In May of 1987, with the release of Darkwalker on Moonshae, TSR launched the beginning of Ed Greenwoods mystical world. This realm, a forgotten one, was our introduction to Faerûn. The Forgotten Realms line, the flagship product for the Dungeons & Dragons line, has actively continued since its launch, evolving with each new writer and each new edition.
In August 2008 Forgotten Realms made the change over to Dungeons & Dragon latest release, fourth edition. Much like the events Time of Troubles or the upcoming Sundering, this change over was marked with the Spellplauge. This Toril shattering cataclysm shaped the world in multiple new ways, and came with it a chronological leap of 100 years. While this has lead to an astounding influx of new material, for characters who survived the century leap, Bruenor Battlehammer, Drizzt Do’Urden, Elminster Aumar and Aoth Fezim, very little changes in their writing. Drizzt still swing his swords the same way, Aoth still cast the same spells, and Bruenor still speaks like a dwarf. It must be said that this is not a bad thing, these characters we love still exist in the evolved world, they are still the same people, a little worse for wear in the century passed, but some of them feel like they haven’t fully embraced the fourth edition. (I mean no matter how magic changes, a fighter still fights the same way.)
Then you get books written for the new world.
Brimstone Angels by Erin M Evans is an example of a book written entirely for the 4th Edition. The story follows a pair of tiefling twins, Farideh and Havilar, whose life changes when Havilar, trying to summon a lowly imp, accidently summons a cambion named Larcan who offers Farideh an infernal pact. Farideh becomes a warlock. The twins, with their adoptive dragonborn father, begin an adventure that takes them into the ruined city of Neverwinter where, as luck would have it for us readers, they become the straw that breaks the camel’s back in a feud between Asomodian and Glasyian. The book has many great things about it but the two noteworthy strengths come from its in-depth look at the world of the devils and the examination of the new warlock.
When the warlock made their appearance in previous editions they were arcane users who mutilate the arcane energies into something raw and basic. When the class was reintroduced in the 4th edition the warlock became a class they drew energies from pacts made with powerful sources, devil or demons, fey creatures, Underdark beings and whatnot. This made for a completely different type of experience when playing or writing the class. In Evans’ words we see a child become a tiefling, we witness her accept a literal deal with the devil, and we see the turmoil an infernal pack has not only on her but on her friends and loved ones as well. Erin M. Evans does an excellent job in describing the new warlock to us, her powers, her pact, and the society in which warlocks exist. We also see an excellent portrayal on the other side of the pact, the devil’s society.
This leads us into the second strength, the devil. If the devil is in the details then what happens when you put a lot of details into the devils? Dungeons & Dragons has always had an expansive amount of details when it pertains to their devils, demons and daemons. They sound alike; they can be easily mistaken for one another but are vastly different. The devils and the demons also sustain major changes with the change of edition. Much like the warlocks, Erin M. Evans embraced the new changes and uses them to strength her story.
When we follow the story of Lorcan, his exalted erinyes mother, and his fifty-two half-sisters, we witness the complex society of the devils. Erin illustrates before us the fiendish hierarchy by which the devils exist. As we dive deeper into the nine hells we also see how infernal pacts benefit the devils that make them. In Lorcan’s case we see how he is a collector, a devil trying to obtain a ‘full set’ of warlocks. Erin also shows us the changes to the devils that occurred, the unwavering loyalty that the demonic hellwasps have for their archdevil queen, the new look and feel of the erinyes, and the return of the succubi to the devil’s folds,
Some of the fourth edition books feel like they were written for an older edition and were edited with a search and replace to bring them up to 4th ed. Brimstone Angels is clearly a book written for the 4th edition and only for the 4th edition. It is an amazing book with a mind blowing prologue. It’s rare that I have ever been so quickly hooked into a book by the prologue, I often find prologues dry and specifically vague, but as Erin writes Lorcan’s seduction of Farideh I found myself wanting to jump forward and accept the deal before she did.
This is an amazing book that cannot be missed. It’s nice to see that in the years since the release of the post-spellplague Faerûn that we are getting a high quality books beginning to reach the market, a quality of books that will hopefully elevate the vast amount of writing as a whole.