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The Shard Axe: Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited Novel Mass Market Paperback – 6 Sep 2011


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wizards of the Coast; Original edition (6 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786958596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786958597
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.3 x 17.4 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,314,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 10 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
There is a new fantasy heroine in town! 8 Sep 2011
By Stefan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sentinel Marshall Sabira Lyet d'Deneith is called upon to perform a mission only she can do but has to return to a person and place she promised herself she never would. Eight years ago she watched the murderous Nightshard die and saved a life that earned her the nicknamed "The Shard Axe". Now a series of murders in Stormreach are all too similar to Nightshard and Sabira must return to face her demons in order save a life. In a city full of enemies can she keep the past from repeating itself?

This is a book to be devoured in one setting. It is fast paced with bits of backstory dropped in at choice moments that flesh out Sabira's story perfectly. While I am not as familiar with Eberron as I am the Forgotten Realms, this book required no previous knowledge of the Eberron setting and can be enjoyed as a standalone novel. The key element of the story is Sabira, to say that her methods are unorthodox and she is a "bit of a rule breaker" is an understatement but she has a fierce sense of duty that guides her actions. So her prisoners are brought in a little worse for wear? It is part of her charm...

If you are looking for a faced paced story featuring a great fantasy action heroine that will keep you engaged and turning the pages until the very end, then The Shard Axe is the book for you. I hope to see Sabira, The Shard Axe, in more adventures.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Shard Axe by Marsheila Rockwell 11 Oct 2011
By Travis Eisenbrandt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Shard Axe by Marsheila Rockwell

The Shard Axe is a stand-alone novel, at least at the time of this review, that is set in the Eberron world of Dungeons and Dragons. The Shard Axe is also based on the popular free to play massively multiplayer online game called Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited. Marsheila Rockwell has written another Eberron book titled Legacy of Wolves. She has also written short stories and poems for a large amount of anthologies and collections. The Shard Axe was released in September 2011 and was published by Wizards of the Coast LLC.

The life of Sentinel Marshal Sabira d'Deneith has been a hard one ever since putting an end to a murdering spree caused by someone named the Nightshard and becoming known as The Shard Axe. After the fateful and tragic end to the Nightshard's reign of terror, she has to return to the city she never wanted to see again. What makes matters worse is that she has to defend the dwarf that she was tasked to protect from the Nightshard, who is being accused of similar crimes. Even with the word of a Sentinel Marshal, the dwarf, Aggar Tordannon, is going to need all the help he can get. But there is something that isn't quite right about the case and it is up to Sabira to uncover the secrets.

Criticisms:
1) Characters. The Shard Axe falls into that unfortunate category of having too many characters that become mixed up in the long run. There were quite a few characters whose names seemed to either blend together or had names that were way too close to one another. Because of this, it was hard to recall some of this characters and their roles in the story. Another unfortunate side-effect of this is that a lot of the minor characters didn't feel that developed or interesting. Of all the characters that were either introduced or mentioned, only a select few really came off as memorable. Then out of those select few, only one or two of them really stood out. In fact, most of the characters are forgettable and really did feel not that important as they should have been. The rest was easily forgotten as soon as you would put the book down.
2) Pacing. While the plot of The Shard Axe is not bad, the pacing makes it hard to really get into. To have an enjoyable plot, the pacing needs to work in making everything exciting and interesting. The pacing here is very slow. It takes a while for the main plot to show up. It felt like it took forever for things to get going and the main plot doesn't seem to really show up until near the halfway point. This wouldn't have been a problem, but it feels like there was something more interesting going on before the main plot shows up. It almost seems as through the main plot inserted itself into the story. This whole situation puts the brakes on what otherwise would have been an interesting story. While it does recover, the odd feeling of reading something totally different does persist. The jarring change in plot and direction really makes the story feel longer than it is.
3) Knowledge. For new readers to the world of Eberron or have basic passing knowledge of the world, like I do, will find themselves lost in references and background of the world. Those that do have knowledge in the world or have played Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited probably won't have any problem understanding the references. For being a stand-alone novel this doesn't work. It may pique the interest of new readers, but it seems to mostly leave you in the dark. There are countless references to things that happened in the past outside of the story as well as things that are told and not shown. The best example of history is a scene where Sabira is looking at a few books on another character's bookshelf and vague exposition shows up, mostly made up of names and places that a new reader wouldn't know of. An example of not being shown something is when Sabira is walking down a street in Stormreach and there are street names and places listed with little to no description. It doesn't leave much for the imagination to picture and it causes the story to slow down. This book is definitely aimed towards the Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited audience, but it should really be for everyone and anyone to pick up and enjoy.

Praises:
1) Sabira. The best thing about The Shard Axe is Sabira d'Deneith. She's an interesting and likable character with a colorful background, and as soon as you meet her, you instantly want to know more about her. She has that charisma that every good main character should have. Sabira does go into the 'normal hero role', but she is more complex than your normal hero. Early in the story, you see that Sabira isn't perfect and those imperfections really round out her character. From that moment on, you see her in a different light. She's flawed and because of this, there's more dimensions to her character. That is something that makes characters like her likable and enjoyable. These flaws of her makes her feel more realistic. As the story goes on, you learn more about her and she becomes really intriguing. You begin to wonder more about her past and what she has done. Sabira is one of those characters that make you yearn to read more about her.
2) Beginning. The beginning of The Shard Axe instantly reels you in. It's fast, exciting, and instantly drops you into the story and characters. Everything about the first few chapters is written very well. In fact, the first sixty pages felt like it should have been the real story. There was a lot there to go off of and there is a lot that is left unanswered. There are interesting characters that are introduced who we never see again that could have been more interesting to read about. That said, it was a good way to get you interested and hooked into a story.
3) Main Plot. The main plot of The Shard Axe is interesting. It has a very mystery type feel to the plot. It was fun seeing Sabira unravel what is going on and who the real killer is. On top of that, there was a lot of intrigue with the 'courtroom' setting. It almost seemed like something you would see on Law & Order, or a similar show. While it did take a while for this plot to get going, it still worked rather well.

Side Notes:
1) Dungeons and Dragons Online. I really wonder how connected the novel is with the massively multiplayer online game. Is there any story elements from the game that are talked about in the novel or visa versa?
2) Injuries. Was it just me or was some of the injuries that the characters accumulate throughout the story seem to be rather unimportant? I would think that if your hand was bathed in acid for a few minutes, it would take a while to really heal, and not just a few hours (if that). Some of the injuries really did seem serious, but never really impacted the characters like injuries of that magnitude should have.
3) Cover Art. The Shard Axe has some very appropriate artwork. It really reflects a video game with the three-dimensional look and the colors are rather nice. The blue really is eye catching and a nice contrast to the warmer colors. However, it still looks rather generic. It is still good, but the generic feel really doesn't get you interested in picking the novel up.

Overall: 3/5
Final Thoughts:
The Shard Axe is a very average novel. It's not by any means bad, but it feels lacking. There are a lot of characters in the novel that tend to either be forgotten or easily mixed up. It doesn't help that a lot of the minor characters aren't developed. Also, the pacing does become very slow at points and never really is that constant throughout the novel. The slow pacing leads to problem with the plot suddenly appearing out of nowhere. The Shard Axe doesn't seem to be for everyone and those with passing or little knowledge of the world will be lost. Thankfully, there are some positives for the novel. Sabira d'Deneith is a fantastic character. She's flawed and likable. She is the sole reason that this story is enjoyable. The beginning of the novel really throws you into things. It's exciting, action-packed, and allows you to really get a grasp on what is going on. Finally, the main plot was rather enjoyable. It had a very fun mystery feel to it and having Sabira unravel clues to it was a blast to read through. All in all, The Shard Axe is just like Sabira; flawed but enjoyable. It's not really aimed for new readers to the Eberron world, but it seems like if you have knowledge of the world or play Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited this is a novel for you. But when all is said and done, I just want more Sabira.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
More Plz. 19 Dec 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Great little book. Tasty amount of action, a fair amount of mystery and almost enough DDo.

If there is a complaint about this book, it would be 60% of the book is set outside of the area in which the DDo game is set. Maybe that is the fault of the game and not the author. But as it is labeled the DDo book maybe a little more DDo is needed. But even that complaint is a small one when you consider that this book could move to any dnd realm and be entreating.

Totally worth the read.

And really don't you want some DnD books that aren't about Drow fighting their nature or were greybeard old has bins are to lazy to save the day their own damn self?

Good times.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
D&D Session transcribed 19 Dec 2011
By Timothy W. Seifert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The Shard Axe is a fun quick read. I could not put this book down and was sad when I realized i had finished it.

As I was reading the book, I felt transported to the author's Dungeons & Dragons gaming group for a lively and engaging play session. It really felt like this stroy could have unfolded for a group of friends gathered around the gaming tble, with pizza, mountain dew and dice and a stack of rule books for their weekly game.

The story jumps rihgt into the action centered around the main character Sabira, part police officer, part bounty hunter, who is always toeing the line between what is acceptable and what isn't. All of this sets up her motiviation and fears and helps commit the reader to this character. In other words, we wuickly learn about the things that drive and make Sabira tick. Her flaws are almost endearing, but they make believable. And when she is called upon to confront her past, her internal struggle is felt by the reader. The past is painful, but so is the present and possibly the future, if she can't pay her debt, so what will it be?

Once Sabira commits to her course of action, the story takes off and we are presented with a griping murder mystery just doesn't make sense. And as Sabira and I worked to puzzle the whole thing out, I was quickly lost to the story, turning pages ina blur. And sadly before I knew it I had finished the book.

The author mixed all the right ingredients for a fun and engaging delve into the world of Ebberron that has left me waiting for the next installment.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
DDO tie-in novel "The Shard Axe" is Great! 5 Nov 2011
By Adam G. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
'The Shard Axe' is the first, and hopefully not the last, Dungeons & Dragons: Online (DDO) novel. It was a good quick read with a storyline that flowed easily. I enjoyed getting involved with the main characters as the plot thickened.

I've been playing DDO since 2007 and was glad to see that a fellow player write a book that takes place not only in the world of Eberron, but the setting of Dungeons & Dragons: Online. I could not put the book down unless it was to sleep or I had to go to work.

I recommend that if you are a fan of DDO to pick up this book. Before even finishing it, I was telling any group I was in to check it out and asking if anyone else had started reading it. I'm certain that more than a few people went out to get it.
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