Plague of Spells by Bruce R. Cordell
Posted by travizzt on February 8, 2010
Plague of Spells by Bruce R. Cordell- This is the first book in the Abolethic Sovereignty, with the second book called City of Torment and the third and final book called Key of Stars (due out in November of 2010), all set in the Forgotten Realms universe. Bruce R. Cordell is the author of other Forgotten Realms novels and has contributed a few short stories to various anthologies. His other Forgotten Realms novels include; Stardeep (which is part of The Dungeon series of stand-alone novels), Darkvision (which is part of The Wizards series of stand-alone novels), and Lady of Poison (which is part of The Priests series of stand-alone novels). Some characters from the novel Stardeep also appear in this trilogy.
The story follows three different story lines that intersect at the end of the story. We are first introduced to a monk named Raidon Kane, who is returning to his adoptive daughter after killing an abomination as dictated by an amulet he wears called the Cerulean Sign, which can sense aberrations. During his trip home, he becomes trapped in a Spellplague outbreak, holding him in a cocoon like structure for a decade. Upon breaking free, he discovers that the amulet is not a tattoo on his chest and allows him to ‘feel’ aberrations. After finally returning home after ten years, he finds his daughter has died. He then embarks on a quest of revenge, with the aid of a voice called Cynosure, who is a sentient golem pledged to the Cerulean Sign. The second story line focuses on a kuo-toa named Nogah and her discovery of an artifact called the Dreamheart. After learning some tricks of the Dreamheart, Nogah rallies some of her people to join her cause but it turns bad in the end. A kraken named Gethshemeth, takes the relic from Nogah. And Nogah wants it back. The final story line follows a young woman named Anusha and a drug addled warlock named Japheth. Anusha learns she has a unique gift to ‘dream-walk’ while she is asleep. After finding out that her step-brother means to hold her up in one of the family estates, she decides to run off on a ship in which her step-brother is employing the warlock to act as his proxy on a deal that could make the step-brother wealthy beyond belief. But how do these story lines come together?
1) Nogah’s Scenes. These are a chore to read through. I didn’t care for the character nor the story she had. To me, it was just filler and it felt like it. It’s even worse when the other story lines are much more interesting. However, later in the story, they are a little more bearable, mostly do to the fact that she isn’t the focus of the story. I didn’t like the character because she was boring and just bland. Just thoroughly uninteresting.
2) Jumping Actions. This is a little more hard to explain. Every so often, there are times when there was a ‘jump’ in the action, but I’m not talking about the physical action. It’s more like a lack of observations, but it makes things disoriented and a little confusing. For example, when we learn of Raidon’s daughter has died, there wasn’t any big moment of remorse or shock. Yes, there is some emotion shone but it feels wrong. I don’t even read how Raidon learns of this devastating news, and that would be much more emotionally driven and powerful. Then there are lacking observations. Usually these are smaller little details that are easily missed, but it feels weird reading them.
3) Word Choice. Usually, I don’t mind using ‘big words’ in a story. Usually, I can figure out what they mean within a few minutes. But here, there are so many awkward words that, for the life of me, I couldn’t explain what they are. It doesn’t help that almost every sentence has one such word. Also, these words were constantly used in everyday conversation , which doesn’t seem to fit to well with some of these characters. It honestly feels like someone had a field day with a Thesaurus.
1) Characters. I really didn’t enjoy the characters for the most part, except for a few. Raidon was a very intriguing character. His fighting skills were, for the most part, amazingly written. Not only that but at times you can really feel his despair towards his lost daughter. It was touching and sad. Anusha and Japheth, were interesting in another way. They become close to on another and that’s written very well. It almost becomes believable at times. As for themselves as separate characters, they are still enjoyable. With Japheth, the more interesting of the two, his addiction and how he deals with it is very interesting. I can’t really give that much away from his story, needless to say it is really enjoyable. Anusha, however, is kind of more generic. The only thing I enjoyed was her naïve attitudes towards everything and her ‘dream-walking’, with the latter being the more interesting aspect. Then you have the supporting characters of Captain Thoster and Seren. They are both have unique aspects about them, but not as interesting as the others. Still, they are well written and have distinct personalities.
2) The Two ‘Other’ Story Lines. They were good, but more enjoyable to read than Nogah’s. I’m not going to say much about them, but they were just much more engaging and interesting. I really couldn’t wait to read more about Japheth and Anusha or Raidon after their chapters ended. While Japheth and Anusha’s story was a little more straight forward, Raidon’s jumped around a lot. They just enjoyable to read about.
3) The Ending. The ending was action packed, exciting, and just good. The battle with the corrupted kuo-toa was really well written that it was so easy to follow and comprehend. Yes, it ends on a cliffhanger, but it makes you wonder what happens next. And I’m ready to dive right into City of Torment.
1) Anusha. How is she suddenly able to understand her talent? It didn’t make much sense that she would just be okay with it.
2) Traveler’s Dust. This is what Japheth’s addiction is and it does seem really deadly and kind of frightening at times.
3) Cover Art. It’s interesting, it does catch your eye with the cooler colors and the psychedelic look of the thing behind the person. I just don’t know who it’s meant to be. I think it’s supposed to be Raidon, but it is a little hard to tell. Regardless, the cover is eye-catching and good.
This story really should deserve a 4, but it just doesn’t cut it. The Nogah scenes felt too long and I just didn’t care to read them. Then I felt like sometimes things didn’t really flow too well with jumping around and skipping things to make some of the actions go by faster. And the Thesaurus words were at times unbearable to read. At least most of the characters were interesting and really engaged me, and that the other two main story lines were wonderfully done. Even the cliffhanger ending is making me want to jump into the next book as soon as possible. But honestly, I don’t really think that this story warrants a 4/5 rating, maybe a rating of 3.5 but I don’t use decimals.