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    ASCENDANCE by R. A. Salvatore


    Del Rey, May 2001

    The demon has been defeated at great cost, but victory is hardly lasting. Baron Marcalo De'Unnero, deposed Bishop of Palmaris battles the were-tiger within him and dreams of vengence against Jilseponie. Aydrian, torn from Jilsepone's womb and secretly raised by the Elves, looks for immortality and bears no love for the mother who abandoned him. Even the court of King Danube seethes with rumors against Jilsepone and her allies are seen as unruly peasants rather than heros of the terrible demonwars.

    Jilseponie has lost the great love of her life, but she can come to love Danube in a way. That may be enough for Danube, but no amount of love can cure the hatred shared by the nobility who scorn her as a peasant and fear her as a Saint. Far from her allies in Palmaris, Jilseponie is cut off, reduced in influence, and gradually blackened into an apparent villain.

    The true 'heros' of ASCENDANCE are Aydrian, who styles himself the Night Hawk, and Marcalo. Starting with nothing but their training and magic, the two join together to form an alliance to conquer both church and state. Aydrian sees himself as a conqueror-king. Marcalo wishes to return the church to its old ways. Both combine positive and even admirable attributes with a ruthless disregard for other people and for the consequences of their action.

    As the first book in a new series, ASCENDANCE sets the stage for later novels. The ascendance of an amoral Aydrian and of the immoral Marcalo creates the hard reality against which the forces of good must eventually battle. R. A. Salvatore (see more reviews of novels by this author)weaves together the various subplots skillfully. Continuing, and escalating action makes the book hard to put down. It would have been nice to see more character development, especially of young Aydrian, but ASCENDANCE certainly amounts to a satisfying read.

    Three Stars

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