A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 21

U is for — Queen Upsteeplebat, from Tad Williams’ Shadowmarch series

When I first read the name Queen Upsteeplebat, I thought to myself, What kind of a name is that? Being a reader of fantasy and science fiction, I’ve run across some odd names before, but that has to be one of the strangest. And such a huge, long name for such a tiny person. “Her Exquisite and Unforgotten Majesty,” Queen Upsteeplebat is the leader of the Rooftoppers, a race of little people similar to Lilliputians or Mary Norton’s Borrowers. They live in the towers and forgotten places of Shadowmarch Castle. Rooftopper warriors ride trained mice and wear nutshell armor and helmets made from bird skulls. The queen rides a white dove and her regal bearing commands respect from everyone, large or small. Williams describes her thus: She “rode directly between the dove’s wings with her legs curled beneath her and the reins little more than a sparkling cobweb in her hands. Her gown was brown and gray, rich with ornament, and her hair was dark red.” She “was not so much pretty as handsome, with a fine, strong-boned face and eyes that looked up … without any discernible fear.”

Queen Upsteeplebat and the Rooftoppers meet with one of the Funderlings (Dwarf-like people) to warn him of the evil that is rising beneath Shadowmarch Castle. Beetledown the Bowman, a Rooftopper gutter-scout, aids the Funderlings and is instrumental in dealing a crippling blow to the enemy in the final battle in the fourth book of the series, Shadowheart. Though the Rooftoppers are supporting characters rather than main characters, I found them endearing and more interesting than most of the other characters in the books. Their bravery and sacrifice equaled that of those a hundred times their size.


5 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 21

    • I have mixed feelings about the series. The world-building is amazing, but there are so many names and places and peoples and deities that I gave up trying to keep track of everything, and at times I felt overwhelmed by too many details. There were two characters I was really interested in, so I read through to the end to see what happened to them. Most of the other characters I really didn’t care about, and their sections were slow-going for me. But that might just be me. My recommendation would be to read the first book. If you like that one, you’ll probably like the others. If you feel it’s only so-so, I’d skip the two middle ones and read the last one, if you want to know the fate of the characters. Most everything important happens in the last book.


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