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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

“Shadowrealm” — The Twilight War, Book III by Paul Kemp (Reviewed by David Craddock)

Official Paul S. Kemp Website
Order “Shadowrealm
Read Reviews via
Bibliophile Stalker, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review + Grasping for the Wind
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Reviews of “
Shadowbred” + “Shadowstorm

Everyone knows the tale of Humpty Dumpty. He sat on a wall, he had a great fall, and try though they might, none of the king's men were able to piece Humpty back together again. “Shadowrealm”, the conclusion to The Twilight War trilogy, is the story of a character roster completely comprised of Humpty Dumptys. Each has fallen, and each has been broken. But will they piece themselves back together again, or will their fragments be swept up and forever lost within the chaotic vortex of the Shadowstorm?

As with the first two installments, “Shadowbred” and “Shadowstorm”, author Paul S. Kemp expertly takes readers along a well-paced, well-written narrative full of ups and downs, but mostly downs. Fear not: it is the low points, the situations in which all hope is lost that make it such an interesting tale. The stories of Brennus, Rivalen, Abelar, Cale, Riven, Mags, Tamlin and more culminate in “Shadowrealm”. With so many protagonists, one might worry that Kemp could easily (and understandably) lose track of a character, or worse yet, downplay the struggles of one character in favor of another. This never happens. Each of the multi-faceted leads receives ample time for the development of his own personal narrative, which adds to rather than detracts from the other tales.

By the time the figurative ring bell indicates the start of the final battle, many desires, hopes, riches, and souls are at stake. The action is satisfactorily bloody and brutal, a trademark of all quality
Forgotten Realms entries. Characters whom readers have longed to see given their just desserts receive them in copious amounts, while the end of the line for others is bittersweet. The book's epilogue suggests that one of Kemp's more beloved characters will finally take center stage should a new series be written, and based on the character's popularity, this is a decision that should please the majority of Kemp's fans.

The resurrection of one particular character who meets a grisly but heroic and appropriate end is strongly hinted at within the last few pages of the novel, but rather than find the revelation somewhat exciting, any fruition of this wink-wink-nudge-nudge would only cheapen the character's death.

Shadowrealm” is a fitting conclusion to one of the best fantasy series I have ever read. It is a pleasant change to invest not in one or two characters, but in all of them—a true rarity in the genre, and quite a risk as well due to the mortality rate of fantasy characters! “Shadowrealm” is 300-plus pages of action, the examination of faith and politics, and by-God character development that demands to be read.


MatsVS said...

I must admit, shameful though it is, I have never read any Forgotten Realms literature. Would you recommend this trilogy as a starting point, or is there some other vital pieces of works that must be read beforehand?


David L Craddock said...

Hi Witchfinder,

Many FR readers recommend starting with R.A. Salvatore, whose Drizzt character is arguably the most popular in that world. However, you could easily start with Kemp's books if you wanted. I recommend reading the Erevis Cale trilogy before The Twilight War, because the former introduces you to Kemp's protagonist.

Anonymous said...

you guys have it lucky. im based in singapore and dying to get my hands on this book.

should be a good read.


MatsVS said...

Excellent, I appreciate the advise! Approaching such a large body of (fan)fiction always seemed like such an insurmountable task every time I've considered it. But, I did spend a few evenings in my younger days partaking in (shameful shameful) "RPing", so I suppose it is my duty to at least give these books a chance, seeing as they hail from the universe that ignited that fantastic spark in me.

Again, cheers!

Anonymous said...

I personally started with Richard Baker's The Last Mythal trilogy but the Twilight War saga by Kemp is much much better. I didn't read the Erevis Cale trilogy ahead of this one (didn't know) and still enjoyed it immensely and had ample explanations about what had transpired before.
I think I will read the Erevis Cale trilogy next only because I adore Kemp's style. It will be bittersweet to read it, knowing how it will all end later, but it should still be fun.
I recommend this series fully!

Cale said...

To the author of this article. Please keep your mouth shut! It would be very unfitting for Erevis not to be somehow resurrected because of his death! I am not going to post any spoilers but the manner in which he died alluded to his coming back. Not to mention the way he died is heroic but if Erevis is going to go then I personally would like to that happen with him fighting til he no longer can! I disagree with you only on it's a good place to end. While it was a very good end compared to most books, in this case I would be more than disappointed not to see a following series. If not on Erevis(I would VERY much prefer to see him in some shape or form)then at least on Mags, Riven and Cale's lover. That's my two sense.


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