Shadowplay: Exciting on audio

book review Tad Williams Shadowmarch Shadowplayfantasy book review Tad Williams Shadowmarch 2. ShadowplayShadowplay by Tad Williams

Shadowplay is the second book in Tad Williams‘ massive epic fantasy series, Shadowmarch. The plot was just starting to get really interesting when the first book ended, so I was eager to start Shadowplay. Things have gone awry in the March Kingdoms. Book two starts in chaos and things only go downhill from there. I’m not normally a reader of classic epic fantasy, since I often find things like family lineage, court politics and over-dramatic heroic battles boring. This series has all of this, but this time it seems to work for me. I’m being entertained despite the fact that this is territory I’ve visited many times before.

The story picks up right where Shadowmarch left off. You would think the second book in such a massive series would suffer a bit form middle book syndrome, but Shadowplay does not lull in the least. The point of view switches between several characters as they each deal with the changing world around them, so this keeps the story fresh without getting confusing.

There is a simple purity to Tad William’s writing that’s difficult to put my finger on, but the characters are what really make Shadowplay great. Princess Briony is continually challenged to adapt to new situations. The annoying independent streak she displayed as a noble child is the only thing keeping her alive as she fumbles through the places she now finds herself in. Then there is her twin brother Barak, who is not as likable. In fact, Barak is probably the least likable character in the entire story. The fact that his storyline pairs him with two other very strong characters is the only thing that keeps me from losing interest in him entirely. There are many other characters we follow as well, and all of them have their own enjoyable qualities that add to the overall narrative.

I have often been told that Tad Williams is an amazing writer, and it was that reputation alone that got me started on this series. I’m certainly glad I gave it a chance. I listened to this on audiobook by Brilliance Audio. It was narrated by Dick Hill, who does a wonderful job. Every character has a unique voice (that is very difficult to do when you have so many characters). Mr. Hill makes it a fun and exciting listen. I will be sure to keep my eye out for more books read by Hill.


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JUSTIN BLAZIER retired from FanLit in September 2012 after entertaining us for 3 years. Like many fantasy enthusiasts, Justin cut his teeth on Tolkien. Due to lack of space, his small public library would often give him their donated SFF books. Justin lives in a small home near the river with his wife, their baby daughter, and Norman, a mildly smelly dog. He doesn't have much time for reviewing anymore, but he still shows up here occasionally to let us know how he feels about stuff.

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One comment

  1. I’m like you Justin, with the doorstopper traditional epics -to a point anyway, there’s a few that I’m currently following.
    I read Shadowplay when it first came-out and really liked it too, but it became the victim that I took my frustrations out on over long-waits between books. (Thanks GRRM and J. V. Jones..thanks ever so much). I ended-up using it as barter at my local used bookstore.. I regret that now. It was a beautiful book, if nothing else. Your reviews have got me wanting to take it up again.
    One personal story about Tad Williams though,for anyone interested. My son who never became much of a reader – he just never got bit by the book-worm- loved The Tailchaser’s Song when he was about 12 years old. That has always stood-out to me, cause its about the only book I can think of that he read, cover-to-cover, just for the fun of it.

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