Bury Elminster Deep
Wizards of the Coast (340pp, $25.95, 1st edition August 2011)
Reviewed by John Ottinger III
Sometimes an author can write a little too much about a character. Like a child who loves a stuffed animal, the repeated play can wear the fabric and loosen the stuffing so much that the very toy that was once so loved is rendered unrecognizable. Sentimentality keeps the stuffed animal by the child’s side, but to outside observers, the toy has lost all value.
So it is, I think, with Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood’s latest story of Elminster of Shadowdale. In Bury Elminster Deep the story opens where Elminster Must Die ended. The spellplague that has ravaged the realms has killed Mystra and killed, scattered, or rendered powerless her Chosen, including Elminster. Storm, one of the seven Chosen sisters and Elminster’s constant companion, has lost all magical power other than a head of living hair. Elminster, the most ancient and powerful of Mystra’s Chosen, who has lived through not one, but two incarnations of the goddess, is bodiless, riding the mind of his granddaughter, the dancer Rune, and is unable to perform magic without also enduring bouts of madness.
But then Mystra reappears and asks her favored Chosen to re-enter the kingdom of Cormyr to save it from yet another takeover by Lord Manshoon, the vampire archmage nemesis of Elminster. Manshoon thinks Elminster’s seeming disappearance is an opportunity to seize power in one of the Realms’ oldest human kingdoms. Though severely hobbled by his lack of magic, Storm’s normality and the jealousy of Rune’s boyfriend, Lord Arclath Delcastle, Elminster and company must stop Manshoon before his coup succeeds.