Setting aside his wildly popular Forgotten Realms books for the moment, Bob Salvatore continues to wade into his character-development-heavy Demon Wars saga with this meaty kickoff to the latest DW series. If you're familiar with the series (and if you're not, start with The Demon Awakens ), you know that this ain't Icewind Dale. The generously developed characters take center stage, and they--much to our initial dismay, perhaps--are far from invincible. (More than a few hearts were broken when Elbryan the Nightbird, Touel'alfar-trained ranger extraordinaire, bit the dust in the last book, Demon Apostle.)Mortalis shifts the spotlight to fearsome gemstone-wielder Jilseponie (a.k.a. Pony), who's got to decide just what path to take in the wake of Markwart/Bestesbulzibar's defeat and the death of her beloved ranger hubby. Should she take over the Abellican church as Mother Abbess? Or should she take King Danube's offer to be Baroness of Palmaris? Or perhaps her grief-tinged destiny lies along another path. Countless goblins still require a firm beating down, the ranks of the Abellicans are far from content, and a virulent plague threatens to kill off even more characters. What's a Pony to do? --Paul Hughes
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