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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 - 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 didnít (in the interests of keeping the pacing and the ďfog of warĒ 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 thatís been fought through, a big cleanup is in order, but Thultanthar is a pretty small city, and Myth Drannor, being ďat one with the forestĒ [growing trees as dwellings, trees and moss and open forest terrain everywhere, not human-habit ďpave over everythingĒ 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 ďdetermined and able defendersĒ 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 ďopenĒ 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 couldnít 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 thereís 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 thereís no chance of Sembia (or for that matter, any other realm) ďreaching inĒ 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 ďup in the airĒ 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
VikingLegion Posted - 14 Dec 2019 : 11:50:32
Well... I wrote that last bit before actually finishing the book, figuring nothing too earth-shattering would happen in the last 40 pages.

I was wrong.

Myth Drannor is completely, utterly, and irrevocably destroyed after suffering a full on impact with the Shade city of Thultanthar. This bothered me much more than I thought it would. My primary attraction to the Forgotten Realms lies more in the ancient history than in the contemporary players and goings-on. What I've always loved about FR is the idea that at any time a person can potentially discover remnants of a previous kingdom - by falling into a tunnel while digging in your backyard, or breaking down a mysterious brick wall that doesn't match the rest in a dungeon, whatever.

Myth Drannor was always one of the big kids on the block for me as far as iconic/historic locations. I preferred it as a demon-haunted ruin, but even after the Coronal restored it to a fully functional city in the Byers series, I still entertained and enjoyed the thought that at any moment a new sub-basement could be discovered, a vault so ancient even the guardian baelnorn may no longer remember the family name.

But now.... nothing. Absolutely nothing could've survived the 100,000 megaton impact of that magnitude. Even sub-crypts buried multiple floors deep would've been utterly annihilated. The amount of lore, history, magical trinkets, guardians, etc lost in that collision must have been immense. 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. This saddened me so much that I had to take a small break from FR and read another book in the interim.

But, back to the grindstone. Yesterday I finished Night of the Hunter. I turned on this one fast. As soon as Cattie-brie delivered her spiel about how the Song of Mielikki told her that orcs and goblinkin are irredeemable and must be slaughtered, I decided I didn't like this new reiteration of the Companions of the Hall. It goes against everything Drizzt stands for, against everything RAS has written up to this point. It reeks of contrivance and/or game design mandates to erase any challenging "gray" grounds of morality and reduce the setting to a rather boring black and white contest. Cat's speech was totally out of character (not that I have any idea who or what her character is anymore after the umpteenth transformation), but it read more like religious-backed demagoguery, a calling for ethnic cleansing. I hated it. The term "murder hobo" gets thrown around when discussing the actual role of D&D "adventurers", and never is it more apt than here. The Companions, sans Drizzt, joke about going off to kill some orcs and all have a hearty laugh over the prospect. These guys can all get wiped out for all I care. They are no heroes.

In other news, Yvonnel (sp?) Baenre is back. Sort of. Her memories, cunning, and a good portion of her personality has been psionically transplanted into Quenthel. House Do'Urden is being reconstituted. So it really is starting to feel like a Greatest Hits compilation. As I said before, I give RAS a ton of leeway on this front - he is just trying to repair what a bunch of execs tore down. Plus the nostalgia is fun for a bit. But, like Star Wars Episode Seven, at some point it starts to feel like I've already seen this movie.

I know this review is overwhelmingly negative. There were several fine aspects of this book. I just got so mad over Cat's speech early in the book it really biased me for the remainder. Plus I'm still more than a little butt-hurt over the annihilation of Myth Drannor. Guys, I seriously considered just concluding this project altogether. But with 11 or 12 books to go, I have to see it through. Up next is Rise of the King.
VikingLegion Posted - 30 Nov 2019 : 12:30:27
I'm about 30 pages from finishing The Herald, but not sure when I'll have time for a writeup, so I'm just going to do this one now. If anything earth-shattering happens in the last chapter or two, I'll come back and amend this.

I liked the initial premise: Elminster, Storm, and Amarune are traveling across Faerun to locations of magical significance, trying to repair "Weave anchors" to stabilize magic. This small but steady approach was keeping them occupied for a bit, until the major events forced them to abandon it and go after the two biggest stationary wards in the Realms - Candlekeep and Myth Drannor.

Speaking of Candlekeep, I really liked how Ed described the place, from its architecture, to the magical shielding in place, to the overall mood - you can tell he has a great reverence for places of learning and preserved knowledge. The Prefects were especially cool once they were roused to defend the keep. I really enjoyed these segments until all hell broke loose. It was silly how many monks had been covertly slain and replaced by various agents. The Shadovar had several plants there, but so too did the Moonstars, Elminster, Larloch, towards the end it felt like there might be more imposters than actual monks. It was very Greenwood in its utter lack of subtlety and "MORE is better" approach. When contemplating who else might be after the mighty magics stored in Candlekeep, Telamont Tanthul muses how "thousands of archmages are ready to pounce." I've always felt the term archmage should refer to the undisputed masters of wizardry, and there would rarely be more than a handful extant at any one time. But I have to remind myself, this is Ed's Realms and numbers don't ever matter.

Lady Alustriel and Laeral also appear, answering a question I had as to what they've been up to for the last 100 years. Apparently posing as monks. For a century. I have a weird question about them and Storm... In the past I've seen all their hair being described as free flowing and lively, as though constantly stirred by a non-existent breeze. Or they can change the styling on a whim with concentration alone and no manual manipulation required. But in this book their hair now functions as some kind of additional appendage(s), fully prehensile and capable of wielding multiple weapons at once, picking up and throwing man-sized opponents, grasping walls and/or tree limbs to steady them, etc. Has it always been this way and I just somehow missed it? Or is this a post-Spellplague augmentation?

I had a strange thought regarding Shar while reading this book. The entire Sundering series sees Shar's hand in several simultaneous schemes to seize power:
1. The abduction (and draining) of Chosen in a massive concentration camp.
2. The attempt to drive an earth primordial away so she can claim dominion over the Underdark caverns and strengthen the link between the Shadowfell and Toril.
3. The opening of her "eye" and the all-consuming Maelstrom in Sembia as part of The Night Cycle.
4. Seizing on the power of the wards in MD and CK to warp the Weave forever into her Shadow Weave, claiming dominion over magic for all time.
5. Etc.

Isn't all this ambition, this striving for victory, antithetical to her portfolio of despair, hopelessness, ennui? I feel like Shar is a fundamental contradiction at her core. As are her followers: they profess to worship a deity that considers hope to be anathema, but then they all have their own various plots and schemes to gain power. They all hope to rise to greatness within her church... shouldn't that make them the very worst and most faithless worshippers?

Ed's baelnorn are incorporeal spirits? I always considered them as being good-aligned elven liches - and therefore possessing physical, tangible bodies. I guess they're more like ghosts than liches, that surprised me.

Towards the end, as Myth Drannor is on the brink of being overwhelmed, Elminster comes up with a rather interesting solution to distract the thousands of mercenaries assailing the city. He has "collected" several powerful enemies over the years, plunging them into a magical stasis to keep them sealed away from the Realms. I'm not sure why that would be preferable to outright destroying them, but I'll just go with it. He, along with the Srinshee, Laeral, and Alustriel, teleport several of them into the midst of the mercenary camps, releasing them from stasis at the same time. The beasts - a black dragon, a dracolich, two beholders, and an illithid - are a bit confused at the abrupt awakening, and naturally lash out with maximum violence. I thought this was a really cool and creative idea. But at the same time, isn't it a little too convenient? El mentions that this is a great last resort weapon, because "If I fall in battle they'll all be released anyway." But where was this concern or issue in previous Elminster books? Like when he was disintegrated and sent to Hell. Wouldn't that condition be enough to release all these baddies long before now? I'll try not to think about it too much, because this was a fun chapter.

Ok, that's what I have for now. About 30-40 pages left in this one and things aren't looking great. Larloch is super-charged up from the magical strength of Candlekeep. Telamont is zeroing in on the utter annihilation of Myth Drannor, his sons are slaying every baelnorn in sight and plundering crypt after crypt after crypt. The heroes are down to just a handful of pocket resistance, it feels like the reborn glory of Myth Drannor is going to be short-lived in the grand scheme of things.
VikingLegion Posted - 30 Nov 2019 : 11:45:41
quote:
Originally posted by Mirtek

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

There was a cool region called Gulthandor with a Narnia-like talking godking lion. I'd look into the area further but I don't know if it's all going to go away post-Sundering
The lion was Nobanion, some lion demigod who really hasn't been that important in published realms. IIRC he was reduced to the weakened corrupted state he's encountered in the novel after losing to Malar shortly after or during the spell plague



Yeah when they first saw him he was covered in blue flame and driven to a mad, feral, aggressive state. Once they purged that plague-fire from him he regained his normal mind and became a pretty important ally for a short while. It was an interesting chapter, I had not previously heard anything about this character or entire region.
Mirtek Posted - 28 Nov 2019 : 23:57:06
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

There was a cool region called Gulthandor with a Narnia-like talking godking lion. I'd look into the area further but I don't know if it's all going to go away post-Sundering
The lion was Nobanion, some lion demigod who really hasn't been that important in published realms. IIRC he was reduced to the weakened corrupted state he's encountered in the novel after losing to Malar shortly after or during the spell plague
Renin Posted - 24 Nov 2019 : 20:35:07
The biggest part I liked of The Reaver was when I went 'Oh! This is one way they are fixing up the Spellplague nonsense! Good job, you!"
VikingLegion Posted - 23 Nov 2019 : 17:23:36
I finished The Sentinel today. Right off the bat I read the main character is named Kleef. Oh boy... Kleef. I think I probably harp on names more than anyone (although Wooly comes close). I just find it hard to believe an author would spend weeks, months, (longer?) to sketch out an initial concept for a story, build it, refine it, keep submitting drafts and tinkering around - but yet doesn't take just a few minutes to think about one of the most important details possible.

I see Malik makes another appearance - Denning's old pre-Spellplague pawn of Cyric and vaguely stereotypical Arabic conman. He was just as wheedling and annoying as I remembered him, but for some reason I found him to be mildly entertaining this time around. Not sure why.

There has been just a tiny bit of overlap in these Sundering novels - like the boy Stedd from the previous book, The Reaver, mentioned breaking out of the concentration camp featured in The Adversary. In this current book we see the captain of the ship they used being the same as the one from a previous one. It's a nice touch, having some interlocking pieces. But honestly it's so little it barely makes a dent, and this series seems like it didn't have much in the way of overall concept design other than to say Shar is up to something and it involves Chosen - and then letting the 6 authors all go their own ways.

This story involved a group of various Chosen - one each of Helm, Siomorphe (the deity I despise above all others), Sune, and Myrkul (but really Cyric) trying to transport an artifact to a specific destination in order to prevent an earth primordial from abandoning Toril, which in turn would somehow strengthen Shar in some vague way that I kinda, sorta understand. It didn't feel like the most inspired of efforts, but it wasn't a bad book. The characters had an interesting dynamic, lots of intrigue, plots within plots, and so on. An ok book, but nothing necessary unless you are a completionist.

Up next, naturally is the final book of the series, The Herald.
Madpig Posted - 21 Nov 2019 : 13:53:18
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Not to derail or anything, everyone feel free to continue the wonderful conversation going on in the last page. But in the meantime I've finished The Adversary.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Erin Evans is one of the best character builders around (with a nod to Elaine, the ultimate in that respect). I swear, if I didn't know better I'd say she was tricking me into reading (and enjoying!) a cheesy teen romance novel - like some kind of guilty pleasure I don't want to admit to. Her depiction of the sisters is so spot on, I feel like I've known them for years. Their fears and insecurities are so well-developed. Lorcan's ability to prey upon and manipulate them is scary good - to the point where I hope Erin never notices me and decides to psychologically destroy me. Seriously, I often think about that when I read things like Game of Thrones, or watch a movie like Silence of the Lambs. For the author to be able to conceive of such darkness and deviousness, do they have to have a little bit of it in them? Erin, if you ever read this, I'M JUST KIDDING, PLEASE DO NOT CONDEMN MY SOUL TO THE NINE HELLS.

Speaking of, her depiction of the Hells, all the fiendish plotting, back door deals, and overall hierarchy is amazing. It's funny, the actual story itself - a concentration camp filled with Chosen being harvested in some Shar plotline (you know, that Sundering thing) takes a backseat, at least in my mind, to the development of the tiefling sisters, Farideh's relationship with Lorcan, and the Hellish machinations.

Very good book, I can't wait to see the next step in this story. But up next is book 3 of the Sundering: The Reaver.



I think everyone has their pet dislike. Like Woolys war of the spiderqueen series. Mine is Evan's books. I like her writing style and character building etc, but big BUT is that I get kind of Twilight vibe from her books. And I really tried to like them.
VikingLegion Posted - 19 Nov 2019 : 21:24:22
I finished The Reaver. I can't say I cared for it much, at least early on. I tend to dislike books where the main characters are scum. In Byers' Brotherhood of the Griffon quintet the main group were mercenaries - who by definition are killers for money - but they had some dim spark of honor or scruples in their own way. Now Byers has gone even farther along the evil spectrum and casted a bloodthirsty, completely immoral pirate as the main character. Accompanying him is a self-serving Red Wizardess, and lastly a boy Chosen of Lathander (it's a weird group that got thrown together by fate). Several of the early alliances really strained credulity - you just had to /handwave a bit and let it happen.

The young boy, Stedd, seems to exude goodness and innocence - so much so that the pirate and Red Wizard start behaving in ways that seemed very out of character. It was hard to tell how much of this was him simply growing on them (unlikely, WAY too much of an alignment change) or if he was sending out a supernatural aura that was slowly and subtly shifting them along towards some semblance of goodness. I don't know... I'm all for a good redemption arc, but when it's forced like that simply by being in the presence of a Chosen and not because it's what the characters would've chosen for themselves, it seems so much less authentic.

Priests were able to cure spellplague effects in this one, I'm not sure I've seen that allowed anywhere else? Did Byers go off the reservation on that one?

There was a cool region called Gulthandor with a Narnia-like talking godking lion. I'd look into the area further but I don't know if it's all going to go away post-Sundering.

The ritual towards the end wherein the Emerald Enclave link the power of Silvanus to that of a newly risen Lathander (see what I did there?) in order to combat the nigh-eternal storms of Umberlee was really cool. All the various sylvan creatures of the area showed up to link their own power to the ritual, and the way Byers wrote it was so awesome to visualize. Easily my favorite aspect of this book.

Overall it was ok, some hits, some misses, but generally the weakest of the Sundering series thus far. Up next is Troy Denning's The Sentinel.
Seravin Posted - 17 Nov 2019 : 10:05:52
I really like Erin in interviews and I see the appeal of her books but for some reason I couldn't force myself to finish the 2nd book in the Brimstone Angels saga...I guess I need to power through and try again because people I trust have raved about them and I'm sure I'll enjoy them in the end.

Sorry for the de-rails Viking, the community needs a place to vent the death of the FR novels I suppose!
VikingLegion Posted - 16 Nov 2019 : 12:38:04
Not to derail or anything, everyone feel free to continue the wonderful conversation going on in the last page. But in the meantime I've finished The Adversary.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Erin Evans is one of the best character builders around (with a nod to Elaine, the ultimate in that respect). I swear, if I didn't know better I'd say she was tricking me into reading (and enjoying!) a cheesy teen romance novel - like some kind of guilty pleasure I don't want to admit to. Her depiction of the sisters is so spot on, I feel like I've known them for years. Their fears and insecurities are so well-developed. Lorcan's ability to prey upon and manipulate them is scary good - to the point where I hope Erin never notices me and decides to psychologically destroy me. Seriously, I often think about that when I read things like Game of Thrones, or watch a movie like Silence of the Lambs. For the author to be able to conceive of such darkness and deviousness, do they have to have a little bit of it in them? Erin, if you ever read this, I'M JUST KIDDING, PLEASE DO NOT CONDEMN MY SOUL TO THE NINE HELLS.

Speaking of, her depiction of the Hells, all the fiendish plotting, back door deals, and overall hierarchy is amazing. It's funny, the actual story itself - a concentration camp filled with Chosen being harvested in some Shar plotline (you know, that Sundering thing) takes a backseat, at least in my mind, to the development of the tiefling sisters, Farideh's relationship with Lorcan, and the Hellish machinations.

Very good book, I can't wait to see the next step in this story. But up next is book 3 [edit, book 4] of the Sundering: The Reaver.
VikingLegion Posted - 16 Nov 2019 : 12:26:36
quote:
Originally posted by Renin

VikingLegion,

Iíve spent the better part of a week in the evening hours before bed just reading through your thread here. First, great nostalgia. Yes, I too am from the fan generation of when these books were there for me in my tween and teen years. The Azure Bonds trilogy, Moonshae trilogy (with the next becoming published!), 6 Drizzít books, and of course, Elfshadow! My favorite! (but I love all things Elven, and Elven lore). Oh yeah, Spellfire too.

Second, ...you read a lot of crap books as well! LOL. I could not, nor will I, ever read many, or any, of the ho-hum Classes books, but its fun to read that there are some gems in there.

This thread, and even conversation, just makes me wistful of a history that I donít believe will be repeated. I donít believe the novels line will ever return. Hasbroís plans for how D&D supplements roll out is firmly established, and it doesnít need to do any more than it does.

Also...not that Iím burying any of them!-but I was maudlin in thinking along these lines very recently, of the fact that no one is getting any younger. Iím heartened to hear that Ed has been doing well in recovering from some kind of heart surgery. Iím not calling the rest of the writers or game designers ancient or anything! But the zenith of their work on the Realms, the published Realms, is passed. I donít truly know who the people are that are working on the current stuff, and considering what has happened in their publishing the last 10 years, I donít feel inclined to trust it (and yes, this is based on feelings and emotional responses-I have no problem being called out and being told Iím objectively wrong, should that be the case.)

I just feel...I guess I just feel sad that I consider a huge part of my childhood to growing adult years is gone. But I love the walk down memory lane with this thread.

Thanks.





Thanks for the comments, that's exactly the purpose of this thread. Just a few days ago I was at a Barnes and Noble looking for a book for my wife. I went over to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section just to peek around. The entire "D&D" section consisted of one shelf with maybe 10 or so RAS books, 1 Greenwood, and one lonely Dragonlance book that probably has no earthly business hanging out there but has been forgotten for the last 15 years.

It made me sigh. I recall entire multi-shelved sections devoted to my worlds of TSR - Ravenloft, Darksun, Dragonlance, Planescape, Greyhawk/Mystara/generic, and of course a massive amount of Forgotten Realms material. Now, like you said, a LOT of these books are dreck. There was certainly a tendency towards bloat during the golden years. But there are also so many terrific gems among those worlds, so many years I spent in absolute wonder and awe contemplating the stories, the locations, the events, happening on these various planets/settings. How would a young version of me in 2019 get exposed to these lands? Back in the late 80s or early 90s I picked up Darkwalker on Moonshae and Dragons of Autumn Twilight - the first of the Dragonlance Chronicles books by Weis and Hickman - off the shelf of one of my teachers during a study hall period. I was just bored I guess, no homework to do (or that I felt like doing) and I thought the covers looked cool. Those books changed my life. I get all wistful thinking about them and I want there to be a way to expose the next generation of kids to them, so they don't fade away into utter obscurity.

Ok, sorry for the rambling. I've been away from this site for about a week and was surprised (and very pleased) by how many new posts were made.
Irennan Posted - 16 Nov 2019 : 00:25:00
quote:
Originally posted by Kellemonster

Drow are supremacist racists living in a hostile underdark whose own cultural understanding of themselves is always in opposition to their surface cousins. The idea that they would say "that's what drow do " seems reasonable to me. Add on top of it the psychology element of needing to say this to themselves to convince themselves that this insane Loth created society is "normal" or "right" so that they are always saying this to themselves and I actually like it.



Disagree on the first point. Characters thinking of themselves or their people in terms of their race is a thing commonly seen in fantasy, but it's just innatural when you put it into perspective. I really doubt that drow perceive themselves in opposition to surface race (as in defining themselves in opposition to those races, because that's the only case that could justify a "it's what humans would do" kind of expression, and because drow--or even humans--are far too proud for that). Sure, most of them are *told* about those races, but very few experience it first-hand, and none of them grow in opposition to those races. I'd think that in order to go as far as defining yourself in opposition to a certain people, you'd have to experience hostility with them for a long and defining period of your life.

For example, a soldier saying "It's what a [X-nationality] soldier would do" would be reasonable in a long war against a faction that regularly commits atrocities. After all, he's a soldier like those in his opposing army, so is he a monster too? No, because [X-nationality] soldiers don't act like their enemies. He sees his sense of self, tied to his profession of killing for his nation, compromised by the similarities that he has with amoral soldiers, and defines himself in opposition to them (because he's interacted with them a lot, and they left scars) to resolve his crisis. In this case is a statement of identity, which *the character* would want to make becuase his perception of his identity was compromised.

Even racism/supremacism wouldn't lead people to perceive themselves, or those like themselves in terms of their race, because their race is "normality", and the rest is not. So, their people would simply be people, not "X race", while the rest would be "X race".

It just sounds like the author entering the book and telling you "See, it's not just this character that acts like this, it's what this race does" which is redundant.

Agree on the second point (in fact, I made that exception myself), but it needs to be supported by other examples of doubt or self-convincing, by actually playing out that uncertainity. Otherwise, it's just saying. However, in the book, the main cast don't seem to have particular doubts about the Lolthite way of living. They just follow it without thinking too much about it, IIRC. If there's meaninful doubt, then I'll change my mind, but I can't recall any in Dissolution (or even Insurrection).
Ryld and Halisstra change a bit later on in the series (at which point the expression entirely disappears), but after that it's all back to the beginning.

All in all, however, this is just a pet peeve. It's when things like this start to pile up that they become problems.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 16 Nov 2019 : 00:11:10
quote:
Originally posted by Kellemonster

Drow are supremacist racists living in a hostile underdark whose own cultural understanding of themselves is always in opposition to their surface cousins. The idea that they would say "that's what drow do " seems reasonable to me. Add on top of it the psychology element of needing to say this to themselves to convince themselves that this insane Loth created society is "normal" or "right" so that they are always saying this to themselves and I actually like it.



I can see the argument against the specific phrase, myself... People wouldn't refer to themselves by race, like that. It would be more likely that they'd say something like "it's what our people have done for generations" or "it's Lolth's way" or even "anyone else would do the same" instead of "it's what a drow would do."

By the same token, I wouldn't expect an elf to say "it's what an elf would do" or anything like that.
Kellemonster Posted - 15 Nov 2019 : 23:54:51
Drow are supremacist racists living in a hostile underdark whose own cultural understanding of themselves is always in opposition to their surface cousins. The idea that they would say "that's what drow do " seems reasonable to me. Add on top of it the psychology element of needing to say this to themselves to convince themselves that this insane Loth created society is "normal" or "right" so that they are always saying this to themselves and I actually like it.
Renin Posted - 14 Nov 2019 : 20:46:23
VikingLegion,

Iíve spent the better part of a week in the evening hours before bed just reading through your thread here. First, great nostalgia. Yes, I too am from the fan generation of when these books were there for me in my tween and teen years. The Azure Bonds trilogy, Moonshae trilogy (with the next becoming published!), 6 Drizzít books, and of course, Elfshadow! My favorite! (but I love all things Elven, and Elven lore). Oh yeah, Spellfire too.

Second, ...you read a lot of crap books as well! LOL. I could not, nor will I, ever read many, or any, of the ho-hum Classes books, but its fun to read that there are some gems in there.

This thread, and even conversation, just makes me wistful of a history that I donít believe will be repeated. I donít believe the novels line will ever return. Hasbroís plans for how D&D supplements roll out is firmly established, and it doesnít need to do any more than it does.

Also...not that Iím burying any of them!-but I was maudlin in thinking along these lines very recently, of the fact that no one is getting any younger. Iím heartened to hear that Ed has been doing well in recovering from some kind of heart surgery. Iím not calling the rest of the writers or game designers ancient or anything! But the zenith of their work on the Realms, the published Realms, is passed. I donít truly know who the people are that are working on the current stuff, and considering what has happened in their publishing the last 10 years, I donít feel inclined to trust it (and yes, this is based on feelings and emotional responses-I have no problem being called out and being told Iím objectively wrong, should that be the case.)

I just feel...I guess I just feel sad that I consider a huge part of my childhood to growing adult years is gone. But I love the walk down memory lane with this thread.

Thanks.

Madpig Posted - 14 Nov 2019 : 09:43:23
Atleast for me the most annoying thing in that series was inconsistancy of characters between the books. Some of the books were good (Kemp stands out, as usual), but others were abysmal(pun intended).
Irennan Posted - 13 Nov 2019 : 17:01:19
quote:
Originally posted by Kellemonster

Put aside the illogic of the larger plot. What didn't you like about dissolution? I thought it captured the nature of a drow city and the implications of the existence of powerful magic and a crazed evil goddess would have on a society very well.



I don't have much against Dissolution. Just some bits in which the characters think stuff like "it's what a drow would do". That immediately breaks immersion, because it'd be like a human thinking "yeah, that's what a human would do", which in't good writing. Unless you want to convey the feeling of someone trying to convince themselves that there's no other way. Even then 1)that specific way of conveying this is rather strange 2)the characters in WotSQ aren't trying to convince themselves (which would imply doubting their lifestyle), they actively embrace the Lolthite way of living--even Ryld who's less of a backstabber than the others.

That said, the society itself doesn't make sense as is, worbuidling wise, but that's another topic, as the authors had no say on that.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 13 Nov 2019 : 15:18:30
quote:
Originally posted by Kellemonster

Put aside the illogic of the larger plot. What didn't you like about dissolution? I thought it captured the nature of a drow city and the implications of the existence of powerful magic and a crazed evil goddess would have on a society very well.



I've only read the books once, and I don't recall much memorable about any of them -- so I can't narrow my complaints down to just one book.

But I can't put aside the illogic of the larger plot. All the books are part of the larger plot, so that illogic applies to all of them.

And across all the books, the characters were mostly unlikable and Chaotic Stupid. Sure, I get that the drow like chaos and that they're a bunch of backstabbing gits -- but this was a small group, given a specific mission by their superiors, and they were still barely capable of working together. For a race that's supposed to be very intelligent, they consistently fail to demonstrate that on anything aside from an individual basis, and not always even then.

One other thing that bugged me, though: the game of Sava. Okay, chess with a chaotic element involved. That works -- until you realize that the chaotic element is the option to throw a turn, just one time, for a 1 in 36 chance of a beneficial outcome. That's only worth taking a chance if you know you're going to lose. I'd think, if there was really supposed to be a chaotic element, that the die rolls would happen more frequently, and with a wider range of results.
Kellemonster Posted - 13 Nov 2019 : 05:46:38
Put aside the illogic of the larger plot. What didn't you like about dissolution? I thought it captured the nature of a drow city and the implications of the existence of powerful magic and a crazed evil goddess would have on a society very well.

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