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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

In this landmark Forgotten Realms novel, a band of heroes seeks the one ally who can help them win a deadly race against the gods: Elminster. When the gods are banished from the heavens, they must travel through Faerûn in the guise of mortals, seeking to regain their powers. Malevolent Bane, power-hungry Mystra, and Helm—guardian of the heavens—all know the lost Tablets of Fate are key. When fou…


by Scott Ciencin (as Richard Awlinson)

Overall Book Review:

Shadowdale sets the stage for an epic high-fantasy trilogy that spawned an additional two sequels to make up the five-book Avatar Series. This first installment is rich with adventure and magic. The story has a grand scope set against the backdrop of a detailed and expansive fantasy world, but the grandeur does not overshadow the individual struggles and uniqueness of the characters. The author has a talent for keeping the story moving at an interesting pace while sprinkling short periods of calm into the narrative in which the reader can get to know the characters and sympathize with their situations. Fans of Dungeons & Dragons will find much to enjoy in this book, and they may find some of the story familiar. However, the book will appeal to anyone who likes to read fantasy, and a prior knowledge of the game setting is not required.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 11 mild obscenities. (Note: “Ass” is used to describe a foolish person (not tallied).)

Violence/Gore: Characters spar; a few verbal threats; characters threaten each other with weapons a few times; a few reports of death by caused by magic; a few reports of torture; a few reports of death in battle; a few reports of a murders; a few reported fight; report of euthanasia; mention of suicide; a character is poisoned (not fatally); a character hits another; several instances of fantasy violence without death or gore; a few fights with magic, some with bloody injury and death described; characters hunt for food, with bloody injury described; wounded animals have to be put down a few times; a few characters are killed by magic or in battle in a non-graphic way; a murder with blood described; characters find dead bodies and a bloody murder scene; a character suffers a gory magical transformation, which is described a few times.

Sex/Nudity: Characters flirt verbally or kiss a few times; a character caresses another’s arm while flirting; a few instances of characters contemplating how physically attractive people of the opposite gender are; characters are naked while bathing, with privates covered by the water, and they flirt only verbally; a character is naked without sexual connotation a few times; a woman points a sword threateningly at a man’s crotch; a woman wears translucent clothing; a few reports of a couple sleeping together; report of a man spending many nights with various women; a character brags about a woman he plans to sleep with; a woman disrobes in front of a man (no description); a few instances in which characters kiss, and it is implied that they have sex.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death (friend); war; thievery; forgery; discrimination against women; a character is an orphan; murder; suicide (mentioned); euthanasia (reported); slavery (reported).

Alcohol/Drug Use:

Poison is used; adults drink alcohol.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My taste in literature leans heavily towards sci-fi, fantasy, and (my favorite) horror, and the latter can present some fairly murky waters for parents to let their children explore. I enjoy novels of both the standard and graphic varieties. Since those genres, and graphic novels in particular, tend to appeal to boys, I hope that I can help other Boy Mommies in their quest to find books that their little video gamers--I mean, future bibliophiles will read and enjoy. When I am not reading, I enjoy tabletop role-playing games, video games, and singing karaoke. I have a wonderful husband who lets me indulge my reading habit by sharing the housework and being a great dad to our genius kids and their faithful hound.