R.A. Salvatore just released Child of a Mad God, and I was ecstatic to read a new novel by the author. I have been a long time fan of his Forgotten Realm series. I admit that I am a new reader to the world of Corona and have only read the first book of the sequels: The Highwayman, but I enjoyed this novel as much as the others he’s written.
The novel is set in the world of Corona, which is a world of demons, prowries, warriors, abellican monks, and crystal magic. It is set after the Demon Wars saga and prequels takes us to an unexplored territory beyond the Wilderlands. A hidden lake is surrounded by mountains and visited by the most hearty of explorers and traders. The lake is populated by a giant serpentine monster and other creatures as well as the tribal folk that live there.
Child of a Mad God seemed to contain echoes of The Crystal Shard for me. I felt like I was reading R.A. Salvatore for the first time again as he wove a tale of adventure, power, tragedy, and loss. I drew some parallels between the tribes of Loch Beag and Ten Towns of Icewind Dale. They both held a rich community of survivors on the cusp of civilization.
With many R.A. Salvatore’s novels, there is an underlying philosophy working it’s way through the narrative to show readers a broader sense of the characters he is creating. He deftly explores their emotional turmoil when deciding what to do and the ramifications of those decisions.
We are introduced to Talmadge and Aoleyn in this novel. Their stories are very different. Aoleyn’s is a coming-of-age story of personal power and exploring her own morality in the face of her culture’s lack of it. She reminds me very much of Salvatore’s legendary dark elf character Drizzt. However, Usgar are not governed by a matriarchy as the Drow are. This warrior society is highly xenophobic and brutalizes its women. Only the coven of witches that aides them in battle is granted a reprieve in the continual brutality by becoming powerful in crystal magic. This magic aides them in combat against the other tribes of the lake.
Talmadge is a trader and outdoorsman whose past haunts him. Having suffered a great loss from childhood, Talmadge finds it hard to stay in one place for long and even harder to make friends. He is continually pushing people away from him until he meets a bard who changes his perspective. He travels to Lake Beag to escape his past and finds beauty in the harsh beauty of the wild and in its people. Talmadge’s story is one of tragedy and personal turmoil and how one must work through this to find the courage in oneself.
After reading this novel, I will be on the hunt for the previous Demonwars books to further explore the realm of Corona! Great read!
By Allen Childers