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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
3184 Posts

Posted - 27 Apr 2011 :  17:55:36  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
-I’ve read my local library out of books I find interesting. I’m going to give the library a break for a month or two, so more new books get shuffled in, and I have some new stuff to read. In the meantime, I decided to go back into my Forgotten Realms book collection, since I’m getting interested in D&D and the setting again, and read some of the more obscure, lesser-known books. The first one I pulled out was The Parched Sea, by Troy Denning, the first book in the Harpers series.

-All in all, it was a pretty quick read. The basic plotline is fairly simple: The Zhentarim want to enslave the Bedine to establish safe trading routes through the Anauroch, a Harper is sent to stop them, and zaniness ensues. Lander, the Harper agent, comes off as a typical Harper. He was a fairly bland character, I thought, with the only interesting tidbits about him was that his mother was a Cyricist, and that he wore an eye-patch because a pet falcon he had in his youth pecked that eye out. Ruha, on the other hand, I liked a bit more. She appears in the Return of the Archwizards trilogy (which I read before I picked up this book), so The Parched Sea is something of a prequel for her for those of you who read the books in the order I read them in. I found Ruha more interesting in The Parched Sea than I did in Return of the Archwizards because she was in her “native element”, so to speak. Kadumi, Ruha’s 13-year-old brother-in-law, was an interesting character.

-One element that I liked a great deal about The Parched Sea was that, when a chapter had a Bedine character as it’s main focus, it was written with a specifically Bedine point of view. For example, At’ar is the Bedine goddess of the sun who, like in the cultures of plenty of ancient civilizations, actually is the sun. When mentioning the sun, Denning would reference it as At’ar, rather than as the sun. Same thing with other elements of the desert, such as sandstorms, for example. Sandstorms weren’t sandstorms. Sandstorms were Kozah’s wrath. Relatively minor things, but they make the novel feel a lot more exotic, since the Bedine are such a relatively exotic culture. Lander’s discussions about religious synthesis of Cyric being N’asr, and Eldath being free everywhere else on Faerūn were interesting little factoids that enriched the story.

-Another feature that makes the book feel more exotic is the regular use of the Bedine language. I actually have a problem with this, though. These pseudo-Arabic words are used throughout the book, but translations are not given anywhere. Context clues help, as do repeated uses, but a dictionary of these terms at the end of the book would have been appreciated- I don’t keep an Arabic dictionary or the Anauroch sourcebook on hand at all times, and thus, sometimes came across words that were never specifically defined that basically went over my head. Such things didn’t take away my understanding of what was going on in the story, but not remembering what ‘X’ meant and saying to myself, “Yeah, okay, whatever…” isn’t exactly the best thing you happening.

-The overall plotline, which was a basic trope- the bad guys lead a force to somewhere where the lone good guy has to unify people that don’t necessarily like each other in order to repel them- was a little weak and unrealistic, I think. The Zhentish force, it was mentioned, numbered 2,000, plus Abashi mercenaries. Yes, they had magic, something the Bedine didn’t have, and were a unified fighting force, unlike the Bedine, but I find it very unrealistic that 2,000 Zhents, plus their mercenaries, would actually pose a threat to subjugating the Bedine, throughout the entire Anauroch. The ending to the book, another trope- foreigner who is tired of living with unfair rules decides to move to a place where he can be free- was also unrealistic. Lander the Sembian, who was going to take Ruha back to Sembia with him, died. We know that Ruha eventually left the Anauroch, made it to Sembia (presumably) and became a Harper based on the Return of the Archwizards. Ruha, who had basically no support in leaving the Anauroch and making it to Sembia, a completely foreign land, somehow did, and even somehow became a Harper, despite not knowing anybody. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but…

-Out of Five Beholders, I give The Parched Sea Three Beholders and a Chicken.

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

Elves of Faerūn
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Kentinal
Great Reader

4350 Posts

Posted - 27 Apr 2011 :  18:12:00  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
*Blink* Who is LK?


"Small beings can have small wisdom," the dragon said. "And small wise beings are better than small fools. Listen: Wisdom is caring for afterwards."
"Caring for afterwards ...? Ker repeated this without understanding.
"After action, afterwards," the dragon said. "Choose the afterwards first, then the action. Fools choose action first."
"Judgement" copyright 2003 by Elizabeth Moon
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
31406 Posts

Posted - 27 Apr 2011 :  18:23:48  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kentinal

*Blink* Who is LK?





Lord Karsus, the name Dags uses on the WotC forums.

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Kentinal
Great Reader

4350 Posts

Posted - 27 Apr 2011 :  18:49:12  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wooly Thanks, it did confuse me because in some places I am LK *S*

"Small beings can have small wisdom," the dragon said. "And small wise beings are better than small fools. Listen: Wisdom is caring for afterwards."
"Caring for afterwards ...? Ker repeated this without understanding.
"After action, afterwards," the dragon said. "Choose the afterwards first, then the action. Fools choose action first."
"Judgement" copyright 2003 by Elizabeth Moon
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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
3184 Posts

Posted - 27 Apr 2011 :  19:05:19  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by Kentinal

*Blink* Who is LK?





Lord Karsus, the name Dags uses on the WotC forums.



-I'd use it here, but it's obviously too late, having made this account.

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

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Hawkins
Great Reader

USA
2130 Posts

Posted - 27 Apr 2011 :  21:22:14  Show Profile  Visit Hawkins's Homepage Send Hawkins a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dagnirion

-I'd use it here, but it's obviously too late, having made this account.
All you have to do is send an PM to Alaundo asking him to change it. And then, when your old log in is not working, try using the new user name. =)

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Quale
Master of Realmslore

1757 Posts

Posted - 27 Apr 2011 :  23:15:07  Show Profile Send Quale a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I wish this novel took place in Calimshan or Raurin
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GMWestermeyer
Learned Scribe

USA
215 Posts

Posted - 28 Apr 2011 :  01:11:59  Show Profile  Visit GMWestermeyer's Homepage Send GMWestermeyer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This novel, Waterdeep, and Dragonwall are the three 'good' Denning FR novels, IMO. After that, whether through his choice or the editors his FR novels just kept adding bad ideas to the Realms.

I really liked Ruha in this book, and I thought he actually covered the Zhentarim really well. The reviewers comments on Lander are sadly on the mark, he was so bland I forgot his fate.

Denning was best with non-Western fantasy societies, I understand he was part of the Dark Sun team and that he wrote an interesting Planescape novel. I wish they had turned him loose on Kara-tur novels, instead of Faerun.

"Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything that is even remotely true."
Homer Simpson, _The Simspons_
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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
3184 Posts

Posted - 28 Apr 2011 :  06:35:23  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hawkins

quote:
Originally posted by Dagnirion

-I'd use it here, but it's obviously too late, having made this account.
All you have to do is send an PM to Alaundo asking him to change it. And then, when your old log in is not working, try using the new user name. =)



-Did not know that.

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

Elves of Faerūn
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Vol. VI- Mechanical Compendium
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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
3184 Posts

Posted - 28 Apr 2011 :  06:44:43  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GMWestermeyer

This novel, Waterdeep, and Dragonwall are the three 'good' Denning FR novels, IMO. After that, whether through his choice or the editors his FR novels just kept adding bad ideas to the Realms.


-Here's my reviews of Dragonwall: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19848662/LKs_Novel_Review:_Dragonwall

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

Elves of Faerūn
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Vol. VI- Mechanical Compendium
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GMWestermeyer
Learned Scribe

USA
215 Posts

Posted - 28 Apr 2011 :  07:30:20  Show Profile  Visit GMWestermeyer's Homepage Send GMWestermeyer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dagnirion

quote:
Originally posted by GMWestermeyer

This novel, Waterdeep, and Dragonwall are the three 'good' Denning FR novels, IMO. After that, whether through his choice or the editors his FR novels just kept adding bad ideas to the Realms.


-Here's my reviews of Dragonwall: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19848662/LKs_Novel_Review:_Dragonwall



Not a bad review. I like Dragonwall but the ending, the parts after the Shou and Tuigan conflict is resolved, felt rushed, ill-considered, and unrealistic.

But the stuff prior to that made up for it.

The sad thing is, I think Denning himself would have prefered to write Kara-tur novels.

"Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything that is even remotely true."
Homer Simpson, _The Simspons_
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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
3184 Posts

Posted - 28 Apr 2011 :  18:53:40  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GMWestermeyer

The sad thing is, I think Denning himself would have prefered to write Kara-tur novels.


-I wouldn't have minded.

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

Elves of Faerūn
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Vol. VI- Mechanical Compendium
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Marc
Senior Scribe

618 Posts

Posted - 29 Apr 2011 :  21:47:51  Show Profile Send Marc a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dagnirion

Ruha, who had basically no support in leaving the Anauroch and making it to Sembia, a completely foreign land, somehow did, and even somehow became a Harper, despite not knowing anybody. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but…




According to Malik in Trial of Cyric:

''The time came when the Zhentarim sent a party to open a trade route through Anauroch. The Harpers, in turn, sent an agent to incite the desert people against this. Ruha glimpsed this man, and from that moment she wanted him. She cast an enchantment to make him love her, but he would not forget his mission and died in battle. Ruha made no lament, for jackals do not mourn the death of any man. Yet, having tasted the fruit of love, she had no wish to return to her oasis and live alone, so she stole the agent's silver pin and left Anauroch to find others like him.

And that is how Ruha came to the Harpers.''

.
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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
3184 Posts

Posted - 29 Apr 2011 :  22:02:39  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
-Yes, already knew that. I'll quote myself:

"We know that Ruha eventually left the Anauroch, made it to Sembia (presumably) and became a Harper based on the Return of the Archwizards. Ruha, who had basically no support in leaving the Anauroch and making it to Sembia, a completely foreign land, somehow did, and even somehow became a Harper, despite not knowing anybody. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but…"

-Boldness added for effect. I'd be akin to, contemporary, a Bedouin woman leaving her home in the Negev, eventually making residence in France, where she becomes a member of the Freemasons, dispute being a complete stranger in her new home, knowing nobody, not knowing the language, not being familiar with the customs, and so on.

-And, Malik's account is biased and incorrect, anyway. Ruha never enchanted Lander to love her, as far as we know.

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

Elves of Faerūn
Vol I- The Elves of Faerūn
Vol. III- Spells of the Elves
Vol. VI- Mechanical Compendium

Edited by - Lord Karsus on 29 Apr 2011 22:03:50
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Kerrigan
Seeker

Germany
31 Posts

Posted - 01 May 2011 :  13:26:53  Show Profile  Visit Kerrigan's Homepage Send Kerrigan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, that's Maliks character, isn't it? :D
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Varl
Learned Scribe

USA
260 Posts

Posted - 29 Dec 2014 :  22:03:34  Show Profile Send Varl a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thread necro.

I just finished reading this novel. Overall, I thought it was a good read, and helped define and set the feel of life in Anauroch and with the Bedine. The death of Lander at the end of the novel seemed forced and unnecessary. The primary protagonist (other than Ruha) being taken out by poison the night before the climactic battle? Meh. I guess I was expecting a happier ending to the novel, such as they succeed in destroying the Zhents, and Lander takes Ruha to Sembia, or even decides to stay in Anauroch with her. Overall, a very disappointing and bitter way to end the main protagonist and the story along with it.

If Lander had survived, and helped the Bedine crush the remaining Zhentarim, while perhaps losing his other eye in the battle, it would have made for a much more interesting and poignant ending to the novel to have Lander helped home as a Bedine hero and war veteran to Sembia by his newlywed Bedine wife. For her to see the beauty that is Sembia firsthand with him that he's described all along while in Anauroch, and for him to know what she sees in his mind's eye via her descriptions and dialogue. That's how I would have ended it.

Ratings

Depiction of Bedine life- A
Story arcs- B-
Characters- B+
Conclusion- D

Overall Grade- C+

"Intimidation is a weapon of the Legion. Intelligence is not." -Illidan Stormrage
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