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City of Torment by Bruce R. Cordell

Posted by travizzt on February 10, 2010

Anusha has disappeared into the artifact called the Dreamheart and only Japheth can save her. The problem is Japheth has to trust in the one being he can’t trust.

City of Torment by Bruce R. Cordell- This is the second book in the Abolethic Sovereignty, with the first book called Plague of Spells and the third and final book called Key of Stars (due out in late 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 is continues from where the last book, Plague of Spells. A tenday has passed after the vicious fight against the kraken. We find Japheth taking over a gang of thugs to extort their ‘profits’ so he can find some way to free Anusha from the Dreamheart. During his efforts, Raidon Kane is hunting down Japheth for stealing the Dreamheart, with the crew of the Green Siren, the same crew as in the first book, helping him. The captain, Thoster, and the mage, Seren, are helping in the search. Then we find Anusha trapped in the aboleth city called Xxiphu in her ‘dream-walk’ state hoping to find a way out. As Japheth frees Anusha, she returns for a few minutes before being sucked back into Xxiphu, only this time she isn’t trapped. Raidon and the others barge in of Japheth, forcing him to flee into the Feywild, where his patron, the Lord of Bats, who granted him is warlock powers, is trapped. Angry at being unable to catch Japheth, Raidon and the others decide to travel down into Xxiphu to stop a being called the Eldest, who is part of the Dreamheart, from reawakening. Japheth meanwhile, decides to free his patron under the promise to not harm him and to save Anusha from the aboleths. Anusha, after being sent back to Xxiphu, finds that another being, who is also an invisible ‘dream-walker’, became freed from her entrapment and they team up to find a way to leave the city, but will they be able to and how will the duo find a way to return to their bodies? Will Japheth rescue Anusha and fight off the Lord of Bats? Will Raidon, Captain Thoster, and Seren find and kill the Elder before it’s to late?

1) Descriptions. I didn’t really like the descriptions. They seemed too vague and not really defined. When trying to mentally picture the aboleths, it was hard at first. They are better described later in the story, when we see more and more of them. Also, the characters descriptions seemed a little lacking. I don’t really know why but it seems that they are generally faceless characters. Finally, the backgrounds were horribly described. Everything was so alien and vague that what was given didn’t make much sense.
2) Abolethic Sovereignty. For the trilogy being named the Abolethic Sovereignty, I still have no idea what exactly it is. What is said about it is horribly mangled in jargon and babble that I have really no idea what’s being explained. All I know is that it has to do with the aboleths, the Elder, and the end of the world. That’s really everything I could come up with.

1) Characters. The characters were just as good, if not better, than they were in Plague of Spells. Japheth had more depth added to him and it just made him a more likable character. Anusha, for all her blandness in lack of personality in the first book, gained a personality. Raidon, for the most part, stayed relatively the same. But the minor characters of the first book, Thoster and Seren, became more major characters. While in Plague of Spells, the two started to gain a bigger role in the last quarter of the book. In here, they become more prominent and are really great, wonderful character. Thoster is really likable with his carefree attitude. Seren is great because of her coldness and her past. Even the minor characters are great. The Lord of Bats is wonderfully vile and the eladrin Malyanna is just as twisted. It really seems that characters really improved greatly.
2) Flow. The story was an amazingly fast read. Due in most part to the characters and the fast paced story line. I just had a hard time putting the story done for to long. It felt almost like Japheth’s itching hands when he hasn’t taken is Traveler’s Dust. I was just glued to everything.
3) Japheth Plot Line. I really enjoyed this plot a lot. The lengths he goes through to save Anusha was fun and exciting to read. I can’t really say much about what makes it so great but I can say that (minor spoiler!) seeing him lose his powers and how helpless and useless he really is was really unexpected. It really just was an interesting, fun read.

Side Notes:
1) References. There is some great references to other authors work in here that I really enjoyed. There is talk about The Haunted Lands trilogy written by Richard Lee Byers and how that effects a character was fairly enjoyable.
2) Stars. I’m really interested about the stars mentioned within the story. I can’t say much, but it perked my interest and I do hope it’s explored further in the next book.
3) Cover Art. I really enjoy this. I like the colors, the purples, black, and yellowish golds really catch you eyes. Also, there is a lot of subtle things in the background, with figures in the purple and the glowing sword the character is wielding. It’s just interesting. Plus I know who is on the cover, which is definitely a plus. It’s Anusha if you would like to know.

Overall: 5/5
Final Thoughts:
The story is far better than Plague of Spells. There are no odd fitting big words, all the characters are interesting, and everything flowed much smoother. This is a vast improvement. Even the negatives I had weren’t that terrible and or all that noticeable. I really enjoyed the story and everybody in it.

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