Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. I am indeed reviewing a Forgotten Realms novel. Heck, I can't quite believe it myself! Jay Tomio made a lot of noise about Paul S. Kemp's The Erevis Cale trilogy. Last winter, he contacted me, offering up a possibility to set up a contest for that trilogy. Yet, since I never endorse authors/series/books I've never read or heard about, I politely declined. But Jay persisted, clamoring about the quality of Kemp's series on his blog. In addition, Alrin did the same on hallofworlds.net. And in the end, I had to see what this was all about. The author got Wizards of the Coast to send me review copies, so here we are.
It sure felt odd to be reading another tale set in Ed Greenwood's brainchild. The old Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels are what made me fall in love with the fantasy genre back in the 80s. Hence, I have a lot of fond memories about those old TSR books. Sadly, I also harbor a multitude of bad memories pertaining to crappy books written by such authors as Jean Rabe, Douglas Niles, Ed Greenwood and myriad others. Those lines of novels are perfect for teenagers and young adults. But inevitably, one grows up and discovers all the talent that's out there.
Sitting down to read Paul S. Kemp's Twilight Falling was like traveling upon a familiar path that one has not followed for a very long time. And that felt good.
As anyone who has ever read some of these books knows, the Forgotten Realms universe is extremely vast in scope. Unfortunately, most FR series take place in a particular area or locale, which precludes readers from being exposed to more of this fascinating world. Plus, the 300-page format makes it well nigh impossible for any writer to produce a work with much depth. Too bad. . .
Twilight Falling is without a doubt a character-driven novel. Clichéd characterizations abound, yet they are still enjoyable. Which I found more or less surprising, to say the least.
Too much action for my taste, however. I normally prefer more substance. Still, this is the sort of story that will appeal to fans of R. A. Salvatore and David Gemmell. Actually, Twilight Falling is reminiscent of Salvatore's early Drizzt books (a. k. a. the good years).
Kemp's prose is superior to what I've come to expect from FR books, which was a pleasant surprise. The storylines appear to hint at some bigger and better plotlines in subsequent volumes. So we'll have to see about that. The ending suffers from a lackluster finish, and that was a bit disappointing. Indeed, major cliffhangers can be a lot of fun midway through a novel, but much less so to cap off an ending. There is no resolution, forcing readers to pick up volume 2 to see what happens.
Kemp is a competent author who seems to have a clear idea of what he is trying to accomplish. And as such, Twilight Falling is a good effort. As for me, I'm curious enough to read the rest of the trilogy. I'm eager to discover what has gotten Jay so excited about this series.
The final verdict: 7/10
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