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Frostfell by Mark Sehestedt

Posted by travizzt on June 28, 2010

In the frozen North, a terror is arising. Will Frostfell chill you to your bones or would you rather use it to keep warm?


Frostfell by Mark Sehestedt- This is the final book in a stand-alone series called The Wizards. The first book is Blackstaff by Steven E. Schend, the second is Bloodwalk by James P. Davis, and the third book is Darkvision by Bruce R. Cordell. With this series, each book is a separate entity and can be read out-of-order. The only theme to mention is that each novel revolves around wizards and magic. Frostfell is set in the Forgotten Realms universe of the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. Mark Sehestedt has written a number of books set in the Dungeons and Dragons universe, however, all his author credits are solely in the Forgotten Realms. He was the editor for the anthology Tales of the Last War which is set in the Eberron setting of Dungeons and Dragons. His Forgotten Realms works include; Sentinelspire (The Citadels series) and is working on the Chose of Nendawen trilogy; The Fall of Highwatch, Hand of the Hunter (due out in late 2010), and Cry of the Ghost Wolf (due out in 2011). Frostfell was released in 2006 and published by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Amira is in a world of trouble. After her son and her were captured by slavers, they were able to escape, but not for long. The slavers are hot on her trail and Amira decides that, in order to save her son, she’ll have to confront those chasing her. Telling Jalan, her son, to run towards a lake in the hope of the slavers losing the scent, Amira finds herself facing a group of slavers. After being recaptured, she still refuses to tell him where Jalan is. After two strangers interfere with the slavers, Amira gets stabbed, only to awaken in a cave having her wounds tended to by an old elf that goes by the title of belkangen (a priestly wizardly druid). But Jalan isn’t with them, and she learns that the two strangers who confronted the slavers are out looking for him. As one of the strangers, a human by the name of Gyaidun, returns to the belkangen’s camp, the other stranger, an elf named Lendri, locates Jalan. However, things don’t go as planned and Gyaidun finds Lendri seriously wounded and learns that a monstrous sorcerer that seems to command the cold took Jalan. After learning this, Amira and Gyaidun set off to try to rescue Jalan, while Lendri (all healed up) goes in search of help towards their cause. Why does this sorcerer want Jalan? Why does Gyaidun, Lendri, and the belkangen willingly help Amira? Is Amira able to save Jalan from an unknown and icy fate?

Criticisms:
1) Amira. She seemed to be a typical, one-dimensional character and came across as boring. She just felt too typical. It seemed like I’ve seen her character in so many other things and that nothing really new was added to the archetype of the determined mother. Quite frankly, she was boring. I’ve seen this character too much and I couldn’t get excited about her. However, that being said, she still could have worked. It was an interesting touch to see her so passionate about find her son that I almost started to care about if she would find and save him. However, she seemed to stray from her goal and at times didn’t seem to really care about finding her son. It almost felt like I was reading about two different characters sometimes. Granted, I know she couldn’t solely spend the whole novel in the mindset of searching for her son. With that said, the scenes where she was focused on something else never felt quite right. They seemed more like a total character change. Gone was the need to find her son and instead it was replaced with something trivial like talking around a fire. Now, this does move the plot along, but after her desperation she had, it didn’t feel right. Not only that but there was almost nothing else about her character. She never really developed into much more than a mother worrying about her son. She was one-dimensional.

Praises:
1) Plot. While simple, it still felt fun and exciting. I’m not really going to go into too much more detail because there isn’t much else to tell and if I tell too much, I’d spoil a lot. At no time did I feel like things felt forced or awkward, everything moved in a logical way. For one thing, there is really no multiple plots meshing together. There is just Amira getting Jalan back, with a little back story and side character development added. It’s not deep, it’s just simple and maybe it was a little too simple.
2) Mystery. I really did like that nothing was really given to you upfront and that things slowly start to unravel the further you get into the story. Now the plot was really simple to guess what was going to happen, that’s not what I’m focusing on. Instead, the characters and events all had a mystery to them. I’m not going to spoil anything about what these mysteries are, but I will comment on them. The whole reason as to why Gyaidun is willing to help Amira is predictable, but still how it was revealed was interesting. How and what exactly Lendri and the belkangen are was a nice mystery. I would never have guessed that right off the bat. Finally, why these sorcerers want Jalan and exactly who they are is probably the best mystery. At no time are we given any real motivation to these sorcerers other than they want Jalan, and as it unfolds, you start to really hate the sorcerers.
3) Side Characters. I really enjoyed Lendri, Gyaidun, and the belkangen. However, due to the story being so straightforward, I can’t really elaborate without giving a lot away. Lendri was the weakest side character, but he still had something to make him enjoyable and that was his mysterious nature. I’m not just talking about what he really is, more along the lines of wanting to know more about him. Gyaidun and the belkangen had that same sense of mystery, but they were just fleshed out more. With the belkangen, you had the ‘wise old man’ archetype going on but it never really felt like he was guiding the heroes. To me it felt more like he was trying to calm and reason with them. Gyaidun on the other hand felt more developed and multifaceted, more so than Amira. He had and interesting back story and the arch the character takes is certainly one of the highlights.

Side Notes:
1) Magic. I loved the magic that was used in this book. It really felt like what a book about wizards should feel like. It didn’t rely too much on brute strength (although that was present), but it seemed to rely more on the mystical and magical side of things. It just felt right.
2) The Endless Wastes. I really liked the setting. I don’t think many (if any at all) really take place in this part of the Realms. It seems rough and harsh, and the people who live there come across the same way.
3) Cover Art. I have to say this, I’m not a fan. The previous two entries (Bloodwalk and Darkvision) used certain colors to highlight the book, and it worked really well. With Frostfell, it uses blues, but it doesn’t convey the same feeling as the previous two. Not to mention the wolf and sorcerer seem to be generic looking stock images. They just don’t have the same effect. The poses look boring and doesn’t really keep my eye glued to them. It’s just not as interesting.

Overall: 4/5
Final Thoughts:
Frostfell is the first book in The Wizard series that really worked. Blackstaff was a horrible and confusing mess, Bloodwalk was slow and plodding, and Darkvision read oddly and seemed to lacking. Frostfell seemed to get things right. While the main character was one-dimensional and boring, the side characters were fantastic. They were unique and developed. Frostfell also had a wonderful sense of mystery, which worked great. Instead of leaving the reader lost in things that never were explained, the things that were explained had a nice unraveling. They weren’t rushed and they weren’t vague, the mysteries were just perfect. The plot was also very good, albeit a little too straightforward. While it help keep the story in focus, it always felt predictable at some points. Would a casual fantasy reader like this book? I’d have to say yes, this is definitely worth a pick up.

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