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Shadowbane: Eye of Justice by Erik Scott de Bie

Posted by travizzt on December 10, 2012

Shadowbane Eye of Justice
Kalen “Shadowbane” Dren returns to Westgate in search of a lost apprentice, but what he and Myrin Darkdance find isn’t anything they expected.

Shadowbane Eye of JusticeShadowbane: Eye of Justice by Erik Scott de Bie

Shadowbane: Eye of Justice is the third book in the Shadowbane series with the first book being Downshadow, which is also the fourth book in the Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep series, and the second book is Shadowbane. The Shadowbane series is set in the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons and Dragons. Erik Scott de Bie has written a number of novels set in the Forgotten Realms; Ghostwalker part of The Fighters series of stand-alone novels and Depths of Madness which is part of The Dungeons series of stand-alone novels. He wrote Eye for an Eye in Colbat City Double Feature. He also has written a number of short stories for anthologies as well as offering free to download ones off his website, along with working on Dungeons and Dragons game designs and campaigns. Shadowbane: Eye of Justice was released as e-book only in September 2012 and is published by Wizards of the Coast.

After the strange events that transpired in the cesspool city of Luskan, Kalen “Shadowbane” Dren and Myrin Darkdance set out to find their friend Rhett in the city of Westgate. While Kalen believes his former apprentice is dead, Myrin holds out hope that Rhett is still alive. The city of Westgate holds its share of secrets for the duo. Kalen has to keep out of the sight of the Eye of Justice, where he trained to become Shadowbane. While Myrin learns more about her unknown past. However before the ‘true’ Shadowbane’s arrival, rumors of another Shadowbane’s swift and bloody justice swirls around the city. Not everything is what it appears in Westgate.

Criticisms:
1) Outsider. While reading Shadowbane: Eye of Justice, there are many things that can make the reader feel like an outsider looking in. In this novel’s case, there are events, people, history, and just a general knowledge base that one needs to know before heading into Shadowbane: Eye of Justice. Usually when going into a sequel, the reader would have read the previous installments beforehand at some point in time to help familiarize themselves with the scenarios and reintroduce themselves to the characters. While coming into this novel, it felt like things were foreign more-so than the norm. While the main characters had a constant feel, the newer ones came off as though the reader should have already known them. Besides Kalen and Myrin, the other characters didn’t seem to really register or click as to who they were until late in the novel. Granted, new characters are meant to feel ‘new’ and unknown, however they came off as though they almost belonged in a different story. It does take some time for them to fit into the story, more-so than what is expected. Along with that there seemed to be a constant stream of names  being given, and while it never came off as over-burdening like other novels, it still gave off that outsider feel. It’s the kind of feeling that you understand what someone is talking about but there is no real connection being made. That said, the characters pale in comparison to how the story came off. It honestly felt like there was something missing, some connection between Shadowbane and Shadowbane: Eye of Justice. The main plot is there, rescue Rhett, but things become so convoluted and ‘scattered’ that soon you’ll forget about Kalen and Myrin’s main goal. Granted the duo get involved in a lot more plots and problems, but the main goal felt largely ignored. This causes yet another “outside looking in moment”, because it is the same story, but at the same time it’s something altogether different. Now it may seem like this is a huge problem, it’s really not. While reading that feeling is there but you’ll soon find yourself swept up in everything that’s going on and all that Shadowbane: Eye of Justice has to offer.
2) Cliffhanger. Shadowbane: Eye of Justice ends in a cliffhanger that really leaves the reader feeling almost cheated in a way. Cliffhangers are never fun. You want to see resolution at the end of a novel. There needs to be point where everything, in someway, wraps up and feels complete. Shadowbane: Eye of Justice didn’t give off that feeling of completeness. The previous novel, Shadowbane, ended on a slight cliffhanger but there still was that sense of closure. The main plot was resolved and it felt whole. Shadowbane‘s  cliffhanger it didn’t feel invasive and it ended at a nice point. If Shadowbane never received a sequel, it would still have held its own. On the contrary, Shadowbane: Eye of Justice never felt as though the story was finished. There was an end to it, but it didn’t feel like it should have ended so quickly. There are questions and situations brought up at the end that just make it frustrating. While it can be viewed as opening more possibilities for future novels, there is never a sure bet that it can happen. It’s just the lack of closure that makes Shadowbane: Eye of Justice not live up to the previous installment.

Praises:
1) Myrin. Shadowbane: Eye of Justice is really Myrin Darkdance’s story and she receives a lot of much-needed development and background. For the previous books, Myrin has been an underdeveloped yet interesting character. The only real defining traits are her blue hair, magical tattoos, her mysterious and unknown past, and her smart personality. When you first meet her in Downshadow you learn those things about her and little else is really added to her character. In Shadowbane there are glimmers and glances at some development but nothing really concrete. She’s in a kind of development stasis in that novel. In Shadowbane: Eye of Justice she really shines. So much is learn and hinted about her that you start seeing her in a wholly different light. She has changed so much from the past few books that now you can really see that she can hold her own and is a force to be reckoned with. On top of that, she still has that mysterious unknown past that keeps her interesting. Then when you really reflect on her, you may just begin to see things about her that you wouldn’t otherwise notice in a quick glance.
2) Twists. Shadowbane: Eye of Justice has so many well-done twists character-wise that you can’t help but be impressed. Shadowbane: Eye of Justice seems to border on a suspenseful thriller, which helps making this novel stand out as opposed to other fantasy novels. Put it this way, everyone except Kalen and Myrin are hiding something, and what the something is comes to light at just the right times in the story. No one is who they seem to be and just trying to guess who is who and what motivations they have can leave you aching to find out. There are positives and negatives to this. While some readers may love the amount of shocking turns, others may just become frustrated with them. There are times when the story does became a little hard to follow, but the pay-off is well worth it. When it comes down to it, it’s going to border on the reader’s choice of liking twists or not. Some authors can become overburdened by twists, but thankfully Erik Scott de Bie makes them work wonderfully.
3) Action. There is some intense and breathtakingly wonderful action sequences in Shadowbane: Eye of Justice that makes the novel that much more entertaining. As with the previous novel, Shadowbane: Eye of Justice pulls out all the stops and makes the action feel real. You can almost hear the steel scrapping against steel, sweat pouring off a character, and smell the magic in the air. Erik Scott de Bie has a real talent for writing action scenes that are easy to follow while being incredibly intense and dramatic.

Side Notes:
1) History/ Lore. There is a lot of Forgotten Realms history and lore shared in this novel that will make the Forgotten Realms fan giddy to read.
2) Easter Eggs. There are plenty of Easter eggs found throughout Shadowbane: Eye of Justice that really make the story feel grander and ‘real’.
3) Cover Art. Shadowbane: Eye of Justice has a really awesome and exciting looking cover. Seeing Shadowbane and Illira Nathalan fighting as they appear to be falling looks fantastic and very exciting. While the darker colored covers are becoming a little cliché, that isn’t the case for this one. It fits perfectly. It’s just an exciting cover that would have been so much better if it wasn’t an e-book only.
4) Appeal. As a sequel, there is an expectation that the reader comes in with prior knowledge of things. Shadowbane: Eye of Justice is no exception. You need to know everything that happened in Shadowbane and it does help if you’ve read Downshadow. It would also help if you have some prior knowledge of the Forgotten Realms. That said, new readers would definitely find this hard to read and get through easily.

Overall: 4/5
Final Thoughts:
Shadowbane: Eye of Justice is a very entertaining and fun book. While it may give a new reader, and those new to Forgotten Realms, a hard time understanding things, it’s still an exciting, action packed read. The ending may be slightly frustrating, but it sets up beautifully for another novel, if that ever comes about. Cliffhangers are never a good thing, especially if the next book may never be. Thankfully, these things don’t detract from Shadowbane: Eye of Justice‘s strengths. The characters are one thing that makes this novel fun. Every single character comes off as either memorable or interesting. That said, Myrin really holds this story together. It’s her story and we get to finally learn more about this mysterious girl and who she really is. She goes through so much in the novel and seeing how she changes is both satisfying and well deserved. Shadowbane: Eye of Justice is a novel full of brilliantly executed twists that you will be hard pressed to guess. Not everyone is who they seem and uncovering who is really who makes this novel all the more shocking and enjoyable. Finally the action is wonderfully written and will leave you extremely excited for more. It really takes a talented writer to write great action and Erik Scott de Bie is that talented. Shadowbane: Eye of Justice is definitely a fun and exciting novel that fans of Shadowbane and the Forgotten Realms will definitely enjoy.

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