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Forge of the Mindslayers by Tim Waggoner

Posted by travizzt on December 3, 2010

An ancient relic with the ability to create assassin’s falls into the wrong hands and it’s up to Diran Bastiaan to stop it.


Forge of the Mindslayers by Tim Waggoner

Forge of the Mindslayers is the second book in the Blade of the Flame trilogy. The first book is Thieves of Blood and the third book is Sea of Death. The Blade of the Flame trilogy is set in the Eberron setting of Dungeons and Dragons. Tim Waggoner has written one other Eberron novel titled Lady Ruin. He has written a vast amount of other novels. His work includes; a Hyperswarm novel titled Defender, the Godfire series (The Orchard of Dreams and Heart’s Wound), the Nekropolis series (NekropolisDead Streets, and Dark War), Last of the Lycans series (Monarch of the Moon), Dying for It, The Harmony of Society, a Dark Ages: Vampire book called Gangrel, Necropolis, an Exalted novel titled A Shadow Over Heaven, Like Death, Darkness Wakes, Pandora Drive, Cross Country, two novels in the Dragonlance: New Adventures series (Temple of the Dragonslayer and Return of the Sorceress), a novel based on Nightmare on Elm Street called Protegé, and a Stargate SG-1 novel titled Valhalla. He has written a vast amount of short stories for various anthologies and magazines, and has two story-collections title All Too Surreal and Broken Shadows. Forge of the Mindslayers was released in March 2007 and was published by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

The former assassin turned priest Diran Bastiaan and his half-orc companion Ghaji are on the hunt to take down a lich. The duo are accompanied by a halfling pirate, Hinto, and an old artificer named Tresslar, who have been with the duo since the fateful events that happened in Grimwall. After seemingly dispatching the lich, the group returns to the city of Perhata, and meet up with  Yvka, an elf who works for the mysterious organization called the Shadow Network. She brings news to Diran about a man named Cathmore, a man from his past. However, trouble finds Diran and Ghaji and before they know it, they are captured and on their way to certain death. Luckily, someone else from Diran’s past comes to his aid, but it’s someone he’d rather have never seen again.

Criticisms:
1) Flashbacks. The biggest problem with Forge of the Mindslayers is the usage of flashbacks. The flashbacks happened all at one time, instead of over the entire novel. This caused the flashbacks to feel like they were forced into the novel, instead of a natural inclusion. Because of this, these flashbacks take the reader out of the main plot and places them in something extra. Something almost unnecessary. The flashbacks did have a connection to the overall story, but they still felt unneeded. There is another side effect of the flashbacks. Diran and Ghaji were interesting in the first book of the trilogy, but as the mysteries of their past become unraveled, they become less interesting and more generic. They still are interesting character, but they did loss some of their appeal due to the revealing their pasts. The main issue with the flashbacks is that they happen in a clump, and causes you to be taken out of the story.
2) Characters. The characters in Forge of the Mindslayers were decent, but there was one problem. We are introduced to a number of new characters. While that number isn’t a lot, it still causes problems. The antagonists never felt like they mattered. They just felt like stock villains. They weren’t very memorable nor did they give off a feeling of menace. The reason for this is because there are two groups of them. The first, the main antagonists, never felt like they made an impact. This group was just generic characters. They didn’t really have anything interesting about them other than the fact that Diran and Ghaji knew two of them. The second group, more like a duo, also didn’t have any impact but were interesting. However, this group never did anything in the story and only appeared for maybe thirty pages out of the whole novel. They were a let-down. However, the main group that suffered the most is the protagonists. The main characters, Diran and Ghaji, issues aren’t due to the added characters, but instead due to what I mentioned before. However, they were still decent and likable. Who suffered is the minor characters. Yvka, Tresslar, and Hinto were one-dimensional and that’s it. They were tossed aside for newer additions and because of that their character development greatly suffered. All in all, the characters weren’t as good, mostly because of the amount of new characters that were added. More characters meant less development for the older characters.

Praises:
1) Side Stories. Forge of the Mindslayers did have a pretty interesting story, but the side plots that were introduced was far more interesting. The main storyline was fairly straightforward like the previous story was, but now there are some interesting side plots that are introduced. At first, the side plots did feel kind of unnecessary, but in the long run they really piqued my interest. The novel could have taken some interesting and different turns, so I was left guessing on what the group was going to do. This just opened up so many interesting places to go. Aside from that, the ending was really great. It was exciting and very unique in how things happened. I didn’t expect it to be like that, but I was still very impressed. All and all, the main story was straightforward, but it leaves a lot open to what could come next.
2) Makala. Makala was the best character in the novel, by far. What made her interesting is her internal struggle with what she’s become and who she was. You could almost feel and understand her struggle. It added a lot of depth to the character and made you feel for her. She was very well written and she was the most three-dimensional character out of the group. Even with the amount of time that she was given, which wasn’t a lot, she still was the more developed and interesting character. Even in the scenes that she was in with others, she stole a lot of those scenes. Makala was the best character in the novel, and the most sympathetic.

Side Notes:
1) Kalashtar. I don’t really understand who these beings are. They seem human, yet not. I don’t really get the difference between Kalashtar’s and humans with psionic abilities.
2) Demothi Island. Is it just me, or did this issue seemed to be resolved too easily after all that build up?
3) Cover Art. Forge of the Mindslayers cover art is decent. It’s not bad, but when compared to the first novel’s it’s not as good. It relays heavily on action, which the art work does reflect very well. Other than that it seems very generic, but still good. Diran looks okay, but not great. Cathmore, the guy grabbing Diran, looks really good. He looks intense and dangerous. The background looks decent. The colors are dark, but the background doesn’t seem to work right. All in all, it’s just decent.

Overall: 3/5
Final Thoughts:
Forge of the Mindslayers is a decent novel, but feels slightly disappointing. The flashbacks that occur throughout the story felt misplaced and forced in. They did serve a purpose, but they went on for far too long. There were too many characters added in as well. This caused a severe lack of character development in the older characters. The new characters were interesting, but I would rather have spent more time focused on the older ones who needed some more development. On the other hand, the best character in the novel was Makala. Her problems felt more developed and interesting compared to every one else. She came across as three-dimensional and you really felt her struggle. The story was decent and it did open up some interesting side plots, but it felt far too linear. I would have liked to seen the story go with one of the side plots instead of the straightforward story. Overall, Forge of the Mindslayers was a decent read, but left me wishing for more out of this sequel.

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