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Monday, January 3, 2022

Review: Shadows of Doom by Ed Greenwood

Shadows of Doom is a 1995 novel and first in the Shadow of the Avatar trilogy. You can watch and listen to my video review here.

The story focuses on Elminster during the time of Troubles, particularly around the demise of Mystra. Makes more sense than Shadowdale (review here) which you can read before hand. It was meant to showcase why Elminster and some others were not around to save everyone during the Avatar Crisis, as those that normally would strive to do so I preoccupied saving themselves, well and the people of the High Dale.

Elminsters companion is Sharantyr, a Member of the Knights of Myth Drannor and one of the a Ranger three.

We also follow the Harper duo Itharr of Athkarla and Belkram of Baldur’s Gate. Harper’s are against tyranny of the Realms and go about trying to stop it wherever they can. We focus a lot on High Dale and it’s occupation by the Zhentarim which is facing being thwarted by our heroes. 

Super dramatic, endless amounts of combat it was like reading Salvatore (which I often find boring) but with Greenwood’s flair, which is to say the characters bemoan their fate of endless combat but it doesn’t change for them. It was nice seeing Elminster humbled and not be completely over powered. I felt some of the emotion he himself was feeling at such a loss of his goddess and magic with it at the start. That being said, for knowing how bad his death would be, it’s a little odd how reckless Elminster is at times, with seemingly none or little care about his fate when has very little power with him.

This was my first extensive experience with a member of the Knights of Myth Drannor, which didn’t disappoint, though I would have liked to see some character growth which is missing from just about every character as it’s only endless slaughter that faces them. Particularly, Sharantyr’s biggest trait is her hate of Zhentarim for the bad things they did to her when she was younger. I guess it fits that she is very good at killing them.

It’s not a page turner, but it was fun to listen to but our really reads like one DnD combat encounter after the other. The plot is hard to parse, and that lends to some problems. It’s not going to grip you into this grand story, it sometimes feels like it’s just trying to distract you.

I get that Greenwood is all about having his heroine’s be uncaring about their nudity, but it was a little much here at some points as besides maybe being something to mention once it’s a little excessive as it doesn’t really help the story. That being said, they do remind me some of Sword & Sorcery heroines. 

The villains are okay here, they’re not any big bads. I was hoping we would get a load of Manshoon, leader of the Zhentilar from a small excerpt at the start, but alas, it was not to be. Though he does play a bigger role for the last fifth or sixth of the nove. Stormcloak is mostly a fool, while some others are ok but nothing to write home about. IN that case it just felt like an excerpt from the wide world of the Forgotten Realms, it’s peopled with loads of kids of people and I guess this time we got some more mundane, uninteresting sort.

Also some things got through an editor such as Elminster’s archaic switching from addressing someone in the singular to the plural, at one point.

Also I read this to see how it would line up to Shadowdale and it acts as if Elminster didn’t appease in Shadowdale, though he does. I realized this was the case immediately so I just ignored it, but FYI it doesn’t line up. 

Besides that there are the occasional bites of nice lore, such as for Spellgard and Sembia since the High Dale is so close to the town of Saerb in that nation.  But overall, it’s Mediocre, but I think the audiobook may have saved this one from an even more Unforgiven rating.


You can track my current progress here.

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