The Herald


The Herald

Book 6 of The Sundering

*Warning: This review does contain significant spoilers*

The Herald is the final book in the six part The Sundering series. Each book in the series is intended to be a standalone book set during a common period in time. Ultimately the two worlds Abeir and Toril are being split apart with the gods and their chosen battling each other amid the chaos. The changes begin slowly in book one, heat up in book four, and come to a climax in book six. Thus The Herald brings about some big battles and some big changes for certain characters and the Forgotten Realms as a whole. On top of that, The Herald includes a lot of Elminster action. Fair warning, from here on out, there will be spoilers.

I came into this novel with a somewhat interesting angle. I’d never read a book by Ed Greenwood and only read one book which included Elminster. So I went into this book pretty fresh. Perhaps too fresh. Elminster works with a lot of different characters in this book, and I can’t help but think there were some lengthy histories with some of them that I completely missed out on. Still, all of the characters in the book do have distinct personalities and get some time to develop enough for a new reader like myself to get an idea of who they are. Characters like Storm Silverhand, Amarune, Arclath Delcastle, Larloch, Mirt, Telamont Tanthal, the Srinshee, Prince Mattick and Vattick, Dove Falconhand, Alustriel and Laeral Moonstar, Algarel, Ilsevele Miritar, Manshoon, Fflar and many more all show up at one point or another in this book. Of all of those, Telamont Tanthal was the only character I was familiar with.

The book starts out with Elminster, Storm and Amarune all wandering around fixing the Weave while the Shadovar led by Telamont are preparing to hijack the Weave for their own sinister purposes. This quickly leads to two key settings: Candlekeep and Myth Drannar. Telamont sends and agent to each place, while Elminster splits his own team up to defend the Weave at each place. The events at Candlekeep eat up a good chunk of the novel, while the battle at Myth Drannar stretches throughout the entire story. Meanwhile there’s an odd side story involving Mirt and Manshoon in Cormyr that doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the book.

Now is a good a time as any to get some of my complaints out of the way. For starters, I’m not a big fan of Ed Greenwood’s style of storytelling. There’s a lot of repetition. Once Storm departs from Elminster’s company, she spends the rest of the book hacking away at an endless horde of mercenaries bent on taking down Myth Drannar. This endless horde shows up constantly. Every time the book shifts to the battle at Myth Drannar, the scene can be summed up by a hero battling a wave of mercenaries with prideful elves who don’t trust anyone and generally act like idiots. Seriously, the elves are so ruled by their pride that they don’t want to accept any help, they don’t want to surrender any ground, and they act out foolish pride rather than any practical or tactical sense.

Another repetitive, annoying theme is the Shadovar. There are nearly a dozen of them, all villains, present in the story. They are all thoroughly ridden with terrible character traits that make them unlikable. Each and everyone of them is driven by ambition and thinks that they are more powerful than anyone they come up against. If the opportunity presents itself, they will backstab each other. On top of all that, most of them are fairly disposable. It was very disappointing to see so many shallow villains tossed away as cannon fodder for the heroes. Perhaps I’m spoiled by the depth authors like Troy Denning and Paul S. Kemp have brought to the Shadovar. Ed Greenwood’s characterizations, both good guys and bad guys, tends to be very straight forward and with little complexity. Bad guys are ruthless and prone to cowardice. Good guys are brave, self-sacrificing and triumphant.

I’m also not a big fan of Greenwood’s prose. Here’s an example:

He’d closed the cavern door in his wake, so its opening would give him some moments of forewarning. Albeit soundless forewarning; it seemed hinges were kept well oiled down in the cool depths of the keep, these days…

The door opened.

El kept on studying his imaginary book, his attention on it and not on the robed and cowled figure coming toward him with slow, silent care.

Knife in hand, of course. No matter that the blade and the hand holding it were hidden well inside a flared sleeve; the movements were unmistakable to one who’d seen them so often, down the centuries.

Elminster’s spell mantle was, of course, waiting.

It’s a little jarring, a little wordy, and it kept throwing me out of the story.

But enough of complaints, let me list of the cool parts of the story. There are baelnorn, the undead elven protectors of the crypts under Myth Drannor, and there are lots of them. If you want to see them in action, this book delivers. There is a lot of magic in this book. Elminster, Storm, Telamont and so on all spend a lot of time casting spells. If that’s your thing, you’ll get your fill. Toward the end, the climax gets pretty crazy as eye tyrants, dragon and worse are unleashed in the battle for Myth Drannar with the Shadovar’s floating city hovering in the sky and Elminster, Telamont and Larlock in a three way battle for magical control.

As a fan of the Shadovar and Kemp and Denning’s books, it’s worth mentioning that this book may be required reading. Some big things happen with the Shadovar that will change the course of future stories involving them. If you want to stay current and if you want to make sure you’re filled in on what’s going on, you’ll need to read this story.

In the end, The Herald tackled a huge game-changing story with a massive cast and sort of stumbled through it. It’s not the best Forgotten Realms book I’ve read, and it has a lot of flaws, but it is possible to get through it and enjoy some of it. I was lucky enough to get a free review copy, so there was no money wasted on my part. However, I’d have a hard time recommending anyone to go out and purchase the book. The hardest part is how essential this book is to the overall storyline because some big events do happen. The question is how much disposable income do you have, and whether you’d rather just read a summary online to catch up on the important spoiler-filled events. If you’re crunched for cash, that may be the way to go.

Considering all the things I didn’t like in this book with all the things I did like, I give The Herald a two and half metal bikinis out of five.


Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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