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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Completed Series: The Cleric Quintet by R.A. Salvatore

An aptly named quintet, five books about a cleric of Deneir, the god of knowledge. The Cleric Quintet has some characters that can be found in book ten of The Legend of Drizzt, Passage to Dawn. For that reason you may want to read these if you want to know these characters, and if you particularly enjoy Salvatore's writing. The entire series takes place in and on both sides of the Snowflake Mountains, on the border of Tethyr and Erlkazar.

I read these five books from the beginning of December to the end of February. I still am not a huge fan of Salvatore's writing, and so I needed space between the books. I hope my dislike of the author doesn't show too much, but I promise these views are straight from my heart.

the original covers

Canticle (1991) - Good
In Sylvan Shadows (1992) - Acceptable

Night Masks (1992) - Mediocre

The Fallen Fortress (1993) - Mediocre

The Chaos Curse (1994) - Ugly


We are first introduced to an evil mage who is a worshipper of Talona. He is getting the last ingredient for a potent elixir. The story takes place 1361 DR, a few years after the Time of Troubles. 

After a short prologue we meet our protagonist, Cadderly. The cover shows Cadderly, priest of Deneir, as blonde though on page 7, our first description of him says he has “curly brown locks” but only a few paragraphs later we read that he is “blonde-haired”; this is confusing.

Cadderly seems to have a perfect memory of sorts, reminds me of Icelin Tearn from Mistshore, though as the series goes on we see this is not really the case, he is just exceptionally bright, though this is told more than shown.

Also as an acolyte of Deneir, he shows tendencies more behavioral of a that of Gondish priest.

At this point, Cadderly has never had any adventures; he is young and carefree. We soon find that the monk Danica and him are about to embark on life changing events. In this book Danica and Cadderly have a juvenile relationship, you could call it silly.

The main villain of this book is seen quite often, which is nice, though he is not very bright. For example, I don’t see why the dweomer for innocence was attached to the chaos curse, and is Cadderly truly innocent? This is also completely absent in book five.

Takes a little while for the ball to get rolling but it’s engrossing when it does. I actually stayed up to finish this one. For the most part we get steortypical characters that are borderline absurd. My favorite character by far was the druid Newander, sadly this is the only book the druids are so important.

In Sylvan Shadows

Five weeks after the first book, Cadderly must Journey to Shilmista, an elven Forest on the north face of the Snowflake Mountains.

Chapter 1 we are introduced to multiple elves with silly names, most of Salvatore’s names are juvenile. I was reminded that Salvatore has as odd view of females that comes out when he writes of them, it reminds me of Dracula and how each guy fawns over the amazing, beautiful, maiden. It’s sort of gross.

We get some phrases in this book that break the immersion of a fantasy world. We also get some elvish words, though Salvatore is no linguist, it was fun to break apart for meanings. I like the ancient forest filled with Sylvan elves theme, this made up for the slow story.

Leave it to Salvatore, where elvish has cryshal for crystal and trea for trees, how elementary. 

One great plus is just how human Cadderly is in this book, as he struggles with the reality of the wider world beyond the walls of the Edificant Library.

Night Masks

Yet again introduced to another villain just like the previous prologues. Sadly, Ghost comes off as comical though his power is supposed to be feared, but I can’t take his amazing power seriously when I know clueless Cadderly will defeat him in the end.

Cadderly begins thinking about how he doesn’t have a home, though how the Edificant Library isn’t his home doesn’t quite sit well with me, I think Salvatore is pushing for emotional sympathy to our protagonist but he’s just not a good enough writer to actually make me care about Cadderly‘a inner turmoil.

At this point I was no longer confusing Aballister with alabaster.

In reality the story is going a nicer direction, but its bogged down by juvenility, such as the Salvatore’s inability to write good romance that is only bad because he incessantly tries to shoehorn it in. Anyway, we are shortly introduced to the Night Masks out of Westgate, sent for by Bogo Rath, the youngest and least powerful wizard in service to Talona. Somehow he avoided death when he left, something which is mentioned. This is two years after Erevis Cale’s escape from the group that is told in Another Name for Dawn, so likely these characters were contemporary, but of course Cale’s character wasn’t created by Kemp until later in the decade.

It’s interesting to see a firbolg so different from its fifth edition incarnation. We also finally get a good glimpse of the Tome of Universal Harmony, the sacred text of Deneir. 

In a story and world where gods very obviously and evidently exist it’s silly to have to read about a characters inner turmoil involving atheism or agnosticism. I feel this is Salvatore’s personal thoughts bleeding into his work, but our world is not The Realms and it detracts from the story. I found similar thoughts occur in Drizzt books.

Salvatore never learned what a synonym is since Rufo is called the “angular man” probably hundreds of times, it’s inane. The timeline of this book is a little confusing, but just don't think about it.

Another plus, it is refreshing to see the struggle and turmoil that can come about from taking another human life, something that is too often brushed over by fantasy authors.

Another minus, after using the most basic clerical spell during In Sylvan Shadows (admittedly to profound effect), the rapid pace at which very high level spells are gained in Night Masks is laughable. Unlike the first two books, I slowly started to care less and less, and found it hard to pick this book back up when I put it down.

The conclusion was quite good, and at this point I think Rufo is a very interesting character, he is so torn because of his weak resolve in a dangerous world. Sadly his arc goes downhill, even though the fall is a bit delayed.

The Fallen Fortress

I decided I would change things up and do this one in audiobook format. Though I get through books a lot slower this way, I thought it might help my enjoyment go up since I was having a problem with Salvatore’s writing. This helped me to take a sort of backseat, and while I was less engrossed I did enjoy my time a little more. I also learned how to say some of the names properly doing this. 

Omnibus of the series

At this point Cadderly is a caster with no limits on spells he can cast in both number and power. He had a whole book of spells that became usable almost all at once. 

Overly competent heroes, but woefully under competent villains that are suppose to be powerful and intelligent makes this a circus of a read.

Knowing my opinions of the last few books, at this point it was hard to care for the characters and their story. I feel my opinion and rating is marked by this bias, but I still want to accomplish my goal of reading all the novels in the Realms. I feel like this is unfair and I want to make that clear. Plenty of people will enjoy this series. Remember that my ratings are to have some sense of my thoughts condensed into a single word, and it’s all my opinion.

There is a dragon in this book, as the omnibus shows. Fyren’s relationship with the party is somewhat akin to Mist in Azure Bonds, though Fyren seems inordinately of low intelligence. Do not expect a Smaug/Bilbo dynamic, though the the conclusion is a lot more unique than any other confrontation with dragons I’ve ever experienced. 

Tons of fighting near the end, in Salvatore fashion Where you don’t fear for the characters and know the hordes they go against will perish almost with no sweat.

I liked the clever healing at the end, and it seemed most arcs could have been tied up, but alas, maybe five sounds better than four and so there is a fifth book...

The Chaos Curse
To tie into the events of the first book. The large arc has been accomplished, but it seems Salvatore wants to tie up all the threads. This probably should have been a standalone novel. Cadderly is not a wimp anymore and now has full faith with his god.

Since the series could have ended I hoped for some twist to be revealed at the start, and we got it. I was both intrigued that we actually got something, and disappointed. Rufo was the most dynamic character, though Salvatore loves his absolutes. Evil is evil and for some reason, Rufo, who simply had personality unlike the robotlike other characters, and a fine arc up to this point was ruined because Salvatore wanted him to be worse than he had been written to be. He constantly betrays, but never to his betterment. He has no spine but that doesn't make you evil.

When we finally get to Cadderly in chapter two we have more silly interaction. Why is his return to the Edificant Library described as his “toughest challenge yet”? Considering the arc of the series was resolved in book four, and all that is expected is Cadderly to face the consequences of how poorly he treated his superiors, this doesn't make any sense.

If you want your clerics devout, Cadderly finally is here in book five. If you liked Newander in book one, we get a little more druidic attention in this last book. If you like undead enemies, particularly vampires, this has them. But absolutely, this book should not have been part of the series, and Salvatore shows once again that he may occasionally write a good book, but that most of his works are not worth it. I could probably recommend this to 10-13 year olds, but there are better things to recommend to that age group.

With hundreds of Forgotten Realms novels not all of them will be good. Some will be mediocre, some amazing, and others terrible. I hope I shared enough objective things so you can know if you will like these books, but for me personally this series is Poor. You will probably like them if you think the Drizzt books are great, and if that’s the case; read these. I do not plan on torturing myself with another Salvatore book for half a year.


You can track my current progress here.


  1. Man, those original covers are beautiful. I have never liked the cover for the omnibus. Thanks for another great review - I am slowly finishing the Drizzt series and I am really not going to bother with this one.

  2. I enjoyed this immensely and laughed out loud several times reading it! I will definitely have to finish this at some point just to have the full picture of what you're talking about!