Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Sentinel

The fifth book of The Sundering series, The Sentinel, is written by Troy Denning. His name seemed oddly familiar but after checking his bibliography, I do not seem to have ever read any of his work before. Nonetheless, Denning is the author of many older Forgotten Realms novels though he has not written any in the recent years besides this one.

The book's title refers to Kleef Kenric, a guard of Marsember's city watch. He is a Chosen of now supposedly dead Helm, the god of guardians. Kleef's fate aligns with three other Chosen of different deities and he ends up on a quest to save the world from Shar, the goddess of darkness. Apparently the schemes of Mistress of the Night did not end with her cycle being stopped in The Godborn.

The other Chosen are jewel thief Joelle Emmeline of Sune, noblewoman Ariette Seasilver supposedly of Siamorphe, and Malik el Sami yn Nasser who is a Chosen of Myrkul, though it is soon revealed to the reader that it is actually Cyric, the god of strife and lies, Malik serves. His hidden agenda and unlikable attitude cause discord in the party. Which is not all that helpful when they are constantly being chased by Shadovar.

Siamorphe, the goddess of nobles, was a new acquaintance for me. It took quite awhile before her domain got described in the novel. Maybe that was the case with the other gods too but since I already knew them beforehand I did not pay as much attention. I guess I could have quickly googled Siamorphe as well. And I did in fact afterwards to learn her power level is listed as demigod, which makes her definitely not the most mightiest of deities.

The key to stop Shar this time is the Eye of Gruumsh, an artifact via which the god of orcs perceives the world. Joelle and Malik stole the Eye from an orc stronghold in Stonelands and I think that would have made a great story. Regardless, the Chosens' goal now is to deliver the artifact as a gift to Grumbar, the primordial of earth, to convince him to stay on Toril to block Shar from pouring Shadowfell in.

While the characters have some inner struggles, ultimately they all are reflections of their respective gods. Kleef puts duty above all else, Ariette believes in a noble image of royalty (unlike her late father), Joelle uses her beauty and charm to overcome obstacles, and Malik lies as much as he can.

I feel like The Sentinel's purpose is to portray a handful of the deities of the Forgotten Realms instead of possibly creating new heroes with depth. While the gods and their Chosen have been in the focus point of the series in general, none of the previous titles have had their characters be as much defined by the deities as this one. I found the book enjoyable enough, though. It is pretty much your standard fantasy adventure.

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