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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)
VikingLegion Posted - 22 Feb 2020 : 13:52:49
I finished The Devil You Know a few days ago, thus concluding the Brimstone Angels saga. And another author knocked off the FR list. I think all I have left now are 3 RAS books and a Greenwood. It feels so weird now that we are closing in on the end of this project.

I found this book to be very interesting, mainly because I know so little of Unther's lore, so there was a lot of discovery for me. I've always shied away from the whole "Old Empires" region of FR because I don't like the links to our own Earth. That is a trope I utterly detest in fantasy, pulling characters from this world into another, I don't know why it bothers me so much. Anyway, Unther and Mulhorand are only blips on my Realms radar. Gilgeam sounds a lot like Gilgamesh, but he's anything but heroic in this story. I couldn't help but think of Xerxes from 300 when he was being carted around by slaves on his sedan chair. It mentioned his conflicts in the past with Tiamat

Oh crap, have to run. I'll pick up again here later.
Irennan Posted - 13 Feb 2020 : 15:39:01
Lolth's true form isn't even that of a drider, it's a giant spider, supposedly with a woman's head.

In the old editions (1e/2e, I'm told; I wasn't really involved in D&D until the tail end of 4e), becoming a drider was a punishment because the drider lost its individuality and essentially sentience. 4e made it a reward. 5e rolled it back to a punishment.
Mirtek Posted - 13 Feb 2020 : 14:53:15
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Here's a random thought that's been simmering in the back of my mind for I don't know how many years: Why is being transformed into a drider considered the ultimate punishment for a drow? They revere spiders. They revere power. A spider-drow hybrid or tauric form is devastatingly powerful as well as beautiful to their sensibilities. Lolth herself often appears in drider form (she did in this book on the Abyss while chatting with Errtu.) It is often said that gods create their followers in their own image. So again, how is driderification(?) a punishment and not the ultimate reward? I recall WAY back in Homeland it was mentioned that the process warped and distorted the body, making the once beautiful drow portion of the creature all bloated and gross looking. But it seems that angle has been played down or even removed over the years.


That's long bugged me, too... Both the fact that it's a punishment and the fact that the drider is basically reduced to becoming a monster.

I did figure out a way to have this modified, so that you'd have intelligent driders. I love the idea of driders who have retained their intelligence and memories, who hate drow for what's been done to them, and who have found a way to increase their numbers... But it's not an idea I can do anything with, at the moment!



For one the transformation is said to be very painful. Also a drider is not only rendered sterile, it loses all genitals. No more snusnu :)

More importantly, Lolth true drider form is a curse from Correlon, that she can not overcome and she hates tue fact. Sure, she can change shape, but deep down it remains her true form. Appearing differently is like hitting a veil over a nasty Scar

Of course she can not admit that, so she pretends to own this form she hates so much.

And yet uses this to punish her followers. Go ahead, ask her about that contradiction if you dare. :)
Seravin Posted - 09 Feb 2020 : 16:49:08
Yah, if everyone attacked Demogorgon you wouldn't have the Drizzt saves the day and slays Demogorgon story...sigh.
I love Psionics but Bob has a long history of just using it as Deus Ex Machina, especially when the enemy is someone akin to a super archmage.
Irennan Posted - 09 Feb 2020 : 15:41:45
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Maestro last night. I crossed out all my notes for this one and replaced them with just two words:

Kinetic Barrier

Ugghhh. It had been hinted on a long time ago in this very thread, so I knew it was coming at some point. But that still didn't make it any less tough to read. The funny thing is, I don't even see why it was necessary. If every drow wizard, priest, and archer in the entire city trained their offensive output on Drizzt while he was under the effect of that discipline, let's say they pumped in 50,000hp worth of damage. Drizzt then turned and brought all that energy to Demogorgon. But if they all just attacked Demo directly, what's the difference other than cutting out the middleman? I guess Demo's resistances could soften each individual strike by some amount, whereas taking all that energy in one massive strike couldn't be mitigated. But even still, that much firepower concentrated on one individual, even an Abyssal Lord, would've been WAY too much for anyone to handle short of a god on their own home plane. It just didn't make any logical sense, in addition to being another groanworthy moment of PSIONICS>>>ALL.




It would have also been far more clever to slap that firepower on a siege/ranged weapon, like a ballista or something. But that was WotC's request, to have Drizzt banish Demogorgon.
Irennan Posted - 09 Feb 2020 : 15:35:24
In the first novel of the latest (and possibly last) Drizzt trilogy, a female member of BdA makes an appearance as a cameo. She's a priestess, but of a drow goddess that isn't Lolth. Given Eilistraee's re-emergence and surge of activity (all offscreen, though) in the time when the said novel is set, people speculated that the character was a priestess of Eilistraee. RAS didn't say anything in that regard, though, and that character sorta disappeared in the next novel, as far as I can tell.
VikingLegion Posted - 09 Feb 2020 : 13:41:17
I finished Maestro last night. I crossed out all my notes for this one and replaced them with just two words:

Kinetic Barrier

Ugghhh. It had been hinted on a long time ago in this very thread, so I knew it was coming at some point. But that still didn't make it any less tough to read. The funny thing is, I don't even see why it was necessary. If every drow wizard, priest, and archer in the entire city trained their offensive output on Drizzt while he was under the effect of that discipline, let's say they pumped in 50,000hp worth of damage. Drizzt then turned and brought all that energy to Demogorgon. But if they all just attacked Demo directly, what's the difference other than cutting out the middleman? I guess Demo's resistances could soften each individual strike by some amount, whereas taking all that energy in one massive strike couldn't be mitigated. But even still, that much firepower concentrated on one individual, even an Abyssal Lord, would've been WAY too much for anyone to handle short of a god on their own home plane. It just didn't make any logical sense, in addition to being another groanworthy moment of PSIONICS>>>ALL.

Another random thought I had while reading this - has there ever been a female member of Bregan D'aerthe? This book heavily focused on Jarlaxle's desire to create a haven for dispossessed drow males who are tired of living in the oppressive matriarchy. But would he take in and offer shelter to a female drow that has forsaken Lolth but also isn't interested in embracing Eilistraee? Not only would it give him access to some lethal potential double-agents that could be more effective infiltrators in drow society, it might raise morale a bit too in an obvious way... I mean... it's kind of a sausage-fest in that boys club. Just a thought. I can't recall ever seeing a female member of BD, perhaps the very thought of it would be anathema to them.

Up next, back to Evans for the final Brimstone Angels novel: The Devil You Know.
VikingLegion Posted - 02 Feb 2020 : 16:56:25
I finished Ashes of the Tyrant a couple days ago. I liked this one better than the saga of Brin and the Cormyrean royal line of succession from the previous Evans novel, but it did present some difficulties of its own. The amount of dragonborn culture presented in Djerad Thymar was formidable. I feel like Evans, much like Cunningham, doesn't just write about the world in which her characters interact. She dives in headfirst and fully immerses herself, and consequently almost forces the reader to be a scholar on the subject to be able to follow along. This is a two-edged sword. On the plus side, the amount of lore and culture exposure was impressive. I particularly loved reading about the old ancestor stories - they functioned like parables that teach young dragonborn the history and lessons of their people, while also imparting valuable wisdom and how to act in certain situations. These were excellently done. On the negative side, the unwieldy names and occasional slip into Draconic language (without translation) made for a somewhat challenging reading experience - almost inaccessible at times, or maybe I'm just not as careful a reader as I once was. I found myself using an old trick I once gave to a friend back in high school who was trying to read Homeland. He felt some of the names were really cumbersome and bogging him down, so I said "Just call the city Menzo and move on, don't worry about Menzoberranzan until you get more comfortable with it." I found myself doing the same thing with several of the dragonborn clan names.

I loved Erin's comparison of devils and demons approach to harvesting mortals as one of shepherds and wolves. One is orderly and in control, the other is pure chaos and brute force. But in the end, to the lamb, what does it matter? It gets slaughtered either way. She has several fun little insights like this, as well as some clever "in-universe" sayings like: "madder than a mouther" (a reference to the gibbering mouther creature) or "To the tyrants with you!" (a curse the dragonborn use to refer to the dragon overlords that once enslaved them) that really make you feel like she's lived in this world and is heavily invested.

This book also had a lot more going on in the Hells than the previous book, at least it felt that way to me. Also we start to see some tie-in with the RAS books as far as Abyssal Lords invading the Underdark. The creature that was sent ahead to weaken the dragonborn city was one I've read about in the Planescape Monstrous Manual, but never imagined being so devastating. I loved the way she utilized the maurezhi to maximum horror effect.

Good book. Looks like I have one more to go to wrap up the tiefling sisters' storyline. But I've been alternating based on publish date, so last night I started RAS's Maestro.
Seravin Posted - 26 Jan 2020 : 20:35:32
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Well ok then, I guess there is plenty of precedent for Elminster's psionics. I just don't think I've ever seen it mentioned in a single one of the novels, that I can recall anyway. And I can honestly say I've never really looked at an Elminster stat block. I have all the Deities and Demigods, Legends and Lore, Faiths and Avatars, etc. books - so if I wanted to get an idea of what El's stats looked like, I'd just take a gander at any of the pantheon greater gods, then multiply everything by 5 and figure that's probably ballpark Elminster on a bad day before he puts on his gear and buffs up. :P




That's so funny and true...
Wooly Rupert Posted - 26 Jan 2020 : 16:51:58
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Here's a random thought that's been simmering in the back of my mind for I don't know how many years: Why is being transformed into a drider considered the ultimate punishment for a drow? They revere spiders. They revere power. A spider-drow hybrid or tauric form is devastatingly powerful as well as beautiful to their sensibilities. Lolth herself often appears in drider form (she did in this book on the Abyss while chatting with Errtu.) It is often said that gods create their followers in their own image. So again, how is driderification(?) a punishment and not the ultimate reward? I recall WAY back in Homeland it was mentioned that the process warped and distorted the body, making the once beautiful drow portion of the creature all bloated and gross looking. But it seems that angle has been played down or even removed over the years.


That's long bugged me, too... Both the fact that it's a punishment and the fact that the drider is basically reduced to becoming a monster.

I did figure out a way to have this modified, so that you'd have intelligent driders. I love the idea of driders who have retained their intelligence and memories, who hate drow for what's been done to them, and who have found a way to increase their numbers... But it's not an idea I can do anything with, at the moment!
VikingLegion Posted - 26 Jan 2020 : 15:03:54
Well ok then, I guess there is plenty of precedent for Elminster's psionics. I just don't think I've ever seen it mentioned in a single one of the novels, that I can recall anyway. And I can honestly say I've never really looked at an Elminster stat block. I have all the Deities and Demigods, Legends and Lore, Faiths and Avatars, etc. books - so if I wanted to get an idea of what El's stats looked like, I'd just take a gander at any of the pantheon greater gods, then multiply everything by 5 and figure that's probably ballpark Elminster on a bad day before he puts on his gear and buffs up. :P

Anyway, I finished Archmage last night. Here's a random thought that's been simmering in the back of my mind for I don't know how many years: Why is being transformed into a drider considered the ultimate punishment for a drow? They revere spiders. They revere power. A spider-drow hybrid or tauric form is devastatingly powerful as well as beautiful to their sensibilities. Lolth herself often appears in drider form (she did in this book on the Abyss while chatting with Errtu.) It is often said that gods create their followers in their own image. So again, how is driderification(?) a punishment and not the ultimate reward? I recall WAY back in Homeland it was mentioned that the process warped and distorted the body, making the once beautiful drow portion of the creature all bloated and gross looking. But it seems that angle has been played down or even removed over the years.

My least favorite part of this book is that Yvonnel's personality has been copied by Methil yet again, this time to be implanted into the young daughter of Gromph. Her "template" was already inserted into Quenthel to make her more formidable, I really hate the idea that now she is wholesale reborn into a younger form for a couple reasons. First, the "multiplicity" effect - I feel like it's kinda hackish to be able to do this, if that were the case a strong psionicist could take the most powerful leader in the Realms and make like 500 copies and form an unstoppable super-army. I feel like something should be lost with each new iteration, a dilution effect if you will. Second, we already saw the oddness of Cat, Bruenor, Regis, and Wulfgar having their old souls stuffed into Muppet Baby bodies and reliving their lives as uncannily precocious children. Now we're going to see a replay with Yvonnel 2.0 in Menzoberranzan? Feels like it's all been done before and I wasn't a fan of this development.

I was interested to see the named demons Marilith and Nalfeshnee. I didn't realize that the different demon forms had a "prime" that they derived from. I really liked the sword duel between Drizzt and Marilith, that was well done.

I guess I never really understood just what the Faerzress was and it's link to the lower planes. Gromph is being tricked into thinning the boundary, thus resulting in certain "inviolable" rules being broken, most notable of which is the 100 year banishment to a demon or devil that is defeated on the Prime Material plane.

I enjoyed the Harpell's use of the reverse gravity spell. I saw the whole scene shaping up and had a feeling it was going to be used in that manner. I wasn't so sure about Catti-Brie's usage of offensive spells against the demons, I had to look up 5e demons to see what their resistances are (I think they change subtly from edition to edition...) It looks like all demons have poison immunity, and just about all of them have resistance to fire and lightning, so it's justified that Cat was at least doing partial damage. Only the mighty balors have complete immunity to fire, so her choice of primarily fireballs and lightning bolts was ok, if not terribly optimized. I snicker a bit at how "boring" a wizard Cat is, like every player new to D&D that wants to make a wizard just for the big "BOOM" spells!

I'm still a bit confused as to why Jarlaxle and Kimmuriel ordered the Xorlarrins to abandon the fight when they seemed to have the advantage. Was it to force them into being more indebted to House Baenre? It just didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.

Demogorgon... an old favorite of mine going all the way back to my 10 year old self reading Monster Manuals even though I didn't have a gaming group to play in, just being fascinated by him and Orcus and several others. I like how his aura of madness shook up even the heavyweights like Gromph and Kimmuriel, who are normally in complete control of every situation. I can't wait to see where this goes.

But... up next in the reading order is a return to the tiefling twins in Ashes of the Tyrant.
Veylandemar Posted - 21 Jan 2020 : 03:25:03
[
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I believe you are correct. And I will forever maintain that that is one of the best Realmslore books we've ever been given.

The Twisted Rune dates back to 2E; they were described in 1996 in the Stardock module, and again in Lands of Intrigue in 1997. They were also covered in the 3E Lords of Darkness



The Twisted Rune also made a brief and non-canon-due-to-novelization appearance in Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn (PC).
They were a very high levelled hidden encounter that the player could unwittingly bumble upon through the sheer misfortune of having a Rogue Stone gem on their person, which acted as a portal key to a hidden pocket plane when wandering the Athkatlan docks.

The encounter is brutally unfair at low to mid levels and challenging at higher ones due to a propensity to cast instant-kill and petrification spells on the protagonist - Even when completely out of line of sight and spell range!

From memory, the encounter consists of a named vampire, an ulhoon, a beholder, an archmage and a priestess and they are entirely unimpressed by the party barging in on their gathering.
AJA Posted - 21 Jan 2020 : 01:35:56

Dragon Magazine #110 (my first subscription issue and on my short list of best Dragon covers), the article All About Elminster had him as PSIONIC ABILITY 266, Attack/Defense Modes All/All.
quote:
Elminster rarely uses his psionic abilities in combat against non-psionics; he will sometimes use his disciplines while traveling. He possesses the minor disciplines body equilibrium, cell adjustment, object reading, and sensitivity to psychic impressions, and the major disciplines energy control and mind bar.


George Krashos Posted - 20 Jan 2020 : 02:51:36
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by AJA



I believe that Steven Schend was originally the one to go with vampire Manshoon, though I'd have to go back and check. Cloak and Dagger, maybe?




I believe you are correct. And I will forever maintain that that is one of the best Realmslore books we've ever been given.

The Twisted Rune dates back to 2E; they were described in 1996 in the Stardock module, and again in Lands of Intrigue in 1997. They were also covered in the 3E Lords of Darkness



They were actually first mentioned in FOR4 Code of the Harpers. And Elminster, as noted, has always had a talent for the "Invisible Art" (I hate using the term "psionics" in a fantasy context).

-- George Krashos
Wooly Rupert Posted - 19 Jan 2020 : 21:19:12
quote:
Originally posted by Dalor Darden

Elminster has always had psionic ability since the beginning before psionicist was a class.



Indeed. He's listed with psionic abilities in the Hall of Heroes book, from early 2E -- 1989.

I checked the OGB, too, but it doesn't give detailed stats.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 19 Jan 2020 : 21:13:01
quote:
Originally posted by AJA



I believe that Steven Schend was originally the one to go with vampire Manshoon, though I'd have to go back and check. Cloak and Dagger, maybe?




I believe you are correct. And I will forever maintain that that is one of the best Realmslore books we've ever been given.

The Twisted Rune dates back to 2E; they were described in 1996 in the Stardock module, and again in Lands of Intrigue in 1997. They were also covered in the 3E Lords of Darkness
AJA Posted - 19 Jan 2020 : 19:41:15

Spellstorm was after I stopped reading Realms novels. Interestingly, I was recently re-reading an old Forging the Realms article on the Lost Spell; it was published in 2013, a few years before the novel;
https://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/hunt-lost-spell (fairly general info, I can't imagine it would spoil anything of the plot except for the nature of the Lost Spell itself).

I would totally read a novel of nothing but "Elminster, Mirt, and Myrmeen cooking meals." Or Elminster and Manshoon; make it an odd couple pairing, like Snoop and Martha

I believe that Steven Schend was originally the one to go with vampire Manshoon, though I'd have to go back and check. Cloak and Dagger, maybe?

And as for Realms-terms for various toiletries, much like discussion on bras and underwear (and other bodily functions and words for cursing and sex workers) you can thank your fellow Candlekeepers for that. They asked! (Ed merely "observes and reports on the natives," as he is know to say)

Dalor Darden Posted - 19 Jan 2020 : 19:27:45
Elminster has always had psionic ability since the beginning before psionicist was a class.
VikingLegion Posted - 19 Jan 2020 : 16:01:32
I finished Spellstorm a few nights ago. As is ever the case with EG books, I found it to be a rollercoaster of up and down experiences. Therefore, in no particular order:

This book had a very interesting premise. An old Cormyrean noble has discovered "The Lost Spell" - an incantation of such extreme power it was called Azuth's crowning achievement. He puts it up for auction and invites several powerful mages to his estate, which happens to be surrounded by some strange spellstorm that suppresses the reliability of magic. This naturally attracts some of the biggest, most ambitious movers and shakers of the magical world. Elminster also attends at the behest of Mystra, who hopes that if they are all forced to spend time together, they may come to some type of accord and draft up rules of conduct for all spell-hurlers (this IMO was the weakest part of the overall plot).

Predictably all those egos under one roof (and being trapped in the manor) doesn't go well, and they start offing each other in all manner of ways. This read sort of like a 13 Ghosts meets Clue, and I found it to be a fun concept. Unfortunately it is riddled with a bunch of disposable characters that never really develop past two dimensions. I had the same problem reading this that I did watching The Witcher series - if I were to turn the page and find the manor blew up, killing all inside instantly, I simply wouldn't care. There's zero buy-in or investment on my end.

Elminster's description of Cormyrean nobility (or any nobles I suppose) on page 237 was spot on and very appropriate for rich people of all ages and worlds - including our own.

Ed, I mean Elminster has access to psionics now? Did I miss when that happened, or has it been there all along? I've read every El book from Making of a Mage up to my current present and I can't recall any exposure or training in this discipline. I know he has levels in Fighter, Thief, Cleric, and of course Wizard. Is he just a psionic wild talent with marginal ability? Did it come along with him being selected as a Chosen of Mystra? Or did Ed just happen to take a peek over at what RAS is doing with Gromph and decided his archmage can't fall behind?

darvorr - well now we have a name for the cloths that people use to wipe their arses after defecating. I recall a thread here on CK a while back regarding bras and underwear, so now we have another bit of minutia regarding the lives of all Faerunians. I'm not sure we need this level of detail, but ok....

I had never heard of the organization called The Twisted Rune, but now I'm a bit intrigued...

Ed's humor normally falls pretty flat for me. But this book had a line where Mirt and Myrmeen talk about cabbage and for some odd reason it had me snort-laughing out loud at work. I hope nobody heard me.

The solo interviews with each archmage, wherein they are allowed to state their case to Lord Halaunt about why they are the most worthy to receive the Lost Spell was excellently done. Probably the best part of the book. It was fun to see the various tactics each would employ - from honeyed words and grand designs on improving the Realms, to downright threats, both subtle and un. Some of them were such eloquent liars, they even had me fooled! I was like, "Yeah that seems fair, you should accept that bid" and then they turn out to be completely full of crap. I guess I should never be entrusted to hand out such power.

I'm not sure Ed understands what a vampire is. Did he make Manshoon one just because vamps were so culturally big at the time? In what ways does Manshoon behave like a vampire at all? It is specifically mentioned that he does not have the typical vulnerability to sunlight, so I'll give him a pass on that one. But what about EVERY other bit of vampire lore that is completely ignored? In this story Manshoon is assaulted three times by poison/venom from the Serpent Queen lady, once while he is in gaseous form! He eats and drinks with all the rest of the mages at their regular mealtime (which I know some vampires *can* do, they just don't derive any sustenance from it), and even complains when it looks like one of the morningfeasts isn't ready on time. Never once does he even casually mention a bloodthirst, a desire to drain anyone else in the house, how he's managing it over the course of 4 or 5 days, nothing! Lastly, he gets pummeled multiple times in physical encounters - Mirt really trashes him with punches and kicks. So now Mirt is a high level monk capable of magical unarmed strikes? Manshoon even takes a kick to the family jewels that doubles him over like a living man with a regular biology, not an undead being that should be all but impervious to pain, "critical hits" to the nuts, and so on. There is nothing even remotely vampire-like about Manshoon other than his ability to turn into mist.

This book had a ton of filler dialogue, specifically about Elminster, Mirt, and Myrmeen cooking meals. I felt like close to 100 pages were about them prepping and baking and testing the food and going down to the basement to retrieve stores. It was utterly bizarre. It felt like this was an 80 page novella that needed to be bulked up to full novel format.

Speaking of that Serpent Queen: it was mentioned she was a former festhall dancer. Another one of the mages in attendance - Alastra - is a Harper that uses her beauty and large breasts to often influence conflicts to her advantage. She was also a dancer before learning the Art. Combine that with the origin of El's descendant Amarune and it seems to me that a great many beautiful, talented female spellcasters have to take one level of "stripper" as a prerequisite to becoming wizards. It must be to hone their agility for all the dexterity-requiring somatic components, right? *groan*

Ok, up next is another RAS book, Archmage.


VikingLegion Posted - 12 Jan 2020 : 14:13:21
I finished Fire in the Blood yesterday. As mentioned, I've really enjoyed Erin Evans' work up to this point, but this one fell a bit flat for me. The teenage-girl angst thing has worn thin, especially in the case of Farideh. It was so disappointing to see her sleep with Lorcan after denying him for so long. I mean, I guess it always had to happen - the trope of the girl falling for the "bad boy" that will only hurt her, never realizing a better option (the nerdy good guy that will treat her better) is right in front of her face and she doesn't realize it. It's not that the scenario wasn't believable, in fact it was too believable, too formulaic, too trite - and I was hoping for something more original and outside-the-box from the author.

Her character development continues to be superb, I feel like I know these guys as well as some people in real life, I just didn't like some of the decisions they made, the overall direction of the story. Speaking of story, this book was fairly weak on it overall. I guess the main plotline is Brin and where he stands in the line of succession among Cormyrean royalty. Yeah that Brin, the least interesting character of the gang getting 90% of a novel devoted to him. And at a whopping 629 page count, more like two novels... There was lots of royal intrigue and gossip, tons of disposable nobles coming in and out with their various plots and schemes, honestly it read more like a Greenwood novel. My favorite part of the Brimstone Angel series is seeing the various machinations of the Nine Hells and their rulers. That aspect was conspicuously light in this one. It did pick up quite a bit towards the end, but it felt like too little, too late, as I was mostly checked out by that point.

All in all, this one was a bit of a miss for me, though not without some great individual moments. Up next is Ed Greenwood's Spellstorm.
VikingLegion Posted - 28 Dec 2019 : 16:11:04
quote:
Originally posted by AJA


I agree with George in that I hope you keep going. I stopped reading FR novels long ago, so I also enjoy having you slog through them for me read through and give your thoughts . Also;
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion
Myth Drannor not only ceased to exist in that moment, the idea or potential of Myth Drannor was forever wiped away from the face of the Realms.

About that....turns out that "100,000 megaton impact" was largely....artistic license (novels, everybody!). Here's Ed on it;
(http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=18725&whichpage=17, about halfway down)
*SNIP*



Thank you so much for that AJA. Also thanks for cutting it off at that point (but providing the link for others) so I can still be surprised by the next couple EG novels. That was excellently done on your part and you've successfully talked me down from the proverbial ledge. In the meantime, I've finished two books, but holidays being particularly chaotic, hadn't been able to write about either. But they kind of go hand-in-hand anyway, so here I'll just do one big review for both Companions of the Codex II and III: Rise of the King and Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf.

As mentioned earlier, Cat's religious call for ethnic cleansing really soured me on the ol' gang, so I may come off a bit more snarky and sarcastic. By the way, isn't it funny that now that Cat is a cleric everyone seems to be taking much harder and more lethal wounds in combat? Convenient.

About halfway through the first book I was thinking how much of a great relief that Athrogate and his stupid rhyming hadn't made an appearance, and then - I kid you not - he showed up not 3 pages later.... *groan*

I love what's going on with Afafrenfere (even if that's one of the all-time dumbest names) and his linkage with Kane, the original Grand Master of the Monastery of the Yellow Rose. I have a soft spot in my heart for the monk class, I've played them in every iteration of D&D, and any video game that offers the class I jump all over it. I suspect RAS feels the same way. I recall reading somewhere long ago that he originally wanted his first novel series to feature a monk as the main protagonist but TSR shot that idea down. He then created Danica to be the companion of Cadderly and he's since managed to sneak them in here and there throughout his lengthy writing career. I really enjoy Kane being some kind of spectral passenger within Afrerejerefegertfsaere and imparting some of his experience, technique, and overall learnings to the young martial artist. Afa was a fairly bland character for me before this, so it was a much-needed injection to make him vastly more interesting, as well as INSANELY more powerful. Quivering Palm technique for the win!

I'm so sick of Dahlia. Just go away already. A non-drow set up as a Matron Mother in a newly reconstituted House Daermon N'a'shezbaernon - give me a break. Yeah, I know it's just Quenthel flaunting her authority and doing it as an insult to the rest of the council, but I can't imagine this being allowed to stand, no matter how iron Quenthel's grip has become on Menzoberranzan. And as other posters have pointed out a couple pages back in this thread, if Lolth/Menzo are supposed to be all about chaos, why such a rigid hierarchy and why has Baenre been allowed to rule supreme for so long?

Not sure about Doum'wielle. I know there is a graphic novel called "Cutter" that is about To'sun Armgo and Khazzid'hea (sp?) I guess it's not necessary to read the comic, but at this point I wonder how much background detail I'm missing. After a longish redemption arc wherein Tos'un renounces his drow ways and marries/has children with a Moon Elf, apparently he throws it all away, convinces his daughter to murder his son in a duel of worthiness for the sentient blade, and then tries to maim/cripple his wife in an escape attempt? No doubt the malignant weapon had a heavy influence on these events, but it seems pretty silly to me how thoroughly both Tos'un and Doum'wielle fell under its spell.

I really like the large-scale conflict between the orcs (backed by drow, frost giants, white dragons) against the goodly folks of the Silver Marches. There's some good strategic warfare writing that I tend to be more interested in than the smaller scale melees.

I did not care for the whole "Darkening" plotline, as I just can't see Lolth being so powerful as to make an entire region of Faerun go to perpetual twilight. Why haven't we seen something like this before? Where are the gods of light to counter her? Also Drizzt's "rapture" moment when it was dispelled felt ridiculous to me, even more so when it was revealed to be Gromph pulling all the strings.

As per usual, Kimmuriel can do anything.

At some point, Drizzt and Tiago are going to have to have an epic showdown. It's been flirted with several times now, but always postponed. I feel like that duel is going to be magnificent. As this trilogy ended we have the orcs routed utterly, the giants/dragons dead or returned to the deep north, and the drow mostly scattered. But Q'Xorlarrin/Gauntlgrym still stands and I feel that will have to be the final battlefield.

Up next I take a RAS break and continue with Erin Evans tiefling twins in Fire in the Blood.
Irennan Posted - 15 Dec 2019 : 17:18:18
The Mielikki thing makes no sense at all. There have been multiple cases of goblinoids coexisting with humans and not being evil. Heck, Eldath, who's friend to Mielikki, showed that orces can create peaceful societies. Drizzt is an example of the same theme, and Mielikki is far too well aware of him. Eilistraee is another example of this theme, and Mielikki's friends with her as well. There' no way Mielikki would say stuff like that, not to mention she has no reason to do that. She only cares about people living in harmony with nature, her point isn't general goodnes, so it makes no sense for her to even express herself on the matter. That's just Catti being the proverbial ass and using her goddess as an excuse. In any case, lore being distorted is quite common in RAS' recent stuff, and he's always used Mielikki as some paragon of good and embodiment of Drizz's idea of good, so whatever.

As for Myth Drannor, you still have the ruins, as AJA pointed out. Not that it matters musch, since only RAS get to rewrite the same plot over and over and pass it as new novels these days, and RAS doesn't acknowledge anything in FR that isn't Drizztland (and when he does, he usually doesn't even bother to check any lore whatsoever).
Seravin Posted - 14 Dec 2019 : 22:41:09
Keep going Viking! I too had many problems with the Herald. So two of the Chosen were just posing as monks for 100 years? While the Simbul suffered immensely and Storm and Elm tried so hard to restore her sanity, they just..acted like monks. For 100 years. I mean..it was all just so weird.

I love Ed's world building as much as or more than anyone, but some of the plot lines in his books are just objectively bad. IDK what to say about Myth D getting nuked but not really in Ed's candlekeep responses - my thinking is that the orders were to restore the Realms back to the good old days, where Myth Drannor was a monster infested shell of an elven empire in an ancient forest---and this action brought MD back to that state if you don't think too hard.

AJA Posted - 14 Dec 2019 : 15:26:26

I agree with George in that I hope you keep going. I stopped reading FR novels long ago, so I also enjoy having you slog through them for me read through and give your thoughts . Also;
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion
Myth Drannor not only ceased to exist in that moment, the idea or potential of Myth Drannor was forever wiped away from the face of the Realms.

About that....turns out that "100,000 megaton impact" was largely....artistic license (novels, everybody!). Here's Ed on it;
(http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=18725&whichpage=17, about halfway down)

quote:
Ed: Ah, yes. Over the years, I have been slowly trained to resist including every last game-relevant lore detail in my novels, in the interests of shaping a better narrative storyline. Guess I erred too far in pruning, this time around. Sorry; this should have made it into my final draft, but didn’t (in the interests of keeping the pacing and the “fog of war” feel up). My bad.

When the POSSIBLE danger of Thultanthar crashing became apparent (i.e. when the city started flying towards Myth Drannor, not when what El did became obvious) the Srinshee contacted all the Myth Drannan baelnorn she could and commanded them to get to the Tree of Souls and magically shield and defend it, warping the Weave to form a protective barrier around it (so when Thultanthar came crashing down, it would punch through the city like a spike, and protect the Tree). This was done, and the Tree has survived. There has been some consternation among certain readers about Myth Drannor being entirely in ruins, but not so. Like any city that’s been fought through, a big cleanup is in order, but Thultanthar is a pretty small city, and Myth Drannor, being “at one with the forest” [growing trees as dwellings, trees and moss and open forest terrain everywhere, not human-habit “pave over everything” architecture, is a very large (in footprint) city. So a relatively small area of Myth Drannor was pancaked under the shattered remnants of Shade.

Ed: The 4e population figures are ROUGHLY correct, but the siege took some time to develop (mercenary armies being mustered in Sembia and then marched north), so the elves had warning, so many of their skilled artisans, pregnant shes, young children and families with young children, ailing elderly, wounded, and so on, GOT OUT (to Semberholme first and foremost, and to Evereska and elsewhere, too). Anyone who wanted to relocate rather than fight was given that option, without shame or recrimination.

In other words, the city was down to 6,400 or so “determined and able defenders” before the siege started, and they took heavy losses in the fighting by being worn down under the weight of sheer numbers; although they were inflicting very heavy losses on the attacking mercenaries, they were slowly beaten back - - and the very “open” nature of the city made it very hard to defend. The Coronal sent some vital individuals out of the fighting by making them envoys that she sent to elven communities all over the Realms to try to get volunteer reinforcements (few of which arrived on time). So in that way she saved another hundred or so.

However, the defenders died rather than surrender or flee, so the elves still in the city were reduced to around 1000 when it became apparent that the city couldn’t be held, and the children, wounded, and elders still in the city were rushed out through the gates (as seen near the end of THE HERALD). The Coronal and Fflar were literally fighting back to back at the end, with a handful of defenders still standing, when Thultanthar came down - - and almost all of that last handful made it out to Semberholme.

So at the end of THE HERALD, a few blocks of central Myth Drannor are rubble, under the shattered remnants of Thultanthar. Scavengers (monsters) are roaming the corpse-littered vicinity, and there’s minor damage to the outlying city, which is abandoned - - probably not for long. The surviving mercenaries are foraging/pillaging/behaving like brigands, and Sembia is in such disarray that there’s no chance of Sembia (or for that matter, any other realm) “reaching in” to annex or occupy the ruins. Perhaps 5,000 elves perished defending Myth Drannor - - and yes, the Tree of Souls survives. All indications are that the

NOTE: I excised Ed's comments on some novel characters here, since I don't know if that would constitute spoilers for VikingLegion: follow the link above if you wish to read them

Many things were left “up in the air” for later stories, or for DMs to decide for themselves, for their campaign. Certain matters will be revealed in my NEXT Realms novel.
Hope this helps. Sorry for causing upset to some Realms readers!
Ed

(whether that makes you feel better or worse, I leave up to you)

George Krashos Posted - 14 Dec 2019 : 14:09:13
Keep going. I, for one, enjoy your reviews/analysis.

-- George Krashos

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