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    Review of THE GHOST KING by R. A. Salvatore


    Wizards of the Coast, October 2009

    Magic is failing, the gods are in hiding, and the dead dragon, Hephaestus is back not as a living creature but as part of an undead dracolich--who rules death rather than being ruled by it. Hephaestus is willing to be a part of the unraveling of the entire world, but he is also driven by revenge against those who killed him, including the dark-elves Drizzt Do'Urben and Jarlaxle. Meanwhile, the failing magic has caught Drizzt's wife/lover Catti-brie, trapping her between dimensions where she faces monsters visible only to her and re-lives terrible moments of her past. While trying to help Catti-brie, Regis the hafling-thief also gets snared, his body remaining behind but his mind gone.

    Although Jarlaxle has been barred from Spirit Soaring, he knows that only there can he hope to escape the dragonlich that swears to destroy him...escape or allies. But shared foes can create allies only if those allies are first willing to talk, and Jarlaxle needs help to get a chance to talk. Cattie-brie's disaster gives Drizzt and Bruenor a reason to travel to Spirit Soaring, a place where magic and logic are worshiped together, and Jarlaxle gives them the push they need to get started, then joins their procession.

    The dragonlich isn't alone. It is capable of calling up both undead zombies from the long-dead (and recently dead) corpses of humans, other sentient species, and even animals and fish, and warriors from the dimension in the process of colliding with the human/elvish plane. And soon Spirit Soaring is under siege with all of the dragonlich's enemies gathered together for his destruction.

    Author R. A. Salvatore (see more reviews of fantasy by Salvatore) concludes his TRANSITIONS trilogy with more of the thoughtful and complex story-building he's used throughout this series. No longer does simple good battle moronic evil to an obvious and clear victory. Instead, victories are fleeting, loss is inevitable, and evil becomes a lot easier to define than good. Because the sometimes-saccarine Cattie-brie is unconscious/other-dimensional through most of the book, Salvatore can concentrate on Drizzt, Jarlaxle, Athrogate (Jarlaxle's dwarf-sidekick) and Danica, the lady of Spirit Soaring. I appreciated Salvatore's moments of introspection as characters realized that their victories, even if they were victorious, could only come at a price too high to pay.

    Although TRANSITIONS is a trilogy, THE GHOST KING successfully stands alone.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 1/16/10

    Buy The Ghost King: Transitions, Book III from Amazon

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