Last year a major new even began in the Forgotten Realms. The Sundering is a world changing event that is ushering in new changes to the Dungeons and Dragons gaming system as well as the world of the Forgotten Realms novels. The first three novels dealt with established characters. Some are relatively new and some have been around since the beginning of the Realms. Now in the fourth book bestselling author Richard Lee Byers introduces us to a new character: Anton Marivaldi. Marivaldi is a reaver, a pirate known for his bloodthirsty ways.
The novel opens with Marivaldi and his crew searching after Stedd Whitehorn, a boy who appears to be a prophet of Lathandar, the god of the dawn who was believed to have been slain. After capturing the boy Marivaldi’s crew turns on him and takes him prisoner as well. The wily Marivaldi is able to escape with Stedd. During this time the entire Sea of Fallen Stars is experiencing a major environmental disaster. The rain has fallen almost without a stop for a year. Crops are almost non-existent and the people are hungry and scared. Into this void has come the worship of Umberlee, the dreadful goddess of the sea. Her chosen is a former pirate Evendur Highcastle who she raised in undeath. Now Umberlee wants the blood of Stedd Whitehorn to increase her power. Szass Tam, the lich-lord of the Thayans wants the blood of Stedd Whitehorn. Stedd wants to preach the return of Lathander and help bring an end to the rains. Before the book is finished strange companions will come together as allies in the battle between the Chosen of Umberlee and the Chosen of Lathander.
Anton Maribaldi is a great new character. He comes from an honorable past, but has fallen to a low station. No matter how hard he tries to stay bad the young Stedd keeps talking him into doing the right thing. Normally I am not fond of stories where characters go from murderous rouges to honorable characters. Most of the time the transformation doesn’t make sense. Somehow Byers is able to make this transition believable. So much so that we almost forget about the bloodthirsty actions in the beginning of the novel.
As the Sundering moves towards the finish we see change coming to the world. Old gods thought dead seem to be returning. The Spellplague seems to be coming to an end. Hope is returning to the world. Where will the future of the Forgotten Realms take us? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to make the journey.
After reading The Reaver I certainly hope that the future of the Realms holds more Anton Marivaldi stories. The book is well written. The characters are well rounded and interesting. This is great, classic sword and sorcery fiction. If you enjoy a good fantasy adventure novel then stop here and enjoy The Reaver. Afterwards, do what I plan to do. Go buy more of Richard Lee Byers novels and read those as well.