I admit it; I’ve got a soft spot for Wizards Of the Coast and their two biggest books series: Dragon Lance and the Forgotten Realms. The reason for this undying fondness is that my adventures as a book reader and a massive nerd started with one little book lots of you may have never heard of: The Black Wing. Not a big book, not a narrative jewel, but an entertaining little spin-off from the Dragon Lance Chronicles. That was when I was in sixth grade and for three years I only read Dragon Lance novels. When I reached ninth grade I decided to try to get a little bit of variety in my literary life so I started reading the Forgotten Realms (what did you expect? I was a high school freshman, I probably didn’t even understand the full meaning of variety).It could be said that Wizard of the Coast ruled my literary tastes with an iron fist until I was in eleventh grade, when a little book called Game of Thrones found its way into my hands. This is the first time since then that I have read one of their books and it felt just like when I eat something I loved as a kid. Its taste is never as good as I remember.

By the way, I am curious. Which was the first book that really got you into reading? Which is the one responsible for you to hook up? (Because, let’s face, none of us would be in a book review blog if we weren’t crazy about reading).


Strong Points: Action narrative.

Weak points: Character development, story development.

The Reaver, written by Richard Lee Byers, tells us the story of a continent scourged by what seems a never-ending rain. This has caused people to abandon their gods and to turn to Umberlee, the evil goddess of the ocean, making her church the most powerful political force in the land. Moved by the reward offered by this church in exchange for the capture of the god of light’s chosen, Anton Marivaldi, a fearsome and merciless pirate, must find a way to carry the chosen boy to Umberlee’s temple while surviving mutiny, rival political factions and corrupt church officials. If he succeeds his reward will be more riches that he could dream of, if he fails hos reward will be death.

The first thing I must point out is that Richard lee Byers knows his business when it comes to narrating action sequences. Lots of writers seem to shy out of narrating battles, being very general or superficial when it comes to put them on paper; several times I have felt that some final battle of some very good novels were anticlimactic. In The Reaver, though, the author manages to bring us a precise, delicious narration of the events without affecting the pace of the action. Everything the character feels or does finds its way into the pages thoroughly, giving us always a good picture of the fight and managing to make almost every combat an epic explosion of action and description (except the one with the lions… was that one really necessary?) The result is some amazing chapters that make the book enjoyable at some points and keep us reading through the weakest part of it.

I like dark selfish characters as much as the next guy (provided the next guy likes dark, selfish character a lot), and I don’t mind a good redemption story once in a while (neither does the next guy), provided that such redemption and the needed process to achieve it make sense. It is never quite clear where Anton’s starts. Suddenly a bloodthirsty pirate who has not qualm about sending men who have served under his command for years to their deaths starts feeling bad about betraying a boy he just met. These shorts of paradoxes can be found all over the novel, transforming Anton’s development in an awkward process full of unorthodox advances which make no sense in the eyes of the reader. There is not fluidity in his internal development, just emotional objectives he must reach for the narration’s sake, which he does without a continuous evolution to get him from one point to another.

The other two main characters fare no better. Umara’s evolution makes even less sense than Anton. She experiences two major stages throughout the novel: the “I am your enemy” stage and the “oh, ok, let’s be friends” stage without any short of development in between. Since the first moment she meets Anton she switches stages without there being a real process in between to make this friendship anything special for the reader to look forward to. The worst part, though, goes to poor Sven, whose character’s development doesn’t exist. Doesn’t matter what he gets dragged to, the kid never changes, nor does his vision of life or his faith in the god of light who has screwed his whole life because he couldn’t just pick and older chosen. Sven behavior doesn’t respond to the external stimuli he gets from his surrounding, making this character a behavioral anomaly whose actions keep us from accepting the “truth” of the story. One example would be his reaction after being betrayed by Marivaldi, it doesn’t affect their relationship, doesn’t cast a shadow of doubt upon them, Sven acts as if it never happened.

Finally, the story development feels uneven and badly put together. It feels, in a similar way to fireblood (still ranting), as if we were reading about a role playing game someone played, the events feel as encounters decided by dices. The solutions are similar between them, there being two major groups: “let’s kill the enemy” or “let’s exorcise the enemy”. As a result, the novel becomes repetitive and predictable, knowing every spot in which there will be some of this “events”. The directions it takes, the presentation of subplots later left untouched or the characters or actions given importance when they appear but later forgetting completely about them of having them killed anticlimactically leaves us with the feeling that the author wasn’t really sure which ones to choose and decided to forget about them, leaving just the basics but without completely erasing the mark of those sub-stories.

The Reaver is definitely not one of my favorite forgotten realm novels, which is a pity for Iw as really looking forward to read the novels of the Sundering. I would recommend it to the fans of the forgotten Realms or Dragon Lance. To those of you who aren’t fans but are curious about those worlds I recommend to start with other books such as those written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman in Dragonlance or RA Salvatore and Elaine Cunningham in the Forgotten Realms.


¡Hasta la próxima!

  1. Rabindranauth says:

    Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon was actually what got me reading. I must have read 200 or so of those things, minimum.

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