Tethtoril's Bookshelf

Elminster in Hell

TSR Code:

21875 (hardcover)
88604 (paperback)
Product Type: Novel
ISBN Number: 0-7869-1875-6 (hardcover)
0-7869-2746-1 (paperback)
Author: Ed Greenwood
Cover Artist: Matt Stawicki
Release Date: August 2001 (hardcover)
May 2002 (paperback)
Format: Hardcover book (??? pages)
Paperback book (407 pages)
The text below is taken from a description by WotC:

'Hell Hath such fury.
On the world of his birth he's all but a god, but when an ancient evil banishes him to the depths of the Nine Hells, he's just another lost soul.
Elminster, Sage of Shadowdale, Chosen of Mystra, faces his most desperate struggle - to survive, to escape, to cling to his very sanity - and all the forces of the inferno are rallied against him.'

Other titles in The Elminster Series:

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By: Mike G Jordan Date: 09-September-2001
Rating: GoodGood

Before I begin this, I would like to stress that I have not finished this book yet. I plan to make this review, and then make a follow up one after I have finished the book. That said, here we go.

Who lets Greenwood write these Novels? The only good novel he has ever written that I have read was Elminster: Making of a mage, and that was indeed, a very good book. Would somebody please let him know that an endless string of battles is not a book. Anyone read his book, a kingless land? Well, I'm about 2/3 through it, and so far there hasn't been a scene without a battle, sorry, that isn't a battle, but I digress. It appears as if Elminster in hell is just going to be another endless sludge of Elminster remembering things and getting ripped apart by a demon, and more fights. How can they publish this kind of crap? The only reason I gave it a two was because, I fully admit that Greenwood is a good writer, and makes it at least somewhat interesting. However, I don't think I'm asking too much for some charachter interaction, maybe a bit of dialogue, perhaps a plot? Maybe it will turn out good, but I'm forty pages in and its been nothing but him killing demons, remembering stuff, and getting ripped apart, with no end in sight.

By: William Burleson Date: 21-October-2001
Rating: GoodGoodGoodGood

I'm a big fan of Greenwood so i went out and bought this book automatically. It does get a little bit annoying about him and the archdemon(i cant remember his name) going through a mentle battle through almost the whole book but over all its good. I like especially the way everybody keeps thinking something is wrong and remember stuff out of the blue but dont know why. I would also like to see Ed make something out of Mirt and Asper. I liked those two. I would recomend this book to any fan of Elminster.

By: Henrik Harksen Date: 21-October-2001
Rating: GoodGoodGoodGood

(Incl. SPOILER for "The Summoning")
Contrary to Mike G. Jordan, who in his review of this book states that it is not very good, I think it is one of the BEST FR books yet released. I'd say that it is probably the best Elminster book so far. In fact, if it wasn't for a few minor things I would rate it a clear 5. The only thing we seem to agree about is that Greenwood by nature is a good writer. (A fact of which I'm most certainly not envious, why should I be?... Harumpf!)

Well, then, what's our differences? Admittedly, this Elminster book - along most of Greenwood's other books - is filled with power-battles. The difference is, however, that this book is not centered around these battles as most of his other books tend to be. Quite opposite: Here we finally get a look (literally) inside El's mind and everything happening in the story is rotating around the mind-battle between Elminster and the devil lord who has captured him. Speaking about that, I have to admire Greenwood's use of "literary" tricks such as square brackets, bold & not-bold letters, 'tilted letters' (sorry, I'm not english-speaking and I have forgotten the word for it) etc. to accentuate thoughts vs. spoken words, past vs. present and such. To use a philosophical term, the story is written in a phenomenological way, that is, it is written "as experienced". All done fluently, without spelling it out for the reader. Really an amazing feat, and a difficult one at that - and a feat I think Greenwood succeeds in pulling off. As such it is the most ambitious book yet, not only by Greenwood but also by WotC. Hopefully, this is a sign of times to come in their future lines.

On the matter of the story, well, of course it is filled with battles (after all, it is a WotC book, and one containing Chosen ones, even;-) - but in the overall storyline they are secondary to the story of an old man who struggles to maintain just a little of his sanity (& memory, which is two sides of the same thing, according to the story). My only complaint here is that I would have liked more details about the memories. (A complaint I also have about "Elminster: The Making of a Mage", where I couldn't shake off the impression that each "class"-part was snipped for the sole reason as to better fit the page-demands.) Another 'complaint' I have is that even though I enjoyed that the story continues straight where Denning's "The Summoning" left Elminster hovering - giving a feel of true interconnection of the stories - it can be considered a problem for readers who have not yet read Denning's novel.

Other than these - very minor - reasons of complaints I'd rate the novel 4½. - And, BTW, Greenwood's Band of Four novel #2, "The Vacant Throne" is also a step in a new (IMO "better") direction for Greenwood, this one containing intrigues and plots aplenty (intertwined with skirmishes and such, of course).

By: Chris McDonald Date: 14-September-2003
Rating: Good

The latest installment of the Elminster series, and for all those who have read the saga from the beginning, this book promises more of the same blast and die action that has become an Elminster trademark. This book has a twist though, most of the book is made up of Elminsters memories, interspersed with dialogue between the great sage and his archdemon, or the rush of Elminsters friends to come to his rescue. Oh, did I mention, you can distinguish the dialogue, the memories, and the actions the rescueres by looking at different fonts. Now why didn't anyone think of that before, possibly because its stupid.

I have an idea for a plot, lets put Elminster at the mercy of an insanely powerful creature bent on discovering the secrets of silver fire and then have Toril's elite magic users, including a goddess come to the rescue of the old man. Now lets add the twists, oh wait, there are none. This book has about as many surprises as a carefully planned parade route. Halaster, comming to Elminster's aid, what a mind blower. Mystra, coming to Elminsters aid, shocking. The Simbul... You get the picture. I especially like the part where Mystra destroyes Thousands of demons instantly. And here I thought demons would provide more challenge then orcs. The only book I've ever read that is more redundant is Green Eggs and Ham, and at least it flowed smoothly.

Greenwood seems to be obsessed with the idea that rampant magical destruction is to great literature as ink is to making marks on paper. The Simbul nearly out performs her goddess when she arrives in Hell with her special hair of infinite wand wielding. Surprise, surprise, hundreds of Hell's best and brightest are destroyed. What spells can we expect in the future Ed, The Simbul's Mystical Universal Implosion. Learn some subtlety man, it's not the power, it's how it's used. Why not try a covert attempt at finding Elminster, at least that has potential to make a story and not just constant spell slinging.

Once again we find that Ed has turned every female in this book into scantly clad hussies. Honestly, putting Ed Greenwood in charge of a respectable female character is like putting fire in charge of gas, your just asking for disaster. I would also like to know why every character he writes has to have a crappy nickname, like El, Vangy. Come on, these are supposed to be respected people, is it that harder to write "minster" after "El", but I suppose now I am just knitpicking. I don't mean to be harsh but, I'm sorry, this book deserved it. This book cost me several hours of my life in searching for some redeeming qualities. Maybe it would have a good ending. I won't give it away but you can bet it ends in a storm of mystical battle between most of the realms most famous. How exiting. Bah, I'm done.

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