Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: Shadowbane, a Forgotten Realms Novel

Shadowbane, a Frogotten Realms novel by Erik Scott De Bie, brings us back to the story of Kalen Dren, Waterdeeps' own vigilante.  This novel, set one year after Downshadow, brings us to the plague ridden city of Luskan where any semblance of organization and order do not exist.

In a message delivered by Fayne, Kalen rushes to the aid of Myrin, a girl who went out on her own to find her lost memories.  Having lost an apprentice, and lost his faith, Shadowbane must confront his own demons in order to save a city he hates and a woman he loves.

Relentlessly pursued by gangs, caught up with a young idealist who wants to be his apprentice, and stuck in the middle of the plots of higher beings, this novel promises a non-stop read, filled with epic battles, blind love, and misplaced faith.


  1. Believablility:  As much as I like a good vigilante novel, this one lacked a little believability.  Throughout the novel, Shadowbane is thoroughly trashed time after time, by brigands and thieves, lesser characters than him.  He is stabbed, beaten, broken, dislocated.  This is not the problem.  The problem is when the bigger battles occur, Shadowbane seems to come out unscathed, untouched and he never risks a chance of contracting 'The Fury' that seems to be present in all the other characters. Sithe, his "mentor" absolutely pulverizes any opposition throughout the novel, yet she seems to take the brunt of the damage from the big fights. 
  2. Myrin and Shadowbane:  there is nothing more annoying than a lovers quarrel during a novel, especially this one.  I don't like her character development in the novel.  She seems naive, then seasoned, powerless then powerful, confident then hesitant, in love and then in lust.  An example of this is with the character named Rhett.  Clearly in love with Shadowbane, de Bie tells the readers that she would like to be with Rhett, he is a man she could love yadda, yadda, yadda!  Then when you think she is going to go for it, total 180 degrees wallowing for Shadowbane.  Another example is Shadowbane is confused by Myrin's standoffishness, yet when she approaches him to speak about it, he seems so non-chalant and not excited with what she has to tell him.  They seem to be missing each others boats.
  3. Rhett:  What can I say, he is a great character, or was a great character that just...diappeared!  What is up with that?  Maybe he will be back in the future, who knows? de Bie spent a lot of time building the character up and he was one of my favourites.

  1. Setting:  One thing I have to give the author is his knack for being able to place his readers in the appropriate setting. His descriptions are accurate, vivid, and with enough detail to convey the proper mood and atmosphere to make these areas extremely believable.  I personally did not know Luskan even existed until I read this novel and by the end of it I could probably draw a map of the city.  de Bie has this penchant and did the same thing in his novel Downshadow.
  2. Supporting Cast:  Rhett and Sidhe were excellent supporting characters. I enjoy them more than the main characters themselves.  They are well thought out, simple yet complex and seem to know their paths a lot better than the main characters sometimes.  The same can be said for Downshadow, with Cellica and Fayne.  Great job in this accomplishment.  I would love to have seen a novel written about either of these characters. 
  3. The Abyssal Plague:  Has there ever been more of a threat to any of the known worlds.  Once again the abyssal plague makes its appearance in this novel and it was done with excellence and ease.  Unlike the plague in the Nentir Vale, the plague is working its way slowly into the world, defeatable, but with great hardship.  It is an imminent threat throughout the novel.  I thought the ending a little odd, but satisfying.  de Bie did a great job of it.  I love the descriptions of the state of the bodies when the plaguechanged vermin were through with them.
Final Thoughts

Having ached to read this novel after having read Downshadow, I was a little disappointed by all the fluff in the story.  A lot of time was spent dealing with issues that never got dealt with.  I thought the story would be about the plague in Luskan, but the plot jumped around so much that it was hard to tell what the point of the story was.  In the end it was not about the plague, not about Myrin and Shadowbane, not about Rhett, but about Shadowbanes' own discovery of his faith.  I recommend the read, but if you absolutely enjoyed Downshadow, I don't think you will enjoy this one as much.


Burst 3/5

Other novels from the same author:

Downshadow: A Forgotten Realms Novel, 2009
Depths of Madness: A Forgotten Realms Novel, 2007
Ghostwalker: A Forgotten Realms Novel, 2005