Searching for his long-lost father, Bransen Garibond is tricked into journeying across the Gulf of Corona to the wild lands of Vanguard, where he is pressed into service in a desperate war against the brutal Samhaist, Ancient Badden. On an Alpinadoran lake, just below Ancient Badden's magical ice castle, several societies, caught in the web of their own conflicts, are oblivious to Ancient Badden's devastating plans to destroy them. Bransen becomes the link between the wars, and if he fails, all who live on the lake will perish, and all of northern Honce will fall under the shadow of the merciless and vengeful Samhaists. The Ancient is part of the Saga of the First King, a four-book series that chronicles the early days of Corona, the same world as Salvatore's bestselling DemonWars saga. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
This ensemble-driven follow-up to 2004's The Highwayman finds bestseller Salvatore liberally borrowing themes and character types from his earlier novels. As in the Cleric Quintet, a disaffected monk (Cormack) contemplates higher wisdom and draws the love of a restless outsider (the shaman Milkeila), while rough-and-ready dwarf Mcwigik provides brute strength and comic relief in similar measure. As in the Drizzt novels, the nominal hero wanders, deals death and addresses his readers in impassioned italics. Bransen Garibond's dual identity as the swashbuckling Highwayman and stuttering Stork recalls the Crimson Shadow. As in the Icewind Dale books, the setting is a remote wintry landscape, with isolated islands standing in for barbarian villages. The scattered cast takes much too long to converge, and druidic arch-villain Ancient Badden never emerges as an effective antagonist. The result is a Frankenstein's monster-like construct of brisk prose and lively combat scenes: imposing at first glance, but awkwardly assembled and doomed to disappoint. (Mar.)
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March 03, 2008
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