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Monday, February 13, 2023

Completed Series: Shadow of the Avatar Trilogy by Ed Greenwood

The Shadow of the Avatar trilogy by Ed Greenwood is concurrent with the events of the original Avatar Trilogy (expanded to five books later). The purpose is to show why certain heroes of the Realms did not help Midnight, Cyric, Adon and Kelemvor in their search for the Tablets of Fate. Because of that it focuses on Elminster and the Rangers Three.

I started the books in late December 2021 and finished in the middle of February the next year.

Shadows of Doom (1995) - Mediocre
Cloak of Shadows (1995) - Acceptable
All Shadows Fled (1995) - Acceptable

Shadows of Doom is about Elminster’s lost of control over his arcane abilities with the Time of Troubles and Mystra’s casting out of the Planes with all the other gods and goddesses. I previously reviewed this one separate from the rest of the series. We get to see good old rogue Elminster as if he was back in Athalantar of his youth, something shown in Elminster: The Making of a Mage.

The liberation of High Dale from the Zhentarim by Elminster and the Rangers Three is the main plot. The latter is accomplished by Sharantyr of the Knights of Myth Drannor, along with harpers  Belkram Hardeth of Baldur’s Gate, and Itharr Jathram of Athkatla, Amn. This small party is called the Rangers Three.

There are some inconsistencies, as the Avatar Trilogy and Shadow of the Avatar do not line up. This is likely due to the series not being written simultaneously or even consecutively with each other. These all released in 1995, as opposed to 1989 of the Avatar Trilogy. I advise you ignore this discrepancy and enjoy a Leiberian (see Fritz Leiber) swashbuckling adventure.

Cloak of Shadows is book two. If you did not like the first book, you may still enjoy the second. Many people bounce off of this series, but I think this one is very lighthearted fun that is supposed to explain the lack of help from these powers to the heroes in the Avatar Trilogy. A magical item, one cloak of shadows is key here, and so are the malaugrym. These are shapeshifting beings from a pocket dimension, they feature prominently in the Shandril's Saga (review forthcoming).

All Shadows Fled concludes the romp, being much more of a direct sequel to book two. Elminster and the Ranger's Three have been doing largely separate things, but for the good of the Realms. There are fun tidbits of Realms lore scattered throughout, something Greenwood is great for.

Overall the series is Acceptable. I would recommend it to fans of the Realms and those looking for a lighthearted campy romp and not something deep to think about, but still having good lessons to find, since Greenwood excels in such circumstances.


You can track my current progress here.

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