It struck me as surprising that Wizards of the Coast would have various authors write the different installments of The Sundering. In rose in my mind questions of plot continuity, character development, tone, and various other aspects that are often honed by an individual writer’s style. After reading the first book in the trilogy; however, I was hopefully. Salvatore did an amazing job setting up the sense of conflict, characters, and progression of the plot.
I started this second book, The Godborn, therefore with hopeful anticipation. In this book’s favor were its description and sense of atmosphere. Paul Kemp does an excellent job of setting up and describing a scene. He has a gift for juxtaposing surprising, visual elements to give the reader snapshots of the characters and the scene. Additionally, he incorporates a strong vocabulary into his description that is uncommon is much of fantasy genre today. This gives him a sophistication and makes him an enjoyable read.
Unfortunately, I have not read any of the Erevis Cale books that he is evidently so famous for. In addition to this, Kemp did not go into too much backstory and therefore the constantly shifting characters and setting was baffling. I’m sure that if I had read his other books this problem would have diminished; however, it is not the new reader’s job to catch up with the author. A second element that I didn’t care for was the over-the-top characters. It seemed that, in contrast to the Salvatore installment, that every character was a super-human with god-like abilities and possessions. Now this may not have been the author’s choice, but from what I read it seems consistent with his previous writing. The problem with this is this choice puts the focus not on the character but instead to cool stuff he can do.
My hope is that Kemp was simply setting up some story line elements that are necessary for later books in the series. The problem is that 336 pages of set-up is far too much. A more complete fleshing out of the story arc, far more character development, and some resolvable conflict carried out by a cathartic protagonist and antagonist would do wonders for this book. Ultimately, the work felt rushed. A few more drafts and a couple more months of narrative expansion might have produced a truly epic work. As it is, the book is lackluster and a potential stumbling block for The Sundering.
Dr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. For more reviews or information, visit Dr. Nicholson’s blog at drtnicholson.wordpress.com.
The book for this review was provided free of charge by Wizards of the Coast through NetGalley.com. This book was provided without the expectation or requirement of a positive response. Thank you to both the publisher and NetGalley.com for the opportunity to both read your advanced copy and to provide this unpaid evaluation. All opinions in this review reflect the views of the author and not NetGalley.com or the publisher.