Shadowplay – Tad Williams
Pages: 672 pages
Publisher: DAW Hardcover
Release Date: March 6, 2007
The works of Tad Williams and I go a long way back… but it’s only been about 2.5 years since I’ve actually discovered that I enjoy them. You see, I read The Dragonbone Chair, the first book in his tremendous High Fantasy trilogy called Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, two and a half times through, each time putting it down less than impressed, but wanting to love it.
Refusing to give up on Tad Williams, I picked up Shadowmarch, the first book in a trilogy of the same name. That’s when something funny happened, I really, really enjoyed it. I found it to be a bit denser of plot than The Dragonbone Chair and it moved along more quickly. Suffice to say, once I finished Shadowmarch I went out and gave The Dragonbone Chair a fourth shot and for some reason ending up loving it and finishing the rest of the series.
So I feel like I have Shadowmarch to thank for finally showing me how to love Tad Williams. So it was with a lot of excitement that I cracked open my early copy of Shadowplay, the sequel to Shadowmarch and middle book of the trilogy.
I should preface what I’m about to say with a little warning. Even the weakest of Tad Williams’ books is still something I would consider near the top of the genre. That being said, I could not help but feel let down by Shadowplay. I mentioned in my review of Terry Brooks’ The Elves of Cintra that what made that book so strong was that it avoided the trap that most middle books fall into… it’s with a big grimace that I have to say that Shadowplay isn’t so lucky.
After the strong, dense showing that Shadowmarch put on, Shadowplay just feels a little empty, like not much goes on. I’m sure that once the third book (Shadowfall) is published, we’ll understand that most of Shadowplay is setup, but I also can’t help but feel that this novel is one of Tad’s weaker efforts.
There are definitely cool moments during Shadowplay and Williams’ characterization is as strong as ever, but it just seemed like the plot advanced slower than it should have. In any case, though, Williams has set up a heck of a ride for Shadowfall as he ties off all the loose strings left hanging by Shadowmarch and Shadowplay.