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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 05 Aug 2016 :  05:36:02  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Finder's Bane is a neat book to me. I hope you enjoy it.



I did, quite a bit in fact. It is easily my favorite of all the Grubb/Novak novels thus far, which I know you won't agree with based on your admiration for the original Finder's Stone trilogy, but that's ok. Finder's Bane (I even thought the title was witty) was well done and seemed to be nearly devoid of the anachronisms and sometimes-silliness that hurts my immersion in so many other books. I like, but don't love, the new cast of characters - Joel, Jed, Jasmine (that's a lot of J's), and Holly - perhaps they'll grow on me a bit more as the story continues. I like Jas the least. I get that as a Spelljammer and planar traveler it's almost mandatory to write such characters as world-weary, condescending cynics, and she always has some kind of snarky comeback, but for now she's just coming off as a lesser Olive with zero percent of the charm. I still don't really know what her deal is or why she even has wings, so maybe she'll become more clear to me in the next book.

I'm a HUGE Planescape mega-fan, I believe it is far and away the most exquisite setting TSR ever released (I hope that admission doesn't get me kicked off this forum), so I was pretty pleased as the direction of this quest started going more planar in nature, particularly when it involved a trip to Sigil. I think Grubb laid on the Sigil cant just a wee bit thick, but I just smiled and let him have it - I figured he must've been excited to get the opportunity and reasoned that overdoing it a tad was preferable to underdoing it. The Planescape novel line is criminally thin IMO, so having this book serve as sort of a pseudo-Planescape tale works just fine for me!

My publication date list has Tymora's Luck as the very next book (how did they write them both back to back so quickly?) so that is what I started in on tonight, which is perfect as I'm really enjoying this tale.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
794 Posts

Posted - 08 Aug 2016 :  00:49:26  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Jasmine was in the Grubb Forgotten Realms comics from the late 80s/early 90s before Finder's Bane...so she was an established character. Her backstory is interesting (and yes, it does get revealed why she has wings!).
Tymora's Luck has little to do with the Realms, and is more of a Planescape book, but it continues Joel/Jas/Holly/Finder and a new Kender character who is interesting enough.
Hope you like! (also to get another comment in: Azure Bonds and The Wyvern's Spur are the best!)
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 08 Aug 2016 :  06:05:38  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Tymora's Luck last night and found it to be an odd experience. For the first 250 pages or so my "review" of it would've been to say almost the exact same things as Finder's Bane - same cast, same storyline, same level of enjoyment for me. But then the wheels sort of fell off rapidly. Maybe it was the reveal that Lathander was the bad guy, which I didn't buy at all, even being duped by Xvim. [The rest of this review is going to go pretty negative from this point on, but I'll reiterate/disclaim again that I really liked 4/5 of this book, as well as its predecessor. It just kind of fell apart towards the end.]

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

And that's the problem I've had with all the Grubb/Novak works, going way back to the very first write-up in this thread I did on Azure Bonds over a year ago. It doesn't matter if the character is a Greater Power, an Avatar, an ancient and mighty red dragon, or a town commoner - ALL of their characters descend into some form of buffoonery, both physical and verbal.

Speaking of the fusion chamber, isn't one of the defining characteristics of Krynnish tinker-gnomes that their inventions nearly always fail spectacularly? I didn't like that plot device of them building a machine to smash Tymora and Beshaba back into Tyche. It was a little too high-tech for my personal tastes, and the thought of a bunch of silly gnomes being able to create something that can actually affect deities just doesn't jive for me. A magical ritual would've worked much better, but I understand they were trying to draw in elements from Dragonlance.

Going back to the buffoon angle, the danger of writing any kind of Planescape material is that it is nearly impossible to write the gods believably, particularly if the protagonists are going to interact with them directly. I ascribe more to the school of thought that a deity needs an intermediary to converse with a follower, as their slightest utterance would blast a mortal into their component molecules. So to see Holly, Joel, Jasmine, Emilo chumming it up with Lathander, Sirrion(Xvim), Selune, Tymora, and Beshaba - arguing, fighting, and so on - was just patently absurd to me. I can buy it with Joel and Finder, because he's more of a demi/quasi power just starting to establish himself. But when the few-chin chamber (har-har) blew up in Morninglory and sent Lathander hurtling for miles, that was the last straw for me. A Greater Power residing on his home turf is all but unassailable. His slightest whim is instantly transformed into reality. He should be able to stand directly next to a 50 megaton Tsar-Bomb and calmly whisper "No" while it goes off, completely failing to affect him or anyone he chooses to make immune. To see him tossed around his own realm like a ragdoll was a terrible disappointment.

The Paladine and Raistlin Majere entries were absolutely dreadful and illustrate why only Weis and Hickman should be allowed to write them. The Fizban jokes fell utterly flat and the short blurb about Raistlin describing the opera did not even remotely resemble anything he would ever say or write.

My last bone of contention was the subplot involving the Wyvernspur children. This did nothing whatsoever to advance the story. It seemed like a bit of self indulgence on the author's part, I just couldn't figure out what it was doing in the book.

On the plus side, Jasmine's character did become much more interesting as I learned her backstory.

So there it is - a good rollicking planar tale for about 550 pages (over both books), and then a steaming mess for the last 50. I try to look at it as a whole product, and I did enjoy it for the majority of time reading, so overall it was time well spent.


Tomorrow night I plan to start The Simbul's Gift.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 08 Aug 2016 06:10:48
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
794 Posts

Posted - 11 Aug 2016 :  14:32:51  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah Tymora's Luck is an odd duck, I don't really consider it a Realms novel because I don't think they spend any time IN the Realms and it involves Spell Jammer/Planescape/Gods/Krynn characters nearly as much as it involves anyone from the Realms.

I don't like the Gods (outside of Finder who is more of a Demi-Power, not even a Demi-God to me) being used as characters in a novel. I never have and never will. THe Avatar Trilogy was pretty awful (to me), and no book has done it well since then. A true God like Tymora or Selune or Iyachtu Xvim, Lathander, etc would be a being that is all knowing, all powerful, etc and make an awful "character" because of those reasons. Humanizing the Gods to the point of making them like they are in Greek fables doesn't work for me and my idea of a God in the Realms.

So I liked Finder's Bane, and really like the characters in Tymora's Luck, but don't like anything to do with the Gods themselves outside of Finder who is not a true God (yet). I do like that both books made Walinda to be somewhat of a grey character, evil but also pragmatic and capable of helping.

The Simbul's Gift was one of the best representations of Thay, I loved the parts about Thay in the book, but didn't like the half-elves of the forests so much. I think Aznar (the Zulkir of evocation) was an amazing character as represented in this book. Lauzoril (the Zulkir of Enchantment/Charm) was also very neatly written. Szass Tam is licking his wounds in this book, which I also enjoyed as I don't like his dominance of Thay so much :)

IN a perfect Realms world, Szass would have been forced out of Thay by the combined might of the other Zulkirs, and he would have gone to Vassa, and turned THAT into an undead Realms; which would be an enemy of Thay and all the Dales, Cormyr, Sembia, Sword Coast, etc. Thay would move more to neutral as a kingdom. That would be so much more interesting than Undead Lich King Thay which is so boring compared to the Zulkirs ruling Mageocracy obssesed with trade and commerce.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 15 Aug 2016 :  20:56:41  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished two books last week, I'll tackle them in order:

The Simbul's Gift was absolutely terrific. I'm too lazy to go back and rank the 100 or so books I've covered in this thread, but I'd say this last one goes in my top 15 easy, maybe top 10. Even if I hadn't checked the cover before starting, I'd have known this was a Lynn Abbey story by about page 3. Her style is extremely distinctive from what I read of her Dark Sun material. She writes very angsty characters, usually with some kind of betrayal or familial issues, prone to emotional explosions. Who better then to write a story about the temperamental and mercurial "Storm-Queen of Aglarond"? The co-main character, Ebroin (it took me a few pages to get over his nickname of "Bro"), reminds me an awful lot of the half-elf in Telhami's grove from the novel Brazen Gambit, for those who may have read it. His name is eluding me at the moment.... drat.

She also tends to write a lot of shifting alliances, and I'll admit sometimes she just plain confuses the heck out of me. I can read a paragraph 3 times and still remain unsure as to what she's getting at. But overall she really knocked it out of the park with this book. The characters were excellent, particularly the Thayans - who were far from cardboard cutouts. These "villains" had some depth to them. How about that? Humanizing the bad guys and offering some shades of gray as opposed to cliché, moustache-twirling BBEGs that all drink the blood of babies and puppies. Lauzoril stole the show for me. He was almost sweet and tender at times, particularly when dealing with his family, but then also showed he can be the monster you'd expect a zulkir to be when he needed to. His interaction with Alassra at the end was incredibly well written. The subplot with Mythrell'aa and Lailomun was also terrific.

I'm going to be very sad when Thay becomes a boring necropolis. I'm so with you Seravin on thinking it is one of the most interestingly set up countries/areas in all of FR. Why, oh why would they go and mess with that? I very much like your version of the 7 other zulkirs uniting to give Tam the boot, and he in turn finding his own Land of the Dead to menace everyone in the region.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 15 Aug 2016 :  21:07:00  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cards77

Don't read Tymora's Luck then. You'll rip out your eyes.



Hahaha, I just came across this, more than a year later. Yeah, there were definitely some moments...
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 16 Aug 2016 :  01:35:06  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The other book I just finished is Elminster in Myth Drannor. It was a pretty good read, I vastly prefer this "amateur" version of Elminster before he learned to wave a finger and annihilate entire armies. On the other hand, it's a bit annoying that anytime he gets in a tough spot he just cries to Mystra in his head and gets a bailout. I recently dug out my Myth Drannor boxed set from storage in the basement for other purposes, so this book came at a good time. The origin of the mythal creation was pretty cool to see. Man these elves were awful and unlikable, though I get why he chose to go that route - to make them decadent and in need of the other races to rekindle them. There was a huge cast of characters, and the names were a bit cumbersome at times to keep track of, but overall it was enjoyable. I could've done without the final attempt at disrupting the mythal ceremony. Not only was it anticlimactic, but the archmage of the Starym family just got done, after a failed coup, of lecturing his kin about the need for discretion and laying low/pledging loyalty to the Coronal, and then he goes in like a bull in a china shop and starts a huge spell battle in front of the entire city. That aside it was a decent read.

What I'd really like to see is the story of the fall of Myth Drannor. Of course it is summarized in the gaming material, but is that tale ever novelized anywhere? I see in the blurb for The Temptation of Elminster it states - "The glory that was Cormanthyr is no more. The might city of Myth Drannor lies in ruin..." so I'm hoping it is detailed there, but my gut tells me it's just going to be another summary and the action will pick up in the aftermath. It'll be a couple months before I get to that book though, 1998 has a boatload to get through.

Tonight I will start in on the anthology Realms of the Arcane.
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
4923 Posts

Posted - 16 Aug 2016 :  02:59:40  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

What I'd really like to see is the story of the fall of Myth Drannor. Of course it is summarized in the gaming material, but is that tale ever novelized anywhere? I see in the blurb for The Temptation of Elminster it states - "The glory that was Cormanthyr is no more. The might city of Myth Drannor lies in ruin..." so I'm hoping it is detailed there, but my gut tells me it's just going to be another summary and the action will pick up in the aftermath. It'll be a couple months before I get to that book though, 1998 has a boatload to get through.



You suspect rightly. The fall of Myth Drannor has never been novelised (although the "Fall of Myth Drannor" accessory comes close)except in a few flashback scenes in Rich Baker's Last Mythal trilogy.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Firestorm
Senior Scribe

Canada
801 Posts

Posted - 16 Aug 2016 :  17:00:45  Show Profile Send Firestorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished two books last week, I'll tackle them in order:

The Simbul's Gift was absolutely terrific. I'm too lazy to go back and rank the 100 or so books I've covered in this thread, but I'd say this last one goes in my top 15 easy, maybe top 10. Even if I hadn't checked the cover before starting, I'd have known this was a Lynn Abbey story by about page 3. Her style is extremely distinctive from what I read of her Dark Sun material. She writes very angsty characters, usually with some kind of betrayal or familial issues, prone to emotional explosions. Who better then to write a story about the temperamental and mercurial "Storm-Queen of Aglarond"? The co-main character, Ebroin (it took me a few pages to get over his nickname of "Bro"), reminds me an awful lot of the half-elf in Telhami's grove from the novel Brazen Gambit, for those who may have read it. His name is eluding me at the moment.... drat.

She also tends to write a lot of shifting alliances, and I'll admit sometimes she just plain confuses the heck out of me. I can read a paragraph 3 times and still remain unsure as to what she's getting at. But overall she really knocked it out of the park with this book. The characters were excellent, particularly the Thayans - who were far from cardboard cutouts. These "villains" had some depth to them. How about that? Humanizing the bad guys and offering some shades of gray as opposed to cliché, moustache-twirling BBEGs that all drink the blood of babies and puppies. Lauzoril stole the show for me. He was almost sweet and tender at times, particularly when dealing with his family, but then also showed he can be the monster you'd expect a zulkir to be when he needed to. His interaction with Alassra at the end was incredibly well written. The subplot with Mythrell'aa and Lailomun was also terrific.

I'm going to be very sad when Thay becomes a boring necropolis. I'm so with you Seravin on thinking it is one of the most interestingly set up countries/areas in all of FR. Why, oh why would they go and mess with that? I very much like your version of the 7 other zulkirs uniting to give Tam the boot, and he in turn finding his own Land of the Dead to menace everyone in the region.


Humanizing bad guys. I miss Paul Kemp :(
At least his non realms books are still awesome. But WOTC should but up and pay a lot of these authors fairly
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 19 Aug 2016 :  19:10:08  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Realms of the Arcane today. Like all the anthologies it has its ups and downs. Of particular note I enjoyed:

Secrets of Blood, Spirits of the Sea - no surprise here, I've come to expect excellence from Elaine Cunningham. This was a really interesting take on the origins of sahuagin and malenti. Of course it almost certainly flies in the face of established lore, but even this is referenced at the end when the wemic bard states the tale may only be legend, but still serves as a valuable learning parable.

When Even Sky Cities Fall - like a lot of J. Robert King's works, this story was a bit depressing, bleak, and just plain dark. At less than 20 pages it was the shortest of the entries, but had a powerful impact. Just a very grim but effective tale set during the fall of Netheril.

The interludes told a fun story of the "guardian spirit" force that protects and preserves Candlekeep - utilizing some thinly veiled references to many of the architects of the Realms by slightly altering their names and casting them as monks who have willingly given their essence to sustain the library - Troyan (Denning), Jeffery (Grubb), Robar (Salvatore), Niles (Doug), Edmund (Greenwood), and so on. It was a cute, tongue in cheek kind of story broken up into segments between the other tales.

There was no homerun story in this collection, but neither were there any unbearable clunkers either. All in all it was a pretty average read. Up next I think I will tackle the semi-canonical and oft-maligned Double Diamond saga. I'm hoping to get through an installment each day, so this should take just a bit over a week if I can keep on schedule. I know that part of the gimmick is that it can be read in any order, but all things being equal I will just read them from 1 to 9, starting with The Abduction.
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Entromancer
Senior Scribe

USA
388 Posts

Posted - 21 Aug 2016 :  03:43:08  Show Profile Send Entromancer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What's the backstory on the Double Diamond saga and its reputation in the fandom?

"...the will is everything. The will to act."--Ra's Al Ghul

"Suffering builds character."--Talia Al Ghul
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 29 Aug 2016 :  04:04:56  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Entromancer

What's the backstory on the Double Diamond saga and its reputation in the fandom?



I don't know for sure, it just seems the few times I've read anyone discussing it, they seem to pan or dismiss it. As for its canonicity, I couldn't say, as I had absolutely no knowledge of this region - the Utter East - before I started this series. I didn't even know there was such a landmass, so it's impossible for me to say whether the stories did anything canon-breaking. I will say that a major and very recognizable Faerunian villain does play a prominent role in this series, probably against that author's wishes and just to raise sales.

I finished the Saga a couple days ago, here are some random thoughts on each book (I apologize if I cross them up a bit):

The Abduction - I'm very up and down with this author. Of his 2 Ravenloft novels I thought one was excellent and the other terrible. I found his Dragonlance and FR short stories to be very good, but his Planescape trilogy to be amongst the worst fantasy I've ever read. I never know what I'm going to get from a J. Robert King story. That said, I found this first book to be a very solid start to the series. Dark, moody, it established a great tone.

The Paladins - uggh, flashbacks of the "Pools" novels. Ward's writing style simply does not work for me at all. In particular, his fiends always come off rather clownish Latenat!!

The Mercenaries - entertaining yarn from Greenwood. I'm getting more and more used to him, I've liked most of his work recently.

Errand of Mercy - perhaps the best of the series. I really liked Moore's depiction of Ikavi Garkim - the telepathic servant to King Aetheric III. I liked the reveal that the bloodforge has changed the man into some gigantic aquatic monster. It made me wonder what physical transformations the other 4 kingdom's rulers have undergone. It feels not unlike the psionic/defiler dragon-kings of Athas.

An Opportunity for Profit - wow, now that is how a fiend should be written (Jim Ward, take notes). That thing was vicious, hunting the pirate party throughout the jungle, picking them off one by one like a Predator. Terrific tension and mood in this installment. It didn't offer up comic book villain dialogue, it simply stalked them and eliminated with ruthless efficiency. My only [slight] problem with this book was all the fiends in the assaulting Doegan up to this point have been tanar'ri, whereas this fiend, while never specifically identified, was almost certainly an osylyth, which is a baatezu. Perhaps it was a lone devil sent to see what the demons were up to?

Conspiracy - recall I said I'm very up and down with J. Robert King. Everything he did well in book 1 was completely absent in book 6. The attempts at comedy with the Boarskyr brothers was absolutely brutal to read. This book was a miss on all levels.

Uneasy Alliances - pretty good book minus a few nitpicks. First, it got annoying that the author(s) could not refer to Artemis Entreri without mentioning how small he is. Every time he made an appearance it was "the little man" or "the diminutive assassin". I get that he's not a powerhouse, but rather a small, lithe, wiry fighter who wins by agility, but geez... reading this book you'd think he is of Tyrion Lannister stature. Second, after wielding nothing but a war hammer his entire career, suddenly Kern became a sword fighter. Oops. Other than that this was a decent read.

Easy Betrayals - another good installment, I thought Baker did the best of all the authors in fleshing out the otherwise bland pirate crew. Maybe it just took a few books to establish them, but I thought he gave them the most character and personality.

The Diamond - ok finish to the series. Almost derailed by the a return of the atrocious Boarskyr brothers, but some pretty good metaphysical imagery and a satisfying, if not a bit predictable, ending.

Phew, now that I'm through all that, I'd like to learn a bit more about this region. As stated above, I'm fascinated at how the bloodforges alter their rulers, and am curious to see what is going on in the other kingdoms. I didn't love the origins of these nations, I always view the Ffolk as a rather peaceful, unassuming lot - not as conquering conquistador types that would subjugate an indigenous people to their will. But there's enough there to pique my interest, I just don't know if there's anything out there to read more about this area.

I've since started in on the next book in my order: Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad.
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
4923 Posts

Posted - 29 Aug 2016 :  05:37:23  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You know that the Double Diamond series is apocrypha in that they are stories within stories (i.e. they would be sold on the streets of Waterdeep as fiction, if that makes any sense ...)

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 31 Aug 2016 :  17:34:03  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

You know that the Double Diamond series is apocrypha in that they are stories within stories (i.e. they would be sold on the streets of Waterdeep as fiction, if that makes any sense ...)

-- George Krashos



That does make sense. When I was big into reading the Dragonlance series I heard a similar explanation for many of the Preludes series. The main characters of the Chronicles/Legends series became known heroes in their own world, and many "campside stories" sprang up concerning them. This is a justification or explanation I guess for the questionable quality and canonicity of the prequel attempts, many of which were really, really bad.

On to Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad, which I finished the other night. This book was ok, but at times I did have to force myself to keep reading it. I'm not sure why, I can't recall anything glaringly bad, I just had a hard time caring. Seravin and I recently discussed how difficult it is to write gods as characters, maybe that had something to do with it. These gods weren't nearly as buffoonish as the depictions in Tymora's Luck, but still I don't like seeing them on such a personal level. On the other hand, Mystra, Cyric, and Kelemvor - having come from mortal origins and not being gods all that long - should get a bit of a pass since they would act the most "human" of all the deities. Overall I'd say it was a pretty average book, not particularly good or bad. On an unrelated note, is there a pronunciation guide to FR characters anywhere? I have about 3 ways of saying Fzoul Chembryl's first name. I lean towards a silent "F" and say it like Zuul the Gatekeeper of Gozer from Ghostbusters. Trying to incorporate the "F" and make it a 2 syllable word sounds goofy any which way I try it.

Up next is The Lost Library of Cormanthyr.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
794 Posts

Posted - 31 Aug 2016 :  20:35:04  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Confession - I've never read Trial of Cyric the Mad or the other one after the Avatar trilogy. I really don't like Gods as characters in books, but I suppose for the sake of Realms knowledge I should one day. The Avatar trilogy is terribly written, but such a key point of Realms history that you kind of have to read it. I never felt the compulsion to read the two other books about Cyric and the other new gods. (Finder gets a pass along with Mystra, Cyric and Kelemvor for acting more like people than gods.)

On the Avatar trilogy, I remember being a child reading that book and wondering...what the hell..why did Midnight go back for the halfling but not Kelemvor at the end of the book? Wasn't he a little more close to Midnight than Sneakabout? I guess this book fixed all that by making him a god or whatever. UGh. I should read it.

I always pronounced it "Fah-Zool" with my fellow D&D friends, but I think you're right it probably should be a combo F-Z sound, rather than deliberate two syllables. I don't like a silent F completely though...


Edited by - Seravin on 31 Aug 2016 20:35:49
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 05 Sep 2016 :  04:50:42  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Lost Library of Cormanthyr. This is the first Mel Odom offering I've read, and I mostly liked it. To get the bad out of the way first, the names were awful. Most of the drow were just a collection of consonants with apostrophes every few letters, like "Nnv'sts'rkt or whatever (I made that one up). They looked/sounded more like thri-kreen names than drow to me. Several of the major players also had odd or unwieldy names - Closl, Vaggit, Faimcir, Fannt, Keraqt, and Cthulad. The last one sounds more like some Far Realm, Lovecraftian horror than a ranger. The worst, by far, was the baelnorn named... wait for it... Nevft Scoontiphp... See what I mean about random consonants? That name is just brutal all around. I also found the main hero's habit of going into most combats without a weapon, and then hoping to disarm and steal his first opponent's weapon, a bit annoying and just plain unnecessary. I get the author wanted to make him a quick-thinking protagonist that improvises solutions on the fly like MacGuyver, and also show him to be a well-rounded combatant trained in multiple styles/armaments, but it wore thin.

That out of the way, I liked the overall vibe and writing. The dialogue was well done, the characters and plot interesting enough. Baylee has a bit of a young Indiana Jones thing going, very idealistic and headstrong "That idol belongs in a museum, Belloq!" He and his pet bat are both likeable protagonists, as is the young watch captain assigned to keep track of him (much to her dismay). And Odom surprised me at the end by not having everything work out perfectly for the heroes, it was actually a bit of a downer that the bad guy pretty much achieved most of his goals, other than killing Baylee. I wonder if this was done to set up a sequel, or if Odom just wanted to end it in an unpredictable manner. Overall it was a pretty good book, not without some warts, but a solid effort.

Up next is Evermeet: Island of Elves which I am very excited for.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 05 Sep 2016 04:54:08
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2730 Posts

Posted - 05 Sep 2016 :  11:08:35  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Evermeet is one of my favourites. So much insight into the elves there, including their history and that of the elven and drow deities.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 05 Sep 2016 11:09:23
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
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Posted - 05 Sep 2016 :  17:50:06  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't get Evermeet's invasion though. The whole thing about the gold elf getting out of Harper prison and somehow getting a huge army with massive ships to cross the huge magically hidden parts of the ocean to invade is ludicrous and never sat with me. I like all the history in Evermeet and back story stuff, but the premise of the invasion was stupid to me. Oh...yeah..."Lolth did it" or whatever. Why didn't any of the good elf gods interfere to stop the invasion from starting if Lolth got involved to make it start? It was hardly something that could have been hidden. Ugh. I don't know, maybe someone can explain to me that part. I didn't get it.
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dazzlerdal
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United Kingdom
3552 Posts

Posted - 05 Sep 2016 :  18:01:17  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

I don't get Evermeet's invasion though. The whole thing about the gold elf getting out of Harper prison and somehow getting a huge army with massive ships to cross the huge magically hidden parts of the ocean to invade is ludicrous and never sat with me. I like all the history in Evermeet and back story stuff, but the premise of the invasion was stupid to me. Oh...yeah..."Lolth did it" or whatever. Why didn't any of the good elf gods interfere to stop the invasion from starting if Lolth got involved to make it start? It was hardly something that could have been hidden. Ugh. I don't know, maybe someone can explain to me that part. I didn't get it.




My train of thoughts exactly for anything involving the gods, and its why im busy replacing all godly actions with people actions (devoted people, but still people).


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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
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Posted - 11 Sep 2016 :  21:37:24  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Evermeet, Island of Elves last night. Seravin, I can't answer your question, it seems like the answer in a lot of stories is a /handwave and a "the gods willed it so". Some random thoughts:

How could any opponent EVER defeat a scrag underwater? Fire is no option, acid would disperse. The only creature capable of defeating a sea troll would be a leviathan or something that can swallow it entirely and then digest it. Scrags should be the absolute, undisputed dominant race of the oceans. Also I've never liked the line of thinking that a troll (of any variety) getting chopped to several pieces then forms multiple trolls. The parts crawling back together to knit I'm fine with, but a severed foot re-growing a whole new body is just dumb. What is it using as a source of energy and raw mass to build all that flesh? Does it have a soul? What personality would it have once fully formed? An exact replica of the initial troll? Maybe it should work like that Michael Keaton movie with the clones - each one gets successively dumber, less capable.

Ok, enough of trolls. The book was very good, as is just about everything Elaine does. I thought the scene where Rolim and Ava heed the call to Arvandor was particularly beautifully written. I will confess to being confused at times, what with the chronology jumping around a bit. They always seemed to be under attack - dragons, drow, sahuagin, scrags, dragon turtles, human pirates, the elf-eater, all the invasion(s) blurred together a bit.

Also, at times, I found myself hoping the elves would just lose and get wiped out. They were so damned petty, haughty, manipulative - I tend to think of Evermeet as this haven that older, wiser elves retreat to late in life, something like a heaven on earth for the deserving that would weed out the dirtbags. It's a shame the moonblade "worthiness" trial couldn't be toned down a bit in severity and applied to every elf on the island, to force exile on the crappy elves who would sell out their own kind for personal gain.

That last bit about founding a new isolated elf retreat north of the Spine of the Mountains was very interesting. I'm curious if that has been followed up on in later lore. Something for me to keep an eye out for.

Next up is another anthology: Realms of Mystery to be started later this week.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
794 Posts

Posted - 11 Sep 2016 :  22:38:38  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Darn. Was hoping you'd have a feisty explanation. I get that Lolth would be wanting to hurt the elves; not sure why she would be allowed to do so much damage and the good elf gods just sit back and say "eh...what are you gonna do". If evil gods get involved, it stretches credulity to the breaking point that good gods don't at least TRY to stop them. Isn't that the whole point of having good and evil gods? Ugh. Sorry, Evermeet was a fail for me but everything else Elaine does I am totally in love with.
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Mirtek
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512 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2016 :  11:38:00  Show Profile Send Mirtek a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion:
How could any opponent EVER defeat a scrag underwater? Fire is no option, acid would disperse.
Actually both acid and heat would work. You would just need to be closer/quicker in applying them.

Acid disperses, but no immediately. If you smash a vial of acid against a scrag underwater, you briefly have a drifting cloud of acid before it's dispersed.

Same with heat, which will be cooled eventually, but for some time can be enough to burn a scrag underwater.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 13 Sep 2016 :  03:55:28  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Darn. Was hoping you'd have a feisty explanation. I get that Lolth would be wanting to hurt the elves; not sure why she would be allowed to do so much damage and the good elf gods just sit back and say "eh...what are you gonna do". If evil gods get involved, it stretches credulity to the breaking point that good gods don't at least TRY to stop them. Isn't that the whole point of having good and evil gods? Ugh. Sorry, Evermeet was a fail for me but everything else Elaine does I am totally in love with.



Yeah, sorry, I don't have much of a counterpoint for that. I'll make a half-hearted attempt though with this angle:

Have you ever wondered why elven society (and other long-lived creatures) aren't absolutely filled with insanely high level characters? With all that time on their hands, shouldn't an elven mage with decades, or even hundreds of years of training far outstrip his human counterparts? This has often been explained as humans, with their shorter lifespans, having a burning desire to advance much faster. So on the other hand, elves and dragons and so on feel like they have forever to accomplish their goals and therefore go about everything with a more languid, unconcerned pace until time becomes a critical factor (like every paper I've ever written for school!)

Apply that to true immortals and maybe it's just a matter of slow response time. In the original Moonshae trilogy, Niles did an excellent job of describing the Earth Mother's difficulty in rousing herself from slumber. Her lands, her "body" was being destroyed right in front of her and still it took a monumental effort shake off the torpor. I remember as a teen being so frustrated that Kazgaroth was despoiling the isles and she's acting like it's a Sunday morning in bed when the temperature is perfect and you're so cozy you just can't get up.

Another partial explanation for evil plots usually having good initial success is that it's easier for bad guys to focus on one thing. "Good" is generally more passive/reactive, whereas "Evil" often initiates. Consider national security; the defenders have to spread their attention among threats from the land, sea, and air, as well as cyber attacks, biologicals passed through the mail, and who knows how many other plots? Terrorists need only find one small chink in the armor and then spend as much time as they want crafting a plot to exploit that one small thing. Defenders cannot be on every front at all times at maximum strength, by necessity they have to spread out thin, but attackers can throw everything they have at a chosen area in one focused, specific assault, often with surprise on their side.

So those are my half-hearted attempts at explaining why the BBEGs of all worlds generally meet with some success, at least initially, until the good guys recover from the first butt-kicking, get their act together, and rally to drive out the villains.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 13 Sep 2016 :  04:02:09  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

I don't get Evermeet's invasion though. The whole thing about the gold elf getting out of Harper prison and somehow getting a huge army with massive ships to cross the huge magically hidden parts of the ocean to invade is ludicrous and never sat with me. I like all the history in Evermeet and back story stuff, but the premise of the invasion was stupid to me. Oh...yeah..."Lolth did it" or whatever. Why didn't any of the good elf gods interfere to stop the invasion from starting if Lolth got involved to make it start? It was hardly something that could have been hidden. Ugh. I don't know, maybe someone can explain to me that part. I didn't get it.



The book did mention that Kymil Nimesin had a wide network of malcontents and dissidents set up all over Faerun, not just an agent or two in Evermeet or Cormanthyr. I imagine they were setup in several cells all over the mainland, so I don't think his army exactly materialized out of thin air. Also, he and the prince had an absolutely massive fortune (described as several dragon hoards) stored in a secret cache that he used to finance the remainder - mercenaries will fight for whoever has the coin.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
794 Posts

Posted - 13 Sep 2016 :  14:31:33  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
But no one tried to stop him, and the elves were completely unaware until the dragon spotted the ships that ANYTHING was happening. An army being mobilized and built up with a huge navy like that would NOT BE A SECRET from anyone; and also the whole thing with Lolth getting him out in the first place and helping him with all this. Why did the Harpers not rally to stop him? How many evil gold elves could there possibly be who would be willing to destroy their own homeland? It stretches my mind to think there would be more than a dozen or two at most given that this is totally against their nature and very nihilistic. Still not buying it.
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