Posted on October 2, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy
The Citadels Series
James P. Davis
I’ve read a handful of Forgotten Realms fiction over the years, interviewed a few authors, played a few games even. I’ve not kept up quite as much with the more recent developments as I have a few other settings, but still, I thought I was doing pretty good for a while there. This book surprised me a bit with how much I don’t know about the setting. It was still an interesting read, it just took me a bit longer to get into the story than I thought it would.
It helped that Davis knows how to write some compelling action. The fight scenes were entertaining and the variety of challenges the characters faced while on their quest kept this from being just another goblin killing adventure. There were heroes and villains, lust, betrayal and regret. Plenty of each and not just restricted to the main character. The supporting cast had plenty of emotional punch as well. I felt like throttling a couple of them at certain points of the story and that shows, to me anyway, decent character development.
The setting, Shandular, offered plenty of history and broken dreams to explore. I would have liked to know a bit more about it, but really, those details were not as important to the current storyline. Also, extra bits about a dead city certainly would have made the book a lot longer. At 310 pages, I think it is good enough.
Bastun, the main character in the story, has plenty of emotional scars to deal with and the events in this book don’t let him run from them. Ironic since at least one of the other characters accuses him of doing just that, running away. This sets up some heated arguments (and a few threats) that add plenty of tension to the group as they explore the ruins of Shandular.
This is a great Forgotten Realms story. It will be a fun read and offer a few interesting ideas to anyone running a game of the Forgotten Realms RPG. Fantasy fans not into the setting may want to pick up a different book though, the terminology and characters are very setting specific. I don’t know how much it ties into the other Citadels books, since I haven’t read them. I did enjoy this story though and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to a fan of the setting or the RPG materials.
Review by Matt M McElroy