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Sword of the Gods by Bruce R. Cordell

Posted by travizzt on May 1, 2011

After waking up not knowing who he is, Demascus learns that his past isn’t something you want to have.

Sword of the Gods by Bruce R. Cordell

Sword of the Gods is a stand-alone novel set in the Forgotten Realms universe of Dungeons and Dragons. This book also ties into The Abyssal Plague trilogy, but isn’t part of the trilogy. The actual The Abyssal Plague trilogy is set in the Dungeons and Dragons self-titled novel line. The trilogy consists of The Temple of Yellow Skulls by Don Bassingthwaite, The Oath of Viligance by James Wyatt (due out in August 2011), and The Eye of the Chained God by Don Bassingthwaite (due out April 2012). There is an origin novella by James Wyatt titled The Gates of Madness and a prelude by Bill Slavicsek titled The Mark of Nerath. The plague will stay in the Forgotten Realms with Shadowbane by Erik Scott de Brie (due out in September 2011) and will spread to the Dark Sun universe with Keith R. A. DeCandido’s Under the Crimson Sun (due out in June 2011). Thankfully, reading these books aren’t required, but may help in understanding some of the details of the plague. Bruce R. Cordell has written other novels set in the Forgotten Realms universe; a book in The Priest series titled Lady of Poison, a book in The Wizards series titled Darkvision, a book in The Dungeons series titled Stardeep, and the Abolethic Sovereignty trilogy (Plague of Spells, City of Torment, and Key of Stars). He has also written a novel under the pen name of T. H. Lain titled Oath of Nerull. He has also contributed a number of short stories to various anthologies as well as writing a vast amount of role-playing game books. Sword of the Gods was released April 2011 and was published by Wizards of the Coast LLC.

After waking up on a slab of stone, surrounded by dead bodies the last thing Demascus would want is to not know who he is. He recalls nothing from his past, nor how he wound up on the altar of stone. After a bit of investigating, Demascus finds a map on one of the dead and heads to the closest city; Airspur. When he enters the city, he finds himself at the door of a pawn shop being hassled by a group of genasi. After being saved from the group by the pawn shop’s owner, a human named Chant Morven, Chant realizes that he has something of Demascus’, a scarf. However, before Demascus can figure out what the scarf is, it’s stolen by a thief, Riltana. While Demascus and Chant try to track down the thief and help regain Demascus’ memories, flashes of his past return. He doesn’t like what he recalls.

Criticisms:
1) Antagonists. The biggest flaw with Sword of the Gods is that the antagonists never are really present until close to the end. They hardly appear throughout the story, and when they do, it’s random and makes the book feel slightly disjointed. The reader is introduced to Kalkan in the first chapter and he reappears a few chapters later, but then almost disappears until two-thirds of the way through Sword of the Gods. When Kalkan returns, you barely remember who he is. On the other side, about one-third of the way into Sword of the Gods, the reader is introduced to a being known as Murmur out of the blue. There was nothing to suggest that this being existed until this point. It felt like Murmur was thrown in, even through he plays a large part in the story. Thankfully, they were still decent antagonists. When Murmur and Kalkan came back into the story, they did add a lot of disturbing and frightening images to the story. But they just needed more of a presence. The antagonists could have had a more constant presence than they did or not appear out of thin air.

Praises:
1) Main Characters. The three main characters; Demascus, Chant, and Riltana, in Swords of the Gods were wonderful. For being a stand-alone novel, these three were surprisingly well-developed early on. It felt like you’ve known these characters for years. Demascus really works because he, like the reader, is just learning about himself, making it very easy to like this character. You can really identify with his plight. He also adds a lot of humor and fun to the story, something I didn’t expect. Out of the three, Chant seems like the more generic character, but had the most developed backstory. He’s just a pawn broker who’s more than that. But he’s past is what is really interesting, and I won’t give it away. I just hope that in the future, we learn what happens to Chant. Of the three characters, Riltana was the best. She had humor, a great back story, interesting relationships, and I want more of her! There’s no easy why to explain why Riltana was so great. She’s not your typical heroine, nor is she your typical thief. There was just something about her that you couldn’t get enough of. All in all, the three lead characters were wonderful and made the story fun.
2) Humor. Sword of the Gods was surprisingly funny. If you look at the cover and read the plot summary on the back of the novel, you wouldn’t think that this book had as much humor as it did. It was surprising and a breath of fresh air. The humor doesn’t detract from the story, but instead enhances the story. It helps in adding a lot of fun to the story as well. The humor, while surprising, makes Sword of the Gods a lot of fun to read.
3) Memory. It’s hard to successfully pull off an amnesia-stricken character well, but the way Demascus’ memories were worked into the story made it really work. It worked because you, as a reader, were in Demascus’ shoes. The random flashbacks and visions didn’t detract from the story, but drew you in more. You wanted to know who Demascus was just as much as he did. The way the memory problem worked out was wonderful and made Sword of the Gods that much deeper.

Side Notes:
1) Language. This doesn’t feel like a typical Forgotten Realms novel, mostly due to the strong language used. It’s a nice change and makes Sword of the Gods feel very different.
2) Tie-ins. Along with being a part of The Abyssal Plague, Sword of the Gods also has some nice nods to Bruce R. Cordell’s Abolethic Sovereignty trilogy.
3) Cover Art. Truth be told, I am not a fan of the cover art for Sword of the Gods. It’s one of those covers that just isn’t attractive and looks awfully generic. While the red color scheme is interesting, there’s just too much of it. Because of this, you are instantly drawn to the pale and ugly form of Demascus. He just doesn’t look good, at all. He just looks awful, and there is really no easy way to explain why. As for the other creature he’s up against, I have no idea what or who it’s supposed to be. All in all, the cover art is a real turn off.

Overall: 5/5
Final Thoughts:
Sword of the Gods is a wonderful story and really surprised me with a number of things. While the antagonists never really had a huge presence, they still were creepy and disturbing. It’s just a shame that they weren’t around more. Thankfully, everything else was just wonderful. The characters were great. You can really identify with Demascus and it was almost as though you were in his shoes. The way he gained his memories back made you want to learn more about him and who he was. Chant had a wonderful backstory and I hope that at some point, it gets explored further. Riltana was just awesome. She added a lot of fun and depth to the story, and whenever she popped up, I didn’t want her to go away. The most surprising thing about Sword of the Gods was how much humor was in the story. When going into the book, I thought it was going to be your typical serious fantasy novel, but I was surprised by how funny it really was. The humor never took away from the serious parts and only enhanced the overall experience. I really do hope that Sword of the Gods has a sequel in the future, because it really does deserve it. Sword of the Gods is a great read, very easy for new readers to jump into, and definitely worth picking up.

3 Responses to “Sword of the Gods by Bruce R. Cordell”

  1. grrDonDon said

    hmm… seems like I’ll buy a new book or two, just got my salary :D

    These books and reviews of yours make me want to brush off the dust from forgotten realms pc-games and give them another go. (yes..where is my Neverwinter nights 1 diamond edition….)

  2. These books and reviews of yours make me want to brush off the dust from forgotten realms pc-games and give them another go. (yes..where is my Neverwinter nights 1 diamond edition….)
    +1

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