Hot on the heels of finishing The Demon Spirit, I finished up The Demon Apostle by R. A. Salvatore. Of the three books in the main trilogy, I like the character beats in The Demon Apostle the best, though some character beats were better than others.
Spoilers after the jump.
I think my favorite character in The Demon Apostle is Brother/Bishop Francis. I like his character so much because he represents a struggle between what he sees as right and how the people he trusts reinforces his actions. At many turns, Francis expresses his dislike for what is happening, but he isn’t strong enough to really stand up for his beliefs. Then, before he can gain any traction on his convictions, Markwart (or, rather, The Demon) is there to play on his weaknesses, make him feel important, and tell him how much is contingent on Francis continuing to go along with him. Francis’s transformation when the demon is again defeated is almost magical – seeing him finally able to align his convictions with his actions, even if only for a page or two, really makes this book work.
Jilseponie’s character beats, however, just didn’t work for me. In particular, her attempted assassination of Markwart didn’t resonate with me as anything but poor decision making. And, while it’s okay for characters to make poor decisions, the whole scene seemed off, and it broke my suspension of disbelief. Part of it is that, as a prior reader, I know this whole thing doesn’t work out, but the other part is that it is extremely thematically dissonant; the heroes cannot use the tactics of The Demon to defeat it.
As a final remark, I do like the finality of this story. While Salvatore explicitly leaves the door open for the later works, this one is clearly closed. Elbryan/Nightbird’s story was a certain kind of story – he was a ranger, and a man of action in a war of the few against the many; a warrior against a singular beast of evil. His death provides context and contrast to the later stories which, in my mind, helps define the series.
Overall, I really like the Demonwars Trilogy. I remember liking it quite a bit when I read it the first time, and this audio experience reminded me what drew me in to the story at that time, and also what things are still relevant to me now.