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Shadowheart: Shadowmarch: Volume IV (Shadowmarch Series) Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews Review

Christopher Paolini and Tad Williams: Author One-on-One

Christopher Paolini's abiding love of fantasy inspired him to write the Inheritance cycle--Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr--which quickly became an internationally bestselling series. Christopher draws inspiration for the world of Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, from the natural beauty that surrounds his home in Montana: the tumultuous weather, the rushing Yellowstone River, and the soaring Beartooth Mountains.

Read on for Paolini and Tad Williams's discussion about why they write fantasy, their upcoming projects, and more.
Christopher Paolini
Tad: Hi, Christopher. Nice to talk to you, albeit virtually. It was great hanging out with you and your family this summer. Pretty much all of us fell in love with your part of the world, too.

Be warned: this isn't my best time of the day, so if I start calling you "Herman" and asking what it was about whaling that interested you, please forgive.

The first thing I'd like to ask you as a starter question is: why fantasy? I mean, there's the obvious answer (which is also true for me) that it was something I loved to read growing up, but I guess I'm curious what is it that still resonates for you. Why do these kind of stories, these kinds of characters, these kinds of worlds, still speak to you?
In a similar vein, do you have another kind of fiction, another genre, that you'd really like to try? If so, why? Any genres you think you'll never write but wish you could?

Christopher: Hi Tad. Great talking to you as well. We all had a wonderful time when you guys visited. Definitely one of the highlights of the year.

I'm still waking up as well -- takes a few cups of tea and a few strips of bacon before the little gray cells start firing properly -- so if I sound a bit muddled, that's why. Still, we can make a stab at coherency, eh?
Tad Williams
Hmm. Why do I write fantasy? As you said, it's because I enjoy reading it, but I enjoy reading it because . . . well, for a number of reasons, I suppose. First of all, fantasy allows for all sorts of dangerous situations, and those can provide a lot of excitement in a story. And excitement is always fun. Also, epic fantasy usually deals with themes and situations that everyone can relate to, such as the challenge of growing up, or how one is supposed to deal with moral quandaries. Fantasy is the oldest form of literature; the very first stories that humans told while crouched around campfires were stories about gods and monsters and tragic mistakes and heroic feats. Even now, those topics still resonate with us on a primal level, which is one reason I think fantasy will remain popular with readers as long as humans are still human. And I love the sense of awe and wonder one can often find in fantastical literature. . . . Fantasy can allow you to see and hear and experience things that have never existed and never *could* exist. To me, that is the closest we come to real magic in this world.

  That said, there are a number of other genres I'd like to try my hand at: mystery, thriller, horror, science-fiction, romance, etc. I love stories of all kinds -- although mythic ones certainly hold the greatest appeal to me -- and I'm very much looking forward to experimenting once I finish the Inheritance cycle. Any genres I think I'll never write but wish I could? . . . Probably long-form epic poetry or a witty comedy of manners. Poetry is fun, but my grasp on it is rather shaky, and a comedy of manners (while I enjoy them) is so different from my usual life, I'm not sure I could pull it off properly.

And now a question for you: You have just finished your third (large) series. What is it about big epic stories that so fascinates you? Why not write small, intimate books about a fishmonger whose greatest love is his toothpick sculpture of the Brooklyn Bridge?

Read the full conversation
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The conclusion of Williams’ four-volume saga opens with an array of creatures converging on Southmarch: the Funderlings from below, the Qar from in front, traitors to King Olin from within, and the autarch of Xis from overseas. Prince Barrick struggles to retain his sanity after accepting the powers of the Qar king; King Olin, a captive of the autarch, does his best to slay his captor before that mad monarch can carry out his plan to challenge the gods; and Princess Briony is still with Prince Eneas, who brought an allied army to Southmarch. The plot springs from climax to climax as intrigues and secrets are unwound and revealed. The greatest danger is the autarch’s folly, for in seeking to become a god he arouses Zosim the Trickster, a highly destructive deity. Zosim is defeated at great cost, but the bloody messes he leaves require an immense tidy-up. Anyone who has read the first three novels should have no trouble following the multiple characters and shifting viewpoints. For those who have not, a synopsis is provided. The pacing is noteworthy, and with so many characters, naturally the quality varies; but the best drawn are well done. High-Demand Backstory: The previous volumes in the series have been best-sellers, and with eager reader anticipation of the concluding volume, publisher push will be made obvious. --Frieda Murray --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Shadowmarch Series (Book 4)
  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (November 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144189120X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441891204
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.2 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,988,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Former singer, shoe-seller, radio show host, and inventor of interactive sci-fi television, Tad Williams is now a full-time writer. His 'Memory, Sorrow and Thorn' series established him as an internationally bestselling fantasy author. The series that followed, 'Otherland', is now a multi-million-dollar MMO launching in 2012 from dtp/realU/Gamigo. Tad is also the author of the fantasy series, the 'Shadowmarch' books; the stand-alone Faerie epic, 'The War of the Flowers'; two collections of short stories ('Rite' and 'A Stark and Wormy Knight'), the Shakespearian fantasy 'Caliban's Hour' and, with his partner & collaborator Deborah Beale, the childrens'/all-ages fantasy series, the 'Ordinary Farm' novels. Coming in September 2012 are the Bobby Dollar novels, fantasy thrillers set again the backdrop of the monstrously ancient cold war between Heaven and Hell: the first is 'The Dirty Streets of Heaven.'

Tad is also the author of 'Tailchaser's Song': his first novel spawned the subgenre of cats and fantasy that we see widely today. 'Tailchaser's Song' is currently in preproduction as an animated film from Animetropolis/IDA.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By B. Capossere TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Shadowheart is the concluding fourth volume of Tad Williams' most recent trilogy (yes, yes, I know), following Shadowmarch, Shadowplay, and Shadowrise, the last originally intended to finish the series but instead being split in half, leading to Shadowheart. The first book, Shadowmarch, started off a bit slow and had some issues I thought with pace and cliché. Shadowplay was a large improvement in nearly all facets, Shadowrise kept to the higher quality, and Shadowheart, I'm happy to say, mostly ends it all in strong fashion.

The plot, which has been wide-ranging in terms of geography and multiple plot strands, has narrowed to a single point, centering on the Eddon family's seat, the castle Southmarch, whose caverns below the castle were the site of an ancient battle between gods which resulted in the gods being banished and the portal closed behind them. But the mad Autarch of Xis has forged his empire as a weapon to slice open the path to the castle so as to gain the power of the gods for himself, and in Shadowheart he's finally reached his goal. One Eddon twin, Briony has returned with a small army she's managed to collect thanks to a young prince hoping to wed her. The other Eddon twin, Barrick, has returned as well, but is more Qar (faerie) than human thanks to the magical Fireflower inside him which gives him all the memories of past Qar kings, as well as some level of authority among them. Meanwhile, under Southmarch, the human captain Ferras Vansen leads an ever-dwindling group of Funderlings (Qar dwarfs) in an impossible battle against the Autarch, hoping against hope that the Qar army, which had originally come to battle the humans, will join with them against the greater threat.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I really wish there were more authors like Tad Williams. He has spent three very long books slowly building up a fantasy epic to its climax, and at last the many different forces around Shadowmarch are about to clash. "Shadowheart" takes a LONG time to work its way to the climax, but it's still a brilliant, wrenching finale.

Picking up where the last book left off: Briony and Prince Eneas are leading a ragtag army to the castle, and the exiled Barrick is struggling with the effects of the Fireflower in a Qar citadel. And no sooner has Barrick recovered than he and the Qar queen Saqri set out on a journey into the gateways of the gods and the worlds of dreams, so that they can make their way to Shadowmarch.

Unfortunately, the Autarch Sulepis and the treacherous Tolly have virtually seized control of Shadowmarch Castle, and are planning to (separately) awaken gods for their own power. Allies and family are killed, treachery is unveiled, and the most terrifying enemy imaginable is about to attack all of them...

Like his Otherland and Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, the Shadowmarch series expanded into a quadrilogy when the third book got too huge to actually be printed. Fortunately, this doesn't really throw off the balance of the book, since it merely feels like the last chunk of a vast, epic story.

And Williams' writing is sublime -- he twines together a dozen-plus plot threads into a shimmering, atmospheric tapestry. His prose is lush and almost dreamlike, and full of vibrant descriptions ("vines that bore nodding black flowers and leaves as purple as a bruise"). Actually, this book has some of the best writing I've ever seen from Williams -- the scenes where Barrick drifts through the misty fields of the dreaming dead are just exquisite.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on December 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
With this final installment in his latest series Tad Williams has vaulted into the ultimate echelon of epic fantasy authors. Fantasy series have become a 'dime a dozen,' largely uninspired and oftentimes banal and trite. This series is anything but average. While Mr. Williams has a style all his own, the way he weaves the plot, distills his characters, and makes an entire universe come to life, is reminiscent of other contemporary gifted fantasy writers like Donaldson or Hobb. But where his talent stands out is in his remarkable ability to make you feel as if you are standing there with his characters, immersed in their lives, sharing their struggles. They are real people, flesh and blood--and their conversations and thought processes are commensurate with the life they are leading. His story arc is tremendous; the characters in the story are fantastic.

The danger with finishing an epic series like this is that it is tempting to go back over it in order to nit-pick and be hypercritical about specific plot twists and character flaws, biasing one's critique toward the balance of personal wishes. When it was all said and done I wished Barrick more immediate happiness, better resolution or explanation regarding Flint, and improved development surrounding Anissa and her specious dealings. But those are biased, personal complaints and should not for a moment hinder a prospective reader from delving into this saga. Had those threads been changed it would have likely made for a less impressive or ultimately satisfying read. That is why Tad Williams is the author he is. Shadowheart, and the Shadowmarch series, is on the whole a five star experience. I can only hope he has one more left in him....
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