I have just finished my second book of the year, Shadowheart by Tad Williams. Shadowheart is the final volume in a four-part series,which, by the way is apparently called a tetralogy. Who knew? This tetralogy is a lengthy epic fantasy story that follows many different characters and their attempts to save their world from complete destruction by an evil villain. Oh wait, I just described every fantasy series, didn't I?
Despite it's slightly overused theme, I really enjoyed this series. The more I think about it, the more I am amazed at Tad Williams' ability to create such a detailed world with so many rich, fully developed characters and countless intriguing plot lines that all tie in together so perfectly at the end. It was easy for me to become completely immersed in the story and to feel like I was there, in this completely different world, taking part in these world changing events. And that, my friends, is why I read fantasy. So, overall, the Shadowmarch series has my two thumbs up!
More specifically, here is what I liked:
The characters: All the characters were well developed and realistic. I loved seeing how the characters changed and grew, especially Briony, who started out as a whiny teenager and ended as an admirable queen. Quite a transformation!
The ending: The end wasn't too happy and everything didn't work out perfectly (cough Twilight cough) but the author also didn't go on a meaningless killing spree of minor characters (cough Harry Potter..). Also, although there was a lot resolution (over a hundred pages of wrapping up!), I think it was needed. I really enjoyed the details that I received at the end, especially since I had to get through so many details to get there! I would have felt ripped off if the book had ended any sooner. Plus, I found myself really sad about leaving my dear characters; turns out we got pretty close in those 2500 pages!
What I didn't like:
The details/length: Sometimes, and only sometimes, these books seemed to drag a little. Too many details. Also, often the story would go to the point of view of some pointless and boring character, and then nothing would happen. Sure, maybe these characters added a little to the story, but really I think that sometimes they were only there to drag the story out a little longer. I can't categorize these books as "can't put downs" because honestly, due to these annoying characters, there were several times when I really wanted to stop reading.
So, would I recommend this series? Well..
Epic fantasy lovers: Yes! Most definitely read this. Some of the best stuff in the out there I think!
Epic fantasy haters: No, probably not for you. It's not quite good enough to bridge the gap between genres.
Epic fantasy dabblers: This is a great series for you! It's only four volumes and it's a really good story. Go for it!