Sunday, May 05, 2002

Review: "Transcendence" by R.A. Salvatore

Following hot on the heels of his adaptation of "Star Wars Episode II," R.A. Salvatore dives right back into his "Demonwars" series with "Transcendence" (Del Rey).

Salvatore finds himself in the strange situation of having two books released back-to-back. "Episode II" hit shelves on April 23, while this book followed on April 30.

The second novel of Salvatore's second "Demonwars" saga, "Transcendence" tells the story of the elven-trained ranger Brynn Dharielle. She has returned to her homeland of To-Gai intent on liberating her people from the oppressive rule of the Behrenese. In order to do that, though, she faces a number of challenges - not the least of which is her own conscience.

"Transcendence" runs concurrent to the last novel in the series, "Ascendance." That book told the tale of Brynn's childhood companion and fellow ranger-in-training Aydrian Wyndon, son of the legendary Nightbird, Elbryan Wyndon. This one establishes Brynn as a To-Gai-Ru warleader. The next, and final book, should be explosive.

The "Demonwars" series has gone a long way in establishing Salvatore as one of the premiere writers in fantasy. The six books of the series are easily the best he's written, even surpassing his excellent "Dark Elf" series.

The "Demonwars" books are different for Salvatore in a number of ways. Instead of the rousing adventure tales he's written in the past, these books offer a deeper look into the environment that breeds the conflicts. The world of Corona is probably the most detailed he's ever built, with complex political and cultural structures. That's really the driving force behind the stories, unlike the "Dark Elf" series which revolves around the characters.

Salvatore said this series is something he felt he had to do as a writer.

"`Demon Wars' is a world-driven, philosophically-driven series," he said. "I needed to do this for me. I had to prove to myself that I could build a world like this. It challenged me on every level as a writer."

Salvatore, who is currently working on "Immortalis," the final book in the series, said he's very happy with how the project has turned out. He's eager to get the final book on the shelves.

"It's very satisfying the way the last piece is falling into place," he said.

Though "Demonwars" will be finished next year, he says he's not finished with the world of Corona. Salvatore says it's a place rife with possibilities, and a world he's intent on visiting again.

"The world of Corona is so rich that I could write about it forever," he said. "I intend and hope to go back to Corona in the future."

If future stories are as good as "Demonwars," his readers will gladly follow him there.

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