Tad Williams: Shadowrise

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Tad Williams Shadowrise
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As shadows threaten to consume the kingdom of Southmarch, Barrick Eddon, heir to March throne, battles his way across the sinister Shadowlands. He must journey through this dangerous, inhuman realm to fulfil a pact—as this may be all that can prevent the atrocities of a full-scale war with the Twilight people of Qul-na-Qar. Meanwhile, the assault upon Southmarch has truly begun. Yasammez, the formidable head of the Qar army, has ordered the attack, believing that the pact between humans and Qar has been broken. Unless Ferras Vansen, Captain of the Southmarch Royal Guard, can convince her otherwise, the humans are sure to meet the dark end that has been promised to them…

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Tad Williams


Like the first two volumes, Shadowrise is dedicated to our children Connor Williams and Devon Beale, who continue to oppress me with a mighty, mighty love. They are the two coolest kids in the world.


Thanks as always to my editors Betsy Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert and everyone else at DAW Books, to my wonderful wife Deborah Beale and to our wonderful assistant Dena Chavez and my crafty agent Matt Bialer. Also many thanks to Lisa Tveit, who has been a hero managing our Web site, www.tadwilliams.com. Please come and join us there. It’s fun and the side effects are largely harmless.

Nobody since Dorothy first landed in Oz has been surrounded with as many magical people as I am every day, and I am profoundly grateful for that.

Author’s Note

Shadowrise was originally meant to be the final volume of the Shadowmarch trilogy. My profound uneasiness with planning and my inability to count beyond the span of my fingers and toes led me to err once again: when I reached the fifteen-hundred-page point of the manuscript, I realized this last volume would have to be split into two parts.

Thus you hold in your hand the first half of the end of the story. The second (and last) part, Shadowheart, should follow within a short matter of months. And I swear that one of these days I will learn how to write a last volume that doesn’t need its own zip code.


“Tell me the rest of the story, bird.”

The raven cocked his head. “Story?”

“About the god Kupilas—about Crooked, as you call him. Tell the tale, bird. It’s pissing down rain and I’m cold and I’m hungry and I’m lost in the worst place in the world.”

“Us is wet and hungry, too,” Skurn reminded him. “Us has et scarce but a mashed cocoon or two lately.”

That idea didn’t make Barrick feel any better. “Just… tell me some more of the tale. Please.”

The raven smoothed his blotched feathers, mollified. “S’pose us could. What did us tell last?”

“About how he met his great-grandmother. And she was going to teach him…”

“Oh, aye. Us recalls it. ‘I will teach you how to travel in the lands of Emptiness, ’ his great-grandmother did tell Crooked, ‘which stand beside everything and are in every place, as close as a thought, as invisible as a prayer.’ Be that what us were telling?”

“That’s it.”

“Could p’raps find you somewhat to eat, first?” Skurn was in a good mood again. “This part of the wood be full of Whistling Moths…” He saw the look on Barrick’s face. “Well, then, Sir Too-Good-For-Everything—but don’t blame Skurn when you comes over all rumblystummicked in the night…”

* * *

“Crooked did spend long days at the side of Emptiness, his great-grandmother, learning the secrets of her land and its roads and growing wiser even than he had been. He learned many tricks traveling in his great-grandmother’s land, and saw many things when no one thought he watched ’em. And though his body was crippled and he had one leg shorter than the other, walking rickety-raw, rickety-raw like a wagon with a broken wheel, Crooked could travel faster than anyone—even his cousin Tricker, who men do call Zosim.

“Tricker was swiftest of all the clan of the Three Brothers, sly master of roads and poetry and madmen. In truth, clever Tricker had figured out some of Grandmother Emptiness’ secrets all on his ownsome, but he also called her ‘Old Wind in a Well’ when he didn’t know she were listening. After that she made sure Tricker never learned anything more about her lands and their weirdling ways.

“But Crooked she kept close to her heart and taught him well. The more Crooked learned, the more words and powers he gained, the more he felt it unfair that his father should have been killed and his mother stolen and his uncle and all his kin banished into the sky while the ones who had done it to them, especially the three biggest brothers—Perin, Kernios, and Erivor, as your folk call ’em—should live and laugh on the earth, happy and singing. Crooked brooded on this a long while until at last he thought of a scheme—the deepest, craftiest scheme that ever was.

“Now all of the three brothers were surrounded by guards and wards of frightsome power, so it were not enough simply to come upon them suddenly, looking to do harm. Water Man Erivor had sea wolves swimming all around his throne, and poison jellies, as well as his water soldiers who guarded him all the green day and green night. Sky Man Perin lived in a palace on the highest mountain of the world, surrounded by rest of his kin, and he carried the great hammer Crackbolt that Crooked himself had made for him, which could break the world itself if it hammered on it long enough. And Stone Man (called Kernios by your folk) had not so many servitors, but lived in his castle deep in the earth among the dead, and was warded round with tricks and words that could burn the eyes from your head or turn your bones to cracksome ice.

“But one weakness all the brothers had, which is the weakness any man has, and that were their wives. For even the Firstborn, it is said, are no better than any others in the eyes of their own women.

“Long had clever Crooked grown his friendships with the wives of two of the brothers: Night, who was Sky Man’s queen, and Moon, who had been cast out by Stone Man and then taken to wife by Water Man, his brother. Both of these queens begrudged their husbands’ freedoms and wished that they too could go out and all about in the world, loving who they pleased and doing what they chose. So to these two Crooked gave a potion to put in their husbands’ wine cups, telling them, ‘This will make them sleep the night long and not wake once. While they slumber you can do as you please.’

“Night and Moon were pleased by Crooked’s gift, and promised they would do it that very night.

“The third brother, cold, hard Stone Man, had found Crooked’s own mother, Flower—I think your kind calls her Zoria—when was wandering alone and heart-sick after the war’s end, and had taken her home to be his wife, casting out his own wife Moon to find her luck in the world. Stone Man then gave Crooked’s mother a new name, Bright Dawn, but although he clothed her in heavy gold and jewels and other gifts of the black earth, she never smiled and never spoke, but sat like one of those dead folk Stone Man ruled from his dark throne. So Crooked went to his mother by darkness and told her of his plan. No need did he have to lie to her, either, who had seen her husband killed, her son tortured, and her family banished. When he gave her the potion she still did not speak or even smile, but she kissed Crooked on his head with her cold lips before she turned away and walked back into the endless corridors of Stone Man’s house. He would see her only once more again.

“His scheme in place, Crooked went firstly to the house of Water Man, deep beneath the ocean. He traveled through the lands of his great-grandmother, Emptiness, as she had taught him, so that no one in Water Man’s house saw him coming. Crooked slipped past the unsleeping sea-wolves like a cold current, and although they guessed he was nearby they could not reach him to tear him to pieces with their sharp teeth. Neither could the poison jellies sting him—Crooked passed through them as though they were nothing but floating lily pads.

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