BooksReviews

Review: BRIMSTONE ANGELS

Brimstone Angels
Written by Erin M. Evans
Published by Wizards of the Coast
November 2011
Original Paperback, 339 pages

Yes, this is late.

I finally managed to sit down with Brimstone Angels and the first thing I should point out is that the “angels” of the title don’t get very much play in the book.

Having said that, there’s a character who’s suspected of being the “Brimstone Angel” of the title, but the entire piece of the story introducing that doesn’t happen until the last….fifth?…of the book.

The gist of it: several characters find themselves, for various reasons, on the road to the storied city of Neverwinter, which was destroyed and is now being rebuilt. Descendants from those who fled the destruction are on their way back to restore the city, and our adventurers get caught up in a plot to … overthrow Asmodeus? Maybe? The plot goes along fairly well and easily, until it suddenly gets a little muddy when we descend into the various planes of Hell and get into the machinations of the succubus Rohini and her rather nasty boss. But up until then, the story holds together well.

We have tieflings Havilar, whose good with a blade, and her sister Farideh, who finds herself unwittingly bound to a half-devil named Lorcan. This Lorcan fellow is not popular with anyone, and he reminds me a bit of Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe — snarky, mischievous, a right dastardly troublemaker with designs of his own when it comes to Farideh, who completes his collection of descendants of various devil spawn from Back In The Day. Farideh and Havilar are apparently of rare stock.

Farideh’s tie to Lorcan gives her powerful wizarding skills, and her ability to cast magic is both good and bad, and the whole “ties to a half-devil” is not happily received by her adopted Dragonborn father, Mehen (I keep picturing Beta Ray Bill, for some reason). He’s a clanless warrior plying his trade as a bounty hunter, and the three are wandering homeless after being run out of a town of outcasts. Along the way, they pick up a couple of religious types, Tam and Brin, who each have their own secrets and objectives.

The plot thickens as everyone gets into Neverwinter, and in some ways it thickens just a little too much. This is clearly a first book in a series, so it doesn’t all wrap up at the end.

Overall, it’s a good read. Plenty of action. Lots of magic. Moral quandaries. Misunderstandings and misperceptions. It’s satisfying in that the main characters all have an arc from the beginning to end of the book. Everyone gets plenty of development so as not to get short-changed by the ending. That’s not to say it’s a cliffhanger that leaves you hanging. If it was a single book, it would still read just fine.

In particular, the relationship between Farideh and Lorcan could have been played for the sexual overtones, but I like that it’s not. The whole “seduction of the innocent” is suggested, but it’s not something that’s played up for titillation or conspicuous provocation. Farideh is simply a girl in over her head, and she has to make her way with this new obligation while at the same time trying to avoid alienating her family. The dynamic between the tiefling twins is the usual “Mom always did like you best!” fare, with one the perceived favorite.

When we’re first introduced to Brin, I made a note predicting his reveal, and I was surprised to find I was wrong about it. It does set up some interesting dynamics for the second book. He might be the weakest of the main characters, but he serves his purpose and moves the story along in the places where he has to be the driver of the plot. And there’s potential in the loose mentor/protégé connection that develops between Brin and Tam, given that they’re both able to cast spells on behalf of the “light side” deities. Tam also has just enough revealed to have me interested in seeing more of his story, because we don’t get enough time with him.

It’s been a very long time since I played Dungeons & Dragons, and I don’t get much opportunity to read books in that universe, but I enjoyed this one. And now I need to look around to see if the sequel is in the review pile somewhere…

 

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve : *
24 − 11 =


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

SciFi4Me.com