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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
256 Posts

Posted - 09 Jan 2017 :  15:22:52  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn a couple days ago. Up next is The Halls of Stormweather.

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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
789 Posts

Posted - 09 Jan 2017 :  15:37:59  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What? I want to know your commentary on BG2:SoA! :) I am sure it will be entertaining.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
256 Posts

Posted - 09 Jan 2017 :  22:20:52  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ugghh, why do you have to go and bait me like that? :P I had planned to simply move on. In all seriousness, this one was a *slight* upgrade over the first BG, but that's not saying much. The author has this funny tendency to have everyone just keep repeating each other's names over and over, and call it dialogue. The book reads like:

Abdel!
Jaheira?
Abdel!
Abdel!
Jaheira!
Abdel?
Imoen?
Abdel!
Jaheria!
Abdel?
Imoen!!
Abdel!!!!

Actually, here's a completely untouched, unedited, unaltered snippet towards the very end, when the protagonist is fighting Jon Irenicus down in some kind of hellish underworld for his soul:
/start quote

"Abdel!"
"Jaheira!" Imoen called out from behind her.
"She's calling him out," Queen Ellisime said to Imoen.
Jaheira felt footsteps approaching her more than she heard them.
"Abdel!" the druid screamed again, not realizing that she had very little voice left.
"Help her," Ellisime said breathlessly. "We have to help her."
Imoen fell to the ground next to Jaheira without hesitation. Tears flowed anew from Jaheira's burning eyes.
"Abdel!" the young woman screamed, her voice louder than Jaheira's.
"Abdel!" Ellisime screamed.
"Abdel!" Jaheira screamed.
Ellisime and Imoen screamed, "Abdel!" together.
"Abdel!" Jaheira screamed. "Abdel!
* * * * * * * * *
"Abdel!" Imoen screamed, and Abdel drew his soul around him in response.
"Abdel!" came another voice - Ellisime. It was Ellisime, then Jaheira again, then combinations of Imoen, Ellisime, and Jaheira. He sent the pieces of his soul up toward them - was it up? It had to be up.

/end quote


It's such an odd, choppy, needlessly "Play-by-play" style of commentary, like an old radio baseball game broadcast. This person said this, then that person said this, then this person said something, then another person said a thing. The whole book is like this, so stilted and... non-fluid, I guess is the best way I can describe it. At 245 pages it was shorter (mercifully) than the typical ~310ish books. There were a few ok moments, a surprisingly effective sex scene between Abdel (Abdel!) and the vampire Bodhi. Irenicus was a massive letdown, however, and the book missed just about everywhere else. I see that the next in the Baldur's Gate series is penned by another author, maybe he will have a bit better execution.

Anyway, it's on to Halls of Stormweather, of which I'm through 2 of the 7 novellas and enjoying quite a bit.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 09 Jan 2017 22:22:35
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
13563 Posts

Posted - 09 Jan 2017 :  22:58:31  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I've read the books. I don't recall being particularly impressed by them. I liked that they were set underwater, but the overall plot didn't grab me.

I do recall being surprised by Jherek being a paladin of Lathander. The way his life had gone, I thought Ilmater would have been more appropriate. Especially given that he was utterly miserable but kept being told "Live, that you may serve." Not really a hopefully or rebirth kinda message, there.



You are so spot on with that - everything about Jherek's life screamed endurance, patience, and perseverance under adversity. He's such a natural match for Ilmater, having Lathander as his mysterious benefactor/patron all along was indeed a surprise. Also, Laaqueel spends her whole life being a vicious predator, probably even more so than her kin in order to make up for her mutation that is perceived as a weakness, and then... Eldath?!?! seduces her away from Sekolah?

As mentioned in the previous post, I thought these were the worst elements of the trilogy.
Believe it or not, I was hoping he would turn into a Paladin of Umberlee (an 'Avenger of the Bitch-Queen'). I had never even considered Ilmater.

Everything in the books foreshadowed Lathander (heavy-handed foreshadowing, I might add... nothing subtle about it at all), so much so, in fact, that I thought it was a 'red herring' and that we were going to get an awesome twist in the end.

Nope. uh-uh... no twist. The 'big reveal' was exactly who the story pointed to all along. I was EXTREMELY disappointed with the series (was enjoying it up until that ending).

I haven't been reading any FR books lately, not since 2012. I just don't see the point. I Do want to read Magehound though, eventually - I hear there is some mighty juicy lore tidbits in there (besides, how can anything by Elaine Cunningham be anything but enjoyable?)

I'll have to remember to avoid the BG books like the plague, even if I come across them in a 2nd-hand store...

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone

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Mirtek
Senior Scribe

505 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2017 :  21:14:14  Show Profile Send Mirtek a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Ugghh, why do you have to go and bait me like that? :P I had planned to simply move on. In all seriousness, this one was a *slight* upgrade over the first BG, but that's not saying much.

ToB will get worse again, much worse than even the first novel.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
789 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2017 :  22:23:57  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hahah it was worth it. I think I'll have to move on to those BG books next. I think I read the originals back when they came out but I don't remember anything.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
256 Posts

Posted - 16 Jan 2017 :  19:13:57  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Halls of Stormweather last night. Of the 7 novellas, I really enjoyed 6 of them. I also liked how frequently some characters would appear in each other's stories, to help bring some interconnectivity to the whole project. It was very nicely executed, for the most part.

The Burning Chalice - Ed Greenwood - centered around Thamalon, the patriarch of the Uskevren clan. This was a great start to the book, and helped set the tone and history of the family. I think this is Greenwood at his finest, when he's just spinning lore, creating characters/relations, smart dialogue, and so on. Absent were the beholders and dragons swooping out of the sky to attack, phaerimm and drow boiling up from Underdark passages, Zhent mages and ancient liches teleporting onto the scene - all the manic energy that goes into so many of his other works. Instead we have him laying out a history and groundwork, which he does so superbly.

Song of Chaos - Richard Lee Byers - Shamur, the "matriarch". I liked this story, and the creative means (demonic opera causing mass hallucinations/transformations) of dropping a lot of expository information about her past and how she is actually impersonating another woman. [I should put this last part in a spoiler dropdown, as soon as I figure out the syntax for doing that] That would've been hard to get across in another format. This was an interesting story with lots of action and adventure.

Night School - Clayton Emery - Tamlin, the first son. The silliest of the 7 stories, plus the author's style continues to confound me. "Spanked" made yet another appearance, and hams has been replaced this time around by rump. I'd like this guy to write just one story where the status of every combatant's ass isn't constantly updated. Odd verbage aside, it just wasn't a very good story. It had a lot of slapstick element to it, and Tamlin seemed very different in this tale than in the appearances he makes in the others.

The Price - Voronica Whitney-Robinson - "Tazi". It's hard not to like this character, she's got a wild, impetuous streak that chafes at the rigid life of an aristocrats daughter. Her night-time adventures get her in way over her head when a strange cult/necromancer is found to be operating right in the city. Middle of the road story, but still pretty good.

Thirty Days - Dave Gross - Talbot. Excellent lycanthrope story with a few twists and turns. Tal is a bit of a bro but still amongst the most likeable of the Uskevren clan. I enjoyed the battle for his soul between the priests of rival "beast of the night" factions - Malar and Selune. I also like how Tal's independence is more important to him than simply throwing in immediately with the perceived "good" side. Good, solid story all-around. I was sort of hoping Tal would end up with Larajin, romantically, when I first read this, but then end up changing my mind (for obvious reasons) when I got to her story at the end.

Resurrection - Paul Kemp - Erevis Cale "The Butler". I've heard nothing but praise for Kemp prior to this, my first exposure to his work. I liked, but didn't love this story. I felt the exact same way about Elaine Cunningham's Elfshadow (which puts me in the minority, I know). I've since come to find her works amongst the very best the Realms has to offer, and I sort of got that same tingle when I started this story. Is Kemp my next Cunningham? Too early to tell for sure, but my interest was piqued enough to check his Wikipedia page to see how many books he contributes to the line.

Skin Deep - Lisa Smedman - Larajin, the maid. I didn't know what to think when I started this one. Larajin made a few appearances in earlier tales - masquerading as Tazi, interacting with Talbot, etc. But I didn't think her character important enough to warrant an entire novella. I was hooked at the injured tressym. My wife and I do some work with stray/shelter animals, so as soon as I saw how much she cared about helping that injured animal, I was hopelessly enamored with her character. After her heritage was revealed, I'm certainly glad she and Tal did not go any further.

Man, there sure is a lot of intrigue in this one, small clan! A father who is privately smitten with all things elven (artwork/sculpture/women) in a country with extremely high anti-elf prejudice, a mother that is actually a time-travelling, adventuring imposter, a werewolf son, an amateur thief daughter, a butler/spy, and a maid that is actually a half-elven bastard (is there a female version for that word?) This book, other than the Tamlin entry, was an intriguing, exciting, and very fun read overall.

Up next is the conclusion of the Cormyr Saga, in Death of the Dragon.



Edited by - VikingLegion on 17 Jan 2017 16:56:05
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
789 Posts

Posted - 16 Jan 2017 :  22:15:23  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I really liked the Talbot character (and the homage to Larry Talbot in naming). Black Wolf is a good tale, I think the best werewolf fiction I've read from the Realms anyway (if there are others, like the Ravenloft werewolf story?).

I really liked Sembia as a setting, prior to the events of the Shade taking it over anyway. Sigh. Yet another RSE that destroyed something great rather than created a new area or fleshed out an existing area. Thank god Sembia like almost everything else is back to normal in 5th edition.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
256 Posts

Posted - 17 Jan 2017 :  17:08:28  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

I really liked the Talbot character (and the homage to Larry Talbot in naming). Black Wolf is a good tale, I think the best werewolf fiction I've read from the Realms anyway (if there are others, like the Ravenloft werewolf story?).


Good catch on Talbot's name, I would've never noticed that. I just checked my reading order and Black Wolf is coming up for me in the not-too-distant future. I did not realize Talbot's story continues, but good to know and thanks for putting that on my radar. Off the top of my head I can't think of too many werewolf tales in any of the D&D fiction. I recall a were-spider in the Ravenloft "Tales" anthology that had a pretty good story, although it wasn't the main character. Actually I think the protagonist was a lycanthrope of some type (the werewolf you are referring to possibly) and had to do battle with the widow. Was he some kind of red-haired, berserk, Viking-like warrior in his non-beast state? I'll have to look that one up, it's been many years.

quote:

I really liked Sembia as a setting, prior to the events of the Shade taking it over anyway. Sigh. Yet another RSE that destroyed something great rather than created a new area or fleshed out an existing area. Thank god Sembia like almost everything else is back to normal in 5th edition.



Oh man, Seravin... you just keep raining on my parade. First with the awful news about changes in Thay, now you're telling me Sembia gets a similar treatment? Damn these RSEs, damn them all to the Nine Hells. It almost makes me want to get to a certain point in this project and then cut it off, to preserve "my Realms" as I know them. But I know my completionist nature will compel me to read them all. *sigh*
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
789 Posts

Posted - 17 Jan 2017 :  21:24:32  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, Sembia (specifically Saerloon) was once my favourite place in the Realms along with the Moonsea area, but the events leading up to 4th edition meant it became a place for the Shade Princes to rule...and a city gets completely nuked, and Sembia goes from cool Plutocracy with gothic-styled gargoyle-filled old cities and a 100% mercenary army that kinda hates elves but isn't really evil ...a unique place..to just being the Shade's puppet territory and evil because Shade is black shadows and that's what cool kids want. More Shade and Shadows everywhere! (If the Shade could have been Drow I'm sure WoTC would have had an orgasm of delight).

The Shade have flying cities, they could have just been stationed over Anarauch or anywhere vacant really. But due to the Cale being from Sembia I guess it just made sense to have them place the Shade takeover there.

Ugh. Sorry to be spoiling your fun and potentially any plotlines of these old books (I don't think any of the above is very detailed in future novels). It's a ways off, and yes, to me MY REALMS is always someplace in Old Grey Box era where Thay was ruled by Zulkirs and Sembia was a merchant kingdom and Azoun ruled Cormyr with Vangey and Khelben ruled Waterdeep and Mourngrym ruled Shadowdale with Elminster and the Knights and Manshoon ruled Zhentil Keep and Alustriel ruled Silverymoon and the bulk of the elves just left the Elven Wood for Evermeet and yeah...the good old days! :)

Edited by - Seravin on 17 Jan 2017 21:30:37
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Iahn Qoyllor
Seeker

United Kingdom
38 Posts

Posted - 18 Jan 2017 :  10:54:33  Show Profile Send Iahn Qoyllor a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't know if you've read Mistress of the Night yet which is a joint collaboration between Dave Gross and Don Bassingthwaite and forms part of The Priests novels, of which there were four. This is a book with werewolves and a decent read at that.
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
1631 Posts

Posted - 18 Jan 2017 :  14:44:08  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage  Send Steven Schend a Yahoo! Message Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion
Persana's Blade - Steven E. Schend - overall pretty decent, but I thought it suffered a tad from some technical errors and was just a tiny bit confusing. It felt like the author was trying to establish a kickass new character, perhaps one that could be utilized in later materials, though I'm not sure a triton has enough appeal or relatability to really catch on. I don't fully know what the main character transformed into at the end, and I thought that could've been explained a little more clearly and/or expanded on. But maybe that was the point, I don't know.


Thanks for the even-handed comments on my first published attempt at fiction in the Realms, VL. I didn't intend for Keros to be a major character, though I'd have been happy to make him a POV for further exploring the undersea cultures in stories (something that never happened). Still, I can't recall if I wrote the story first and then added more expository detail to him in SEA OF FALLEN STARS or the other way around, but the two pieces should present a more complete picture of him and the [i][Claw of Xynact/i].

Steven Schend

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
256 Posts

Posted - 23 Jan 2017 :  19:55:17  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steven Schend

Thanks for the even-handed comments on my first published attempt at fiction in the Realms, VL. I didn't intend for Keros to be a major character, though I'd have been happy to make him a POV for further exploring the undersea cultures in stories (something that never happened). Still, I can't recall if I wrote the story first and then added more expository detail to him in SEA OF FALLEN STARS or the other way around, but the two pieces should present a more complete picture of him and the Claw of Xynact.

Steven Schend



Thanks for chiming in with that. Though I've been removed from D&D (the game) for enough years that I never thought I'd buy another source book, I've heard nothing but praise for Sea of Fallen Stars and am planning to pick up a copy just to sate my curiosity. There was so much great stuff presented in the "Threat from the Sea" event (both the trilogy and the anthology). I feel like Myth Nantar alone is worthy of a ~20 session or so campaign. The Dukars and Shalarin are also new to me, and where is this Sea of Corynactis that they originated from? Toril, or off-world? Fascinating stuff that I definitely need to look further into.

Also, I did read that it was your first foray (I tend to turn to the back of every book and read the author blurbs before starting on the story itself, is that odd?) so I was aware of that and factoring it in. I'm sure if I re-read some of those shorts, after the sourcebook, I'll get a lot more out of them the second time around.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 23 Jan 2017 20:07:06
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
29993 Posts

Posted - 23 Jan 2017 :  20:21:19  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

The Dukars and Shalarin are also new to me, and where is this Sea of Corynactis that they originated from? Toril, or off-world?



It was originally not specified, but later material put it somewhere near Maztica, IIRC.

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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
256 Posts

Posted - 23 Jan 2017 :  20:31:01  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Death of the Dragon last night, thus concluding the Cormyr Saga. It was an up-and-down series. Book 1 was absolutely terrific, 2 was mediocre, and 3 was somewhere in between. I'm glad to see the ghazneth plotline come to a finish, it had pretty much run its course for me.

There's some serious fallout from this story. Seravin and I were just discussing RSEs - well losing King Azoun IV, one of the iconic staples of "MY REALMS" (I don't care if I sound like an old curmudgeon when I type that), is a pretty huge one. Of course I knew it was going to happen, there was gobs of foreshadowing (not to mention the very title itself), and some small part of my subconscious knew that Alusair ruled Cormyr at one point (from inadvertently digging too deeply into a Wiki), so it was obvious this was going to happen. Even still, when the deed actually came about, I was stunned.

I think this book could've shaved off about 50 pages and not been the worse for it. I think some authors try to ratchet up the drama with more and more endless hordes of bad guys, but at some point it becomes counter-exciting; What? Another 2,000 goblins just crested the hill. Ok, CHARGE! (again). Also, Ed really likes to introduce brand new characters for about a page and a half, only to slaughter them. This is a fun and interesting tactic - when used sparingly to keep the reader on their toes, but it is possible to go to that well too often.

That aside, it was a rather sweeping epic. Rowen's transformation was a nice twist. Tanalasta's death came as a pretty big shock to me. We had this long arc of her transforming from a bookish, unconfident, easily-swayed girl into an iron-hard leader of men - only to perish right as she hit her stride. I suppose her sacrifice in the south was not dissimilar to her father's in the north, so a nice parallel there. I find myself a bit worried for the future of the Forest Country - they are so desperately depleted of soldiers and war-mages. How are they going to survive Sembian or Zhentish (or worse) incursions for the next several years until enough young men and women can come of age to replenish their armed forces? Alusair and Vangy certainly have their work cut out for them.

Up next is Lynn Abbey's The Nether Scroll.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
256 Posts

Posted - 03 Feb 2017 :  16:43:54  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Nether Scroll a couple nights ago. I feel like I could copy/paste a lot of what I said about The Symbol's Gift into this post. Lynn Abbey is a terrific character builder. I know Elaine gets most of the acclaim for creating living, breathing, believable characters (and rightfully so), but Lynn does a wonderful job at this as well. Just a few chapters in and I feel like I intimately know them - their thoughts, emotions, motivations, and how they will react under certain circumstances. She appears to really like the adopted orphan theme, and non-traditional families in general, generating a lot of emotional drama from step-siblings/parents, and so on. It's easy to spot quite a few similarities between Ruari (The Brazen Gambit - Dark Sun), Ebroin (The Symbol's Gift), and now, Tiep - another troubled orphan boy.

The story itself was good. Not quite as excellent as her previous novel, but not far behind. I'd love to find out more about The Mantis Lady, and Weathercote Wood in general.


If I can tangent/ramble for a bit - finding out more about the goblins of Dekanter was a unique treat for me. About 5 years ago my interest in an old PC game was unexpectedly renewed. The game is called Heroes of Might and Magic III. It's a turn-based strategy where players control hero character across a map, gathering resources and building dwellings that attract various monster types - who can then be recruited to add to the hero's armies. It's a game that my friends and I spent countless hours playing in our 20s. After stumbling across it again in my mid/late 30s, I decided to use the map editor to build my own scenario - a recreation of the continent of Faerun, with several factions vying for dominance. While building this map I used an old FR 2e sourcebook for inspiration on locations I didn't know all that well. Around the mines of Dekanter I recall reading a tidbit about bigger, stronger, aggressive goblins, but no reasoning behind why they are different. In my map I plopped down a crystal mine (one of six gatherable resources) and guarded it with a stack of 200 goblins, with super beefed up stats and aggression level that would attack any hero, regardless of army strength.

Ok, sorry for the meaningless tangent, it was just fun to finally get the history behind this region. The beauty of the Forgotten Realms, at least for me, is that I never stop learning and unearthing new gems, even decades later. Up next is RAS's Servant of the Shard, which I started last night.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
256 Posts

Posted - 09 Feb 2017 :  04:47:31  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Servant of the Shard last night. Two RAS books in a row without a Drizzt appearance?!?!? Fans in 2000 must've been ready to storm the castle with pitchforks in hand. The evolution of Artemis Entreri is amusing to me. I've read somewhere that he was never intended to make it past The Halfling's Gem - a disposable villain. Well, now this soulless monster is starting to show a bit of a human side, a great many (if not all) of his murders-for-hire have been semi-justified (he only killed "scum" of the underworld, people who deserved it) and we even get a bit of a glimpse into some past event of great pain that made him so distrustful and distant. I never would've figured Enteri for a reclamation project, but it appears the author really digs this character and just wasn't ready to let him go.

The book was entertaining, crisp, and a good read. Some of the interactions between Artemis and Jarlaxle were excellent - very witty at times, and psychologically deep during others. Crenshinibon is destroyed! Well, if Marvel Comics has taught me anything, no villain (or hero for that matter) remains dead forever, so I'll reserve a dose of disbelief and keep an eye out for a future return of The Crystal Shard. It looks like the author is also done with the Calimport cast - Sharlotta is dead, and those poor wererats are down to their 4th string leader (Rassiter=dead, Domo=dead, Gord Abrix=dead). Berg'inyon Baenre is also feeding the worms, one more link to Menzoberranzan severed.

We also have another intersect with RAS's characters from The Cleric Quintet, whom I am mostly lukewarm with. Cadderly and the Bouldershoulder brothers are ok, but don't do much for me. I struggle to find anything to latch onto with Shayleigh - she's an elf that is devastatingly skilled with both the sword and bow (aren't they all?) and also incalculably, unearthly beautiful (again... do we ever read about an elf that isn't?). Vander the firbolg, one of my favorites of this crew, did not make an appearance. However, Danica - my actual favorite - had some interesting moments. Her instant and intense hatred for Entreri was thought-provoking. Did she, perhaps, see just a bit too much of herself in him? They are both "bottle-it-up" types, emotionally, who lose themselves in training - seeking utter perfection through machine-like dedication to their martial disciplines. Maybe Danica understands, on some level, that without finding love to ground her, she could've ended up just like Artemis. A "there but for the grace of god go I" scenario, that makes her want to erase this offense to her existence.

Or maybe RAS just wanted another adversary for his assassin to go up against, and a Kung-Fu fighting monk satisfied all the proper coolness prerequisites.

I like how Artemis and Jarlaxle just sort of wander off at the end, with no clear goal in mind, leaving me to wonder about what this pair of Odd Couple anti-heroes will get into next.

Speaking of next, my publishing order has Shadow's Witness next on the docket. After the excellent collection of novellas detailing the Uskevren clan discussed not too long ago, I'm eager to find out more about the mysterious Mr. Cale.
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CTrunks
Seeker

Canada
15 Posts

Posted - 10 Feb 2017 :  11:40:51  Show Profile Send CTrunks a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Honestly, for the longest time, Servant of the Shard was my favorite of the four books in the Paths of Darkness quartet (I was, admittedly, a bit hard on Spine of the World for a long while, until my last re-read), even though it tends to be removed due to the other Sellswords novels. I think a major part of it is because I liked seeing more of Entreri's "human" side, and how while he certainly wasn't good, he wasn't a complete and utter bastard. Plus, Entreri plays the straight man to Jarlaxle really well, which I think helps a great deal.

I think that if there is a weak point to the book, it's most of the stuff with the people from The Cleric Quintet. There was almost no need for the dwarf brothers - who I like - to be involved at all, and it felt like the only one who really did anything (even including Cadderly, who... seemed to be there just to get them to Hephaestus's lair and give a reason for why Kimmuriel dropped out of the fight) was Danica. I will admit that I understood why she looked at Artemis with such disdain; she doesn't like assassins (it's mentioned in Night Masks that her parents were both killed by the assassin band of the same name), and she's heard nothing but bad things about him from both Drizzt and Catti-Brie. In him, she saw the same kind of ruthless killer that took her family, and she only put up with him because she had no other choice at the time. As soon as she got him alone, she was ready to try and kill him, and only got stopped because of the arrival of Berg'inyon and his two soldiers.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
256 Posts

Posted - 17 Feb 2017 :  05:25:45  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CTrunks

I will admit that I understood why she looked at Artemis with such disdain; she doesn't like assassins (it's mentioned in Night Masks that her parents were both killed by the assassin band of the same name), and she's heard nothing but bad things about him from both Drizzt and Catti-Brie. In him, she saw the same kind of ruthless killer that took her family, and she only put up with him because she had no other choice at the time. As soon as she got him alone, she was ready to try and kill him, and only got stopped because of the arrival of Berg'inyon and his two soldiers.



D'oh! It was right there in front of me all along, and I missed it. I knew that Danica's parents were killed by assassins, of course, but that little detail appeared to slip my mind as I blundered through my pseudo-philosophical, armchair psychologist theory. I think your reasoning is much more sound. Occam's Razor, and all that...

Anyway, I finished Shadow's Witness the other night. Really good book. I wouldn't quite say excellent, but pretty damn close. There was some terrific, evocative writing, particularly in the layer of the Abyss that was charged with negative energy. I loved the descriptions of their souls slowly leeching out in little white wisps of "smoke" as the plane hungrily devoured them. Many years ago I ran a D&D campaign where the players ended up in the Negative Energy Plane, and I was able to (temporarily) strip away the buff that protected them from the ambient conditions. Had I read this book beforehand, I'd have been able to narrate that scene far more effectively.

I enjoyed all the characters in this story, maybe Jak Fleet even more than Cale himself. Riven seems to have some potential, I just hope he doesn't end up to reminiscent of Artemis Enteri. Speaking of him, I hope Kemp gets to build up a larger stable of interconnected characters, in the same manner that RAS and Elaine Cunningham have. It looks like I'll have to wait a little while, as the Cale trilogy starts in 2003, and I'm still working on 2000.

Up next, I've already started City of Ravens, which I'm heartily enjoying thus far - even if it is weirding me out to read back-to-back books with diminutive rogues of the same name (Jak Fleet the Halfling thief/priest, and now Jack Ravenwild the mage/thief.)
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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 20 Feb 2017 :  22:54:11  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Loved Servant of the Shard..mostly because it introduced much more of Kimmuriel and set him up to take over for Jarlaxle in terms of leading BD. From that book on I was hooked for Kimmuriel. I almost wish he and Cadderly had it out, but Kim is way too interested in self preservation to risk a fight.

City of Ravens is fun! I enjoy Jack Ravenwild as a character. He's a lovable scoundrel.
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Lamora
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USA
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Posted - 21 Feb 2017 :  00:40:51  Show Profile Send Lamora a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Too bad how Salvatore took Kummuriel's character in the newer novels. I really enjoyed his banter with Jarlaxle plus his awesome abilities. Though, thinking back on it, even with his whole house dying it still doesn't make much sense to me that in a city of 20k drow, he is basically the only one with psionic powers. I chalk it up to Salvatore loving his special snowflakes.
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VikingLegion
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USA
256 Posts

Posted - 21 Feb 2017 :  16:45:06  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lamora

Too bad how Salvatore took Kummuriel's character in the newer novels. I really enjoyed his banter with Jarlaxle plus his awesome abilities. Though, thinking back on it, even with his whole house dying it still doesn't make much sense to me that in a city of 20k drow, he is basically the only one with psionic powers. I chalk it up to Salvatore loving his special snowflakes.



I started to read your post and was terrified you were going to drop a major spoiler. Despite being 15+ years old, these books (other than 1987 up to ~1994) are new to me. But, other than a minor hint that something in the way Kimmuriel is written, you showed restraint and didn't ruin anything down the line for me, and I thank you for that :)

As to your comment: I've always viewed "classed" characters as the rarity in any society. Despite many Realms authors' predilection for making every Average Joe a 5th level something-or-other, I tend to think of the overwhelming majority of NPCs as 0-level types. Guards and militiamen maybe get enough training to become 1st level fighters. The local temples, rather than being stocked full of divine casters, probably only have a few priests actually capable of channeling their deity's energy, while the rest are just laymen who perform administrative and other duties. Wizards might have apprentices who aren't even level 1 yet, still struggling with their first cantrips. The local thieves guild might employ a few street waifs that are 0-level peasants with a point or two in pickpocketing, but not actually level 1 rogues (NOT ROUGES) - so no extra backstab damage, ability to disarm traps, etc. They just aren't there yet.

I view anyone who makes it to level 5 in their chosen profession to be exceptional types, and those who make it to 9th (name) level as the rockstars, pro-athletes, Hollywood actor equivalents of their world. If 1 in 1000 people have the inherent talent to even muster up the casting of a cantrip, and only 1 out of those 1000 have the "it factor" to accumulate significant levels, these "special snowflakes" really do become more unique. I realize my vision of fantasy worlds is a 180 from Greenwood's Realms, but I just can't see so many people having such elite skill.

Ok, so where was I going with all that? Oh yeah, House Oblodra and their ultra-rare psionic skill. I tend to think of psionics as the snowflake among snowflakes. If arcane/divine casters are hard to come by, psions are the proverbial needle in the haystack. At least those other two classes have tons and tons of mentors to aid in unlocking latent talent - you can't walk 50 feet in Faerun without tripping over a temple or wizard tower. But how many schools of psionics are there? Maybe a handful? So unless you're a wildtalent prodigy of some sort, you might go your whole life without even realizing you have latent psionic potential. I'm ok with House Oblodra monopolizing psionics (until their destruction) in a city of 20k drow. Everyone else is so Lolth obsessed, they probably view their divine might as being superior to those weirdo mind-freaks anyway. And it's not like there's a great spirit of cooperation in Menzoberranzan. Is Oblodra really going to take in wards from other houses to teach them in their ways? Even an exorbitant fee wouldn't be enough to outmatch the strategic value of having a skill nobody else in your society possesses.

I'm a little surprised though, that houses with enormous resources (Baenre, of course) doesn't hire illithids to test their young nobles for psionic potential and then help bring it to the fore. Even if they only found 1 or 2, it's an advantage that shouldn't be overlooked.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
256 Posts

Posted - 21 Feb 2017 :  17:15:14  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

City of Ravens is fun! I enjoy Jack Ravenwild as a character. He's a lovable scoundrel.



I finished City of Ravens last night. Anyone who's followed this thread has probably read my anti-Grubb rants and knows I'm one who prefers dark, gritty, grim fare in my fantasy novels. I don't particularly enjoy the light-hearted swashbuckling vibe. I also have a hard time getting on board with a rogue for a main protagonist, as I loathe societal parasites that leech off the hard work of others.

Then I read City of Ravens...

This book completely made me go against my usual nature. As Seravin said, it was just plain fun! I wanted to dislike it, I wanted to HATE Jack Ravenwild and hope for his capture and hanging/beheading. But he was so witty and amusing, I just couldn't help but be massively entertained by his antics. I even liked the rest of his mangy crew - Anders, Tharzon, Ontrides - all flawed, funny, quirky, but interesting characters. There was so much going on in this book - 3 separate plotlines all firing off simultaneously - it was a dizzying, wild ride.

The city itself was so thoroughly detailed. At first I didn't understand why he was so exhaustive in his detail when describing specific streets and landmarks Jack was running down. I had heard of the "Living Campaign" before but never really looked into what it is until just now. Wow, what an amazing concept - it's like a huge MMORPG before the online video game age was a thing. I had never gamed much outside of my own insular group, so the thought of tournaments with 1,000s of players and a Living City, where even Bob the Tanner and Joline the Seamstress are statted out is just, frankly, mind-blowing to me.

Anyway, this book was incredibly fun (I just read in a Pet Peeves thread where Wooley expressed his ire at the name of Jack Ravenswild, so maybe he'll be along soon to offer counterpoint). If I had to add a nitpick of my own, it would be that the witty banter was utilized by pretty much every character. When each and every player is equally glib with the brilliant dialogue, it makes it so ubiquitous as to lose some of its special quality. But that's a minor gripe at most and wasn't enough to seriously detract from the entertainment value of this story.

Up next I begin the 2001 novels:

The Summoning <-- starting here
The Floodgate
The Shattered Mask
Elminster in Hell
Temple Hill
Baldurs Gate II: Throne of Bhaal
Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor
Sea of Swords
Black Wolf
The Siege
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Lamora
Seeker

USA
68 Posts

Posted - 22 Feb 2017 :  01:09:18  Show Profile Send Lamora a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You finally start the Shade books... I personally started reading in the 3e era, so those were some of the first books I read in the Realms (not including all the Salvatore books out by that point since I got into the Realms through him). I really enjoyed them though I have seen many others on this forum express disgust with the series and Shade's inclusion.

Also Floodgate is a really good novel. I don't think I have read any of the other novels on that list though. Have fun with it.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
789 Posts

Posted - 22 Feb 2017 :  18:24:37  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There's a follow up to City of Ravens that is ebook only...Prince of Ravens set after the time skip/spell plague. It's as good as the first book, although a bit grittier (esp the beginning!). Make sure you pick it up.
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