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The Demon Awakens (The Demonwars Saga)
ISBN 0345391497 / 9780345391490 / 0-345-39149-7
Publisher Del Rey
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The Demon Awakens is epic fantasy with a familiar flavour, from an author best known for "Forgotten Realms" game tie-ins. Three centuries after a previous defeat, the demon Bestesbulzibar returns to degrade the quality of life in the world of Corona by uniting hordes of nasty goblins, giants and powries (Salvatore's name for dwarfs) with a view to wiping out humanity and gloating over the blackened ashes. Seven companions are duly assembled to strike back: an elf-trained human Ranger, his long-lost girlfriend, a renegade monk who's adept with magic stones, a centaur, an elf, and two reformed rogues. Much of the story follows the detailed and often painful schooling of the Ranger and the monk. The latter's "Ring Stones" are neatly worked out: haematite allows astral travel, graphite is a conduit for lightning, ruby emits bursts of flame, sunstone cancels other magics, and so on. After skirmishing with innumerable armies of evil, the gallant party (plus an extra, uninvited helper) tackles the demon in its volcanic stronghold--but must first deal with Bestesbulzibar's latest creation, an unstoppable lava golem with a special reason to hate our rumbustious monk. There's considerable dramatic slaughter at the climax. Salvatore is over-fond of exclamation marks but writes energetically; this novel, though self-contained, opens a trilogy. --David Langford [via]