Shadowstorm: Kemp makes the Forgotten Realms a real place

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Forgotten Realms The Twilight War Paul S. Kemp Shadowstorm, ShadowrealmShadowstorm by Paul S. Kemp

A storm is brewing in the country of Sembia. Erevis Cale must use the powers of Mask to stop it. Civil War is tearing apart the merchant kingdom, and Tamlin, the Hulorn of Selgaunt has made a deal with the last of the Netherese, the Shadovar. Into this turmoil comes the Shadowstorm.

Shadowstorm, Paul S. Kemp’s second book in The Twilight War, continues where Shadowbred left off. Erevis Cale, Drasik Riven, and Magadon continue their quest through the planes. Magadon wars within himself over his human and devil natures, and Erevis defies the very god who gives him power. Meanwhile, Tamlin, feckless son and poor leader, now oversees the defense of Selgaunt from the Overmistress’ forces with the aide of the Shade Rivalen.

Kemp has once again created a story filled with human characters surrounded by great events that threaten to change the Forgotten Realms forever. Tamlin is being drawn ever closer to the worship of Shar through the machinations of Rivalen, and his logic is as petty as any child’s who doesn’t get what he wants. Unfortunately, Tamlin’s tantrum will have lasting consequences that his naiveté cannot foresee. Erevis Cale, weary and torn, tries to do right, but must use the dark forces of shadow to do it. Both of these characters had been explored before in previous books. The newest inner conflict Kemp develops in this book is that of Magadon. After an encounter with his fiendish father, Magadon is no longer able to keep a boundary between his devil and human natures, and the inability to control his duality threatens to destroy the upright and righteous person Magadon has always been.

Kemp uses a couple of first person sections to explore the depth of Magadon’s duality, as well as the usual third-person that Wizards of the Coast requires of its authors. The first person perspective is interesting, and allows Kemp to give his character a great deal of depth. Knowing the thoughts and actions allows the reader to identify more completely with the character’s struggles, drawing us into the story.

Shadowstorm reveals why Paul S. Kemp is so important to The Forgotten Realms. His characters have motivations that readers relate to and he has shown that shared world fiction is just as poignant and valuable as the latest New York Times Bestseller. His exploration of the anti-hero is something our culture is deeply fascinated with, and Kemp does it well. Erevis Cale is the dark knight of our dreams — powerful and mysterious. Each character’s suffering humanizes the sword and sorcery of the setting, and makes the Forgotten Realms a very real place.


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JOHN OTTINGER III, a guest contributor to FanLit, runs the Science Fiction / Fantasy blog Grasping for the Wind. His reviews, interviews, and articles have appeared in Publisher’s Weekly, The Fix, Sacramento Book Review, Flashing Swords, Stephen Hunt’s SFCrowsnest, Thaumatrope, and at Tor.com.

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