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Saturday, February 6, 2021

Review: The Sentinel by Troy Denning

My second Realms novel by Denning, after Faces Of Deception from the Lost Empire Series. I’ve read some of Denning’s books outside of the Forgotten Realms and I know he can craft a decent tale so I looked forward to this one. The Sentinel is book five of The Sundering, the bridge series of Fourth Editon to Fifth Edition lore. I’ve already read books three and six, and it is currently the only series I can not finish that I’ve already started. This is because book one is also book thirty-one of the Legend of Drizzt and I’m only on book elven. Book two of The Sundering is the last novel of the whole Erevis Cale story, and I have not yet read the Twilight War Trilogy.

So I found The Sentinel (published 2014) at a used bookstore and I felt this would be a good standalone novel to throw in between finishing some series. It mainly caught my eye because it was a book closer to the current timeline with 5e and because it starts in Marsember, Cormyr. I’m a sucker for the Forest Kingdom.

Book blurb:

"Embittered paladin Kleef Kenric is on a quest to stop evil forces from taking advantage of the chaos rolling across the land of Faerûn and claiming dominion over the entirety of the Realms.
Stubbornly clinging to his family's worship of a long-forgotten god, Kleef Kenric soon discovers that his god has blessed him with divine gifts, making him one of a new group of Chosen cropping up around the Realms. This divine gift makes him an excellent ally—and a target for those who wish corral his powers.
After battling his way out Marsember, a city besieged on all sides in the wake of the Sundering, he becomes swept up in the mission of a group of odd allies—a warrior noblewoman, an accomplished thief, and a mysterious short pudgy man exuding a faint odor of decay. With the forces of Shade tracking their every step, they travel to the Underdark to thwart the rise of the goddess of Death, but before long Kleef learns that his allies hide dangerous secrets—secrets that could destroy not only Kleef but the very fabric of the Forgotten Realms."

The story starts as Kleef Kenric is on the job as a member of the Marsember City Watch, the city is evacuating under threat from Shadovar. The year is 1486 DR. Kleef’s family has long worshipped Helm, whom has been dead since 1384 DR. The family even kept a great sword enchanted to be as light as a dagger when wielded by a Kenric, its name is Watcher, and the agate in the cross guard is Helm's Eye. 

We are then introduced to Lady Arietta Seasilver, a Chosen of Siamorphe, the goddess of nobility —coincidentally my latest character is a Paladin of Siamorphe and from Battlerise in Cormyr. While her family decides to flea across the Dragonmere to Elversult, she decides to do her duty as a member of the nobility and face the Netherese. 

We also have a chosen of Sune, goddess of love; a supposed chosen of Myrkul, a god of of the dead; and a Prince of Shade. Throw in a magical relic, the Eye of Gruumsh, and we have a fun adventurer on our hands on both land, sea, and earthmotes

Faerûn as it is during the Second Sundering, cartographer Mike Schley

While most of the cast is new and unique to The Sentinel, two characters are not. The first character is from some of Denning's older Realms novels: The Avatar Series, and Return of the Archwizards. Since those take place before the events of The Sentinel, some of you may find reading those before The Sentinel more to your liking. The second character has a smaller role, but was a character that played a small part in The Reaver, book four of The Sundering.

The character work is decent. While we see Kleef's personality at first he later turns into a bland sword for a chunk of the story, though he comes through in the end. Joelle slowly becomes more interesting as we learn more about her. Arietta has some interesting ticks and has good growth for the last hundred pages. 

Since this is The Sundering, be prepared for talks of gods, primordials, returned Netheril, and the changing cosmology that is coming to a fast conclusion. This for the most part was okay by me, though it was a little surprising how almost completely inept the shades were against our protagonists. 

The story pulled me in for the last third, and I really enjoyed the ending; it even managed to be surprising. I liked this book, but not as much as I would have to start. It sort of reminded me of The Nether Scroll of The Lost Empires series. The Sentinel is Acceptable, filling a snug spot in The Sundering Series that brought us to Fifth Edition. Now if we could get more stories in the Forgotten Realms, I'd like to see Denning return to them.


You can track my current progress here.

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