The Herald is the sixth and final book of the multi-author Sundering series that began with The Companions by R.A. Salvatore. Here, Ed Greenwood, the creator of the Forgotten Realms, attempts to wrap up the series, setting the tone for the lands of Faerûn for the near future.
As the book begins, the fate of two worlds hang in the balance. Toril and Abeir separating for the second time in their long history. This time, however, the split has caused untold grief around the globe as vainglorious gods and their champions have run amok across its length and breadth, spreading warfare as they attempt to increase their power before the final division.
One champion who has remained above the fray is Elminster, follower of Mystra. This age-old wizard has had more pressing matters on his hands than grasping for power, for he has been about the business of repairing the nascent Weave: the fountainhead of all magic which springs from Mystra. Helping him in his mission has been Storm Silverhand and his protégé Amarune, but even with their aid, Elminster is beginning to see that all his constant mending of tether points across the world has done little to restore the Weave and is only putting off the inevitable. For the goddess Shar, Mistress of the Night, is determined to replace Mystra’s Weave with her own Shadow Weave and control Toril forever. A fate that would spelled unending chaos for the world! And Elminster is gradually accepting that the only way to stop Shar from triumphing is for him to step outside the shadows and directly confront her champions!
Nice setup for the final act of The Sundering, wouldn’t you say?
Of course, it should be, because the whole series has been leading up to this moment when Mr. Greenwood would craft a book that tapped into the chaos raging around Faerûn, gently bring it to a head, and then pen an epic tale full of magic and swords, heroes and villains, love and loss, victory and defeat to wrap it all up. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way, and The Herald ends the series on a rather ho-hum note. Let me explain.
As other reviewers have mentioned, this novel seemed "tired." That is as good a description for this story as any others I’ve heard, because everyone in The Herald just seems weary of the Sundering. The main character, Elminster, wants to avoid it at all costs. During this story, the Shadovar complete their final transformation from awe-inspiring villains into annoying pretenders, who seem to want Shar to disappear as much as I did. The Weave and what it is or isn’t become such a confusing mess that by the end I think even Mr. Greenwood didn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole. And the fate of the elves and Myth Drannor just screamed let’s get this story over with in a hurry. Honestly, the story read like it was rushing toward the conclusion as fast as possible, not in fearful suspense but rather in a desperate desire to end it already.
Overall, The Herald wrapped things up for The Sundering, but I personally can’t say it did so on a high note. Sure there are combats and battles. Magical creatures and sword fights abound. There is love, loss, victory, and defeat. But the thing it lacks is excitement or wonder, which is a shame, because the series had real potential. Along its six volume path, there have been some really bright spots, even some awe inspiring ones for the future of the Forgotten Realms, but its earth-shaking conclusion just left a lot to be desired.
I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank both of them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.