This review is for the book `Shadow's Witness', which is Book II of the seven book `Sembia: Gateway to the Realms' series. This review is intended as a critique of the writing and flow of the book, not to reveal "spoolers". Please note: I am assuming that people have read The Halls of Stormweather, Book I of the series, prior to reading this review. If you haven't, you may wish to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my overall recommendation of this book, which will not contain any information about previous books in this series.
This book focuses on Erevis Cale, the head butler of the Uskevren household, written by Paul S. Kemp. This story takes place a few weeks after the events of the short story `Resurrection'. A great evil force is unwittingly unleashed upon the city of Selgaunt. Jak Fleet and Cale unite, after not speaking since the events of `Resurrection', to deal with this situation. During their quest, Cale has to struggle with whether he should continue his deception of those he has come to love, or risk losing everything by telling them about his past and the circumstances under which he came to be in their employ.
Erevis Cale comes alive within these pages, and the reader is provided with much more information about his past and insight into his motivations. He becomes a character that the reader comes to like, not because he is a hero or is struggling against overwhelming odds, but because the reader can sympathize with him. The reader is made to feel that they, if given similar upbringing and circumstances, would likely have made the same decisions.
Overall, the book is well written and well paced. Unlike many Forgotten Realms books, which have about twenty short chapters, this book has twelve long chapters, which helps the author to make the reader feel more involved with the story, instead of just an observer. The author seems to be able to anticipate the readers questions and answers them satisfactorily. The action scenes contain just the right amount of tension to get the reader's heart pumping, and the more inter-personal scenes draws out the reader's sympathy. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the short story `Resurrection', as well as readers of the Forgotten Realms and other shared fantasy settings. I would also recommend this book to readers of general Fantasy, looking for a new view on fantasy story telling. I would recommend reading The Halls of Stormweather prior to reading this book.
A Note to Readers new to Forgotten Realms: Like many shared settings, especially those stemming from gaming or other media types, the Forgotten Realms books are written with the assumption that the reader has some familiarity with the Forgotten Realms gaming setting. This frees up the author to focus on his or her story, instead of having to explain the world in which the story takes place; the calendar, geography, common races/species, magical properties, etc. This is very important when the book length is normally confined to 300 - 350 pages. As a reader reads more books in the Forgotten Realms setting, they will become more familiar with the world of Faerun and its inhabitants, making the experience more pleasant. The `Sembia: Gateway to the Realms' series is an excellent place for a reader to begin their journey into the Forgotten Realms, since the stories take place in a fairly localized area and contains mostly creatures common to fantasy literature in general.
- Mass Market Paperback: 313 pages
- Publisher: Wizards of the Coast; Reissue edition (10 April 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786942592
- ISBN-13: 978-0786942596
- Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.8 x 17.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 113 g
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