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 Abolethic Sovereignty thoughts *some spoilers*
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jornan
Learned Scribe

Canada
256 Posts

Posted - 01 Mar 2011 :  03:27:32  Show Profile  Click to see jornan's MSN Messenger address Send jornan a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Despite my many reservations I have actually quite enjoyed almost every post-spellplague FR book that has been released so far. However the Abolethic Sovereignty misses the mark for me. I’ve been an FR fan for over 15 years now and an HP Lovecraft fan for much of that as well. But I didn’t really feel like these two concepts were meshed together very well in this series. The first book was the best of the three and I was very interested to get a bit more insight into the events of the spellplague, but as the series progressed it became less interesting and more and more absurd and unbelievable.

To me it felt as though most things to do with the Abolethic Sovereignty were subversive to the rich history and the general feel and tone of the Forgotten Realms. It felt like Bruce Cordell wanted to put his mark on the Realms and exert his power on everything while puffing up the importance of his characters and the threats that they faced. There is even a line that refers to how the sovereignty is more powerful than AO himself. That means that all the machinations of the Gods including the Time of Troubles pales in comparison to how important this book is. Basically this event is more important to the realms than any event that has come before and probably anything that could come after. I mean there are entities so vast and old and powerful that they are larger than entire cities. It doesn’t feel like a realms novel and it doesn’t even pretend to. It seems more like an ego trip than anything.

Another problem I had is that there are bulk paragraphs of description of the various monsters in the Abolethic Sovereignty that come across like Bruce Cordell was just stringing as many random parts of various monsters and powers together. Like a rhinoceros headed giraffe with tentacles for legs and several sets of eyes on long slimy eyestalks (I just made that one up…it’s pretty easy). There were also countless references to the incomprehensible void and metaphors describing the setting that seemed like he was trying to name an angsty death metal band rather than explain something that the readers could understand, comprehend or care about.

I did like the continuance of characters and storylines from Darkvison and Stardeep and the Lord of Bats had the potential to be a very cool character. Japheth was also an original idea for an anti-hero. But none of the characters really turned out to be all that interesting and the dialogue was also unpolished and at times felt less like a story and more like a D&D gaming session. I’m also so tired of antagonists who just want to destroy everything because they are just that diabolical. I never really understood.

Overall I give the Abolethic Sovereignty a resounding “meh”.

Synthalus
Learned Scribe

USA
170 Posts

Posted - 01 Mar 2011 :  11:52:47  Show Profile  Visit Synthalus's Homepage Send Synthalus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die."
— H.P. Lovecraft (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories)

"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die."
— H.P. Lovecraft (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories)
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6835 Posts

Posted - 01 Mar 2011 :  12:04:19  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I agree, jornan. Aboleths aren't particularly noteworthy. Remember that D&D fantasy doesn't dip as darkly into horror as Lovecraft/Cthulhu, it's a fundamentally different genre. Illithids would've been a far darker choice.

[/Ayrik]
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Dennis
Great Reader

9933 Posts

Posted - 03 Mar 2011 :  05:50:01  Show Profile Send Dennis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'd rather go for aboleths than illithids. The former's sheer cruelty and unique capabilities far outstrip the latter's.

Every beginning has an end.
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Alisttair
Great Reader

Canada
3054 Posts

Posted - 03 Mar 2011 :  12:32:43  Show Profile  Visit Alisttair's Homepage  Click to see Alisttair's MSN Messenger address Send Alisttair a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Team them up with beholders and other abberations.

Karsite Arcanar (Most Holy Servant of Karsus)

Anauria - Survivor State of Netheril as penned by me:
http://www.dmsguild.com/m/product/172023
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Blueblade
Senior Scribe

USA
804 Posts

Posted - 03 Mar 2011 :  16:24:01  Show Profile  Visit Blueblade's Homepage Send Blueblade a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Lord of Bats is a character from Roger Zelazny's classic fantasy JACK OF SHADOWS.
BB
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Kno
Senior Scribe

452 Posts

Posted - 03 Mar 2011 :  19:10:52  Show Profile Send Kno a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Is that a show of respect, there's the character Kane in the novel likewise.

z455t
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Christopher_Rowe
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
879 Posts

Posted - 03 Mar 2011 :  19:36:28  Show Profile  Visit Christopher_Rowe's Homepage Send Christopher_Rowe a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blueblade

The Lord of Bats is a character from Roger Zelazny's classic fantasy JACK OF SHADOWS.



Japheth is a character from the Book of Genesis.
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Dennis
Great Reader

9933 Posts

Posted - 03 Mar 2011 :  23:09:20  Show Profile Send Dennis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Christopher_Rowe

quote:
Originally posted by Blueblade

The Lord of Bats is a character from Roger Zelazny's classic fantasy JACK OF SHADOWS.



Japheth is a character from the Book of Genesis.



Japheth's the name of one of my former students.

Every beginning has an end.
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The Red Walker
Great Reader

USA
3546 Posts

Posted - 04 Mar 2011 :  04:06:43  Show Profile  Send The Red Walker a Yahoo! Message Send The Red Walker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jornan

Despite my many reservations I have actually quite enjoyed almost every post-spellplague FR book that has been released so far. However the Abolethic Sovereignty misses the mark for me. I’ve been an FR fan for over 15 years now and an HP Lovecraft fan for much of that as well. But I didn’t really feel like these two concepts were meshed together very well in this series. The first book was the best of the three and I was very interested to get a bit more insight into the events of the spellplague, but as the series progressed it became less interesting and more and more absurd and unbelievable.

To me it felt as though most things to do with the Abolethic Sovereignty were subversive to the rich history and the general feel and tone of the Forgotten Realms. It felt like Bruce Cordell wanted to put his mark on the Realms and exert his power on everything while puffing up the importance of his characters and the threats that they faced. There is even a line that refers to how the sovereignty is more powerful than AO himself. That means that all the machinations of the Gods including the Time of Troubles pales in comparison to how important this book is. Basically this event is more important to the realms than any event that has come before and probably anything that could come after. I mean there are entities so vast and old and powerful that they are larger than entire cities. It doesn’t feel like a realms novel and it doesn’t even pretend to. It seems more like an ego trip than anything.

Another problem I had is that there are bulk paragraphs of description of the various monsters in the Abolethic Sovereignty that come across like Bruce Cordell was just stringing as many random parts of various monsters and powers together. Like a rhinoceros headed giraffe with tentacles for legs and several sets of eyes on long slimy eyestalks (I just made that one up…it’s pretty easy). There were also countless references to the incomprehensible void and metaphors describing the setting that seemed like he was trying to name an angsty death metal band rather than explain something that the readers could understand, comprehend or care about.

I did like the continuance of characters and storylines from Darkvison and Stardeep and the Lord of Bats had the potential to be a very cool character. Japheth was also an original idea for an anti-hero. But none of the characters really turned out to be all that interesting and the dialogue was also unpolished and at times felt less like a story and more like a D&D gaming session. I’m also so tired of antagonists who just want to destroy everything because they are just that diabolical. I never really understood.

Overall I give the Abolethic Sovereignty a resounding “meh”.




Great review...you summed up my feelings as well.

A little nonsense now and then, relished by the wisest men - Willy Wonka

"We need men who can dream of things that never were." -

John F. Kennedy, speech in Dublin, Ireland, June 28, 1963
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Azuth
Senior Scribe

USA
404 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2011 :  04:39:30  Show Profile  Visit Azuth's Homepage Send Azuth a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Having just finished the trilogy a week ago, I must say that I can echo the concerns shared by jornan. The notion that anything would be more powerful than Ao is ridiculous. More importantly, one would think that Ao would be strongly and personally involved with something threatening his powers. Ao's will is absolute, and while even the introduction of Ao was controvertial, I did like his sole purpose of upholding the Balance. It made the gods fallible, and gave them a check on their powers. But, this is just strange.

I really liked some aspects of the novels, I must admit. Honestly, I had a really hard time figuring out where exactly the characters were with respect to the Realms and beyond. As a habit, I try to be very specific when criticizing the work of another author, but in this case, I think that my thoughts have already been well summarized by others.

I felt like the aboleths were a new race, and that they had powers based on their colors alone. None of the crisp battle descriptions of Bob Salvatore, or the stirring clarity of the world found in Elaine Cunningham's works. Most importantly, I couldn't find what I call "The presence of Ed" in the novels - that is to say, the spirit of what Ed intended in his Realms as I personally see it.

While I found that the Lord of Bats was intriguing, I never truly understood what Japheth had to offer him in return for salvation from the "Crimson Road." I also don't understand why drug abuse had to be introduced into the Realms, either. I feel like this book moves the Realms from a medieval setting toward a Warhammeresque one.

Again, if this threat was so great, I would have expected Ao to summon all of his gods with all of their divine might to thwart this plot. When a storyline goes so far that it passes the realm of believable in a fantasy setting, it has gone too far. I don't want to dislike this book, and I think Anusha had great potential, but I just couldn't get behind a character. And as an author, I don't understand the abrupt departure of Seren, who had been a major character in the previous two novels, for no real reason.

I would rather not be so critical of this book, or of Bruce, but I'm wondering just what WoTC is doing with its fiction department. My response to the books in order was: "Curious," "I'm a bit confused," and "What the hell just happened?"

Oh well, all tomes have a place in Candlekeep.

Azuth, the First Magister
Lord of All Spells

The greatest expression of creativity is through Art.
Offense can never be given, only taken.
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Dennis
Great Reader

9933 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2011 :  07:39:26  Show Profile Send Dennis a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Bruce assembled a great cast, but I feel each book is too thin and short for all the characters to be sufficiently exploited.

Every beginning has an end.
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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
3724 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2011 :  07:48:35  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"Jumped the shark" came to mind for me...

Not bad writing at all, I actually liked it...but just too much on some things as you have all said already.

AD&D for me!
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Dennis
Great Reader

9933 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2011 :  08:22:06  Show Profile Send Dennis a Private Message  Reply with Quote

It's too far from bad writing.

Every beginning has an end.

Edited by - Dennis on 30 Mar 2011 02:43:25
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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
3228 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2011 :  18:00:20  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
-Here is a review I wrote for Plague of Spells:

-After a week of not knowing the book was out, then another week putting it off thinking I might get it as a gift for Christmas/Hanukkah, and then another week putting it off, as it has been on-and-off snowy, and I don’t have a car anymore, and then another week putting it off being sick, I finally got Plague of Spells. It was a pretty random occurrence. Me and Rin needed to kill some time before seeing Slumdog Millionaire (An excellent movie, by the way. I recommend it to everyone. It will certainly be influencing “Crazy” Ali), so after getting some candy, and then dinner, and then beauty supplies (can you make something that is already perfect even better?), we stopped off at the bookstore. As many of you know, I’ve been waiting for this book. I finished it within the day, and collected my thoughts to write this review. So, without further ado…

-I usually start these talking about the characters. In Bruce Cordell’s past books, the characters were the bright spots for me. Be it Kiril Duskmorn, or Raidon Kane, Guge the thief, or even Guggari, I’ve always felt that Bruce’s best asset was his ability to make interesting characters (Think Raidon Kane), or characters who become interesting because of circumstances thrust upon them (Think Kiril and Angul). At parts, I felt that Plague of Spells had interesting and compelling characters. The Lord of Bats was a very interesting Fey entity. Japheth the Warlock was not. It’s good to see that Cloak from Cloak and Dagger has a kindred soul in Realmspace, though. Nogah the Kuo-Toa was interesting. Anusha was not. The “deal breaker” was Raidon Kane. As others know, I like the character. He’s a Half Star Elf Half Shou Monk. That appeals to nearly every single one of my sensibilities. Sadly, though, Plague of Spells made me like the character less.

-This is somewhat related to characters, but…Has anyone noticed a growing trend in Forgotten Realms novels, as of late. Think of this: The Twilight War trilogy has a Kraken. The Abolethic Sovereignty trilogy has a Kraken. The Twilight War trilogy has a drug-addict character. The Abolethic Sovereignty trilogy has a drug-addict character.

-Concerning the plot, the iffy part, I will say that, at times, I was interested, while at others, I wasn’t. It’s unfortunate that, through much of the book, there are more or less two groups: A group consisting of characters that I didn’t care for really, and a group consisting of characters that I cared for somewhat. If I said that, when the action focused on the characters I didn’t really care for, I skipped ahead, I’d be lying. But, it wouldn’t be lying if I said that, in those parts, I just trudged on, in the hopes that the limelight shifted to characters that I did like.

-There are a couple of random, miscellaneous points that I’ll bring up now, while doing my review. Firstly (but this is a minor point), Bruce writes that Elminster was a famous character, on page thirty-five. That he was an individual of “common knowledge”. As we know, this isn’t true. He isn’t a famous celebrity. With lead authors and designers including information like this, though, it’s pretty apparent while others who aren’t as knowledgeable in the setting as many of us here are think that this is the case. Another random point: Spellscars, apparently, can do anything. We have some Spellscarred individuals being the bane of aberrations, we have some Spellscarred individuals gaining super strength (and then dying), we have Spellscarred individuals turning trees into “super trees” and rocks into “super rocks”, we have Spellscarred individuals turning into phantasm-like specters while dreaming…Spellscars do everything, apparently.

-Those of you who know me, you know that I wanted to like the book. The rating that I am giving it isn’t because it’s a Bruce Cordell novel, or because it’s a novel that takes place in a Forgotten Realms that I don’t consider as actually happening in my Forgotten Realms, or because it has aberrations, or whatever else. I am rating this novel based only on how I think of it as a novel, plain and simple. I will end this on a note that Bruce Cordell himself penned into his novel. According to page thirty-five, and I quote, “History lessons were hard. It was all so dry and…pointless! Everything before the blue fire was irrelevant to how things were today”. In other words, having read the books, it didn’t feel like the Forgotten Realms. It felt like some other generic fantasy setting.

-Out of a possible Five Beholders, I give Plague of Spells Two Beholders and a Chicken.

-Actually, you know what? This is Plague of Spells and Bruce Cordell we are talking about here. I give Plague of Spells two Cthulus and a Chicken.

-And, here is a review I wrote for City of Torment:

-After reading the first book in the series, Plague of Spells, I didn’t know what to make of the trilogy. There were some parts I liked in that book, but I still had a bad taste in my mouth. Did I want to get the next book, City of Torment? Or, was I just better off leaving it at that? Wizards of the Coast “forced” my hand, when I received a free copy of the book from them, having requested it after being informed that signed copies of The Ghost King had run out, with me having won a copy from their The Ghost King Contest. With no other Forgotten Realms novels WotC was going to ship of any interest to me, I decided to continue this trilogy, free of charge.

-Having finished the novel, I am happy that I did not go out and pay $7.99 for it. I’ve read worse books, but, for the same amount of money, I could have gotten lunch from Chipotle, which would have left me with a much more satisfying feeling. Having read Bruce Cordell’s other novels, along with the Abolethic Sovereignty books that have already been published- and this might sound harsh- but I think Bruce is better off sticking with the stand alone, one-shot novels, rather than an entire series.

-As I’ve mentioned in the past, Bruce has an uncanny ability to create characters that, on the surface, pique my interest and seem interesting. Whether it be Merrik and Gungarri from the early days, or the more contemporary Raidon Kane and Kiril Duskmourn, there’s something about most that makes me want to learn more about them. They way Bruce’s novels have worked, there were only a few characters we’ve gotten to know better, with the “sidekicks” of past novels getting time to shine as protagonists as later novels. By and large, there hasn’t been all that much characterization and depth in stand alone novels, by virtue of having to introduce characters, plots, places, and adequately conclude all of the above.

-In City of Torment, Bruce has now had two books to give personality to his characters. In this matter, I am going to have to say that he’s failed, in some cases, worse than others. Let’s take The Lord of Bats, the enigmatic Archfey introduced in the first novel in the series. I liked the character when I first “met” him. Subsequent happenings in the book, coupled with how he was portrayed, have soured me to the character. I went from seeing him as a mysterious extraplanar creature to picturing him in my mind’s eye as looking like the Count, from Sesame Street. No joke. The characterization and personification that was injected in that character totally ruined it for me. Other characters, we get more of the same. Jasepth the warlock, he’s still, more or less, the typical “loner with dark, mysterious secrets and problems of his own in love with the pretty girl” archetype. Raidon Kane, we’ve known him for three books now, and his personality seems to be all over the place- and we’re none too much the wiser about what drives him (asides for his daughter), or other intimate details of his life. Mix in the generic “magician running from a past in which she was evil, but now she’s less so”, “mysterious antagonist who is more than meets the eye, who seems to command unmatched power, such that no one can/will beat her”, and “a shifty pirate who seems to be going along with everyone, but has a secret and agenda of his own”, and you’ve got yourself a cast!

-One of the things that bugged me- not to the point that it ruined my reading experience, but it was something that floated in the back of my mind- was the use of “4e keywords” all throughout the novel, as opposed to the “proper Forgotten Realms terms”. That is to say, Eladrin- that is, what we know as Sun/Moon/Star Elves- are called ‘Eladrin’. What we’ve always called the Material Plane, characters call ‘The World’. Undercommon has become ‘Deep Speech’. While the D&D rule set has changed, the Forgotten Realms is an independent entity, not necessarily beholden to what the rules dictate. While, as per the rules, ‘Undercommon’ is now ‘Deep Speech’, we’re not told of any changes in the Forgotten Realms, as to why the language that was referred to as ‘Undercommon’ is now “Deep Speech’. We are not told of any changes in the Forgotten Realms as to why ‘The Material Plane’, as it has always been known as, is now referred to as ‘The World’. The Elemental Chaos was also referenced, but since the Forgotten Realms has an explanation as to why A =/= B anymore, I don’t see any problems with this. The point of this specific schpiel is to highlight something that I asked Bruce Cordell specifically in action. While he responded that the Forgotten Realms would not “lose their identity” as novels (and/or sourcebooks) toed the 4e line, we have absolutely no mentions of Sun/Moon/Star Elves- these kinds of ‘Eladrin’ were specifically invoked in the book.

-And, now, just as few random points…Both ‘Rose Keep’, and ‘Star Pacts’ were featured in this novel. Given when those articles came out, and all of that, its kind of funny, a little. Referencing those materials, I can get a sense of when this book was actually written, as opposed to when it was released. The biggest thing, I think, is that I don’t know where Bruce is going with all of the Aboleth and whatnot. There’s a lot of Far Realms eccentricities going on, there’s a lot of slime appearing, and there’s Aboleth. It’s like I can see him (and other designers) trying to marry the three, but not fully getting there. The Far Realms still =/= slimes (Ghaunadaur) =/= Aboleth. It makes me wonder, in the end, where all three concepts are going to be going, and how everything is going to manage to be merged (if at all) in the end. And, the ending was very anticlimactic. Given that it’s in the FRCG, we all know that Xxiphu is going to survive and all, but given the threat that the protagonists faced, and how the conflict was ultimately resolved…It’s akin to hopping aboard a roller coaster billed as the fastest/highest/funnest/whatever (I don’t like roller coasters), having it start up, and then turning out to be more like a Himalaya ride.

-So, all in all, out of a possible Five Beholders, I give City of Torment Two Beholders.

-Haven't read the last one. I see some of you have, though. Could someone help a brother out, and give me a spoiler-free synopsis in the thread I started?

(A Tri-Partite Arcanist Who Has Forgotten More Than Most Will Ever Know)

Elves of Faerûn
Vol I- The Elves of Faerûn
Vol. III- Spells of the Elves
Vol. VI- Mechanical Compendium
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swifty
Senior Scribe

United Kingdom
517 Posts

Posted - 30 Mar 2011 :  09:45:48  Show Profile  Visit swifty's Homepage Send swifty a Private Message  Reply with Quote
so they are more powerful than ao.what next.somebody even more powerful than the luminous being from the end of waterdeep.

go back to sleep america.everything is under control.heres american gladiators.watch this.shuttup. BILL HICKS.
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