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Book Review: The Restless Shore by James P. Davis

# Genre: Dark Fantasy, Shared World
# Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
# Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
# Publication Date: May 5, 2009
# ISBN-10: 0786951311
# ISBN-13: 978-0786951314
# Author Blog: Waiting for Autumn

What exactly could make the shore of Akanul so restless? Could it be monsters? Could it be a strange, secretive cult? Or could it be traveling companions in search of kidnapped girl? In James P. Davis’ new novel The Restless Shore it is all of these and more.

In this dark fantasy, set in the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms campaign setting, readers follow Ghaeyla – a genasi (elemental) whose sister has been kidnapped, Uthalion – the former soldier haunted by his decision to leave his family for war, Brindani – the half-elf addicted to stimulants, or Vaasurri – a killoren. The companions are seeking Ghaelya’s younger sister, taken into and potentially kidnapped by a group of cultists bent on using her special nature for nefarious ends. But is it the sister, or Ghaelya that they want? This is the mystery that permeates the story.

After a brief character introduction and laying the groundwork for the story, much of the narrative takes place in the Akanamere, a deep dark forest fraught with danger. This allows Davis to provide many and numerous fight scenes between the companions and various cult controlled monsters. So many actually that at time the plot line seems to follow an obvious peak and trough of characters resting, then being pursued, then resting again. Though each fight sequence is different, it does take a little time for Davis to move the plot forward.

When he does though, the story gets really exciting. All of the mysteries of character that are presented at the beginning of the novel culminate in several exciting scenes. Davis has increased in writing skill since his novel Bloodwalk and is showing himself to be a good addition to the Forgotten Realms universe. Though he does not yet have the chops of Paul S. Kemp or Bruce Cordell, Davis has the potential.

This is a good novel for readers who like dark fantasy with a focus more on action than suspense. I enjoyed reading it (though I did get tired of the aforementioned plotting issue) and was pleased with the culmination. I also appreciated the uniqueness of Davis choice of subgenre in a traditional sword and sorcery arena (though there is plenty of action too) and the unusual characters and monsters that are part of the Dungeons and Dragons milieu but are not often used.

The Restless Shore is good reading for long time Forgotten Realms fans and those who enjoy a dark fantasy with a focus on action.

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