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T O P I C    R E V I E W
VikingLegion Posted - 24 May 2015 : 07:34:09
Greetings fellow Realms enthusiasts,

Several years ago I made a goal to read *every* novel from the major D&D worlds/settings. After blasting through the smaller libraries of Darksun, Ravenloft, and Planescape, I decided to tackle Dragonlance. Just recently I finished my 166th and final Dragonlance book. And now I have my sights set on the Forgotten Realms, a no-doubt Herculean task that will make DL easy by comparison.

As I finish each book I plan make a post in this thread. Some may be quite lengthy, others only a sentence or three, all depending on how deeply the story resonated with me and/or its greater importance in Realms lore. This is not a "book club" attempt, in that I won't be holding to any set schedule or waiting for others to finish a particular book. My pace is roughly one 300 page book per week, though occasionally I go on a torrid streak and can sometimes double that. So I won't limit my reading so others can read along with. That being said, I heartily encourage fellow Candlekeepers to jump right in with their own commentary. This can be a fun, nostalgic for some, trip through the history of the novel line. My only rules are thus:

1. I will make no attempt to hide spoilers for books as I finish them, so reader beware. This shouldn't pose much of a problem, as the material (in the early going specifically) is close to 30 years old.
2. Please, please, please, when discussing a book I've read, do NOT divulge spoilers that may occur further down the line as a result of said book.
3. Keep it civil. There are some author's writing styles that turn me off a bit, and I won't be shy about saying so, but it will be done in a manner that isn't toxic bashing.

My order of reading is going to loosely follow publishing date. I say loosely, because I will (early and often) deviate from this order when it makes sense, such as finishing up a series, or staying within a certain theme/region/etc. With that said, I began this endeavor with 1987's Darkwalker on Moonshae.
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Seravin Posted - 09 Apr 2020 : 14:29:32
Wow..these 4 in a row are all in my top 10 as well:

"4. The Simbul's Gift - Lynn Abbey is a challenging read but well worth the effort. This is easily the best representation of Thay to be found, amazing effort.

5. Cormyr: A Novel - well anyone who has read this thread at all knows that Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood, while BRILLIANT designers/world builders, are among (if not *the*) least enjoyable authors to my reading sensibilities. But when they combined their efforts they spun an absolute masterpiece. I think in my review I mentioned something about how each was able to counteract what I find distasteful in the other: meaning Ed was able to reign in Jeff's proclivity towards goofiness, and Jeff was able to focus Ed's frenetic, manic, shotgun-spray energy into a cohesive, focused story. The term "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" has never been more apt than when applied to this gem.

6. City of Ravens - I loved the main character, despite not normally enjoying the roguish types. This was just a super fun swashbuckling adventure, not much more to say than that.

7. Black Wolf - I've liked a lot of Dave Gross's books, but he really knocked it out of the park with this one. I think some of the most enjoyable villains in the entire novel line were found in this one: Rusk, as well as Stannis and Radu Malveen were awesome (quick shout out to Borran Klosk from Jewel of Turmish as another great baddie). Seravin mentioned how this one evoked the feel of those old Universal monster movies from the early/mid 1900s era."

Quite like them all, although I'd almost say City of Ravens and Prince of Ravens are kind of a series rather than individuals since they're so darn similar with same characters!


Wooly - do read The Simbul's Gift...it's brilliant.
Hyperion Posted - 09 Apr 2020 : 14:08:52
Very interesting list, I'm reading FR novels myself and I hope I will be eventually able to complete the whole bunch as you did but even if I already have them all except the last three by Salvatore, I'm still way behind!
Wooly Rupert Posted - 09 Apr 2020 : 13:57:34
I really need to read The Simbul's Gift... I never have gotten to it because I was burning out on Realms novels and a couple of the other Nobles books didn't work for me. I had issues with King Pinch and Escape from Undermountain, and I couldn't finish War in Tethyr -- it's the only Realms novel I started but never finished.

So by the time The Simbul's Gift came out, I was extremely disinclined to read it.

I've heard only good things about it, though, so I need to find my copy and check it out.
VikingLegion Posted - 09 Apr 2020 : 13:30:00
Favorite Individual Books

Once again, no particular order. These are just some of the ones I felt stood out from the pack for various reasons:

1. Homeland - there is no list that doesn't include this book. It's the only one where I included both the series and an individual novel. If I'm stranded on a deserted island and I only have one book, it's probably going to be Ready Player One or The Hitchiker's Guide, or maybe Good Omens. But if the rules stipulate it has to be an FR book, it's absolutely Homeland and there isn't a close second choice. I could expound in great detail why this is the case, but I think I already did that back on page 1 of this thread.

2. Night Parade - much like the Moonshae Trilogy, this is one of those polarizing books that you either like a lot or strongly dislike. I recall Seravin not caring for the horror vibe and/or less Realmsian feel, but Jorkens listing it among his top 2-3 books in the entire line. I thought it was a lot of fun, this gypsy-like carnival of freakish monsters strolling into town to steal children - like a mash-up HP Lovecraft, Clive Barker, and Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes) and I really enjoyed it.

3. Realms of Valor - I had to throw one anthology in there, and much like the Dragonlance line, the first is usually the best. And this one had such gems!!: Dark Mirror - easily my favorite short story, One Last Drink - a carryover of a character and author I really enjoyed from the Ravenloft line, as well as a smattering of great early stories that augmented many of those formative novels - there was a Moonshae story, Elminster at the Mage Faire (before I grew to despise him), an Artus Cimber prequel story, an early offering from Elaine C., just a really solid collection of tales that helped establish those halcyon days when the Forgotten Realms was really bursting with creative energy.

4. The Simbul's Gift - Lynn Abbey is a challenging read but well worth the effort. This is easily the best representation of Thay to be found, amazing effort.

5. Cormyr: A Novel - well anyone who has read this thread at all knows that Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood, while BRILLIANT designers/world builders, are among (if not *the*) least enjoyable authors to my reading sensibilities. But when they combined their efforts they spun an absolute masterpiece. I think in my review I mentioned something about how each was able to counteract what I find distasteful in the other: meaning Ed was able to reign in Jeff's proclivity towards goofiness, and Jeff was able to focus Ed's frenetic, manic, shotgun-spray energy into a cohesive, focused story. The term "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" has never been more apt than when applied to this gem.

6. City of Ravens - I loved the main character, despite not normally enjoying the roguish types. This was just a super fun swashbuckling adventure, not much more to say than that.

7. Black Wolf - I've liked a lot of Dave Gross's books, but he really knocked it out of the park with this one. I think some of the most enjoyable villains in the entire novel line were found in this one: Rusk, as well as Stannis and Radu Malveen were awesome (quick shout out to Borran Klosk from Jewel of Turmish as another great baddie). Seravin mentioned how this one evoked the feel of those old Universal monster movies from the early/mid 1900s era.

8. Bladesinger - I loved this book and was a tiny bit miffed that it got no discussion. While reading and reviewing all of the "Classes" line, I surmised that they weren't well received at the time and didn't get a whole lot of exposure. That's a shame because there were a few gems among them. Here's a snippet from my original writeup: "The author did an amazing job making me "feel" the region of Rashemen. In many books I admit I'm guilty of somewhat glossing over the descriptions of weather, trees, scenery and so on. I sometimes find it to be little more than window dressing, page filler. Strohm's work in this area was terrific. It really made the soul of this region shine, making the setting almost like a character in itself." The characters were all very deep and nuanced as well, albeit very damaged - almost like the entire group were outcasts from society due to various failures in their lives, and this is their last chance at redemption. I've always liked that type, I guess like Tyrion Lannister said, "I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things." This was a terrific book and worth a try for anyone reading this.

9. Bloodwalk - a very unique book by James P. Davis and another unheralded gem from the Classes series. This one took a few liberties I think with a unique type of spellcaster, but I never let rules get in the way of a good story. The villain was exquisite and the main hero was extremely interesting. I would love to see this book adapted into a movie, as the visuals were so strong.

10. Stardeep - great precursor to the Abolethic Sovereignty series. I don't recall if the blade Angul was introduced in this one or first appeared in Darkvision but there's some awesome development here and this is the book where I really started to get on board with Cordell's very unique vision and storytelling.

11. The Edge of Chaos - the only FR novel written by Jak Koke, this one really gripped me, especially towards the end. It handles a lot of very mature themes and is heartbreakingly bleak at times. Don't read if you prefer your fantasy to be more whimsical and lighthearted. But if you're into grittier fare, it's a good one. I'd have liked to see some more from this promising author, but alas...

12. Unbroken Chain - I was torn between putting this book here or leaving it off and putting it, with it's sequel (The Darker Road) into the Favorite Series category. In the end I decided on this path, though I could easily justify either option. I know by this time in the WoTC development of the Realms, many of the old-schoolers jumped off the boat in dismay at several distasteful changes to "Our Realms", but this one is worth a look for even the most diehard grognard. Seriously, it is excellent. It vies for my favorite FR novel overall. Jaleigh Johnson is a terrific author and this is her best contribution to the line. I guess the only knock - it could be said this is less of an FR book being that so much of the action takes place in the Shadowfell. But I'm not deducting any points for that, discovering the city of Ikemmu filled me with the same sense of wonder that Menzoberranzan did some ~25 years earlier (before we were inundated with drow.) I can't say enough good things about this story, it is remarkable.

13. Sandstorm - I must be drawn to stories with traveling carnivals or something, because here we find another. The kenku barker was a nice touch, as was the goliath strongman. This book made me really get on board with the 4e changes to genasi. Lastly, while many of us have lamented the changes to various regions in the Realms - most notably Thay and Sembia, I thought this one showed off a brilliant reinvention of The Lands of Intrigue. Calimshan got a much-needed breath of life injected into it and I love the more fantastical elements (pun intended) that have been included. Yet another story by an FR author who only got a one book deal... It pains me to think about all the wonderful tales that could've been penned had WoTC gone in a different direction.

Ok, that about wraps that category up. Going back and checking out the list I am in awe at how many 4e and 5e books are included. I always considered myself an old-timer and actually considered stopping cold at the Spellplague/100 year time jump, basically just declaring that event to be the end of my Realms. I'm glad I stuck it out because there's some really good stuff written in the more modern period. Anyone else have any particular favorites that they feel are egregious omissions? Yeah, yeah, I know... Azure Bonds... *sigh* :)
VikingLegion Posted - 08 Apr 2020 : 17:17:59
Ok, here it is. In no particular order, I've come up with a few categories of things to touch on:

Favorite Series
Favorite Individual Books
Favorite Authors
Miscellaneous "Moments" that don't fit any particular category

Series
Again, I won't place these in any particular order, it's not a countdown list, mainly because my thoughts on that kind of ranking system could change daily. It's just a random list, probably most influenced by chronology, as I just finished reading the thread and was jotting down some notes as I did so. Here goes:

1. The Moonshae Trilogy - might as well kick things off by being as polarizing as possible, right? I loved this series back in the day and I loved it just as much on the re-read. I recall being heavily in the minority, but the few supporters I found were ardent. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground, as there are an abundance of those who strongly disliked it. I think most people really hated Tristan Kendrick as the main protagonist, but I was fine with him being a bit of a fratboy butthead. It made room for personal growth and improvement (though admittedly there was little) and also I just flat out prefer flawed heroes over perfect paragons of virtue. I think Jaime Lannister (incest and oath-breaking included) makes for a more compelling *character* than Ned Stark, even though I vastly prefer Ned as a *person*, if that makes any sense. That being said, the protagonist has to have some redeeming value or I get equally turned off. Tristan is a bit of a selfish clod at times, but he tries hard and he's generally a good-hearted type for the most part.

But the series is so much more than him. The Earthmother vs. Kazgaroth was such a monumental battle to my teenage (and later) mind. As I mentioned in the very first review, environmental conservation/protection is one of the most important causes in my personal life, so I'm always drawn to this type of story about a force (usually industry/progress, but in this case just plain evil/chaos) despoiling pristine places of natural splendor. I cheered for every victory for the forces of good, and wept as the Earthmother's beautiful children fell to darkness, first the Leviathan and later Kammeryn the unicorn. I think the scenes that affected me most profoundly were the animals of the forest being consumed by the Darkwell to be repurposed into corrupt, hybrid forms. It evokes the same feeling of dread I experience everytime I see animals killed or driven from their habitats by forest fires, war, irresponsible industry, etc. Plus this trilogy really set the table for the product line, so it could be a small part of my affection for it is tied to nostalgia, though I still enjoyed it tremendously on the re-read.

2. The Dark Elf Trilogy - I've re-read this series I don't know how many times. As I mentioned in a semi-recent post, I know there are some who will groan at this inclusion due to Drizzt oversaturation, but for the early part of the Realms this was the shining example and nothing else even came close. Even though I read the Icewind Dale trilogy first (as I'm guessing most did), and rank it up there amongst the best, upon re-read I found a few flaws in it and have to put Drizzt's origin tale a few notches higher. I don't know if anything inspired my teenage imagination quite like the majesty of Menzoberranzan leaping off the pages. And what awkward teen nerd can't relate to the angst of a lonely figure who feels completely out of place in a world where he can't possibly fit in? RAS has had a long and insanely productive career, but this was his magnum opus and a game-changer for me on a personal level and its impact on TSR/WoTC, D&D, and the genre of fantasy in general cannot be denied.

3. Starlight and Shadows - this was such a hard decision to make. Elaine Cunningham gave us several terrific series, I didn't want to list them all and dominate this category with her works, but at the same time there was simply no way I was leaving her off it. There was much to love about the Song and Swords series as well as the Halruuan series, but in the end I went with S+S. It wasn't an easy decision, and I feel like one has to evaluate Elaine's entire body of work as a whole to truly appreciate how much she helped shape this world in such a delightful manner. As for this particular series, it took me a long while to get on board with Liriel, but Fyodor was a hit right from the start. My particular favorite was Windwalker with its raven imagery, Rashemi nature spirts (the Woodman!), the hut of Baba Yaga making an appearance, Norse-inspired runework, Eilistraee's role, Liriel's transformation into some kind of psychopomp soul deliverer, it was all gold. On a side note, as I was typing Elaine Cunningh… into the search engine, it started to autofill "Elaine Cunningham Obituary" and I nearly had a goddam heart attack. Apologies to the EC that actually died, but it wasn't our beloved author. We don't need 2020 to get any more depressing, right?

4. The Erevis Cale Saga - omigod, allow me to gush for a bit. I knew by page 3 this was going to be a magnificent tale. I can't even point out one particular aspect of it that sets it apart from the pack. The quality of writing is off the charts throughout the entirety of this story. The psychology of the characters, the action, the intrigue, the tension-packed moments, the tear-jerkers (Bowny!), just everything about it is top-notch. Just the other day I ordered Kemp's Egil and Nix trilogy, I just have to see if he can keep up this quality in his own original setting.

5. The Last Mythal - aside from the absolutely terrible gaffe of having demons and devils working together (even if it's discovered in book 3 that they were coerced), Baker really nailed this trilogy. I loved the lore setting it up, the logistics of the various armies moving through the region, just the epic scope of it all. It felt like some kind of fantasy World War II story with the various factions all vying to carve out their own slice of the pie.

6. Abolethic Sovereignty - it took me a bit to get on board with Cordell's writing - I think his first book I described as too "magi-tek" and "Eberrony". But by the time I got to Stardeep, a book that sets the tone for this trilogy, I had adjusted to his sensibilities and really started to enjoy it. Angul, the sentient sword with a crusader's zeal, was one of the most fun "characters" I've read in quite some time. Cordell came up with a bunch of really outlandish but awesome characters - Cynosure the golem defense mechanism, The Lord of Bats, Japeth - the drug addled goth "Trent Reznor" warlock, a Dagon-descended pirate captain, just a really bizarre cast of characters. The content was more of the cosmic horror genre, so some might feel it's not as Realmsian as some series, but I thought it was the perfect pairing of author and subject matter, as Cordell was easily the best pick for this type of Lovecraftian fare.

7. Chosen of Nendawen - surprised to see this here? Me too. I loved the primal feel of it, set out on a frontier region away from the main cities and centers of civilization. I thought Mark Sehestedt did maybe the best job I've seen of describing the fey - mysterious, otherworldly, whimsical yet capricious - he struck just the right blend of being descriptive while also leaving enough off the plate for the reader to come to some of their own conclusions. This series won't be for everyone, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Ok, that's all for now. I'll pick up probably tomorrow with Favorite Individual Books.
VikingLegion Posted - 08 Apr 2020 : 15:45:42
quote:
Originally posted by Iahn Qoyllor

Wow, mate, so sad to hear that this journey has essentially ended (Boundless aside), however I have looked forward to each and every one of your posts. It has been an absolute pleasure reading all your reviews and I have been so grateful for the time you've put in conveying your thoughts and feelings to us all here. Would be great to see summation if you get time!

I finished the Realms books a couple of years ago and have since dipped into Dragonlance, Ravenloft and Greyhawk as my next mission, however have stuck with the Dark Sun novels for now and am on number 7 out of 16. Nothing can replace the Realms though...



Thanks Iahn, it's been a fun voyage. I'm glad you got something out of it, my hope all along was to bring us all along for a trip down memory lane. I love that you are reading the other TSR worlds. I'm currently halfway through the 6-part Spelljammer series and have 5 or 6 Birthright books in the queue next. Just now I finished my re-read of all 41 pages of this thread. A summation post is soon to follow, just thought I'd do a little house-cleaning first.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

I've joined this thread late, mostly lurked and commented sparingly (and I think almost always to disagree on some interpretation - sorry! - or throw in some canon game-material information) but I enjoyed every line of your posts.

This thread helped keep the Realms novel line alive even for someone like me that only dipped into it (and I've followed or will follow some of your recommendations).

I bow to your dedication to the Realms (and to book-reading in general) for pulling this off.


Thanks Demzer, you may have jumped in late but I believe you were one of the major players in the discussion on the Selunite temple being involved in the twin atrocities of taking advantage of underage women and the "sale of indulgences" in a RAS book. That was one of my FAVORITE debates in this entire 5 year journey! I know some people thought it was getting a bit too contentious at times (I received multiple apologetic/concerned private messages) but I value a good debate and never felt offended in the slightest. I've been known to push a little too hard with my viewpoints at times, and if at any point in this entire scroll I've typed something that caused offense to any of the readers here at CK - please understand that it's all in good fun; a way to relive what were for many of us formative teenage/young adult years, and just to stimulate lively discourse.

quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

I've been a lurker for the most part too, but I've thoroughly enjoyed your reviews and your well-articulated opinions. Thank you for this thread!



Lurker? Yeah right! Your encyclopediac knowledge (and obvious passion) regarding all-things Eilistraee, as well as great contributions to other various subjects, has been a huge boon to this thread overall. You should give yourself far more credit, sir.

quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

Magnificent effort. And very insightful and useful. Kudos on your dedication.

-- Georg Krashos



George, I feel like I should copy/paste the same comment right back at you. All thread long you've been Johnny-On-The-Spot with timely tidbits of lore and behind the scenes knowledge. Your contributions to this thread have been tremendous.

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert
I'm re-reading the Finder's Stone books right now, partially because of this post... And I have to ask, what lame jokes? I'm up to Song of the Saurials now, and I'm not seeing the puns or jokes. There's a riff on Clyde Caldwell, but that's the only thing that I can immediately think of.



Wooly,
Your own contributions to this thread have been on a Krashos level of mightiness, so I don't love that this interaction comes down to our continued differing opinions on this matter :) But since you asked, here is a small smattering of Grubbisms I jotted down from earlier pages. Many (most?) of them are after the initial Alias trilogy. Also, it is not a comprehensive list of everything, just some odds and ends I picked out from the dark recesses of my brain, but here goes:

Terrible dialogue from Moander's avatar as well as the ancient red dragon (forgot his name.) Both speak like they are country bumpkins and not some of the mightiest beings in existence.

Giant sludge Moander flying across the Dalelands like some awful Japanese kaiju flick from the 1950s.

From the Tymora's Luck summary:
"It was then I started to notice more of the Grubbisms. I don't know if they were present all along and I just sort of blocked them up to that point because I was enjoying the story or what, but all of the sudden they just started coming at me in rapid succession. From the relatively benign (the imp using the word incommunicado), to the silly (Jasmine saying "that's just ducky", Holly saying "I don't think we're in Gehenna anymore" - that one was for you Seravin!), to the over-the-top goofy (Holly calling the fusion chamber the "few chin chamber", the character of Fizz Something, etc.) it seems like the last 50 pages went a bit slapstick. This was capped off when Iyachtu Xvim tripped and fell over a cat. I didn't make that up. Lathander had gathered up several idols representing good and bad luck (horseshoe, rabbit's foot, etc.), one of which was a black cat. Xvim backed up, not seeing the cat, and was tripped to the ground. A god. Felled by a housecat and clumsiness. C'mon...."

From Realms of Mystery:
- A bad guy with the name "Big Ugly"
- A reference to "riding crossbow" on the carriage. Hahaha, get it, like riding shotgun....
- An actual quote: "Had I been thinking about my mystoricals I could have toughed it out, thought of some glib explanation, but in truth I had been wowsered by the beauty of the box." Really? "Wowsered" was the best verb he could come up with to show being impressed with something?
- a bit of meta humor with the main character donning the illusion of a drow and naming himself Ziixxxita (because drow have lots of Z's and X's in their names) and completing the image with twin curved swords...

I know you and Seravin like to latch onto the "We're not in the Realms anymore" line, but that was actually one of the more benign Grubbisms, it just happened to be the one I though of at the time. For me it's not the strength of the stench, it's the frequency of it. It's hard to read 5 consecutive pages of any Grubb novel without some small pun or callback to our own world. It's death by a thousand papercuts rather than a massive decapitation all at once. That's the best way I can explain it. I know that won't change your mind or Seravin's. And going all the way back to my very first review of Azure Bonds, I did mention a lot of aspects I thought were great with the book. Grubb is a great conceptual storyteller, I love his premises and ideas, it's just the execution gets bogged down by him goofing off [MUCH] too frequently for my personal preference.

But enough of this. Your presence in this thread was invaluable, if only because I think you might be an even grumpier curmudgeon than myself, and I didn't think that possible! Now, how about we talk about that WOTSQ series a bit more? :P

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Wooly - I remember him hating the line "I don't think we're in the Realms anymore"... [snip]


Seravin - see the above response to Wooly. But that aside, you've been another of the stalwarts on this journey. There have been times where we've been in complete concurrence on some issues, and other times we have been like night and day in our disagreement. But through it all you've been a lot of fun to banter with. You've always kept it light-hearted and friendly, even in those times where I might start to get a little prickly. You're just a good dude with an obvious love for the bygone days of Grey Box Realms Glory, and it was a ton of fun having you along for the ride.

quote:
Originally posted by Veylandemar
We could meet that anniversary if you felt inclined to snag the four or five eBook-only releases!

I'm not sure how they fared against their paperbound competitors or if they were adopted by the community - I'm a tactile reader myself and really prefer the physical feel, texture and sometimes even the smell of books, but then, I'm weird like that.

I believe the ebooks in question are (at least according to Wikipedia!):
Cold Steel and Secrets, a four part series by Rosemary Jones
Prince of Ravens by Richard Baker
Spider and Stone by Jaleigh Johnson

Also looking forward to reading your epilogue on the literary journey.
~V



Veylandamar, your post count was minimal but you had a handful of clutch catches and Wooly/Krashos type interjections of insight. I had Prince of Ravens on my to-read list, but thank you for reminding me of the others!

quote:
Originally posted by DenverJack

VikingLegion-
I found this thread just a few days ago, and have enjoyed reading through your take on all of the books. Lots of good memories - thanks for sticking with it!



Denver, thanks for the kind words. Better late than never and I'm happy this evoked good memories for you. And that goes to everyone else who has posted over the last 5 years but prior to ~mid March. It's been a fun ride and now I'm going to try to whip together some kind of "Best Of" post next.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 24 Mar 2020 : 14:20:42
Sounds rather clumsy.
Mirtek Posted - 24 Mar 2020 : 11:02:05
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

Re the Mordenkainen cameo in “Death Masks”: this appeared on account of WotC editorial directive.

— George Krashos



I wondered why he was in there.

...Now I wonder why they wanted him there. Was it just an odd tie-in to the book they slapped Mordy's name on?

It was a tie in the the Ravenloft Storyline, during which the players encounter a feebleminded Mordenkainen.

They basically had some sort of weak tie in to all current adventures while the novel line was still a thing.

That's why there was the otherwise out of place giant thing in Death Masks (I think it was death masks) to reming everyone that Storm King's Thunder is currenlty happening somewhere else in the Realms and some lines between the drow in the Drizzt novels about the dragons wanting to summong Tiamat to Toril to do the same for the two dragon related modules
VikingLegion Posted - 23 Mar 2020 : 13:02:22
quote:
Originally posted by Veylandemar

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

How come I can't see Viking's Reply? :(



It links to an edited post from 2017 for me, way back to his review of Elminster in Hell.
Shows that it was edited with a time stamp matching the latest post prior to your own when I was trying to find it last night. Clearly chronomancy is afoot!

-V



Yeah I decided I was going to read the entire 40 page thread before posting a summation reply. Some funny things happened on the earlier pages where sentences would just cut off in mid thought. I was wondering what was going on, so I hit "Edit" on the post, all the original text came back, so then I hit Save to complete it. Nothing has been altered, I think it was just a display issue. All the missing text comes back after Edit/Save, as though it just needed a refresh.

Currently on page 16/40 :)

*EDIT*
I'm now on 24/40 and I've seen the same thing happen a few more times. But again they were "fixed" in the same manner. Weird.
DenverJack Posted - 22 Mar 2020 : 18:31:37
VikingLegion-
I found this thread just a few days ago, and have enjoyed reading through your take on all of the books. Lots of good memories - thanks for sticking with it!
Veylandemar Posted - 21 Mar 2020 : 02:58:14
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

How come I can't see Viking's Reply? :(



It links to an edited post from 2017 for me, way back to his review of Elminster in Hell.
Shows that it was edited with a time stamp matching the latest post prior to your own when I was trying to find it last night. Clearly chronomancy is afoot!

-V
Seravin Posted - 20 Mar 2020 : 19:51:32
How come I can't see Viking's Reply? :(
Wooly Rupert Posted - 15 Mar 2020 : 15:20:13
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Wooly - I remember him hating the line "I don't think we're in the Realms anymore" when the group ends up in the prison plane at the end of Azure Bonds; it was too much of a riff on I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. I know there were donkey/ass jokes in The Wyvern's Spur. Song of Saurials didn't have much jokes (although Alias beating on her sister clone was to me, hilarious). Maybe it's just the tone of the books are too light and not dark/gritty enough for his tastes? Will let Viking answer, but I don't remember much specifics beyond the Wizard of Oz reference.

Grubb/Novak > all for me!





Yeah, the Oz thing did catch me -- though, at the same time, it was obvious that they were no longer in the Realms.

The donkey/little ass thing didn't strike me so much as an attempt at humor, but more of a way for the divine augury to be both very specific and quite vague.
Seravin Posted - 15 Mar 2020 : 14:56:26
Wooly - I remember him hating the line "I don't think we're in the Realms anymore" when the group ends up in the prison plane at the end of Azure Bonds; it was too much of a riff on I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. I know there were donkey/ass jokes in The Wyvern's Spur. Song of Saurials didn't have much jokes (although Alias beating on her sister clone was to me, hilarious). Maybe it's just the tone of the books are too light and not dark/gritty enough for his tastes? Will let Viking answer, but I don't remember much specifics beyond the Wizard of Oz reference.

Grubb/Novak > all for me!

Veylandemar Posted - 15 Mar 2020 : 14:44:47
[/quote]

May 24th, 2015 - just a couple months shy of the 5-year anniversary of this thread. It's been quite a voyage!
[/quote]

We could meet that anniversary if you felt inclined to snag the four or five eBook-only releases!

I'm not sure how they fared against their paperbound competitors or if they were adopted by the community - I'm a tactile reader myself and really prefer the physical feel, texture and sometimes even the smell of books, but then, I'm weird like that.

I believe the ebooks in question are (at least according to Wikipedia!):
Cold Steel and Secrets, a four part series by Rosemary Jones
Prince of Ravens by Richard Baker
Spider and Stone by Jaleigh Johnson

Also looking forward to reading your epilogue on the literary journey.
~V
Wooly Rupert Posted - 15 Mar 2020 : 14:27:07
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Viking - all this talk of devils/demons etc from Brimstone Angels, did you ever read Lord Toede by Jeff Grubb? Set in Dragonlance sort of, it is a crazy book that has a large connection to the Abyss and reads more like Planescape than Dragonlance.



Seravin, yes I did read that book. Before this FR project started 5 years ago I did a similar, complete read through of all (166?) Dragonlance novels. Unfortunately I can't remember one single detail of that particular book. Being a Jeff Grubb offering, I flushed it out of my head before closing the final page :P



I just don't get how anyone could dislike Grubb/Novak's books, they're so good for the genre of D&D novels! But it's all subjective and everyone has their own tastes. I know I get hung up on plot holes and contrivance way more than I should which keeps me from enjoying some popular books, so I can't judge you not liking the more popular authors either.

Looking forward to the summation.



It's 100% the terrible humor. Grubb has great ideas and is a terrific designer. It's the groan-worthy puns and super obvious, low-hanging-fruit, lame jokes that weigh his works down, they would otherwise be very good. I don't know how you guys can read them without being distracted constantly. I literally have to put the book down every few pages just to roll my eyes at the ceiling, sigh in frustration, shake my head, etc. I just can't stay immersed while he so flagrantly goofs off.



I'm re-reading the Finder's Stone books right now, partially because of this post... And I have to ask, what lame jokes? I'm up to Song of the Saurials now, and I'm not seeing the puns or jokes. There's a riff on Clyde Caldwell, but that's the only thing that I can immediately think of.
George Krashos Posted - 15 Mar 2020 : 06:29:27
Magnificent effort. And very insightful and useful. Kudos on your dedication.

-- Georg Krashos
Irennan Posted - 14 Mar 2020 : 15:54:56
I've been a lurker for the most part too, but I've thoroughly enjoyed your reviews and your well-articulated opinions. Thank you for this thread!
Demzer Posted - 13 Mar 2020 : 10:57:13
I've joined this thread late, mostly lurked and commented sparingly (and I think almost always to disagree on some interpretation - sorry! - or throw in some canon game-material information) but I enjoyed every line of your posts.

This thread helped keep the Realms novel line alive even for someone like me that only dipped into it (and I've followed or will follow some of your recommendations).

I bow to your dedication to the Realms (and to book-reading in general) for pulling this off.
Iahn Qoyllor Posted - 13 Mar 2020 : 09:25:55
Wow, mate, so sad to hear that this journey has essentially ended (Boundless aside), however I have looked forward to each and every one of your posts. It has been an absolute pleasure reading all your reviews and I have been so grateful for the time you've put in conveying your thoughts and feelings to us all here. Would be great to see summation if you get time!

I finished the Realms books a couple of years ago and have since dipped into Dragonlance, Ravenloft and Greyhawk as my next mission, however have stuck with the Dark Sun novels for now and am on number 7 out of 16. Nothing can replace the Realms though...
VikingLegion Posted - 12 Mar 2020 : 15:26:31
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Greetings fellow Realms enthusiasts,

Several years ago I made a goal to read *every* novel from the major D&D worlds/settings. After blasting through the smaller libraries of Darksun, Ravenloft, and Planescape, I decided to tackle Dragonlance. Just recently I finished my 166th and final Dragonlance book. And now I have my sights set on the Forgotten Realms, a no-doubt Herculean task that will make DL easy by comparison.

*SNIP*



May 24th, 2015 - just a couple months shy of the 5-year anniversary of this thread. It's been quite a voyage!
VikingLegion Posted - 12 Mar 2020 : 15:18:57
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

Re the Mordenkainen cameo in “Death Masks”: this appeared on account of WotC editorial directive.

— George Krashos



Yep, that tracks. I expected as much, but was hoping for something else.

I finished Timeless a few days ago. Bob's summation of the Underdark on page 19 gave me chills. I know a lot of people reading this will probably disagree. Maybe you have succumbed to "Drizzt oversaturation" like many have, myself included at times. Also there is always a subset in any fandom that rejects the most popular aspects just for the sake of being counter-culture. There's no doubt that after churning out some 30+ of these novels, RAS has become a victim of his own success and something of a critical whipping boy on this site for being a WoTC cash-cow. I get all that. But reading these few pages took me back to the magic and wonder I experienced in my teens reading Homeland for the very first time. A lot of you wax nostalgiac about the Alias books by Grubb/Novak for that old-fashioned Realmsian goodness it fills you with - for me it was the first 6 RAS novels (the Crystal Shard trilogy and the Dark Elf trilogy) that transformed the Forgotten Realms from a pretty cool medieval fantasy setting with some potential to something that really stood out from the pack that I could fall in love with. Anyway, that little 3 page intro leading into chapter 1 was like a time machine for me - erasing the years and transporting me to a time before we all got so cynical and weary of drow and the rule-of-cool taking over fantasy.

Briza's heritage, I loved it. I always wondered why she was so physically different from the other Do-Urdens, but I never made a connection to her and Uthegentel. Very early in this book I did start to connect those dots, but wasn't sure if the timelines worked out and if Uthegentle was old enough to be her sire. But it turned out to be true and I had to wonder if this was something RAS had plotted out over 30 years ago, or if he just came up with it for this novel?

I have mixed feelings about Zak's return. Too much of the last few books have been about resurrecting the past, and some dead things should remain so. On the other hand the sparring session with Drizzt was another one of those time capsule moments that gave me pure joy. I really disliked the fleshing out of Zak's friendship with Jarlaxle though - it really undermines the character of Zak as an utterly frustrated and hopeless soul that we got from the Dark Elf books. There he was portrayed as a prisoner of Menzoberranzan, no friends, no solace, nothing to break the everlasting siege of his existence aside from the savage joy he took in slaying Lolthite priestesses. Now that we see he palled around with Jarlaxle, left the city to visit Ched Nassad on a swashbuckling adventure, and even flirted with joining Bregan D'Arthe full time really seems at odds with what I knew about him.

Speaking of BD, a little while back I postulated on female members, and here we see Jeyrelle Fey, a non-Lolth priestess, as Irennan pointed out on the previous page. Yep, she showed up for a paragraph or three and then just poofed into thin air.

On page 278 there was a funny bit of political humor if you look closely at a certain spell incantation, but I won't share it here in case it offends anyone. If this were a Grubb novel I would be lambasting him for goofing off and sneaking real world stuff into an FR book, so it turns out I'm a bit of a hypocrite for chuckling at this inclusion. My bad, I guess :)

I think Jarlaxle and his toys are getting a bit overboard. I get that being ultra-prepared is his schtick, as well as being a hoarder of every magical doodad he can get his hands on, but at this point he's coming off as a cartoony Inspector Gadget. It's just a bit much.

Once again I loved the sort of Monk path Drizzt is starting down, but I'm not so sure about how quickly he is advancing. I get the physical aspect - he is an amazingly gifted natural athlete, so he will take to that quickly. Also he's been a warrior all his life so there is going to be lots of carryover between the martial disciplines. I'm fine with all that, if he wants to start incorporating circle kicks into his attack routines, or he surprisingly throws Zaknafein into an arm-bar during their match, that's great and I have no problem with it. But for him to be able to coax the marilith poison out of his calf after being stung simply by being so in tune with his body seemed like a discipline it would take years of aesthetic life and study to master, not the weeks or months he spent at the Yellow Rose Monastery. I'm too lazy to get out my PHB and look up at which level a PC monk gains poison immunity, but it is certainly no novice feat!

Ok, well that's all for now. There is another Drizzt book, Boundless, but I don't own it yet. I'm waiting for the paperback which I think comes out in April, simply because my bookcases are so filled at this point it's coming down to available space! And now we are so current that I think the purpose of this thread has pretty much been fulfilled - it was initially made for more of a nostalgia bit, as we relive the Realms throughout the ages. Anything I could add now would probably belong better in threads specifically for that book. So, I guess that's it? Feels like a very bittersweet ending. If I have some time this weekend I'll try to post that summation, but anyone else can feel free to do the same.

It's not really relevant here, but in case anyone is wondering I still have a smattering of D&D books to read from other settings. I have 5 or 6 Birthright novels, a whole bunch of Greyhawk/Mystara stuff I need to organize, and currently I've started the 6-part Cloakmaster series which starts off in the Dragonlance setting but is all about Spelljammer.
Irennan Posted - 09 Mar 2020 : 14:53:54
Yeah; Mord had also been in Ravenloft for their Ravenloft module; they wanted to a tie-in to both books. Same as the giant fortress cameo and the tie-in to SKT.
George Krashos Posted - 09 Mar 2020 : 13:43:41
I suspect so.

— George Krashos
Wooly Rupert Posted - 09 Mar 2020 : 03:04:31
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

Re the Mordenkainen cameo in “Death Masks”: this appeared on account of WotC editorial directive.

— George Krashos



I wondered why he was in there.

...Now I wonder why they wanted him there. Was it just an odd tie-in to the book they slapped Mordy's name on?

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