3 out of 5
Shadowheart is the fourth and final installment of Williams’ Shadowmarch series. All of the major characters converge on Shadowmarch castle for several final showdowns, both above and below ground. It is difficult to go into much more of the plot without giving spoilers. Basically Briony and Prince Eanas, Barrick and the Qar, Vansen and the Funderlings, and the Autarch with his followers, all have their parts to play in the battles ahead. By the end all of the various plot lines are tied up if not in a way that the reader expects. There are several problems with the story. First Briony’s growth does not match that of her brother, she does go through major changes but at times still comes across as a spoiled brat. Barrick’s changes are much more pronounced, he becomes a full adult who struggles with balancing both of his worlds. Second the novel itself is just too long. There are large portions that could have been cut without harming the story. It left me with the feeling that the editors were using kid gloves. Third while some characters’ secrets are slowly shared others are just dropped on the reader at the end, mainly Flint’s. Throughout the series Flint’s oddity was noted but considering the size of the novel and the time spent on other lesser characters, I felt that more time could have been spent on who/what this child is. I would recommend this series as it is a good story but don’t expect to finish it quickly.