Review: Return of the Archwizards

by soklemon on January 14, 2011

Return of the Archwizards
The Summoning / The Siege /
The Sorcerer
Troy Denning

A Forgotten Realms Novel

Troy Denning’s Return of the Archwizards trilogy – The Summoning, The Siege and The Sorcerer – was recently re-released by Wizards of the Coast in one collected volume. It follows the story of the Elf Galareon, an Evereskan tomb guard, as he discovers the power and mystery of shadow magic.

Today the Dungeon’s Master team welcomes our newest contributor, Soklemon. He asked us if he could write book reviews for our site and we were happy to say yes. He is a Dungeon Master, Forgotten Realms fan, aspiring writer and high school student (in that order). He’s relatively new to D&D, but is quickly getting plenty of experience as the DM for his gaming group. We welcome him to the team and hope you enjoy his first contribution, the review of the Troy Denning Omnibus: Return of the Archwizards.

While investigating a tomb robbery, Galareon discovers clan of Vassans humans trying to free the Wizard, Melegaunt Tanthul from his prison behind the Sharn Wall. The Sharn Wall is a magic barrier under the Anauroch desert that imprisoned not only Melegaunt, but evil creatures called the Phaerimm. Melegaunt is freed and during the ensuing struggle Galareon’s Weave magic and Melegaunt shadow magic collide creating a permanent hole in the Sharn Wall, freeing the Phaerimm after centuries of captivity.

Galareon returns to Evereska with those who survived the initial battle and tries to enlist help to investigate the Wall breach and stop the Phaerimm. He is unable to convince the Elves of the danger and despite his adamant request; they will not allow him to return to the Wall. He decides to take it upon himself to stop the Phaerimm. Melegaunt, his servant Vala and Galareon leave the city in search of something Melegaunt insists will destroy the Phaerimm threat.

Along the way they meet Malik, a character familiar to readers from Denning’s previous novels in the Avatar series. Malik is Cyric’s Seraph of Lies. Early in the journey Melegaunt exposes Galareon to shadow magic. Galareon falls into the corruption offered by shadow, becoming more and more addicted to the rush of using the Shadow Weave. He opens himself to his shadow, a dark reflection of himself. His struggle with his shadow is one he faces thoughtout the entire trilogy

At the end of the first book in the trilogy, the Netherese city Shade Enclave arrives in the natural world after 1,700 years of exile from Faerun. The Princes of Shade, especially Escanor and Rivalen become important character for the rest of the series, as is their father, the Most High. Joining the cast of characters is Vala (one of the Vassans), Keya (Galareon’s sister) and Takari (a scout in Galareon’s tomb guard patrol). The Chosen of Mystra also have large roles in the story. As the story continues we learn of the deep relationship that Vala and Takari both have with Galareon, and he for the each of them.

The story of the trapped Evereskans, before, during and after Shade Enclave raises a great wall of shadow to trap the Phaerimm is told primarily through Keya’s experiences.

Galareon is a very complex character. He is not a stereotypical Elf, especially once his shadow begins to try to subvert his very nature. His shadow leads to him make some choices most people would never make. After his close friend Aris is gravely wounded because of Galareon’s shadows influence, he swears off the use of shadow magic.

Despite his best intentions, his shadow still continues to influence his actions. Galareon struggles with his inner demons throughout the book. This conflict is truly representative of the struggle everybody faces when trying to figure out who they really are. Despite his shadow, Galareon resists the influence of the Shadovar during his time in Shade Enclave. The time he spends there provides the reader with great insight into the working of the Shadovar, and sets up a solid foundation for anyone reading other books that feature it, such as the Paul S. Kemp’s Twilight War trilogy featuring Erevis Cale.

Galareon also struggles to make a decision about the women in his life. Should he pursue a short and passionate relationship with the Human woman Vala, knowing he’ll live hundreds of years longer than her; or should he look for a more stable and traditional relationship like the one he could have with Takari, a Wood Elf like his mother.

Telamont Tanthul, the Most High of Sade Enclave, who was alive during the glory of the original Netherese Empire, is featured prominently in this book. He’s a powerful enemy for Galareon and all of Faerun.

The Netherese do nothing to endear themselves to their new neighbors. They begin to melt the High Ice with massive blankets of woven shadow, flooding the desert and all of the Heartlands. Galareon attempts to prove this to the Rulers of Cormyr and when he finally manages too do so the entire North turns against the Enclave.

The third and final part of the original trilogy ties up many of the plotlines started by the series, which is not always the case with Forgotten Realms books. Some elements of the returned Netherese are not answered, but I believe the author did this deliberately in order to keep them as the mysterious enemies of northern Faerun.

Wizards of the Coast made an excellent decision to rerelease Return of the Archwizards. It details the Shadovar, whom are a large part of the new face of Faerun after the Spellplauge. If you’re just discovering Forgotten Realms novels this is not a good entry point into the Forgotten Realms world. The overall story draws very heavily on the shared world knowledge, such as the Chosen of Mystra. For those well steeped in Realmslore, however, it is an excellent read. It provides an insight into Evereska and the Shade Enclave. This is also the only book I’ve discovered so far that has any detail about the character Most High.

Return of the Archwizards is a great series for those looking to use the Shadovar in a D&D campaign or anyone looking for a good read. Provided they have read enough FR books to easily grasp the shared world.

The Return of the Archwizards omnibus is now available at most book stores. Copies of the original trilogy, The Summoning, The Siege and The Sorcerer are difficult but not impossible to find online or in used book stores. There is also a short story anthology called Realms of Shadow that, although difficult to find, contains stories about many of the characters and locations featured in the Return of the Archwizards.

9 on a d10.

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