The Erevis Cale Omnibus by Paul S. Kemp
Posted by travizzt on July 15, 2010
The Erevis Cale Omnibus by Paul S. Kemp- This omnibus contains The Erevis Cale Trilogy along with two short stories. The Erevis Cale Trilogy consists of Twilight Falling, Dawn of Night, and Midnight’s Mask. The two short stories are “And All the Sinners, Saints”, which was previously seen in Dragon Magazine #297, and “Soulbound”, which is found in the Realms of the Dragons anthology. The stories take place in the Forgotten Realm universe, which is a setting in Dungeons and Dragons. The story of Erevis Cale starts off with a short story called “Resurrection” in the anthology titled Halls of Stormweather. It continues in Shadow’s Witness, which takes place just before The Erevis Cale Trilogy. The story finishes with the Twilight War Trilogy; Shadowbred, Shadowstorm, and Shadowrealm. He wrote the final book in the War of the Spider Queen series called Resurrection and has written a few short stories set in the Forgotten Realms. This latest Forgotten Realms novel, titled Godborn, is due out some time in 2012. Paul S. Kemp has recently been writing novels set in the Star Wars universe. His first novel in the Star Wars universe is Crosscurrent and is currently writing a tie-in with the upcoming video game Star Wars: The Old Republic titled Deceived. The Erevis Cale Omnibus was released in June 2010 and published by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
Review Note: This is the first time I’m reviewing an omnibus, and most likely my only. I have previously reviewed The Erevis Cale Trilogy before this, but I will be taking a whole new look at the books and giving fresh thoughts on them. You can find the other reviews at the following links; Twilight Falling, Dawn of Night, and Midnight’s Mask.
“And All the Sinners, Saints”
Erevis Cale just found his god in Mask. While unsure if being a priest of the Shadowlord, Cale decides to try to commune with his god, only to receive a vague vision of what Mask wants Cale to do. At the same time, Drasek Riven is having a similar experience. Now the question is, what does Mask want Cale and Riven to do, and how does he want it done?
1) Short. This is not a bad thing, but I just wanted more!
1) Tie In. I really like how this ties in with what happened with Shadow’s Witness and some mentions in Twilight Falling. I always like this little nods.
2) Back Story. Do you need to read Shadow’s Witness to know what is going on? No, and it’s wonderful. You really got a good idea of what kind of person Cale is, along with who Riven is.
It’s a fun and interesting look at who the main characters. It’s almost like a ‘character study’ and an excellent introduction to The Erevis Cale Trilogy.
Erevis Cale is leaving Stormweather Tower, where he’s been employed as a butler for the Uskevren family for years and considers them his family. After the family’s patriarch died, Cale knows it’s time to move on. After saying good-bye to his adoptive family, Cale receives a letter from Drasek Riven to meet him at an inn to discuss something. After arriving at the inn, a fireball destroys the inn and Cale and Riven barely manage to survive the blast. After locating were the fireball came from, the duo confront a shadow adept wizard named Vraggen and his partner, a half-drow by the name of Azriim. After the little skirmish Cale realizes that they are after something the Uskevren has and they were trying to remove Cale from interfering. Arriving back at Stormweather, Cale finds and confronts the thieves who are after an unremarkable sphere, but is unable to stop them. Cale is only able to shear the sphere into two halves, but he is able to recover one of the halves. With the half safely with him, he goes to find his old friend Jak Fleet and get to the bottom of why this sphere is so important. After Riven joins the duo and then trio goes to a sage to get some answers to the sphere. Why does this shadow adept want such a seemingly useless paperweight and can the trio stop Vraggen?
1) Cale/Tazi. I don’t know what it is but for some reason I just never bought into the whole Cale and Tazi (the daughter of the Uskevren’s) relationship. In the previous book, Shadow’s Witness, it is somewhat believable. In this book, it doesn’t seem to work on its own. Not once did I feel a connection between these two and having to be told that Cale loves Tazi just makes it worse. Cale’s actions towards Tazi never really made much sense. But I’m chalking this problem up to the next problem with this book.
2) Back Ground. The reason the whole Cale and Tazi love interest doesn’t work is that it seems you almost need to read Shadow’s Witness to understand it along with a lot of other little references that are made. While for the most part, you don’t really need to read the first Cale book, it would help a lot. There are so many references to previous events in the first fifty pages that if you go into this blind, you may miss out on some characterization and some interesting references. I would say you should read Shadow’s Witness first, but it’s not one hundred percent required, just seventy-five.
1) Characters. Aside from me being an absolute Cale and Riven fan-boy, all the other characters are interesting and very unique. Of course you have the good-hearted killer in Cale and you have the sneer to end all sneers that Riven has, but let’s instead look at the other characters. We have Jak, who is Cale’s conscious. While he may come off as annoying, you really can see the friendship between the two. In reality, he’s more like a real person when you compare him to Cale or Riven. With the villains we have the arrogant Vraggen and his blind pursuit to retake the Zhentarim from the followers of Bane and reinstate the control of the Mad God Cyric. He’s more of your standard bad guy. However, with his partner Azriim, we have a totally different kind of villain. If you could pick two words to describe Azriim they would be vain and manipulative. He’s the guy you never see coming until the end. Rounding out the villains we have Dolgan, Serrin, and Elura. Dolgan’s the usual muscled dimwit and Serrin’s the stoic killer. Elura doesn’t have too many scenes but she’s more like a seductress killer type of character. While these three are more stock bad guys, they each fit the mold well. Overall, the characters are just plain amazing.
2) Hints. There are so many subtle hints of things to come that you wouldn’t understand them until the happen. After these things happen, you can’t help but go back and check out the things you’ve missed picking up on. It only gets better with multiple reads, because you start noticing things that will come up in the next books as well as things that happen in the next trilogy. It’s just wonderful seeing a series tie itself together so nicely.
3) Plot. While the plot was fairly straightforward, it always seemed to keep me on the edge of my seat. Even when you knew something was going to happen, you were still surprised it happened. Everything just seemed to fit in, a la the hints strewn throughout the story. Not to mention that it flowed beautifully. It’s straightforward as it needed to be with a few nice turns here and there.
Twilight Falling is a great beginning to a trilogy. It sets up the characters wonderfully and each of them are unique and memorable in some way. The Cale and Tazi’s relationship never felt real however. It just didn’t work. The plot is great with some turns, only a little too straightforward. Reading the previous book, Shadow’s Witness, would be a good idea to get some of the references that are mentioned here and there. Then you have all the little hints you have that basically tells what’s going to happen later on in the story. Overall Twilight Falling is great and it really allows you to know a little more about our main heroes, Cale and Riven.
Dawn of Night
Erevis Cale, Drasek Riven, Jak Fleet, and Magadon all find themselves in the Plane of Shadow. Jak is horrified to see Cale is now more than human, he’s become a shade, a being of shadow. As Cale and the group traverse the Plane of Shadow’s, tensions start to run high between Cale and Riven, and only escalate from there. After days of travel, Cale is forced to give into his new nature in order to save the group for the horrors of the plane. As they are trying to find a way out of the Plane of Shadow, the mastermind and father behind the Slaadi (or is it Slaad’s?) plans to use the Weave Tap for powering a powerful spell. Having sent his Slaadi; Azriim, Dolgan, and Serrin, to the cesspool that is Skullport in order to plant a seed to sap the magical energies of the city. After Cale and the group succeed in escaping, can the group locate and stop the Slaadi from tapping Skullport’s magical mantle or do the Slaadi succeed?
1) The Sojourner. I don’t know what it was but his earlier chapters felt like they went on forever. I don’t know if it was because the character of the Sojourner was so dull or that the chapters themselves were dry, but I just could barely get through them. I’m leaning more towards a combination of the two. While they were interesting, I just had this feeling of ‘so what’ while reading them.
2) Love Interest. Yet again, we have a problem with an unbelievable and almost silly love interest. While I do know this one between Cale and a tavern waitress named Varra does get better and the whole first meeting was good, I just didn’t did like how it was handled. It seemed like Cale is suddenly obsessed with her, and it comes off a little creepy more than sincere. It’s just bothersome.
1) Characters. Once again, aside from the Sojourner, the characters are wonderful and really dimensional. I’m not going to get into much detail because honestly, I’ll just be repeating what I’ve said above, and I really don’t want to. I will say that the relationships between the main heroes do get explored a little more and you get a good look at how they really feel about each other.
2) Setting Descriptions. The places the story goes are just wonderfully described. First off we have the Plane of Shadow’s. You really got a great mental picture of how alien and dark this world is. It’s just plain creepy. Then later Skullport just radiates vile and disgusting. You could almost smell the place. It just was plain vile. Also, some of the other places the group go to are wonderfully described as well.
3) Twist. The twist at the end you’ll never see coming until it’s too late. While there is a wonderful build up to it, it still comes as an utter shock. I’ve read this book about three times now and it still shocks me.
While not as good as Twilight Falling, Dawn of Night still a wonderful and fast paced read. You’ll never want to put the book down for too long and all the little details and hints of what’s to come are still there. The descriptions are vivid and you can really picture yourself in these places. The characters are just as good as the previous book, if not better because now you see how their relationship evolves. The only problem I had is with The Sojourner. His parts were dry and horribly boring. While he is a good character himself, something just dragged his scenes down. Also, continuing the problem that Twilight Falling had is the poor love interest. It just never ‘felt’ right and came off more stalker-y and creepy. But that twist, my god was it good. This is the twist that would put the master of twists to shame. Just wow. Overall Dawn of Night is a good follow-up to Twilight Falling, but doesn’t surpass the first book.
Kesson Rel is the first Chosen of Mask, who drank from the Chalice that Mask forbade anyone from drinking. Once Kesson drank, he came a shade and transported the temple of Mask from Elgrin Fau to the Plane of Shadow to take revenge on his fellow priests. But due to an oath that prevents followers of Mask from killing one another, unless willing, Kesson has to rely on a Shadow Dragon to do his bidding. After binding the Shadow Dragon Furlinastis, Kesson has the dragon take one priest a day until Avnon Des the Seer is left. Avnon and the priests are unable to stop this from happening, but after a vision Avnon receives of two other Chose of Mask, he knows what he has to do.
1) Confusing. At first you may ask yourself what this story have to do with The Erevis Cale Trilogy and why isn’t one of the main characters the lead in it? Well it ties indirectly into Cale’s destiny and the events of the Twilight War Trilogy. Also, you do have references to things that happens in Dawn of Night. But that’s not why I’m saying it’s confusing, what’s confusing is that I really have no idea what was happening. I first read this story in the Realms of the Dragons anthology and there I was utterly lost. In fact, I remember hating this story. I don’t recall why other than I have no idea what was happening. The problem with this story is that you really don’t know who these people are and why you should care about them. It felt more like a ‘history’ lesson without any background or explanations of what was happening. However, I will say that having this story come after Dawn of Night does make things easier to follow and understand.
1) References. Like I was saying above, it helped that this story followed Dawn of Night. There are a lot of references to that story and it’s nice to see some things explained that were left unexplained there. It also gives some nice hints of things to come in the Twilight War Trilogy.
2) Kesson Rel. He is an interesting character. We know that he at some point betrays Mask for the goddess Shar, but we don’t know why. This story doesn’t explain that but it gives us a little information to who this character is. What I’m trying to say is that you want to know more about him and this story barely whets your appetite for more.
“Soulbound” is an okay story. There isn’t a lot of problems with it being in this omnibus, but by itself, you may be left in the dark. While there is no main characters from The Erevis Cale Trilogy in this story, Kesson Rel fills the shoes nicely. But I wanted to know why he betrayed Mask more than why Elgrin Fau is on the Plane of Shadows. It’s an interesting look at another Chosen of Mask and it does tie into upcoming events nicely, but you can skip it if you want to.
After barely escaping Drasek Riven’s betrayal and the angry protectors of Skullport (called the skulls), Erevis Cale, Jak Fleet, and Magadon are transported to the Plane of Shadow to escape the chaos. While on the plane, Cale and Magadon realize that Riven’s betrayal was planned so the group can get closer to the Sojourner. After Magadon finds where the slaadi and Riven transported to, the group get the drop on the Sojourner and the slaadi. However, when Riven once again betrays the group, they are forced to flee. But yet again, Cale is unsure if Riven is really betraying him. The only thing Cale knows is that the slaadi’s next target to tap is a ruin called Sakkors, so Cale transports the group back to Selgaunt to seek the aid of a priestess of Deneir, but come across an old acquaintance. The seer points them in the right direction and tells them that this is only the beginning. However, the slaadi and Riven know exactly where the ruin is, under the water of the Sea of Fallen Stars. As Cale and the group catch up to Riven and the slaadi, they awaken something larger. Are they able to stop the Sojourner from tapping Sakkors, and what exactly is the ‘Crown of Flame’?
1) Love Interest. I’m not going to go into much detail because I’d just be repeating everything I’ve said before. It just didn’t come across quite right. However, you do see something building between Cale and Varra, but not enough to make it any less awkward.
1) Characters. Once again, the characters are wonderful and I’m not going to repeat why other than they get deeper. Even the Sojourner gets some depth and there are times when you actually do like him.
2) Emotional. I’ve read this story three times now and I always seem to tear up at one certain scene, and I will not ruin what this scene is. It’s a real emotional scene. I don’t know what else to say other than that. It’s just beautifully written and it’s sad to see this happen to someone who you grew to really care about.
3) Crown of Flame. In my first review of this book, I mentioned how I hated the idea of the Crown of Flame. But now, I honestly love the idea of something so simple and so ‘innocent’ can cause so much death and destruction. It may be a slight let down, but I’m glad it didn’t turn out to be this huge world-changing event. It’s an original concept that just works amazingly well.
4) The Ending. Aside from the emotional impact there is, it’s just plain breathtaking. The fight sequences are awe-inspiring and exciting. The sword play of Riven alone against the slaadi is just jaw dropping. After reading this, I’m almost convinced that Riven could win out against another well-known Forgotten Realm character named Drizzt Do’Urden. You also have the frantic chase to get to the Weave Tap and it’s chaotic, in a good way. You also have the above mentioned emotional scene and the best final battle/ showdown for a while. It’s bloody, gory, rage-filled and so wonderful. Finally, you have the spectacular descriptions of what’s going on and what’s happening. It’s an ending you won’t soon forget.
Midnight’s Mask is how you should end a trilogy. It’s fast paced, exciting, and filled with the right amount of twists to keep you guessing. While the love interest is awkward, at least now we see something building between Cale and Varra in their short scenes. But everything else is near perfect. The characters are wonderful and memorable, the plot is exciting, and it really hits you emotionally. I don’t know what else to say about this book other than bravo.
Overall Averaged Omnibus Grade: 4/5
Final Thoughts on the Omnibus:
The Erevis Cale Trilogy is great. That’s all I should say. It has likable and deep characters, the overall plot is solid and exciting, and it ends perfectly. The only overarching negative about this trilogy is that the whole ‘love interest’ thing doesn’t seem to work out and comes across as more awkward than meaningful. But that does not in no way detract from the overall story. The core trilogy is great on its own. It continues the story in a logical progression and sets up things that could be answered in the future, but it doesn’t come across as ‘sequel-bait’. The addition of the two short stories is interesting. The first short story really added some background on the characters of Erevis Cale and Drasek Riven, along with tying into the core trilogy seamlessly. The other short story is a nice story of some past events, but didn’t feel necessary and barely tied in. It’s good, but ultimately is skip able. Even without those short stories, the original three is well worth the purchase. So am I recommending you go pick up this omnibus this very second? Yes! Drop whatever it is you’re doing and go buy this, not to mention that it’s wonderful to have all these books in one book.