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Brimstone Angels: Lesser Evils: A Forgotten Realms Novel Mass Market Paperback – December 4, 2012
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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“Well, I'm now behind on my own writing, because I couldn't tear myself away from Lesser Evils. Then again, I'm only behind by a single day--because I really couldn't tear myself away from Lesser Evils. If the next one's not out until tomorrow, it's still too far off. And if Evans is not already a name spoken of as part of the true Forgotten Realms pantheon, along with Kemp, Cunningham, and Salvatore, it can only be because she has fewer books out, and thus hasn't reached everyone yet.” — Ari Marmell, author of Agents of Artifice, The Conqueror's Shadow, and the Widdershins Adventure series
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Lesser Evils is the sequel to Brimstone Angels: A Forgotten Realms Novel (Neverwinter Nights), and is set about a month after the events in the first book. The story in Lesser Evils follows that of the first book very fluidly, so anyone who hasn't read Brimstone Angels yet (what's wrong with you?) should pick it up before starting this second book. Now, onto the review.
The strongest part of Brimstone Angels was its protagonists, and the same is even truer for Lesser Evils. Every character in this book, old and new, is compelling, well characterized, and most of all, utterly believable. Lesser Evils is a novel that focuses very directly on the relationships between its protagonists, and it works out beautifully. There was never a chapter that didn't serve to draw me deeper into the conflicts and goals of the characters involved.
Let's talk about setting. It's obvious that Erin Evans is someone who gives a damn about the Forgotten Realms. She takes full advantage of the history of the setting to tell a story that seems like it actually matters in the grand scheme of things, while also using minor details to ground the reader to the world in a much more granular and immediate way.
I have a lot more praise I could level at this book, mainly about how awesome Havilar is, or how legitimately scary certain villains are, but instead, I'll just say Lesser Evils is the 50th Forgotten Realms novel I've read, and I can't think of one I've enjoyed more.
However, I want to give it 2 stars due to
(1) like the first book in the series, I feel like I'm reading Twilight set in the Forgotten Realms
(2) It's dull being hit over the head repeatedly with the allegories on inclusion and diversity. You really don't have to make it so obvious that this entire series is a commentary on modern society.
(3) And then there are the repetitive internal commentary and repetition of intercharacter conflicts that starts to make you skim through entire paragraphs hoping to get back to where the story moves forward.
But back to the cool part: If you read this and don't think "hey this would make an awesome adventure for my D&D group!", then I can't help you ;)
Beginning shortly after Brimstone Angels we find Farideh and party in Waterdeep. While in the city Farideh's ability to find entanglements where a multitude of power groups intertwine comes to the for and leads to a search for an ancient Netherese library. With a party composed of individuals with very different goals, most hidden from the others, the developments plot and intercharacter relations are fun and engaging to behold. The climax is entertaining and has a good payoff. Finally, threads of the upcoming Sundering series ,that Ms. Evans' next book is part,appearing in this book.
With this I put Ms. Evans with the best of the Realms authors, I'll impatiently wait her next novel with knowing I can expect tales of the quality that R.A. Salvatore, Elaine Cunningham, and Paul S. Kemp have been known
I came across Evans original full-length novel The God Catcher: Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep a few years ago and couldn't put it down until I had tore through it. I'll admit to not having been exposed to a lot of tie-in fiction since the early Dragonlance/Forgotten Realms days, but this was a breath of fresh air. Evans, frankly, can write well. Once the first Brimstone Angels came out, she quickly came to the top of my list of insta-buys.
Now that the sequel to Brimstone Angels, Lesser Evils, is out, it reaffirms everything I thought about her - a powerful talent who should be encouraged through book sales. Because I want more of them. Lesser Evils picks up fairly quickly where the first novel left off and more of the great characterization that frames an Evans novel is back immediately. Relationships form the core of her stories, and it's no different (and perhaps even better) here. Twin Tiefling sisters. A Devil from the Hells. His scheming sisters. The Harpers. Their old adversaries. The back and forth of relationships makes this book one that you won't want to put down. After a brief stop in Waterdeep, Farideh quickly becomes embroiled in a scheme to hunt down a ancient library. With her are a cast of characters that don't feel like filler for a mission. Everyone has their own motivations and aspirations. Some of them may even be sinister *gasp*. However, as Evans herself has recently said, even the bad guys have a motivation and maybe they think they're being good.
Luckily for fans her next book will also feature Farideh and is also part of The Sundering - a tie-in to the new edition of D&D.