Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: Sword of the Gods, A Forgotten Realms Novel

Demons, thieves, mad wizards, and a man with amnesia.  Sword of the Gods, A Forgotten Realms Novel, by Bruce Cordell is a novel that captures the imagination of the reader, springing us into the world of a man named Demascus.  Waking up naked on an altar in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by corpses dressed in red clothing, Demascus is confused.  He has no idea who, or where he is.  He defends himself from a demon, finds a map and some clothing and hits the trail.

Events lead to the city of Airspur where he meets haphazardly meets Chant Morvan, a pawn broker who just happens to be holding a scarf for Demascus.  No sooner than he gets his hands on this scarf that it is stolen by a thief.

Demascus knows if he has any chance whatsoever to regain his memories, he knows he must find his scarf.  He and Chant track the thief through the city, meeting interesting characters along the way.
Part of the Abyssal Plague series of novels, this book is a stand alone book set in  the world of Forgotten Realms. This is the first novel I have had the pleasure of reading from this author.  I have enjoyed his previous works as a designer for the RPGs of 3.5 Edition.  So I decided to pick up his novel and give it a try.  Here is what I though.

  1. Sometimes Forced Vocabulary: Although I found the storyline quite exciting and stimulating, at certain points of the novel I found that the author tries to use advanced vocabulary words that do not seem to fit with the feeling of the text.  I don't mean that the vocabulary is wrong or even bad, but some of the words did not "feel right" in or for the story. The novel also has a character use the word "shit" quite often. It is nothing I have really even seen in novels such as this and seemed almost inappropriate.  It once again did not seem to fit the context or the character. It does not detract the reader though from an enjoyable read.  I merely just seems odd in the context at that moment.
  2. Book Cover: The cover and artwork belie what the novel is about and I would never have guessed the novel would be so upbeat and colourful.  I can tell you honestly that this is one of the last novels I had bought based on the cover and description.  To give you an example of what is promoted in the story: 
"As the novel begins, that’s the farthest thing from Demascus’s mind. He’s dealing with problems of his own, having awakened lying naked on a sacrificial altar surrounded by corpses and one not-quite dead demon. Worse, he’s slightly unclear how he came to find himself in such interesting straits.
Meanwhile, one of the Voidharrow fragments has finally managed to find itself a host. It’s causing trouble in the nation of Akanûl, a land south of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Calling itself Murmur, the fragment has the ability to infest the dreams of its host and tear nightmares from its victims to clothe in pseudo-living flesh. But Murmur is not without all compassion—it seeks to revitalize a sibling Voidharrow fragment that fell with it, one whose “dispersed” nature has scattered its consciousness. If Murmur can resuscitate its sibling (called Scour), the two Voidharrow demons will move on to their next project: whelming the Forgotten Realms with demonic excess as happened in their own home fossil continuum." from

  1. Character compatibility: Barring any criticism for the language used in the novel, the unlikely trio of characters in the novel more than make up for any fault.  Demascus, Chant Morven, and Riltana have a chemistry about them few see in any novel.  They seem to work very well together.  The ribbing each do to each other is fantastic and even funny.  I am not a person who laughs out loud a lot, but a couple of times reading the novel, I chuckled to myself. The interaction between these characters was well written.
  2. Demascus: Having read many books and viewed many movies where amnesiacs try to find their ways in the world through their own adventures, Bruce Cordell does a fantastic job of bringing Demascus to life and to make the character a believable amnesiac to the point of frustrating the reader(in a good way).
  3. Protagonist Strength: I really enjoyed the protagonists in the story.  Demascus, having forgotten his life, Chant Morven the pawnbroker, and Riltana the thief.  Each character was well developed in the novel right from the start.  Each one brought a different conflict into the party while striving for the same goal.  Very well done.

Final Thoughts

This novel is a definite must read.  I was skeptical to even start the novel because of the lack of feedback I received, the review I read and the "better" novels I thought were out there.  I would like to say that the book was improperly promoted and it is a shame, because this stand alone book does exactly what I said: it stands alone.  I would like to see the characters of Demascus and company continue to develop in future novels. It is a refreshing novel from the regular hack n' slash novels that are out there.


Burst 5/5

Other novels from the same author:

  • Sword of the Gods 
  • Key of Stars ( #3 in series Abolethic Sovereignty),
  • City of Torment ( #2 in series Abolethic Sovereignty), 
  • Plague of Spells (#1 in series Abolethic Sovereignty),
  • Stardeep ( #3 in series The Dungeons),
  • Darkvision ( #3 in series The Wizards), 
  • Lady of Poison ( #1 in series The Priests), 
  • 2005Oath of Nerull (Writing as T. H. Lain),