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The Demon Awakens
R. A. Salvatore
Del Rey Books, 528 pages

The Demon Awakens
R. A. Salvatore
R. A. Salvatore, a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, has some two dozen books to his credit. His first book was published in 1988. The Crystal Shard came from TSR, a Forgotten Realms title. Two years later, with his first novel and its sequel sold to Penguin, he quit his day job. When not writing, Salvatore spends time speaking to high schools and library groups, encouraging people, especially kids, to read.

Del Rey Books
Sample Chapter
Salvatore Interview
The Demon Awakens world map
Salvatore Tour Schedule

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Wayne MacLaurin

The latest from the ex-TSR author of the very popular Dark Elf saga, The Demon Awakens is an oddity these days. In a genre filled with lengthy series, it appears to be a stand-alone novel.

While with TSR, Salvatore wrote pretty much formula stuff that followed generally predicable plot lines, but his work managed to capture the imagination of legions of readers (myself included) with some genuinely compelling storytelling. His first non-TSR work, the Crimson Shadow trilogy, was intriguing, in part, because Salvatore introduced us to a main character who was truly more lucky than skilled. It offered some suspense along with the heroic battles and epic struggle that formed the core of the story. Unfortunately, I found the series soured by the last book in which the hero became an unstoppable force of legendary prowess and the evil wizard grew progressively more stupid as the novel drew to a close.

So I was a bit leery of The Demon Awakens and wondered if Salvatore would capture my imagination again or if the novel would descend into the evil critter defeated by the good guys morass of didn't-I-read-this-last-week? sameness that plagues the fantasy genre. Worse still, Del Rey's teaser chapter starts pretty well, but ends with two thirteen-year-old kids watching their village get raided by goblins. I really detest lame lost children rescued by the kindly wizard sent to save the world from the evil monster plot-starters.

But I like Salvatore's work. It's fun. So I picked up a copy and gave it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the kids chapter ran only about twenty pages before the story jumps ahead several years. Salvatore spends over half the novel introducing the three main characters and effectively building the background, so that by the time the story really picks up steam I was devouring page after page.

Salvatore admits in his Del Rey interview that Good generally triumphs over Evil in the book, so the ending is never truly in doubt. Not that it is often in most heroic fantasy, mind you -- in the end it's the journey that matters. The twisting journey that gets us to the end of this book and the very real characters who travel with us are what makes it important to see out how the struggle turns out.

If Salvatore's main goal is to write novels that are fun to read, he achieves it with The Demon Awakens. And, if the new degree of complexity he's achieved in both characterization and background are any indication, his move away from TSR was a good thing (although I'll miss the Dark Elf novels). I look forward to his future offerings.

Copyright © 1997 by Wayne MacLaurin

Wayne MacLaurin is a regular SF Site reviewer. More of his opinions are available on our Book Reviews pages.


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