I finished the second book in the Twilight War trilogy this weekend, Paul S. Kemp's Shadowstorm. Right away, I picked up the third and final book, Shadowrealm, and hopefully I can finish it a bit more quickly. This book took me a long time to read, but that shouldn't be seen as an indication of its quality, really. I was distracted by a number of other things going on at home, and I just didn't pick anything up to read.
Well, if I were loving it so much that I couldn't put it down, I'm sure that I wouldn't have put it down. So I guess it says something about its quality there, but not much. Overall, my review of Shadowstorm is positive, and that it is even better than its predecessor, Shadowbred, to which I also gave a mostly positive review. I clearly didn't love it that much, but I did like it, and it had much more of what made the first book in the series work. It also allowed Kemp to stretch his wings a bit and do some other stuff as well. This book featured apocalyptic magical disasters, exciting battle scenes that incorporated D&D settings elements in a way that made sense, several "D&D adventurer combats" including one with a dragon, some great scenes of betrayal and the culmination of political manipulation, a squeeky clean character that falls out of his cliche to be a more troubled individual, and a few other scenes that really out-do what's come before.
It also had some of the weaknesses of the prior novel. Dialogue was still often trite or unnatural. References given with no context to stuff happening before the trilogy started to taper off, and there were fewer of them. And the game mechanics still showed a fair amount, but either Kemp improved his ability to hide them, he did it less than in Shadowbred, or it just worked better. I'm not sure which of the three it was, but it was less of a problem than in the first book.
One of these days, I'll also figure out how to write reviews for multiple volumes in the same series that aren't repetitive. This one isn't it, though. I'm not sure what the solution is; Shadowstorm had most of the same strengths and weaknesses that Shadowbred had (and I'd be surprised to find out that Shadowrealm does not as well).
After finishing this series, I also got an adjunct short story collection, Realms of War that I'll read, before putting aside the Forgotten Realms for a time (a long time, I don't have anything else from that series on my dockett at all) and looking for something else to read. I might pick up some of my still unread Robert E. Howard collections--maybe the second Conan collection or the Solomon Kane one--but I might read a novel concurrently, since I find that short story collections are often hard to read and I'll just be off one. There's little incentive to keep going after finishing one, it seems, so I often put it down and forget to pick it up again for long stretches at a time. I also would really like to finish the Weapons of Legacy book that I've been reading on my gamebook queue for months and months. I don't want to preview the review too much, but clearly I haven't really enjoyed reading it. Not that the idea and implementation isn't an interesting one, just that... it doesn't lend itself it just being read about very well.