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Friday, July 23, 2021

Review: The Godborn by Paul S. Kemp

The Godborn is the second book of The Sundering, the cosmological, world shaking series that brought Realms lore from fourth edition to fifth edition. It is also the final iteration of The Legend of Erevis Cale (I may have made that up), being a sequel to the Twilight War Trilogy. This is my fourth review for The Sundering, and you can read my thoughts for the others at these links: The Adversary, The Sentinel, The Herald.

The only two I have yet to read now are the first and fourth in the series. The Companions is also the 30th novel in the Legend of Drizzt; I have only read the first ten so far. The Reaver I will read soon.

Naturally, being a sequel to the previous Erevis Cales series, do expect spoilers if you have not read them. This book does work as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend reading the previous books beforehand.

“When the shadows descend,

In Hell-sworn covenant unswerving

The blighted brothers hunt,

And the godborn appears,

In rose-blessed abbey reared,

Arising to loose the godly spark.”

- Excerpt of a prophecy by Elliandreth of Orishaar

The prologue takes us to 1450 DR, Varra has been transported through time seventy years. She finds that her previously flat belly is now bulging with a presently due baby. She is found by warriors of Amaunator/Lathander who take her to the local abbey where her son, Vasen is born, destined to be a shadow in the light. I really enjoyed this prologue, and while not his best, Kemp is a master of drawing the reader in a dark and awesome world. 

Sembia is a protectorate of Netheril, and dark clouds cover the land, twisting and fouling it. Aberrations wander the shadowed land, tainted rain kills and twist crops and vegetation. People hold onto hope that one day the Sun will shine on the land again. Though not all hope is good, some of it is evil, and other nihilistic.

“A light in the darkness”

Zeeahd and Sayeed are an interesting duo introduced early on. They are brothers afflicted by the Spellplague and they search for the abbey where Vasen makes his home so they can be healed of their afflictions. Though of course there are other things about the two. There is a deva character, a kind of aasimar (like the one in Circle of Skulls, book six of Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep).

We also have Riven who was great to see again. It's been a hundred years, and he has lived with divinity all that time. He meets up with Mags early on, the tiefling mind mage who set up shop as a tavern owner in Derlun after the Spellplague. 

Brennus and Rivalen Tanthul also have an interesting dynamic, brothers; one semi-divine, the other full of hate for the murderer of his mother. I really enjoyed how this played out.

“He existed in the nexus of light and shadow, a creature of both, but a servant of only one.”

This has easily been the most disturbing D&D book I’ve read. Some parts were horrifying and disgusting, though thankfully this is only for a small section in the middle of the book. I'm also sort of a wimp, but it did affect my overall thoughts.

The Godborn is Exceptional, though this helped a lot by the last 50 pages.

I feel this could have been helped by being a trilogy instead of a single book slightly longer than average. There was in-fact supposed to be a trilogy, The Cycle of Night, but Wizards of the Coast axed it and we got The Godborn instead. From Cale’s first appearance in 2000 in The Halls if Stormweather to 2014 with The Godborn, this is finally the end of the dark tale. It’s sad, I can’t believe it’s over. This series alone has made reading Forgotten Realms novels worth it, we will see what other great novels are in store on this quest.

"Ages turn, the work changes, but there is always horror"


You can track my current progress here.

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