Salvatore's new saga opens in a volcano, with a "demon dactyl" awaking and sending out goblins to ravage the peaceful land of Corona. The scourge orphans young Elbryan Wyndon and the maiden Pony, and the two have to flee for their lives. Meanwhile, on a beach far, far away, multicolored gemstones rain down and prove to have enormous potential for both good and evil magic, depending on whose hands they fall into. After many peregrinations, Elbryan and Pony end up guardians of the gemstones, but that is only their first victory. Salvatore lacks the command of language and the humor of some other exploiters of the classic elements of fantasy, yet he lacks nothing in pacing and well-handled battle scenes. Morever, the extra elbow room he gives himself in this stout volume (and its probable successors) allows him to improve his characterization and world building. This is his most ambitious book to date; if it is not superlatively original, it is certainly very readable.
From Kirkus Reviews
Bulky new fantasy from the author The Dragon King (1996). As happens every so often, the demon dactyl--we learn eventually that his name is Bestesbulzibar--returns to life and, as demons do, schemes to conquer the world with his allies the goblins, fomorians (giants), and powries (evil dwarves). Young Elbryan Wyndon survives a goblin raid on the village Dundalis, while his girlfriend Pony Ault loses her memory and vanishes. Elbryan, adopted by the elves Tuntun and Juraviel, trains to be a ranger; Pony, after various adventures, joins the army. Meantime, pious young monk Avelyn Desbris--he has prodigious magic skills and powers--must collect magical stones as they plummet from the sky onto a remote island; returning, he finds that the abbot has ordered that he and his companions be killed to preserve the secret of the stones, so he flees with his haul--among them a huge amethyst of unknown powers. Eventually, Elbryan, Pony (she gets her memory back), Avelyn, and the elves will join the ancient centaur Bradwarden to plan an assault on the dactyl's volcanic cavern. This safe, cozy yarn with its thoroughly predictable plot, stock characters, and derivative backdrop will satisfy only the most juvenile and least demanding audience.
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