Similar to some other novels in the Sundering series, some earlier knowledge of what is going and preferably having read earlier books will definitely help – picking this book up cold is most likely not going to be enjoyable.
For those in the know of who’s who in the Realms, the book offers plenty of fan service in terms of meeting up with already established characters. Elminster is still likeable, though I did like him before when he was an enigmatic wizard. The first person POV takes a bit away from him, as does his surprising physical prowess. The others on the side of good are quite nice as well, though there are too may POVs to keep interest in all of them. Unfortunately the evil guys are very two dimensional, and even the ones that are built up nicely in the beginning fall flat once the action starts.
For action, there is plenty. Mr. Greenwood writes his books like the main characters are RPG characters – larger than life and able to handle almost endless amounts of enemies. There is nothing bashful about this, which helps make it actually lots of fun. There are no attempts at high literature here. Usually I hate books where super characters move mountains and decide the fate of worlds before breakfast but something here makes it work.
Beyond this my main gripe is the plot itself, which is meandering, trying to one-up itself a few times and finally solving itself with an almost classic deus ex machina.
Reviewed from an ARC.