By James Marchese
The newest installment in the saga of Forgotten Realms hero, Elminster Aumar, “Elminster Enraged,” was lackluster at best. This book is the finale of the “Sage of Shadowdale” series which overall has been a disappointment, but I expected much more from the ending.
Throughout the series, author Ed Greenwood introduces and eliminates many characters but the main antagonist remains the same almost to the very end. Unfortunately, the epic battle I had expected never came; the whole ending was rushed and unsatisfying to say the least.
Then to make it worse, after the main antagonist is killed towards the very end of the book, our hero Elminster has a ta-da moment and says the real bad guy is someone else never introduced in his entire storyline. I felt like I got kicked in the face after investing all of my time reading about this villain and suddenly he becomes insignificant.
This was all information I would have deemed relevant earlier in the trilogy or even in the earlier books to make it relevant. Greenwood really threw a curveball with this one and it didn’t work for me personally, I feel like he undermined his own story completely. It’s hard to understand how you can spend three books building the importance of the antagonist and then destroy him in less than a page worth of text.
Not only was the ending less than pleasing but the writing itself wasn’t Greenwood’s best work. The text itself was very choppy and rushed. There were just way too many commas, dashes and other miscellaneous punctuation marks for my liking. Certain passages took several reads to understand which really drew me out of the narrative.
Greenwood also found a way to take very simple ideas and make them very confusing, the goddess of magic Mystra’s power is comes from silver flame. When she died blue flame scourged and tainted all magic, killing many mages or driving them mad. However, after Mystra is reborn she has them use blue-flame items to save the realms. It would have been nice if the reasoning was more coherent, I can’t understand why they wouldn’t have used the stronger and more reliable silver flame but there wasn’t much that made sense about the idiosyncrasies in the book.
Another thing that failed in the book was that Greenwood strayed from his normal style even more than the punctuation. In his earlier books, he would start every chapter with an excerpt from the world’s performing arts like literature or plays. In this book, he had every chapter titled but there was none of the extra flair that the excerpts added.
On a lesser note, I also didn’t appreciate any of the characters in the book because none of them really stayed around for long. Any of the characters I thought were going to hold importance throughout the book were eliminated quickly and some of the strongest characters weren’t even eliminated in a way that would do them justice.
Since I’ve been reading this series for years, it hurts me to say that there isn’t really much I can complement this book on. The only thing that really pleased me about it was the transformation that Elminster went through in the book. He turns from a happy-go-lucky mage to a spiteful old sorcerer. However, like everything else in the book it meant nothing because at the end of the book he goes back to being his normal self like nothing even happened to him.