mysteriously slain, and the new regents are callow fifteen-year-olds. Moody, crippled Prince Barrick is uninterested in their responsibilities and haunted by eerie dreams. His twin, Princess Briony, takes their new duties seriously, but is hot-tempered and headstrong. How can they defeat the greatest threats in Shadowmarch history? Their nobles plot to overthrow them--and the plotters may include their pregnant stepmother, seeking the throne for her own child. The expanding empire of Xis has sent its agents into Shadowmarch. And, for the first time since it appeared centuries ago, the Shadowline has starting moving. As the maddening mist spreads south over Shadowmarch, it does not quite hide the powerful, uncanny, and vengeful Qar army of invasion... --Cynthia Ward [via]