Benjamin Thomas's Reviews > Mortalis

Mortalis by R.A. Salvatore
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Sep 05, 10

bookshelves: fantasy
Read in July, 2005 — I own a copy, read count: 1

R.A. Salvatore has written his absolute best book to date. That is not easy for me to say, because I have read most of his works, and always enjoy them. Sometimes his novels are full of action but fall a little short on plot. Sometimes they have mostly strong characterizations but almost always there are one or two who seem out-of-place or need some rounding out. But his stories always bring enjoyment to my reading eyes.

But this time, he has topped all of his previous efforts. Even his Dark Elf Trilogy suffers when stacked against the developing epic of this Demon Wars saga.

I first approached this book with some trepidation. I had completed the first trilogy of the Demon Wars Saga and I was worried at how he would follow-up the emotionally charged ending of that trilogy. I also knew there was (and is) a second Demon Wars Trilogy. This then would appear to be an in-between novel. Was it just filler? Would it simply serve to wrap up any loose ends from the first trilogy and set-up the second?

The answer was yes...but so much more. We do, indeed follow Jillseponie (a.k.a. Pony) as she struggles to find her way in the cruel world of Corona. She has endured much heartache in her life and labors to find her role in the post-Demon world. As the hero that vanquished the Demon of the first trilogy, as well as the evil it had spawned, Pony is offered her choice of political appointments. Whether to be baroness of a province or perhaps the mother abbot of the Ambellican Church? Perhaps she is in line to be queen? Instead she takes the road that allows her to search for answers.

The novel is a bit of a departure for Salvatore. Instead of a hoard of goblins, or a demon spirit to vanquish, and the resulting sword battles that take place throughout, the enemy this time takes the form of the Rosy Plague. This extremely contagious disease has swept through Corona in centuries past and has led to thousands of deaths and immeasurable suffering. There is no known cure, even with the powerful magical "soul stones" of the monks of the Ambellican church. A truly formidable opponent indeed.

We get to see all the characters of previous books in the series, old friends to us now. We struggle with their decisions, both selfish and noble, as they choose how to best help the plague victims, or how best to avoid them. These characters are real. How they act faced with such calamity, may surprise you, just as those in real life may well surprise you when faced with similar circumstances. And we also get to know new characters, who will undoubtedly have large roles in the follow-on trilogy.

There is a great deal of political intrigue in this novel, both for the secular rulers of the region, as well as with the pervasive Ambellican Church. And how these institutions deal with their responsibilities to the people they serve, is fascinating to watch. Neither approach is flattering. And don't worry. There are a few action scenes as well, which are presented with the amazing Salvatore flare.

The best, most satisfying stories, whether fact or fiction, are those that triumph over the most difficult obstacles. Salvatore, in this book, has created an absolutely immense obstacle to overcome: the Rosy Plague. And along with it are numerous lesser obstacles, but nevertheless difficult to conquer. The way in which Jillseponie, addresses these issues is extremely gratifying. The ending is very satisfying and yet leaves open a yearning to hear more from these people. So you might want to have the next book on hand just so you won't have to rush out and get it.
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