Elminster Must Die! The Sage of Shadowdale book 1 is the newest novel about Elminster by Ed Greenwood. Previous books are about Elminster are Elminster the Making of a Mage, Elminster in Myth Drannor, The Temptation of Elminster, Elminster in Hell, and Elminster's Daughter as well as short stories in multiple anthologies. Bury Elminster Deep is slated to come out August 2011 and the set is expected to be six books total.
Elminster Must Die! introduces a lot of new characters since this one takes place 100 years after the spell plague. Also there are appearances of older characters such as Storm Silverhand, the Simbul, Alusair, and Vangerdahast. With Elminster's magic gone and the Simbul's ailing affliction due to Mystra's death, Elminster has to choose between saving his love, the Simbul and saving the world. Along the way, an old enemy is doing everything in his power to finally best Elminster and take Cormyr for himself. Other plotlines involve another villain who is seeking magical artifacts to further his own evil goals, the same magical artifacts Elminster needs to save the Simbul. Along the way, Elminster is discovering that he is not the mage he used to be and may need more help. Then there is Amarune a masked dancer who has her own problems and doesn't know that she is about to become a bigger part of the world. There are some other subplots involving a love interest and a young noble, but for spoiler's sakes, I will stop here.
The story moves as a quick pace and things happen quickly. It is typical Greenwood fashion and jumps around a lot. There are so many things going on that it can get a bit confusing trying to follow all the plot lines and the characters. It keeps the pace moving quickly, but breaks up the flow of the novel trying to keep everything straight. The characters are pretty much the same for the older familiar characters and the newer ones are a bit of a surprise. In this one, Elminster is more persecuted in the land of Cormyr and the War Wizards and everyone else with royal dealings wants him arrested. It is a change of pace, for if I remember correctly from all the previous novels, Elminster was well liked in the land of Cormyr.
1. Mr. Greenwood has taken to this new liking of using made up swear words that don't seem to make any sense. Words such as: stlarning, and talunin. The one I don't mind since it is closer to a familiar word is farruking. The other problem with this is he uses the word Stlarn in a sentence to refer to damn and then in the same sentence uses gods be damned. A little consistency would be nice.
2. The hesitancy to leave out more characters. It just seems that even if some of the main characters are killed off, there has to be a place to bring them back. Mr. Greenwood just seems to be attached to his main uber powerful characters to get rid of them. If it wasn't for the way Alusair's character was used and her plotline in the story, it was well done and a nice plot line, I would prefer that she were more of a passing reference for nostalgic feelings. Vangerdahast was another one that didn't need to show back up. Finally, there is a surprise appearance at the end, but I won't spoil it, but suffice it to say if the plan was to take the realms in a certain direction, this is a step backwards.
3. The fact this book really doesn't resolve much. Without being able to read the next book, the reader is left with a bunch of open plot lines and no resolution to most of the sub plots.
4. The prologue with the dopplegangers, yes, there in the post spellplague lands still. Anyway, this is the only mention of them in the whole story, so why even have it written. Maybe we will find out later in the series, but for now, it seemed to be just something to put in to start the novel but has no bearing on the story whatsoever.
1. The action sequences are really good. The fight scenes were really engaging and kept me reading wanting to see the outcome. At least in this book, there was no-the bad guys show up and Elminster casts a spell to wipe out everyone or whisk everyone to safety.
2. Some of the new characters were fun to read. The noble from Suzail was a fun character to read and has some really shining moments and his humor and banter with everyone was refreshing. Mr. Greenwood did add some nice new characters that were enjoyable to read.
3. Mr. Greenwood keeps an interesting air of mystery with this one. There is a new character who we don't know much about and is not much talked about keep her keeping an air of mystery and adds the feeling of wanting to know more. Unfortunately, we will have to wait for the future books to come out.
4. The fact that Elminster is no longer the all powerful wizard adds a nice complexity to the character. Every time he casts a spell, he becomes mad and can no longer control himself unless he has a magical item with him to draw from. It was a great change of pace for the character.
For me, this was an above average novel by Mr. Greenwood. I do look forward to the next novel to see how things progress. Aside from a few of the old returning characters and there is one I didn't mention and he shows up for a short appearance and doesn't add much to the story except fulfilling some neglected needs for lack of a better term, I still enjoyed it better than some of his other books. If you enjoy reading Mr. Greenwood's writing, then you won't be disappointed and if you are not a fan, you may not like this one. For realms fans, you will have to read for yourself, but I don't think you will be disappointed.