Downshadow by Erik Scott de Bie
Posted by travizzt on July 27, 2010
Downshadow by Erik Scott de Bie- This is the third book released in the Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep series of stand-alone novels. The series contains five other entries, which are all written by different authors. Since each novel is a stand-alone, you can read this series out-of-order. The series is set in the Forgotten Realms setting of the pen and paper role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons. The other novels in the series include; Blackstaff Tower by Steven E. Schend, Mistshore by Jaleigh Johnson, City of the Dead by Rosemary Jones, The God Catcher by Erin M. Evans, and Circle of Skulls by James P. Davis. Erik Scott de Bie has written two other full-length novels, both set in the Forgotten Realms. His first novel is Ghostwalker (part of The Fighters series) and his second novel is Depths of Madness (part of The Dungeons series). He has also written a number of short stories and game design books. Downshadow was released in 2009 and published by Wizards of the Coast.
The Shadowbane is a vigilante set on keeping justice in the labyrinth of Downshadow, which is just below Waterdeep. With an assassin and Waterdeep’s Watch always on his trail, Shadowbane has to constantly watch his back, else his true identity may get discovered. But that may be harder than it appears, as temptation and honor war inside him. However, after a fateful encounter with a girl who doesn’t know what she is, Shadowbane is thrust into a vile scheme. But after the girl starts to wield unspeakable power, Shadowbane’s friends and family become the target of the assassin and a mysterious half-elf who is more than she appears.
1) References. This is really the only huge problem I had while reading. There are so many vague references to things and people throughout the story that it became distracting and would take you out of the story. While it does make the story and world seem to be alive, it felt unnecessary at times. But in the long run, this issue doesn’t really impact the story as a whole. It only distracts early on.
1) Characters. Wow, were these characters memorable. Each main character had a distinct and wholly unique personality that will make you feel different about each one. Our man hero, Shadowbane, may be the more generic of the characters, but somehow that works to his advantage. While being the ‘strong, silent hero’ may be a well-known character archetype, Shadowbane really takes it and makes that archetype his own. The main antagonist, Rath, was just phenomenal. There’s only been a handful of villains that I despised, and Rath is now among them. There is no gray area with him, you will hate him, and you’ll love hating him. Every time Rath shows up, he takes the scene away from anyone else. He’s presence can not be ignored. Fayne, who is neither good nor bad, is another unique character. She has this personality that you know you shouldn’t love, yet you do. She unknowingly breaks the fourth wall with this and makes the reader feel this way, and it is a little scary, but in a good way.Which, come to think of it, would fit what she really is. We also have Myrin, a shy, innocent girl and while not the strongest or most defining personality, she still leaves an impression. The other minor characters, Cellica, Araezra, and Talanna also have this memorable quality to them, but I can’t really get into them without ruining some of the story.
2) Humor. This story had a lot of very funny moments in it. Fayne always came up with these amusing quips to everything that was said. Cellica, had her funny moments when Shadowbane and Myrin were around. Then you have Talanna who always seemed to bring some what of a smile to my face, for some reason. I’m honestly surprised by how humorous this story actually was.
3) Motivations. I was really impressed by how each character had a wholly unique motivation. While some may have seemed stock, for example Shadowbane’s drive for justice, everyone else had a unique and somewhat surprising motivator for what they do. The best example of this is Fayne, who seems to only want to cause pranks and tricks, but deep down, it’s more than that. I was honestly surprised by how badly Fayne would go to reach her goals. Each character seemed to have a drive that, while simple at first, seemed to only get more and more complicated and deluded as the story went on.
1) Superhero. I won’t deny that Downshadow had a superhero-like feel to the story. You have Shadowbane, who is almost like Batman, and the spellscar’s powers which seemed like something you’d find in X-Men. But does it really hurt the story? No. It’s just an interesting idea of ‘superheroes’ in a fantasy setting.
2) Cover Art. It’s not bad, it’s just generic. The stone statue shooting lightning out of its hands is in the story, for maybe three paragraphs. The main problem is that it’s just not exciting and just kind of bland. It doesn’t really ‘fit’ with the story.
Downshadow is a fun and exciting read. Everything about this book is great. The only problem that I found was the referencing, which it just more like a pet peeve of mine. But aside from that, it’s wonderful. The characters are vivid and unique, the humor is actually funny, and the motivations the characters have really surprise you at times. Sure, it may feel like a superhero story set in the Forgotten Realms and that it’s a blend between Batman and X-Men, but it never seemed to matter to me. I just had a blast reading through it. Would I recommend Downshadow? Yes! Definitely pick it up no matter what. It’s a wonderful read.