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Mistshore by Jaleigh Johnson

Posted by travizzt on December 18, 2011

Being chased by a crazed scarred elf, Icelin Tearn is forced to escaped to Mistshore, a place where not even Waterdeep’s Watch wants to enter.

Mistshore by Jaleigh Johnson

Mistshore is the second book in the Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep series of stand-alone novels set in the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons and Dragons. There are five other novels set in this series which include; Blackstaff Tower by Steven E. Schend, Downshadow by Erik Scott de Bie, City of the Dead by Rosemary Jones, The God Catcher by Erin M. Evans, and Circle of Skulls by James P. Davis. Jaleigh Johnson has written a few other novels set in the Forgotten Realms universe; The Howling Delve which is part of The Dungeons series of stand-alone novels and the Unbroken Chain series which includes, Unbroken Chain and Unbroken Chain: The Darker Road. She has also wrote a number of short stories for various anthologies and magazines. Mistshore was released in September 2008 and was published by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Icelin Tearn isn’t your ordinary twenty year old girl. Blessed and cursed with a perfect memory, she remembers all the horrors that she has witnessed at her hands. However, a chance encounter with a scarred elf named Cerest Elenithil, leaves her questioning her memory and past.  Cerest claims to have been friends with Icelin’s grandfather, but his actions since meeting Icelin doesn’t seem to match what an old friend would do. Icelin, now being chased by Cerest and Waterdeep’s Watch, is forced to leave her home and travel to the one place that Waterdeep’s Watch won’t enter, Mistshore. She is told that a man named Ruen Morleth will help her until she can figure things out, but Ruen doesn’t seem to be the kind of person that would be willing to help. What does Cerest know about Icelin’s past and why does he go to extremes to claim her as his own?

Criticisms:
1) Development. While the characters in Mistshore were fantastic and interesting, there was some minor problems with how they developed as the story went on. That’s not to say by the end of the novel the characters didn’t change or remained static, because they did develop as the story went on, but there were times when development didn’t quite feel natural. The problem really was with how uneven their development was. Generally speaking, most characters go through a steady progression with how they develop and that never really stops. Mistshore‘s characters never felt that way. There were times when it felt like the characters just did things outside any experiences they’ve had to continue the narrative. Thankfully this doesn’t happen to often, but it’s still noticeable.

Praises:
1) Characters. Even with the questionable moments of development, the characters were fantastic. The main three; Icelin, Ruen, and Cerest, made Mistshore an enjoyable read. Mistshore is really all about the characters. They did feel well-rounded at the end of the novel and they were all distinctly different. They just didn’t have any real cliché characteristics that most fantasy based characters have. They were unique. Out of those three, only Ruen felt like he ‘belonged’ in a fantasy story. Ruen had the characteristics that many typical fantasy heroes have, but he had one thing that most lack; mystery. You don’t know what or who he really is and as the story progresses, you learn little tidbits about him, but your appetite is never really satisfied. By the end of the novel, you do know a little more about him, but you still want to know more. The other two main characters don’t have that typical fantasy characteristics about them. Icelin isn’t your normal heroine. In fact, she more like a normal, if special, woman. There is nothing heroic about her except that she can cast spells, at a cost, and is has perfect memory. That cost is interesting, but aside from that, everything else about her is ‘normal’. As you read through the novel, you begin to see that she’s totally out of her element and way in over her head, and she stays that way for the majority of the novel. She acted like how a real, actual person would act in the situation that she was thrown into. It was that, along with her personality, that makes her an enjoyable character. Then we have the antagonist, Cerest. He wasn’t like your normal cliché fantasy antagonist. All he wanted was for Icelin to join him, yet he makes increasingly rash and stupid decisions that pushes her further away. It’s those rash decisions and stupid mistakes that make him interesting. He’s a flawed and imperfect villain. You don’t like him and you never are supposed to. As for the other characters, they weren’t that interesting. Sull is the more interesting out of the group but that’s due to his one moment in the spotlight halfway through the novel. You like the guy, but he never leaves that much of an impression on you. The others never really seemed to matter. However, the main three were fantastic and really carried the novel.
2) Secrets. Mistshore is all about secrets, personal and setting-wise. The whole setting of Mistshore is cloaked in mystery. It’s an area of Waterdeep that is never really explored and best avoided. Because of this mystery the setting is very interesting. It feels like a rundown slum that you don’t know anything about and don’t want to know anything about. But the real mystery lies with the characters. Icelin’s, Cerest’s, and even Ruen’s pasts made for an interesting story. How their backgrounds were slowly dished out added to the mystery of who these people really are. It’s hard to talk about this subject without giving away anything, else it would ruin the story. That said, uncovering these secrets and the withheld information was really enjoyable and keeps you going.
3) Story. The basic story for Mistshore really draws you in and all the minor plots and motivations make you stay for it. This really goes hand in hand with the backgrounds of the main characters and what they want. It’s an interesting way how the story is told. Nothing is really known until the last few pages about why Cerest is chasing Icelin, and it makes you invested in finding out the truth. It’s that whole sense of discovery that makes the story and main plot interesting. Then you throw in some subplots that spice up the main plot and make is slightly larger, and you can’t help but find yourself deeply invested in everything and everyone involved.

Side Notes:
1) Mistshore. This is one rundown area of Waterdeep. However, it never felt like it was that dangerous. It’s dangerous, but with the way it’s talked about in the novel makes it seem not as bad. Sure it is bad, but it wasn’t as bad as you are lead to believe.
2) Spellplague. Truth be told, this is the first novel that I can safely say explains what the Spellplague is. Sure it’s still vague, but there is a lot more detail about it and what spellscars are in Mistshore than in the countless other novels that focus on it.
3) Cover Art. The artwork really brings the rundown nature of Mistshore to life. When looking at Mistshore‘s cover, you can see the ships in disrepair, the grimy nature of the place, and the cramped quarters. It’s dark and dreary, and the use of warmer colors really offsets the browns and blacks wonderfully. The orange and red colors draw your eye into the artwork and you start to see how detailed and beautiful it is.

Overall: 5/5
Final Thoughts:
Mistshore is a fantastic novel with some memorable and likable characters. While there were times when the development of the characters didn’t feel natural and steady, it didn’t hamper the overall enjoyment of reading about these characters. Aside from that, there is nothing that holds this novel back. The main characters; Icelin, Ruen, and Cerest, were fantastic. They were unique, different, and a definite change from the usual heroes in fantasy novels. What made them great was not only their personalities, but their unique backgrounds. You don’t really know anything about these characters, and as the story continues, you learn more about them and their pasts. It makes you invested in these characters. Then you have the story. It’s simplicity at its finest and really weaves into the characters backgrounds and motivations. The story is all about discovering and uncovering these characters.  On top of that, the main story is relatively small, but it connects to something bigger. This way it makes it easier to jump into and understand. So is Mistshore worth picking up and reading? Yes it is. Those new to the Realms won’t find themselves that lost in the references and the characters are easily identifiable.

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