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A people with centuries of pacifism behind them. An enemy with experienced armies and high-power sorcerers to support them. And me with maybe a month to figure out how to help the former whip the latter.

Croaker, Shadow Games, chapter 30

The Shadowmaster wars were the series of conflicts fought between Taglios and the Shadowmasters deep in the southern continent. The wars are described in the Annals of both Books of the South and the first two Books of Glittering Stone, beginning in Shadow Games and ending in She Is the Darkness.


The Shadowmaster wars can be separated into two separate wars: "Willow's war", and then "the Liberator's war" which began one year later. The first was much smaller in scale and shorter in duration than the second. Despite the varying commanders of the Taglian armies, Taglios itself was ruled by its Prince, the Prahbrindrah Drah, and his sister the Princess, the Radisha Drah, throughout the whole Shadowmaster wars. Croaker the Liberator ended the Shadowmaster wars with complete victory for Taglios. Only one of the Shadowmasters, Longshadow, survived to be captured.

Willow's war[]

During "Willow's war" the disparate Taglian forces were directed by the foreigners Willow Swan, Cordy Mather, and Blade. They were hampered by the independence of the Gunni, Shadar, and Vehdna cult leaders of Taglios, who refused to submit to one another in a single military hierarchy.

The Shadowlanders were allowed to cross the Main. On two occasions, Cordy tricked entire companies of Shadowlanders to seize specially prepared Taglian towns unopposed, only to burn them down. Later, Willow trapped a larger veteran force of invaders in a walled town, resulting in a bloody massacre.

The Shadowlanders buried their dead from Willow's war in a sprawling graveyard not far from the Grove of Doom. (This cemetery was well-hidden by a dense stand of trees; more than 15 years after the end of the Shadowmaster wars, the territory adjoining this cemetery would be the site of the Battle at the Shadowlander cemetery, part of the subsequent Protectorate war.)

Over the next year, the Shadowmasters regrouped and prepared a much larger force to cross the Main to capture Taglios. To counter this, the Prahbrindrah Drah commissioned the Black Company to help militarize the un-warlike people of Taglios to beat back the next inevitable waves of invaders.

The Liberator's war[]

During the Liberator's war, the Taglians were more thoroughly trained and prepared. They were now commanded by Croaker (the "Liberator") and his Black Company. Except for the single time that "Willow's war" was specified, the Shadowmaster wars are always referred to collectively in the Annals.

Naturally, the battles of Croaker the Liberator's war were much more detailed in his Annals than the preceding events of "Willow's war". Major engagements and milestones during the Liberator's war include the following:

  1. Skirmish near the Grove of Doom
  2. Lady's battle at Numa Ford
    • a preface to the Battle of Ghoja Ford, taking place 1 day before it on the north bank of the Main at Numa Ford
    • Lady and her Shadar Taglians forced the Shadowlanders back across the Main twice, then fought a battle on the north bank against the enemy force that "formed up and held out almost all day"
    • Lady seized the Shadowlander fortress on the south bank of the Main
    • Jahamaraj Jah and his Shadar riders were sent across into enemy territory
  3. Battle of Ghoja Ford
    • the first significant battle of the Liberator's war
    • took place on the north bank of the Main, across the ford at Ghoja
    • victory for the Black Company and Taglios
  4. Battle of Dejagore
    • battle took place over 2 days, and consisted of 2 pitched confrontations outside the city walls
    • 1st day: victory for the Company and Taglios when they seized "Stormgard" (Dejagore), and killed Stormshadow
    • 2nd day:
      • Moonshadow paralyzed (and soon executed by Soulcatcher)
      • victory for Shadowspinner, who defeated the Company and Taglios
      • Croaker the Liberator disappeared and was presumed dead, though he had actually been abducted by Soulcatcher
    • overall a major victory for the surviving two Shadowmasters
  5. Siege of Dejagore
    • began immediately after the Battle of Dejagore
    • the city was besieged by Shadowspinner, whose primary targets were the Black Company and the Taglians who fled behind the walls after the battle
    • the people of Dejagore (Jaicuri) suffered immensely during flooding and outbreaks of disease
    • the 1800 Nyueng Bao De Duang pilgrims in the city were subjected to a genocide that reduced them to one-third of their original number
    • the Black Company became badly fractured into two rival cells: the Old Crew (commanded by Murgen) and the Nar (commanded by Mogaba)
    • Lady and a small band of her allies eventually killed Shadowspinner, but she maintained the siege (albeit with less violence) to contest Mogaba's claim to the Captaincy
    • ultimately the siege was a victory for the Black Company, despite the gruesome cost
  6. Bloodless liberation of Tragevec ("Shadowlight")
    • this key city – formerly the headquarters of Shadowspinner – let the Taglians extend the Rock Road to it untroubled, and offered no resistance when the armies arrived in force
  7. Battle of Lake Tanji
  8. Battle of Charandaprash
  9. Shaded Road
    • top secret commando expedition led by Goblin which operated before, during, and after the Battle of Charandaprash
  10. Siege of Overlook
    • final defeat of the last surviving Shadowmaster, Longshadow, who was captured alive
    • the Black Company was betrayed by the Prahbrindrah Drah, the Prince of Taglios, but this was anticipated and he was arrested by Goblin and his Shaded Road commandos
    • decisive end of the Shadowmaster wars


Several months after the Shadowmaster wars ended, the period known among the Black Company as the Captivity began, which lasted for 15 years plus the events of Water Sleeps. During a 5-consecutive-year stretch of the Captivity (before Water Sleeps), the Kiaulune wars were fought. Taglios, as well as the former Shadowlands, became the Protectorate, taken over by the powerful sorceress Soulcatcher.

Despite the death and destruction caused by the Shadowmaster wars, one lasting benefit was the new infrastructure: the stone bridge over the Main and the sturdy Rock Road linking Taglios, Ghoja, Dejagore, and Tragevec, all helped transformed the region.