The Adversary, by Erin M. Evans
Forgotten Realms: The Sundering Book 3
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
352 pages, Kindle Edition
Published December 2013
The stand-alone Forgotten Realms novels that loosely tie together into the series called “The Sundering” seem to get better with each addition. I enjoyed this enough that I plan on going back to read Evans’ previous novels. Having mostly read Salvatore prior to this, I was a bit shocked at how more developed and complex the characters in this series are, and Evans’ voice is so unique and refreshing that at times I forgot I was reading a media-tie in, shared-universe genre novel. This is simply a good fantasy.
Evans writing is strong, often evoking a Medievalesque vocabulary and style of dialogue that places the story squarely in a high fantasy world without it seeming ridiculous. The style of her language is not artistic in a high literary sense, but it is fluid and unique, suiting this story well. Her plotting is also spot on, moving the story at a brisk pace without resorting to any tired troupe of merely moving heroes from one action sequence to another, overcoming each and every challenge in relative ease of a daily routine. Here victories are bittersweet, exacted with a price, and the most succulent bits of the story are not the physical clashes but the verbal and psychological battles.
Getting into the novel was a bit slow to start due to my unfamiliarity with the characters, and Evans does place a wide variety of settings and characters (basically those from her first two books) into the complex intersections of the plot here. Things therefore do get a bit jumbled now and then, particularly in the second portion of the novel. Nonetheless this story stands far better as a stand-alone novel than others (say Salvatore’s entry). While “The Adversary” sets up future directions, the whole point of “The Sundering series”, a full story arc is still covered here, and in-depth knowledge of the previous books, while helpful, isn’t necessary. The next volume of the series is already in my queue to read, but I’ll be really surprised if any can top what Evans accomplishes here.