Shadowbred: The Twilight War, Book I Mass Market Paperback – Nov 7 2006
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Few authors in the fantasy genre today have solid characters and a solid plot interwoven. Usually it is either really good characters or a really good plot. Mr. Kemp has the ability to weave the two together seamlessly. This allows for a deeper feeling of the book and a better understanding of what is going on. Readers are more able to become invested in the characters as well as caring about what is going on in the story.
The characters in this book are old hat. Some are characters from the first trilogy, Cale, Riven, Mags, etc. While there are now some new characters thrown into the mix for good measure. All of the characters in this book `feels' like a different person. Some books each character is the same except in different skin. Some books have cliché ridden characters as well, not so here. Mr. Kemp also has a way of introducing depth to his characters in ways that are not usually seen in fantasy novels. For instance, Riven and his girls. A great way to show some of the underlying feelings characters has. As well as, Cale's emotional turmoil over a specific event from the last trilogy. Mr. Kemp has created several truly memorable characters.
The plot of this book is not your typical - get a task - get a party - kill something - live happily ever after. There is political intrigue, posturing by nobles, self discovery, and yeah - some killing. I have heard that this series will be what is called a Realms Shaking Event, meaning the outcome of this trilogy will have an impact over all of the Forgotten Realms, I think that RSE is that Sembia is being thrown into a civil war. This war will have consequences that will transcend the entire setting. I am eagerly awaiting the next two books to watch this unfold. Yet, that is not all for this book's plotlines. There are several subplots all expertly woven together to offer seamless transitions. Cale is searching for a friend, Cale has returned to help old friends, and Cale is also trying to keep a promise to another friend, all the time a god, or two, has their hands mixed into the batter to make sure things don't go as planned.
The combination of the great characters and the fantastic storylines make this book a true marvel to read. It challenges the reader to put it down. Mr. Kemp's prose allow for easy reading, and his descriptions are just enough to help me `see' but not enough to bog me down with useless details. Mr. Kemp has proven himself to be one of the Forgotten Realms most talented writers and I can only imagine were his books will go from here.
I do have one criticism about this book though. There are a couple scenes that are done in first person, while the rest of the book is more traditional. I have never been a fan of first person books, or scenes, so when I got to these scenes it was hard for me to read them. It didn't feel right with how the rest of the story flowed. It, at times, jarred me out of reading and I had to really work at reading them. Personally, I hope these scenes are done, but I can also see how others may appreciate them. It just didn't work for me.
Overall, I think this was a fantastic book, and certainly a start to a great trilogy. I would recommend Mr. Kemp's books to anyone who enjoys fantasy. Certainly, fans of the Forgotten Realms will appreciate the lore that he adds for good measure. People thinking about starting to read fantasy, or start reading the Forgotten Realms should really look into Mr. Kemp's earlier works to get a feel. I have no doubt, that if they do, they will keep reading. A very entertaining read.
In this first book, Erevis Cale is back and Paul expertly pulls the reader into the emotional turmoil of the main character. A host of antagonists make there way into this novel, and their descriptions, their personalities, and their little quirks are made so very personable by Paul's ability to clearly set up and describe character.
Paul has woven a marvelous story whose continuity stretches across multiple books (including Realms novels published by other authors) and events, yet is not dependant upon those stories to be enjoyed. Many moments in the book leave one feeling that there is even more going on than what's presented and a sense of almost knowing what those other events are drives one to continue reading - even at odd hours of the night.
The plot is very easy to follow, it's simply laid out, but achieving the plot is what makes this book so outstanding. This is definitely a book in which the path or the journey is the point, not the ending. It ends with one wishing desperately that time travel was available (even now, one day after finishing the novel, I'm fiending to have to the next book!).
This book is definitely fast paced, not necessarily because it is full of action but because everything is so fluid that moving from one chapter to the next becomes timeless. Though, there are parts in the book which are written in first person perspective and it's rather jarring to be carried along on a hypnotic ride through several scenes then suddenly be thrown into this first person narrative. Overall though, the use of it isn't disruptive to the story.
Characters from previous stories, including Erevis, that make an appearance in one shape or another, are depicted just as perfectly as they had been in others, making them akin to a friend you haven't seen or talked to in a year. The new characters - and some of the old ones too - maintain a consistent attitude and personality throughout, and even provide some exciting surprises.
I've been a fan of the Realms since I first started collecting the novels in 1988, and this is definitely one series I'd beseech Mask, the Realms' God of Thieves, to guide me as I gather minions to raid the publishing house for copies of the next two books! I'd love to see Rowling supplanted by devoted Realms, Erevis, and Paul Kemp fans who just NEED the next book.
No question about it, 11 out of 10 stars!
Reader's familiar with Mr. Kemp's books will be pleased with Shadowbred on several levels. The obstacles set against the main character Erevis Cale have grown in proportion to his abilities. The opponents set against Cale are vivid and interesting in themselves, not just fodder or fuel for the forces of good. The story itself is engrossing and the scope is intriguing to those interested in the Forgotten Realms world. Paul Kemp is one of the best writer's Wizards has going without question. This book is highly recommended.
Mr. Kemp knows how to create a powerful, evolving main character and surround him with a supporting cast that greatly improve the flow of the story, and do a great job of keeping you interested. Erevis Cale is that character. Although each of the characters in the story are powerful in their own way, Mr. Kemp makes them extremely easily to identify with and become attached to due to their individual character flaws. Whether it is Erevis' attempts at coming to grips with his newfound power, or Drasek Riven's craving for more of it, you will feel as if you have been reading about them for years.
These books are hard to put down. Many authors use different chapters to jump between different settings/events in the storyline, which normally makes it easy to find a stopping point. This is not the case with this series/author. Every chapter ends with something that makes you want to keep reading to find out just how it affects the story in the next chapter.
I picked up this book to give me something else to read while I wait for the next book in the "Transitions" series to come out, and I ended up reading the whole Erevis Cale collection. Now along with Mr. Salvatore and Mr. Knaak, I am adding Mr. Kemp to my list of favorite fantasy fiction authors. Pick this book up and I think you will be as surprised and hooked as I am.
I was wrong to be worried. The mature style of which we have been accustomed to for an "Erevis Cale" novel is still there, as well as is Mr. Kemp's ability to insert new little factoids of Realms trivia.
The plot of the story, the bulk of which is a massive Sharran conspiracy involving the Heartlands, primarily Sembia, moves along nicely. A lot gets done in this, the first part of what will be a three book series, but the plot does not interfere in characterization. Erevis continues to thrill, and Paul does great justice to the characters of Rivalen and Elyril, as well as previous Uskevren characters, particularly Tamlin.
I'd have to say that if you are at all interested in Erevis Cale, Sembia, the Uksevren's or the Shadovar, get this book. If you are looking for something that will change the Realms, this book lies the seeds of that as well, and the next two should capitalize on it beautifully.
And the cliffhanger ending fits quite well, as it builds up for a great opening for the next book, but it doesn't leave you shaking your head.
I, for one, cannot wait for Shadowstorm.