Downshadow (Greenwood Presents Waterdeep) Mass Market Paperback – 6 Apr 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The hero is a City Watchman who battles crime at night in his guise as Shadowbane the paladin in the city of Waterdeep. The novel consists of the characters he meets and battles.
Downshadow only had some action which was well written but the problems are with the characterisation and plot. There were too many characters and apart from the hero and villain none were interesting or engaging. The one standout character is Rath the evil dwarven monk. He is a superbly written character. If Rath had more time in the novel and other characters had been removed such as some of the numerous Watchmen/women it would have been a much better novel.
There was no central theme to the novel such as rescuing someone, finding treasure, killing a monster etc etc. This meant it did not hold my attention. It was a series of incidents that didn't tie together well.
Another thing that annoyed me was the author trying to inject olde worlde speech. This failed miserably it just sounded false. The word 'aught' used is used far too much.
This has really put me off the new range of Forgotten Realms novels. This is the fourth I have bought and except for Rich Bakers - The Swordmage they have all been poor.
Elaine Cunningham and Jeff Grubb please come back!
The novel's strength is that the author not only succeeds in bringing the city of Waterdeep truly to roaring, gritty and glitzy life, but also that his characters are strong, engaging personalities, each of them very distinct, represented in details such as language or small gestures and mannerisms. One can feel the love the author feels for his creations, all of which do are fascinating, but not superheroes. Rather they are quite "human"...or dwarven or elven for that matter...which quickly gets them the reader's sympathy.
This also holds true for "Down Shadow"'s villains, interesting, complex characters beyond typical clichés.
Longtime fans Forgotten Realms fans will find several "Easter Eggs" and nods to older novels of the setting, while new readers won't be overwhelmed by these, since they are all integrated into the story very organically. Lack of "Realmslore" knowledge will mean that you won't get every little in-joke, but it will definitely not hamper any enjoyment of "Downshadow".
The only "shortcoming" of this novel, and it isn't really one, is that, also in the typical tradition of shared world settings such as the Forgotten Realms, some questions are left unanswered and some doors are left open, so that one hopes there will be a sequel. But really, one hopes that with De Bie's writing anyway.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The plot of this book follows a mysterious Shadowbane as he patrols the depths of Downshadow to deal with the nefarious denizens that inhabit the place. There are a few adventures of Shadowbane doing these altruistic deeds, but there is much more depth to the story as well. There are more instances of people having spellscars and some explanations on just what that can do to someone. Lastly, there are multiple instances of betrayals, backstabbing, deceit, and many battles between individuals and factions. Mr. de Bie, in the past, has shown a knack for writing fast paced character driven novels with good fight scenes. For the most part, this sentiment holds true with Downshadow. The plot of this book has an almost breakneck feel at times, which is both a plus and a hindrance. There were a couple of instances where the story flew by so fast I was left grasping for what just happened. Even after rereading a scene, it almost had a manic feel to it. Those scenes may have been better serves by pulling off the throttle a little. However, with that said, there are some scenes that benefit from that fast paced nature - most notably the chase scene that happens between Shadowbane and Talanna. I loved that scene. In general, I thought the book had a decent plotline - but I never felt really invested in it as much as I have in Mr. de Bie's previous work (most notably Ghostwalker). With that said, I can easily understand how some readers will really enjoy this plot, to me it was just okay.
The characters in this book are not nearly as numerous as I had thought based on the scope of the plot. While there are numerous characters, this story revolves around seven characters; Kalen, Araezra, Talanna, Fayne, Myrin, Rath and Shadowbane. For me, the characters were hit and miss. Rath and Fayne I loved. I enjoyed their mannerisms, dialogue, ruthlessness, etc. They were perfection. Talanna, Kalen, and Shadowbane had positives and negatives for me. I really enjoyed when Kalen's back-story seeped into the story. Talanna proved to be a strong character, but at times it seemed like she was pushed to the side during the character development phase for the more central characters. I preferred Shadowbane more at the start of the story than I did once the mystery was revealed. The mystery around Shadowbane was like watching the Titanic movie, most fantasy fans will have little trouble figuring things out. That leaves me with Myrin and Araezra. Two characters I simply could not connect with. For some reason they just did not interest me at all. I was rather apathetic about those two, I understand their respective plights, but they just didn't grab me like I was hoping. All in all the characters in this book are solid and span a broad spectrum offering up something most fans should enjoy.
A couple criticisms about this novel:
1 - At times some of the dialogue seemed too long, or forced. It just didn't seem to flow as smoothly as it could have. It Mr. de Bie's first two novels, the dialogue was spot on and fit perfectly with the story. However, in this book at times it just didn't seem to click for me.
2 - Myrin and Shadowbane's spellscar `powers' are a little unnerving to me. Not in the sense that they have the powers, but as I was reading this book it felt more and more like I was reading a fantasy book with X-men mutant characters. This really applies to Myrin and her abilities and made things feel a little too convenient.
Some things I liked about this novel:
1 - I have long been a fan of Mr. de Bie's darkside of writing. Simply put, he drags his characters through the gutter, slaps them around, kicks them down the stairs, then steps on their fingers as they try to pull themselves out. Those same things apply to this book as well. If you are looking for light reading material with a generous dose of humor... find a different book.
2 - The villains. Rath may be one of my favorite villains I have ever read about. Although, he is much like Tasselhoff Burfoot from the Dragonlance Chronicles, in that almost every scene Rath is in he steals it. Even if he is a minor character in the seen I was captivated by him. His ruthlessness, crassness, bitterness, and how he uses people to meet his needs was near perfection.
3 - In Ghostwalker Mr. de Bie showed that he could write a fight scene almost as well as R.A. Salvatore, however in this book he proves he is no longer near the level of Salvatore, but equal to (if not better) than Salvatore. The fight scenes in this book are descriptive, action packed, but more importantly they are realistic.
While reading the above, some may think I did not like this book. Quite the contrary actually, there were many things I enjoyed about the novel. Maybe Mr. de Bie is simply a victim of his own success by first writing Ghostwalker, everything else will forever be compared to that. Fans of the Forgotten Realms and Erik de Bie's work will no doubt find elements in this story to enjoy. It is everything one has come to expect to find. I know there is a segment of Forgotten Realms fans who have shunned the Realms after the switch to 4th Edition rules. However, I would emplore them to give these Waterdeep books a read and then make a determination. I have enjoyed all the 4th Edition novels and think it makes for some interesting storyline possibilities. After reading this book I have no doubt that Mr. de Bie will be writing great stories for years to come, and I for one am excited to see what he pens next.
Does Myrin hold some part of Mystra within herself? Why cant she remember her past? Was are the blue runes? So many questions...with zero answers!
There had better be a sequel!
With the 4th edition (4E) debate still raging and Forgotten Realms advocates having mixed feelings about the changing landscape, this novel kind of saved my favorite fantasy setting (for me at least). How did it do that you ask? It returned my favorite aspect of the Realms that I had felt torn away from me with 4E - which is the god: Helm. I realize the novel did not resurrect him outright from his extremely superficial demise, but at least he is part of the world again and that leads me to believe there is a chance of him coming back. So an essence, this novel gave me hope for the future of the Realms.
While I was never a huge fan of the D&D board game, I fell in love with the Realms in 1998 with the release of Baldur's Gate and have since owned all FR video games and have read nearly all the novels. Since I first played Baldur's Gate which prominently featured Helm, I have seen him as the iconic god of the Forgotten Realms. He was a HUGE part of those games and was likely featured more so than other Forgotten Realms deity. And for whatever reason, Helm really resonated with me and I loved discovering lore about him or having my NPC party members worship him. Maybe it was his aesthetic (as a kid, I loved knights in full plate armor - and here was a GOD in full plate), maybe it was his mantra (it always seemed like a blend of chivalry and being a stone-cold bada** who didn't care about what others thought of him). Or maybe it was just the fact that he punkslapped all of the other gods during the Avatar series, but for whatever reason he has always been my absolute favorite part of Forgotten Realms.
When Wizards of the Coast killed him off for seemingly no real reason, I honestly did not want much more to do with the Realms. I also did not feel like reading any of the new 4E books. Well, the author of DownShadow definitely changed that. I feel like he knew the Wizards of the Coast were getting rid of a special part of the Realms, and he enabled the ability of fans like me to have hope for a grandiose Helm comeback in the future. Or at very least - he is still a part of the Realms (even if he is merged with Torm and Tyr blegghrr). He saved my favorite fantasy setting and I thank him for that. I realize this review is not about the structure of the novel or the author's literary talents (which are both very impressive); it is about something more special to me as a fantasy reader and a fan of the Forgotten Realms. So again, if you are a fan of the Forgotten Realms, enjoy excellent writing and storytelling, and just want a very rich fantasy experience, I strongly recommend this book.
Now, on a separate-but-totally-related note, Please resurrect Helm completely in your next novel (Doesn't hurt to ask, right?).
The story was fast paced and drew me in from the beginning. DeBie gives the reader just enough information to set the hook and draw the reader deeper and deeper into the story. The characters grow throughout the story and are very well fleshed out by the end. The fight scenes were vivid and well thought out. I could actually hear Hans Zimmer in the background as the heroes and villains battled throughout the book. DeBie made me really care for the characters, good and bad alike. They are all tortured and flawed in some way and their histories are interwoven throughout the book and I kept turning page after page for a glimpse into what made these characters tick.
I highly recommend this book to new and longtime readers of the Forgotten Realms. If you are looking for a fast paced, action packed book with fantastic characters that leave you wanting more, then Downshadow is the book for you.
My daughter and I have both read it--she's 14, I'm 43. We both enjoyed it enough to want to read a sequel(with the understanding from my daughter, however, that Kalen not die).
The presence of Waterdeep, both above-ground and below, running in the background of the story itself, was a very nice touch. The book is clearly a Dungeons & Dragons setting, and reflects that consistently, which I liked. The descriptions of places in past adventures, people in past stories, and new places have added a great deal to scenarios we use for gaming, but the book itself is a good read whether you're a fan of the D&D game or not.
My primary criticism isn't the X-men flavor, though it has that, but that many of the characters that were interestingly described are then killed later. Perhaps this is good--after all, how many returning villains/friends can you have?--but dang it. I LIKED some of them. The ending is also rather a cliff-hanger. Something you'd expect to see at the end of a television season, to encourage viewers to watch the season opener--except there is no sequel!
My daughter literally threw the book angrily at me after she finished(she read it straight through, in several hours on summer vacation), and demanded to know 'what happens afterward!'.
Still, in all, it's a nice good read with some neat 4e Forgotten Realms flavor, and a slice of super-hero mixed in. In fact, something happened with that that I have ALWAYS wondered how superheroes dodge--secret identities are deuced difficult to successfully keep--so kudos for having THIS hero, have his slip a few times.