on August 10, 2003
This was a wonderful book, I'm not sure what else can be said.
Cadderly, first of all, is one of the most unlikely of heros. He hates violence and while he was force to kill the evil priest Barjin in Canticle (the first book in the series) that moment haunts him constantly. He isn't the usual hero who knows that killing can be justified. Cadderly is the opposite, no matter how evil the opponents he is reluctant to attack... unless that being is thretening his Danica of course.
And that brings me to my second point, Danica and Cadderly. I have read all of Salvatore's books and never in any other series does he create such a mature relationship as there is between Cadderly and Danica. It adds a nice sense of need for action thoughout the book.
Thirdly there are the villans and semi-villans. Aballister stays in the backround while Druzil, Dorigen and Ragnor and his hordes try to overrun the forest of Shilmistra. Druzil and Dorigen use poor Kierkan Rufo (the same person Barjin used as his catalyst) Rufo is the semi-villan. I haven't read a review yet that say's he is a villan but he should be considered one. While his evil acts aren't always done of his own free will his never has the mind that maybe sacrificing himself could save dozens of others. His selfishness is what makes him a villan and his jealousy makes him a perfect scapegaot for the real bad guys. Everyone has read about a reluctant hero but the reluctant villan role isn't often played. It is a nice touch.
Now you might wonder why I only gave this only four stars and that is because though this is a great book and worthwhile read is does get tedious. For most of the book Cadderly, Danica, Elbereth (an elven prince) and the Bouldershoulder Brothers (who I just can't get enough of) are traipsing about the forest of Shilmistra, battling goblins and the like. At times there seems to be no destination but this problem is always quickly resolved. I'm probably just being picky, to tell you the truth.
Pick this one up, it is a good continuation of a great series.
on March 12, 2003
The second book of the Cleric Quintet begins with the elves of the nearby forest of Shilmista seeking the aid of the keepers of the Edificant Library. Not long afterwards the group of unlikely heroes sets out to save the forest. The rest of the book chronicles the exploits of the small group that ultimately serves as the deciding factor in the war in the woods.
This book reminded me a lot of Siege of Darkness in the Drizzt series. The novel was a lot faster paced than the first novel in the series, Canticle. I would definitely say I enjoyed this book more than the previous one. However, I would not consider this a great novel.
What I did like was the struggle for power in Castle Trinity. One thing Salvatore has a knack for is writing interesting villains. The intrigue between the evil forces truly is what drives the story. I would have said the same about the elves, but I have seen the same story in the Lord of the Rings. As for the rest of the forces of good, well its not all bad. Danica continues to be interesting and her fighting abilities are wonderfully portrayed. Ivan also continues to impress and his sarcastic attitude always makes me smile. However, Pickel is still the annoying dolt sidekick and dumb as ever. And Cadderly is what really pulls the story down. His constant whining is taken to an art form and it had me yearning for his demise through half the book. But fortunately, by the end of the book he changes his tune a little. He continues to oppose the taking of life, but he grows up and does what he can to help his friends.
To me this novel, like the first, was a mixed bag. The battles scenes were much better in this book. But while the character interactions generally improved by the end of the book, parts of the book are just annoying to read. There is one thing that really bothered me. The fleecing of ideas from Tolkien does bother me and it is something I also noticed in Streams of Silver, written by Salvatore as well. I like most of Salvatore's books, but he needs to write his own story.
on July 30, 2002
In comparing this novel with the previous one in the series, "Canticle," this strikes me as a book-length battle with little else. Though I recognize that this was necessary for the story that Salvatore is trying to tell, it was not my preference.
The interesting parts of the novel are Cadderly's (the main character) struggle with violence; he struggles with every battle compared to his more worldly friends (Cadderly has lived his whole life in the monastery-like Edificant Library). In addition, the relationship among the villains (the operate as a triumvirate; priests, wizards and fighters) is more thoroughly fleshed out. The novel takes place in an Elven forest that has been invaded by goblins, ogres, giants etc.. The elves of the forest had many parallels to Tolkien's elves. For example, Tolkien's and Salvatore's elves are in the decline and they have few warriors to combat the increasing threats of the world. There is also the antagonism between dwarves and elves, which seems lifted from Tolkien's work. Also, readers of Tolkien will recognize the concept of the ents in this novel.
Salvatore's writing of battle is quite appropriate to a fantasy setting; there is some use of magic, but most of the battles are won on the basis of cunning and technique rather than wizardry. Some of the other characters developed in this novel caught my interest. There is a developing love interest between Cadderly and Danica (a monk whose discipline has allowed hear to become a formidable warrior), which is something different from the traditional prince and princess concept. There are also the two Dwarves (Ivan and Pikel) who provide a measure of comic relief. The brothers were the cooks of the Edificant Library but once summoned back to adventuring, they prove a considerable asset.
This novel was something of a mild disappointment after the interesting, fresh story that the first novel began with. The third novel in the series "Night Masks" appears more promising but I wonder how the series will play out.
on June 11, 2002
I'de like to start this review by explaining the whole plot of The Cleric Quintet. It's about a young man (Cadderly) who is going through a emotional hurricane which develops into a spiritual journey, and in the end he makes the ultimate yet necesary sacrifice for his god Deneir. That's why I'de like to say the Cleric Quintet is perhaps the MOST original fantasy book I've ever read.
Let's start with Shilmista. Shilmista, some say, is a copy of the elven forest in LOTR, but isn't everything else...~.^? Shilmista, the elven forest, is being destroyed by a huge goblinoid force, and the way they solve this problem is astonishing. And I always thought elves where just a tree-hugging race of humanoids. It seems that term has worn itself out... well, you'll see. But I was surprised at there skills in battle as well.
Next for the characters. The characters are well writen, there history very clear and there attitudes well developed (Ivan the tough dwarf, but careing on the inside; Pikel the shy yet kind dwarf; Danica the strong but wise monk; etc.) I also adore the pure love Danica and Cadderly feel for eachother. What realy got me was how unlucky poor Rufo was. He didn't realy do anything wrong, he was in a hostage situation the book, but he gets his revenge later on... wayyy later on. In this book Cadderly, the main character, seems to be going through a magical transformation.
But what I realy liked about this book was Daome Teague Feer. It's a ritual that takes place in the book. It shows how spiritualy intuned with the forest the elves realy are and gives a whole new meaning to Elf. It is realy sad how Cadderly foolishly sits aside instead of taking a part, but ofcourse this is for the sake of the plot.
This is my review. Notice how I only hinted certain events.... you got to read for yourself. Anyway, this book including Canticle, Night masks and Fallen Fortress all seem like just a history for the ultimate and main event of the series: The Chaos Curse. Read it and find out!
on October 4, 2001
In Sylvan Shadows, Book 2 of the Cleric Quintet - R. A. Salvatore
I began to read this book with low expectations. Canticle, the first one in the series, I enjoyed to a very minor degree, unamused and bored by the characters' antics throughout the whole novel. It was the first Salvatore book I read, and I was considerably unimpressed with his supposedly great, but (I think!) overrated writing talent. Canticle did not introduce me to any new fantasy elements, ideas, or creations. Even the characters were quite unsophisticated and boring. Nonetheless, I purchased the rest of the series, more out of obligation than anything else. (You have one book in the series, you have to have them all!)
Undoubtedly, I can say that I enjoyed the second more than the first. It is placed recently after where Canticle ends, and tells about the heroes going in to save Shilmista, the elven lands, which are under attack by Castle Trinity, the main oppressor in nearly the whole series. A new character is introduced, a female elf warrior named Shayleigh, and although I enjoyed reading more about this character than the default characaters from the first novel, this one seemed to have little more complexity or depth than the rest of the heroes. Romance is hinted at, between her and one of the main dwarf characters, but, like all elf-dwarven relationships, is not elaborated on and is of little interest to the reader.
With some amount of trepidation I can say that In Sylvan Shadows is better than Canticle, but some may argue that point, and it is actually a matter of perspective. Like the first book, there is no character development whatsoever, save the growing magical talents of the main Mary Sue figure, Cadderly. A female wizard of Castle Trinity leads the attack on Shilmista, but she herself is only semi-powerful and unremarkable to read about.
The battle sequences, though, are quite redeeming and well written, but that by itself is a very minor part in the whole novel. As one can expect, the good guys (Cadderly, his gang, and the elves) prove to be the victors in the end, a stereotypical fashion that is used in almost all fantasy novels. But what good would it be if the heroes failed, one asks? Perhaps, a writer with superior talent such as Salvatore would be able to write something where the reader has difficulty discerning the good guys from the bad guys. Although that idea sounds unattractive, it is actually a effectively original and surprisingly limitless concept. What I mean by limitless, is that there are many different styles and schemes one can write their book upon.
Anyhow, that is not what this book is about. This book is strictly mediocre, despite what alot of people say, and is, in my opinion, not worth reading, especially in light of all the other better fantasy books out there. In fact, I feel that this book isn't even worth writing a review on, and so I shall stop now.
Note: Okay, so maybe I was a little harsh, but I really didn't enjoy this book, nor the previous one, very much at all! Just look at my review of The Canticle and you'll see why, if you don't know already. The series is really nothing spectacular, and, by writing reviews on it, that's what I'm trying to make people see. Despite all this, it's still OK, and is pretty action-packed and fast paced too. True, I enjoyed In Sylvan Shadows more than The Canticle, which I gave 4 stars, but this one isn't much good enough to award it 5/5 rather than a 4/5.
on June 19, 2000
"What?" I thought to myself "Five books about acleric? How good could that be?" But because it was Salvatore Iread and, boy, am I glad I did. Cadderly is one of the best characters I have ever read about. He fancies himself a scholar a priest who is not adept at the clerical magic of his faith...or is he? ...There are complaints about the ending, and I too must admit that it is not the most heartwarming in the world in was necessary for the transfer into the next book, just as Cadderly's Year Quest was for transition to this book. If you are a fan of Drizzt and Salvatore's books then you will this book and series very ingrossing (I read the first three books in a day, I couldn't help myself) and extremely intertaining. ...Don't be dissapointed that everyone's favorite dark elf ranger is not in this series, Cadderly is every bit as intriguing. IF you did not read this series because Drizzt is not in it then I beg you to reconsider you will not regret your decision.