The Shadowmasters were a group of four sorcerers – Longshadow, Stormshadow, Moonshadow, and Shadowspinner – who established the Shadowlands in the far south of the southern continent and had designs to conquer the homeworld. Using their control over lethal shadows, they and their armies were the primary antagonists of the Books of the South and the first two Books of Glittering Stone.
Before Croaker's Annals[edit | edit source]
Prior to the events of Shadow Games, the Shadowmasters first established themselves in a place called Pityus, about 400 miles south of Taglios. They soon conquered virtually everything south of Taglios, a vast spread of territory which became known as the Shadowlands.
Their major holdings were:
- Stormgard (formerly Dejagore) ruled by Stormshadow
- Shadowlight (formerly Tragevec) ruled by Shadowspinner
- Shadowcatch (formerly Kiaulune) ruled by Longshadow
The Shadowmasters also captured Six, Fred, and New Dhar. Before crossing the Main and striking Taglios directly, their tenuous alliance began to fracture and the four Shadowmasters began to battle one another.
War against Taglios[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Shadowmaster wars
Eventually, the feuding Shadowmasters reunited, and three of them – Stormshadow, Moonshadow, and Shadowspinner – prepared to invade Taglios. Their first armies of Shadowlanders were turned back by a militia led by Willow Swan, Blade, and Cordy Mather.
About a year later, at the time of the Black Company's arrival in Taglios, the Shadowmasters finally re-organized to prepare a decisive strike to capture Taglios. With the generalship of Croaker the Liberator, however, the Taglian army smashed the Shadowlanders at the Battle of Ghoja Ford. They pushed deeper into the Shadowmasters' territory until they captured Stormgard (better known as Dejagore).
On the first night of the Battle of Dejagore, one of the Shadowmasters, Stormshadow, was killed in combat by the Company's immensely powerful ally, Shapeshifter. The next day, Moonshadow brought a large army up to retake Dejagore, and Croaker's Taglian army was defeated by additional Shadowlander reinforcements with Shadowspinner at their head. After this battle, a diminished force of Company men and Taglians managed to retreat into Dejagore. But a second Shadowmaster, Moonshadow, was lost in the fighting: he was impaled on the Lance of Passion and finished off later by Soulcatcher.
Siege of Dejagore[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Siege of Dejagore
Shadowspinner led the Siege of Dejagore after the victory outside the walls, subjecting the city to miserable conditions for months. To his benefit, his enemies were divided, with the Company splintered into two factions: the Nar and most of the Taglians, led by Mogaba; and the Old Crew led by Murgen and supported by the Nyueng Bao De Duang. However, Shadowspinner had sustained serious injuries during the battle. And worse, his formidable abilities with sorcery were hampered from afar by his rival, Longshadow, who was using him as a disposable breakwater against the Black Company. He often had to repel dangerous sorties led by Mogaba himself and his formidable Nar sergeants.
Eventually, Shadowspinner regained much of his strength with the help of the Howler. On the night Spinner was about to capture Dejagore, he was unexpectedly confronted by Lifetaker, who rode out from the hills and battled him to a standstill in a sorcery duel. Meanwhile Widowmaker rode around, slaying a number of Spinner's men and crushing their morale. These two mysterious attackers (who turned out to be Soulcatcher and Croaker) made it impossible for Shadowspinner to capture Dejagore without further help. Shadowspinner next attempted some political maneuverings which pushed the Nar and the Old Crew into open violence against one another, and he flooded the city. But he was finally assassinated by Lady, her band of Stranglers, and her ally Blade. Virtually his entire army was neutralized as well.
The last Shadowmaster[edit | edit source]
Once Dejagore was freed, the Company proceeded south, continuing to liberate the Shadowlands, now with little resistance. Longshadow, the last Shadowmaster, proved to be an ineffective leader. But two traitors from his enemy's ranks became his best new generals: Mogaba, whom he kept on a short leash, and Blade, who repeatedly scored noteworthy victories. He also forged an alliance with Narayan Singh and the Stranglers, former allies of the Company who now were their feared enemies.
At the Battle of Lake Tanji, Longshadow unleashed millions of shadows against the Black Company, but Lady's fireball projectors rendered his supernatural onslaught largely ineffective. Although he was now limited to conventional warfare, he was still unwilling to let Mogaba fight the war as he wanted to. In this way, Longshadow unintentionally enabled Croaker to enact his master strategy. Croaker had inserted Blade into the Shadowlander ranks as a mole, and the sudden turning of Blade's troops during the Battle of Charandaprash was a crushing blow. After Longshadow's forces were routed on the Plain of Charandaprash, they were further harried and demoralized by Goblin's Shaded Road commandos. The Shadowmaster's enemies now crossed the Dandha Presh and pressed southward, with very little resistance, until they reached "Shadowcatch" (Kiaulune) and Longshadow's castle, Overlook.
Longshadow's capture during the Siege of Overlook marked the end of the Shadowmasters as a force in the world. He would shortly thereafter become one of the Captured beneath the glittering plain. His former empire became a part of Soulcatcher's Protectorate. Roughly 15 years later, he was ultimately returned to Hsien to face judgment for his many crimes against them generations ago.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
The Shadowmasters share similarities with the Princes Thaumaturge of Shinsan, in Glen Cook's earlier Dread Empire series.
|Longshadow • Moonshadow • Shadowspinner • Stormshadow|