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Reviews of 'Reavers of the Blood Sea'

Reavers of the Blood Sea

by Richard A. Knaak
Chaos War, Volume 4

Reviews of 'Reavers of the Blood Sea'

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Reviewer: Morten Brattbakk

Rating: Stars

Reavers of the Blood Sea has a very simple plot, lots of annoying nostalgia, but little of Knaak's stylish writing.

The novel does have some bright moments. Both Sargonnas and Kiri-Jolith are finally getting the attention they deserve, after being with the shadow of Takhisis, Paladine and Reorx for so long. There are also some cool ideas like Aryx's eye.

The first 100 pages or so I found to be annoying. The intrigue and in-fighting between minotaurs and the Knights of Takhisis was shallow and rather annoying, with the in-fighting being there because of stupidity and refusal to see the obvious, not because of plotting and genuine convictions like in The Puppet King. Worst, of course, is the fact that every 5 pages (and I'm not even exaggerating) there is a reference to Kaz. The main character Aryx is a direct descendant of Kaz, and for some reason every little detail of how this hero from almost 1500 years past is known by Aryx, down to his temper and features.

Aryx's clan, de-Orilg, seems to be one of the most important families in minotaur society, with a building in Nethosak rivaling even that of the emperor. I found this to be extremely silly, and a big contrivance. Aryx should never have been made the descendant of Kaz, and judging by what we otherwise know of Kaz and minotaur society and history, Kaz would never, ever have been as celebrated a figure among general minotaur society as this novel portrays it. Realistically, the colony Kaz founded would have been wiped out or chased off by Istarian forces, or perhaps destroyed in the Cataclysm. A reference or two to Kaz would have been perfectly OK to connect this book to the rest of Dragonlance mythology, but the extent to which it is done here is ridiculous.

After about 100 pages the Kaz references gradually cease, as the action picks up, and the Sword of Tears becomes the new focus for nostalgia instead. The plot doesn't get that much better, though, it mainly consists of fighting off crab-like chaos monsters one after the other. I never get a real sense of urgency or excitement out of the battles. While The Last Thane had a similar simplistic plot (although it had much better intrigue and characters than Reavers of the Blood Sea), The Last Thane had very vivid descriptions of battle and of Krynn, with some sense of the battles mattering. All these lack in the battles of Reavers of the Blood Sea. The descriptions of the action and of the world surprisingly lack vividness.

The only saving grace is Kiri-Jolith and Sargonnas. If there's one thing I like about Knaak it is that he does give the under-used gods (not to mention their priesthoods) some attention.

I wonder how much the battles of the minotaurs and the gods fit in with the continuity of Dragons of Summer Flame, but I have no serious objections towards them, continuity-wise. The main quibbles I have with consistency and logic is that Knaak threw lots and lots of believability over board to make room the countless Kaz references.

The scene with a certain old hero talking to Aryx is of course the nadir of the novel (which says a lot). There was no good explanation for him being there, he had nothing important to say except for some silly symbolism, and it did not advance the plot in any way. Sure, there was what was supposed to be an amusing line along the lines of "never become a favorite of the gods, they will come up with excuses to bring you back", but that only makes it worse.

The resolution is also contrived and silly. While the book is blessed with relatively few Kaz referances since around page 100, they come back with a vengeance when Kaz appears and those rescuers from the sea. And I thought the Lucanesti was silly! At least the Lucanesti didn't have a name that makes me cringe when I hear it. When I read that the minotaurs were called the "Kazelati" I almost fell off my chair laughing.

That one of the characters in this book discovers the new magic so early (and it is 1000 times more powerful than is really possible according to the Fifth Age Dramatic Adventure boxed set and every other source there is on the new magic) is also something I find hard to swallow, and that he also was the one who made one of Krynn's most powerful natural forces since the Cataclysm cease is also in the realm of unbelievability.

The relationship between Rand and Carnelia is something in this book I didn't quite get. Rand is a cleric of Kiri-Jolith, Carnelia a Knight of Takhisis. How is a relationship between the two possible? I mean, the Knights of Takhisis are invading all good forces in Ansalon. This isn't merely a relationship between two of different religious sympathies, it is a relationship between two people of fanatical devotion to different gods whose forces are at war with each other.

Review made on Sunday September 19th, 1999 on the newsgroup.

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