I’ve been trying to work through my assembly backlog lately, and while doing so, I decided to listen to R. A. Salvatore’s The Demon Spirit – the second book in the Demonwars Trilogy. This was a good experience, and gave me the chance to do two things at once in a way that wasn’t distracting. Overall, I enjoyed this leg of the journey, but it’s probably my least favorite book of the trilogy, primarily because it is so dark.
Probable spoilers after the jump.
It’s true, there are feel-good moments in this book, so it’s not all dark, but I can’t help think that the Demon won this one. At a high level, The Demon Awakens followed the heroes to the Barbacon to do battle with the Demon Dactyl, though they lost friends along the way, they defeated the physical form of the demon and scattered his armies – this seemed a successful ending; the heroes served the greater good. In The Demon Spirit, the reverse is true, the heroes head to Saint Mere Abelle to rescue their friends (unaware of the larger plot), and succeed in rescuing Bradwarden, but in doing so the Demon’s agenda is served – Father Abbot Markwart’s hold on the Abellecan order is strengthened.
If I’m being fair though, that is only the focus of the last third of the book. The earlier portion, with Pony, Elbryan, Juraviel, and later Roger Lockless freeing Caer Tinella from monsters and getting the refugees south feels pretty good.
The interesting part though, for me, are Father Abbot Markwart and Master Jojonah’s paths through this book. Markwart gets advice from the Demon directly, as he is used to further the Demon’s agenda by playing on Markwart’s wont for power. As setbacks occur, the Demon advises Markwart on how to overcome them by couching it in a way to strengthen Markwart’s own position.
Conversely Jojonah’s advice comes more indirectly. His illness during his trip south from Palmaris slows him down so that he would hear about the murder of Abbot Dobrinion, Then, as he looks for a ship back, he meets up with captain Al’u’met of the Saudi Jacintha – his was the only ship in port ready to head back North (the other had a broken anchor). Then, the small band of goblins that eventually causes him to meet Jilseponie and Elbryan. Now, one could attribute these “coincidences” to the writer using their characters, but I feel like Salvatore was actually showing Jojonah being guided by God here – subtly moving him where He needed him. And that, for me, is what makes this book less dark to me – something is moving forward, though none of the characters know it yet.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, and it’s definitely a setup for the rest of the series. By the end, many pieces are in place and working toward their end game. Of course, with that, I jumped right into The Demon Apostle, so hopefully, I could see where all this leads.