Sorry this took so long! I am a slow reader...
Review of Downshadow (Forgotten Realms : Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep #3)
First off, the main character, Kalen Dren—Shadowbane— seems to be a diverse character for the genre. He holds a rich history (which is touched on in this novel) which adds to his depth. I enjoyed each of the characters in the book and Erik Scott de Bie did a good job not to overwhelm you with characters. Don’t get me wrong, there is a good amount, but it comes at a steady pace and does not distract from the story. Erik brings a good feel of the realms as well as suspends your belief enough to put you into the world for the entire ride.
Kalen is a very interesting character, especially in the heroic sense and something I enjoy as a paladin right out of a Dungeons and Dragons game. The character has a strange feel to me as a cross between Superman and Batman (I oversimplify of course) as he has the altruistic ideals of Superman mixed with the gritty perseverance of the Dark Knight. (Just my opinion) He also is a victim of the spellplague—his effect dulls his senses and lends itself to the individuality of the character. He also has Vindicator, a bastard sword encased in sliver flames that instill pain in anyone unworthy to carry it. Magic Items, just like gadgets and high tech guns in sci-fi, are the bread and butter of the sword and sorcery genre in my humble opinion, and this one is no different!
The antagonists are very cool as well, specifically a dwarven monk mercenary named Rath who enjoys his drinks and appears as if to punish himself with alcohol. I have a feeling that this guy has had his fair share of problems and despite his evil ways, has some twisted sense of honor. He is a very confident combatant who pushes Shadowbane to his thresholds. I do not want to divulge any details, so you will need to read it for yourself to see. Also, Fayne the trickster, whose character seems boundless, was truly well written as the deceitful one full of tricks.
Erik also does a fantastic job of setting the scene for his reader. From the broadcrier selling papers in the streets to an evening of ballroom dancing to fights in the streets above and below Waterdeep, he does it all. I must commend him on this particular skill, for it is flawlessly done.
My only complaint (if you want to call it one) is that Kalen appears to have the eye of every one of the main female characters in the story (Fayne, Rayse, Myrin, etc.) They are all falling over themselves to be with him or flirt with him continually. While this may be the case as he is handsome and charismatic, I take his rough exterior and spellplague curse to mean that he might not take care of his skin, hygiene and so forth as well. And because he cannot feel, his body might be covered in scars. This may have been addressed in another segment or something< i do not know. Either way, it is a minor quibble that does not distract from the story.
I give the book 5 stars. It was a fun read in the fantasy genre and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy. Now to finish William Kenney's A Dream of Storms next, then Erin M. Evans' Brimstone Angels....might be another year!
See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!
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Image of Downshadow (Forgotten Realms : Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep #3) copyright Wizards of the Coast