A year ago, the March Kingdoms were at peace, the Eddon family held the throne, and all was right in Southmarch Castle and the north of the world.
Now the family has been shattered. King Olin Eddon is a prisoner in a faraway land. Olin's heir Kendrick is dead – slain by treachery and dark, bloody magic – and Kendrick's younger brother and sister have barely escaped several attempts on their own lives.
With their father and brother taken from them, the royal twins Barrick and Briony have done their best to hold the kingdom together, but now Barrick has been captured in a failed war against the immortal Twilight People and Briony has been forced to flee the castle. Everywhere in the north the fierce Twilight People, led by the ageless warrior-witch Yasammez, hold sway. Old magics are stirring beneath the ancient castle and behind the Shadowline, and the machinations of gods, fairies, and mortals threaten to spread devastation across the entire world.
Meanwhile, the Autarch, the insane god-king of the southern continent, has set in motion his plan to bring the entire northern world – and most especially Southmarch Castle – under his sway.
Behind the Shadowline, Prince Barrick Eddon of Southmarch is lost and spellbound in the land of the fairies. Though he has barely begun to uncover the strange secrets of his own past, Barrick must also solve the mystery of his even stranger destiny – a destiny which will lead him to places no man has ever gone and force him to take on a burden even the greatest hero couldn't bear – preserving the lives of all humans and fairy folk.
As she flees Southmarch, Princess Briony finds both allies and deadly enemies in unexpected places far from the land of her birth. In her quest to survive and win back her family's throne she encounters spies and murderers, traveling players, and ancient gods.
During their desperate journeys the twins discover that even a land's rulers may know little of its true history, and that both families and nations can hide dark and terrible secrets.
But even if Barrick and Briony survive learning the astonishing truths at the heart of their own family and of Southmarch itself, they must still find a way to do the impossible: they must reclaim their kingdom and rescue their home and people from a multitude of powerful enemies – from traitors, tyrants, a god-king, and even from the angry gods themselves.
Tad Williams (US, born 1957) has held more jobs than any sane person should admit to – singing in a band, selling shoes, managing a financial institution, throwing newspapers, and designing military manuals, to name just a few. He also hosted a syndicated radio show for ten years, worked in theater and television production, taught both grade-school and college classes, and worked in multimedia for a major computer firm. He is cofounder of an interactive television company, and is currently writing comic books and film and television scripts as well. Tad and his family live in London and the San Francisco Bay Area.