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The Sentinel: The Sundering: Book V Hardcover – 1 Apr 2014
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About the Author
Troy Denning is the New York Times best-selling author the Star Wars Fate of the Jedi novels--Abyss, Vortex, and most recently Apocalypse--as well as many beloved and best-selling Forgotten Realms titles including Crucible, Waterdeep, Pages of Pain, Beyond the High Road, The Summoning, and many other novels. A former game designer and editor, he lives in western Wisconsin with his wife, Andria --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
I had high hopes for this novel, because I've very much enjoyed the other novels in this series - with the exception of Book 4 by Byers which was bland and relied heavily on deus ex machina for nearly every plot point. With Denning's novel, I hoped it would pull the series back on track of classic adventure. Unfortunately, this book has many of the same flaws as Byers' Reaver: the use of too many Chosen of the Gods (people with extra-special magical powers), a highly formulaic approach to the plot, and minimal characterization.
This story brings together watchman Kleef (sworn to the dead god of duty, Helm), noble Lady Arietta (a presumed Chosen of Siamorphe, goddess of nobility and rulership), Joelle (a Chosen of Sune, goddess of love), and Malik (Chosen of Cyric, god of strife and lies). This is an interesting selection of characters, but none are particularly well fleshed out or explored through the novel. Instead, they have their god-specific powers which are focused on again and again, with the story driven almost entirely by the rather odd plot of getting a stolen artifact to the underground temple of an Earth Primordial. There's a convoluted yet somewhat weak theory that doing so will save the world from destruction by Shar, the goddess of night and oblivion. The group is harried by shadowvar (shadow-infused beings) from Netheril, and later by orcs - who seek to retrieve the stolen artifact, an "eye" of their evil god Gruumsh.
It has the backdrop of the Sundering, of course, as all of the novels in this series do. But once again, very little is actually revealed about what's going on with the Sundering, why it's happening, what the gods really want other than jockeying for position by acting through their servants called Chosen. Why bother even having the Sundering as a backdrop if you're not going to reveal anything about it during the series? Hopefully we will get something -anything- revealed in the final book.
There are several rather uninspired fight sequences, but the villains are even less compelling than the main cast of characters. Kleef is a cardboard cutout caricature of the D&D fighter class, Lady Arietta never grows beyond being annoying, Joelle uses her powers to charm people into "love" that always rings false, and Malik remains noisome, useless, and obnoxious. All the possibilities and potential for growth, interesting interactions, and character exploration are missed in this novel. I couldn't identify with, appreciate, or enjoy any of them for who they were or even for the supposed nobility of their quest. It might have been saved by an interesting plot or interesting antagonists, but the plot was "on the rails" formula-writing without any real surprises. Even the inevitable betrayal was passionless and completely obvious from the beginning.
Suggestion for Wizards of the Coast: Shar, shadowvar, Netheril, Cormyr, and the "Chosen of the gods" concept have all been extremely overused for years. Do something else, please. The Realms is a rich, diverse setting, yet you focus on the same tired and overused plot points over and over. RA Salvatore, Erin Evans, and Paul Kemp can help if you stop using the same McGuffins, bland themes, and boring villains. Instead of Byers and Denning, you should've used fresher authors like Erik Scott de Bie or Rosemary Jones who can go in interesting new directions. After this novel, I'm left with a shred of hope that Ed Greenwood can lift up the story out of total medocrity, but I'm not completely certain that it's possible even for him. Very disappointing.
Their path collides with that of Kleef, a top-sword for the Marsember Watch, and Arietta, a nobleman’s daughter. Together the four of them become more or less bound to each other, the artefact and their sense of duty. One could argue that their meeting is fate rather than just accidental.
Malik is the Chosen one of the god of lies, which is certainly apt because he spends most of his time trying to deceive or harm some members of the small group and the other half spreading lies.
Denning has woven parts of the four other books in the Sundering into this fifth one. If readers have read those or have been following this fascinating collaboration, they will recognise the moments when the stories link together.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.