Series: Forgotten Realms, The Sundering
Published by Wizards of the Coast on February 4, 2014
In the 4th book of the multi-author Sundering series launched by New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, Richard Lee Byers introduces Anton Marivaldi—a renowned reaver with an insatiable thirst for bounty and a moral compass that always leads him toward the evil he’s never tried.
Endless, pounding rain afflict the Sea of Fallen Stars and the coastal regions surrounding it. Harvests are failing, travel and trade are disrupted, and civilized forces are giving way to the deluges caused by the storms. In panic and despair, many have turned to the goddess Umberlee, Queen of the Deeps, offering her sacrifices with hope that they will be spared the inevitable reckoning of her perpetual tempest.
Evendur Highcastle, undead pirate captain, risen from the depths to assume the mantle of Umberlee’s Chosen, takes advantage of the people's desperation to strike for both spiritual and temporal power in her name.
Vying with Highcastle for the hearts and minds of the people is Stedd Whitehorn, a little boy and the chosen of a god thought lost to time: Lathander, the Morninglord. In a time of such upheaval, Stedd’s message of renewal and hope runs in stark contrast to the savage ethos of Highcastle and his waveservants.
When Anton captures the boy in order to collect Highcastle’s considerable bounty, the reaver is quickly caught in the riptide caused by the sundering of worlds.
Previous books in The Sundering series have mentioned the Chosen: mortals blessed by the gods. In THE REAVER, we follow Stedd Whitehorn, Chosen of Lathander. Stedd’s a young boy on his own, traveling across the length of Faerun. He’s wanted by the evil sea goddess Umberlee, as well as Szass Tam, the undead ruler of Thay. Almost everyone he meets has ulterior motives, from wanting to sell him to use his powers for their own gain. Chief among those is Anton Marivaldi, a pirate with a lust for gold and no care for good or evil.
I got a kick out of Anton. I typically enjoy characters that aren’t all good, and Anton isn’t. He lies to Stedd, promising to help him reach his destination, all the while planning to sell him. Naturally it’s not that easy, for forces conspire against both of them. Anton loses Stedd, leaving the field open for Red Wizard Umara to sneak in for her own opportunity to take the Chosen boy for her masters. But once Stedd realizes what’s up, he’s not such an easy target, and tries to make both Anton and Umara think about their decisions. They all end up working together, Anton and Umara continually debating the goodness Stedd brings out in them.
THE REAVER is a fast-paced book, full of action scenes and character growth. Sometimes I have trouble imagining sword and/or sorcery fights, but I thought the author did an excellent job of describing blow by blow while keeping the fight scenes exciting. All of the characters experience growth. Stedd learns more about what Lathander has in mind for him while inspiring others to think about their own actions. Anton faces the mistakes that led to piracy, but isn’t always ready to give up his bad ways. Umara reflects on the rule of undead in Thayan society, and wonders if they should remain in power.
In THE REAVER, we also get to see more of the Sundering’s effects on the common people. The weather sucks — the Great Rain has flooded coastal villages and cities, preventing crops from growing. As a result, people are starving, and with the encouragement of Umberlee’s priests, they’ll happily kill each other for a scrap of food. Umberlee is one nasty goddess; I wouldn’t want to be on her bad side.
All in all, I enjoyed THE REAVER. It’s fun, action-packed, and a good tale. While Stedd’s story concluded at the end of the book, I hope there’s more in store for Anton and Umara.
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