Advent Reviews Day 21: Erevis Cale Trilogy by Paul S. Kemp

Paul’s Erevis Cale Trilogy was my first introduction to Forgotten Realms, and to Wizards of the Coast, earlier this year, and it’s turned into a fascination with the entire setting that just refuses to go away. I haven’t read as much within it as I’d like, but the stuff I’ve read has been fairly good so this fascination is definitely here to stay. Plus Paul is an excellent writer in my opinion. This is another from-memory review so if I get anything wrong, I do apologise.

ErevisCaleTrilogyWhat set this omnibus apart from me, more than anything, was Paul’s characterisation. Erevis Cale and Drasek Riven are fantastic assassins with a hint of the cleric about them as they both serve the Mask as his chosen champions. Their is a fantastic buddy rivalry of sorts going on between them, whether that’s in either of the three novels (Twilight Falling, Dawn of NightMidnight’s Mask) or the short story (All The Sinners, Saints). From outright hostility, their relationship to each other becomes one of guarded jealousy, and then eventually mutual respect, which is a great path for these guys across three novels. There are lots of obstacles for them to overcome in each novel, and how they succeed dictates how their relationship develops. Furthermore, if Erevis wasn’t already so bad-ass, Riven would have been my favourite character from the omnibus.

There is a lot of dynamism to both of them, something which is carried forwards to the bad guys as well, who are pretty much like nothing I’ve read of before (in terms of who and what they are that is). Azriim and Vraggen, throughout the course of the omnibus, are portrayed wonderfully. Neither of them is the typical laugh-out-loud-at-everything kind of villain. Their motivations are all too real and understandable. And the audacity of their plans definitely has to be applauded. It’s not often for me that I like bad guys who have such lofty goals that are next to impossible, but through their cunning and intelligence they eventually bring about, to a degree. No moustache-twirling b-movie villains here at all!

There’s also some fantastic world-building here, which was all the more enjoyable since this was my first time with the setting. I liked how Kemp portrayed each of the cities and planes that the characters travel to, and all the different races and species that populate Faerun. It makes for a really lively and rich world brimming with possibilities of all kind. It can be a little too much at times, but that’s fine, really. I expected that difficulty going in, since Forgotten Realms is a truly vast setting.

Dawn of Night is the weakest of the three novels, while Midnight’s Mask is the best, with Twilight Falling being somewhere in between. There is a ton of action in the novels, and some great exploration of character identity and the relationships between mortals and gods. As a first taster of the grand Forgotten Realms setting, The Erevis Cale Trilogy is a recommended pit stop. A really fast-paced collection that leaves you breathless.

Rating: 9/10

Posted on December 22, 2012, in 2012 Reading Challenge, 2012 Writing Challenge, Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

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