Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: The Shard Axe, an Eberron Novel

The Shard Axe is a novel written by Marsheila Rockwell and set in the  Eberron world of Dungeons & Dragons.  The novel  is also based on the popular game of D&D online: Eberron Unlimited, a free MMO, popular with the masses.

The novel introduces a down and out on her luck protagonist named Sentinel Marshal Sabira d'Deneith.   Having defeated the assassin Nightshard and ending his reign of terror in the Holds, Sabira has tried to stay away from her  memories of this mission.  Feeling guilty for the death of her partner during this time, and harbouring her anger towards Aggar Tordannon, the dwarf they had sworn to protect, she drinks and gamble to numb the pain.

Little does she know that she would be tricked into returning to the city she never wanted to see again, to defend the dwarf Aggar Tordannon for similar crimes like the ones Nightshard  committed all these years ago.  Even with the Sentinel Marshal by his side, Aggar is going to need all the help he can get.  When Sabira returns, she realizes that something is not right about these murders and must uncover the secrets of these murders to find the true killer.
  1. Plot: The novel starts off quite slowly.  The author took the time to develop the main character quite well, but also take half of the novel to do it with.  The storyline takes us through the self-hatred, self-loathing and incredible turmoil of themain characters psyche. By the time the story takes any kind of direction, we have already been introduce to some weakly developed characters.
  2. Characters: There are entirely too many characters to contend with in the story.  As above, we meet her debtors, and I thought they would be an integral part of the story, only to be never written about again. I thought they were interesting characters.  I did think that the characters came and went like the characters in "Game of Thrones".  You start liking them and then BLAMMO!!!
  3. Information: all I have to say is thank goodness I read some of Eberron before reading this novel.  At least some of the places were familiar to me.  Those who know nothing about the world would not be satisfied with the amount of description the author puts into the settings.  I was lackluster at best.  
  1. Plot: Even if I mentioned the plot being a little confusing, long, and slow, it tends to pick up near the halfway mark right up until the end.  After the tedious introduction of the plethora of characters, the author sticks to the story at hand.  There is a lot of action after this and the dénouement is satisfactory.
  2. The Main Character: Sabira.  I love her as a character.  She is contagious from the first page.  She is unpredictable, dynamic and leaving you at the end wanting more of her. She is one of those flawed heroes that can't help but love.  There is so much to love about her character.  She is very multi-faceted and plays the part of the "unsung hero" quite well.
Overall Impression

I have always had a problem reading novels of a fantasy genre with the flavour of romance in it.  The novel has some of this element and I find I really had trouble with some parts of it.  Take for example the Dragonlance novel "The Dragons of Autumn Twilight", the love interest of Tanis and Kitiara just had no place for me in the novel.  I find it slows everything down. 

Even with the romantic aspect of the novel, it is a very likable novel, but one I would recommend to read after you get through a few of the Eberron novels. To undertake this one novel without previous knowledge of Eberron would be lost and this may leave a sour taste in your mouth. It is not for everyone. 
Sabira is a fantastic character though and just to read about her in this action packed novel is worth the long start of the novel.


Burst 3.5/5