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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
226 Posts

Posted - 03 Mar 2017 :  17:43:52  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

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.



Yes, it's on my master-list, but thanks for the heads-up. I'm not thrilled about some of the stories being ebook only, but there's no other option, so I guess I just have to deal with it.

I finished The Summoning a couple nights ago. This was a bit of an uneven experience. Denning has been running very hot-and-cold for me of late. It started off very impressive: intriguing plot, interesting characters, exceptional dialogue, etc. It took a bit of an immediate downturn once I realized phaerimm were involved. I have this irrational hatred of the phaerimm, going back to the ludicrously bad original illustration of them - I can't seem to find it online but I recall a picture of one that instantly made me think it was the lamest creature ever created for D&D (and in a multiverse with flumphs and froghemoths, that's really saying something). It was a black and white drawing with the traditional windsock design, and four completely human arms grafted onto the front/mouth area. It represents everything that is dumb about monster designing. I've since seen some extremely good illustrations of this creature, but it's hard to shake first impressions.

Also, the inclusion of Malik felt completely unnecessary and distracting. I get that authors become attached to their own creations and want to continue to utilize them, but in this instance it just didn't fit. There were also some pretty heavy-handed "We're in a new edition and have some new game mechanics to explain in-universe" expository moments as well, but I realize why they had to be there and tried to give them a pass.

That aside, the writing was mostly good, making this book solid overall. It was super fun to see the almighty Elminster actually a bit confounded by Melegaunt. I'm somewhat intrigued by the impending coming of Shade, though this is tempered to lukewarm interest in light of yet another RSE so quickly after the last one. I'll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

I'm about 90 pages into The Floodgate at the moment.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 03 Mar 2017 17:46:08
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2555 Posts

Posted - 03 Mar 2017 :  21:13:25  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah, the Phaerimm have that effect on me too. They actually remind me of the giant version of a kind of protozoa...

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

USA
226 Posts

Posted - 07 Mar 2017 :  05:22:13  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Floodgate yesterday. I feel like I could mostly re-paste my commentary from the first book of this series. Halruaa really comes to life under Elaine's pen. Not to pick on Murder in Halruaa too hard, but it just didn't make this totally unique land really stand out the way it could/should have. Two books into the Counselors and Kings series and it has become one of the most intriguing regions in all of FR for me. She weaves a very complex and intricate plot, it's not hard to get lost if you aren't really paying attention.

I'm really enjoying Matteo's continuing disenchantment with the jordaini order. I like seeing his once unshakable faith slowly erode as the layers peel back and more corruption/ politicking is revealed. I'm also quite fond of the effect Tzigone has on him; opening him up just slightly to a more fun side that can see shades of grey instead of nothing but absolutes. He's like a Vulcan that is just starting to grasp humor, still at the "Knock, knock" stage.

About the only thing I'm having a really hard time with is Andris' continuing loyalty to Kiva. I get that he feels stuck with her to further his own goals, but geez, at what point does he say enough is enough? How many more atrocities does she have to commit right in front of his face? Here's my paraphrased version of some of the events:

Andris: Hey! We were supposed to only subdue those humans at the Lady's Mirror, why were you using lethal force?
Kiva: Needed to for the mission, you understand.
Andris: Well... ok, but one more outburst like that and I'll....
Kiva:[rips wings off of Undine and absorbs its life-force]
Andris: Dude... WTF?!?!?!
Kiva: Had to do it, you know, for the mission.
Andris: *sigh* alright, but no more of that, ok?
Kiva: Go kill all those elves who have been working with us for weeks, I don't want them around anymore
Andris: No way, not only have they done nothing wrong, they've been our allies, we've broke bread with them, they've already taken us back once after we wronged them before. Oh, and also I have a tiny bit of elf blood in me and feel a sort of odd kinship for...
Kiva: **ZORP** [magic spell instantly turns 30 elves into dessicated husks]
Andris: Seriously? If you do one more
Kiva: You'll what? Lecture me again?

I'm really hoping Andris steps up in the 3rd book, he's been a huge disappointment for me. Actually I can't recall what happened to him at the end of this one, I sort of last track of him during the Crinti/Mulhorandi invasion and all the madness that ensued. I might have to go back and re-read the last couple chapters before I begin book 3. But that's not for a little while at least anyway, up next in my reading order is a return to the Uskevren clan in The Shattered Mask.
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2555 Posts

Posted - 07 Mar 2017 :  05:27:31  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Halruaa's one of my favourite FR regions too, Elaine's books set there only made me enjoy it more.

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

USA
226 Posts

Posted - 11 Mar 2017 :  06:43:11  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Shattered Mask tonight and was very impressed throughout. I've liked just about all of the Uskevren material I've read thus far, whether it's from Kemp, Byers, or any of the authors that contributed to the Halls collection. This has been the best of the bunch. I'm somewhat new to Byers, I'm deeply impressed by his knowledge - he keeps forcing me to go to the internet for everything from clothing styles, to architecture, to fencing maneuvers. I see from his author blurb that he is a fencing enthusiast, not hard to see that coming through in his fight scenes.

The characters were very fascinating as well. Marance, while being the big, bad villain, had this sort of effete, almost gentlemanly quality to him that made for an interesting contrast. He could murder a man with his bare hands, but then wipe them off as though the act was too "icky" or unrefined for him to be involved with personally. He was a brutal puppetmaster, yet he never ranted and raved at his minions, nor bellowed the nearly ubiquitous "GET THEM!!" that almost every villain seems contractually obligated to say. His familiar, Bileworm, was massively entertaining as well. I loved when he pantomimed creeping around thief-like, even though he is a shadow creature that wouldn't make sound anyway - like a caricature of an actor overdoing it on stage. Bileworm perfectly walked that fine line between funny and over-the-top goofy.

This was a really good book overall, one of the better FR novels I've read in some time. So much so that it caused me to look up Byers' wiki page and I'm quite pleased to see I have a ton more of his material to read in my future. On that note, up next in the queue is Elminster in Hell.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
775 Posts

Posted - 13 Mar 2017 :  01:24:12  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Okay...I know Ed's stuff is not your cup of tea. But I liked Elminster in Hell. It's like a Short Story collection as an excuse for Ed to talk about all his characters and share tales he has in his head...and the Simbul kicks some major butt in this book which I also enjoy.
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Thoth
Acolyte

Canada
13 Posts

Posted - 14 Mar 2017 :  13:55:11  Show Profile Send Thoth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I will say that I have enjoyed this thread.

I have read (and still own) most of the FR novels, from the very beginning. DL as well, although that is another forum elsewhere. Heh.

This has been a fun ride through nostalgia for most of these. Thank you for taking the time to scribe your journey and share it with us!

Edited by - Thoth on 14 Mar 2017 13:55:55
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
226 Posts

Posted - 19 Mar 2017 :  05:34:29  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Thoth

I will say that I have enjoyed this thread.

I have read (and still own) most of the FR novels, from the very beginning. DL as well, although that is another forum elsewhere. Heh.

This has been a fun ride through nostalgia for most of these. Thank you for taking the time to scribe your journey and share it with us!



Hey thanks for the kind words. It's been a lot of fun going through each book. Yeah, sometimes there's no response and I just move on to the next, but other times it sparks a pretty good debate that can be both informative and entertaining.

Like you, I also have read all the Dragonlance books and did a similar thing over on another forum. When I joined they already had a thread going called "What DL book are you currently reading", so I just piggybacked off that and did something similar to what I'm doing here - through all ~160+ books in that line.

http://www.dragonlanceforums.com/showthread.php?3731-DL-Book-Currently-Reading

That's the link, I started in on page 315 with a large post that encompassed several books, before I started doing one post per book.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
226 Posts

Posted - 19 Mar 2017 :  08:13:17  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You know how when a TV series has gone on for several seasons (~7+), eventually they do that one show that has like 2 minutes of original footage and the rest is just clips from previous years edited together?

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Okay...I know Ed's stuff is not your cup of tea. But I liked Elminster in Hell. It's like a Short Story collection as an excuse for Ed to talk about all his characters and share tales he has in his head...and the Simbul kicks some major butt in this book which I also enjoy.


What you liked about this book is exactly what I did not. I've owned it for awhile now, but kept it on the back burner until I could read all the other FR books up to this point. So, over a length of time, I've looked at the excellent cover art and sort of created in my mind an expectation of what I thought (and wanted) this book to be. I envisioned it as this epic sort of journey of trial and redemption, wherein Elminster travels the various layers of Hell - like some kind of awesome D&D ode to Dante Alighieri's Inferno. I wanted Greenwood's magnum opus, a true masterpiece. Instead we got Elminster and Friends Greatest Hits.

Putting my own selfish expectations aside, this book had a lot of ups and downs:

- The worst vignette, by far, in my mind was the scene where Elminster enters a "Hall of Doom" area - some kind of council of big bads, including a lich, a drow, a beholder, a gargoyle with some kind of magic sword, and maybe a few others. The basic impression is that each one of these guys could be a mega-villain all by themselves, but banded together they would be nigh-unstoppable. Elminster strolls in, and not only destroys them all; he does it without casting a single spell, or even lifting a finger for that matter. The bad guys all start casting destructive spells at him, he simply smiles and then Mystra intervenes, doing a return to sender and obliterating the villains with their own spells. This one scene basically sums up 95% of everything I dislike about Elminster stories.

+ The Mirt/Piergeron/Piergeron's daughter (I can't remember her name) snippet was really interesting, probably the best among the various memories that weren't directly experienced by Elminster.

+ The Laeral (not Khelben's wife, the "other" Laerel) story was pretty neat, with the unfaithful apprentice who tries to murder his mentor and grab the throne for himself. Well done.

+/- The young mage who seeks to apprentice himself to Elminster and then attempts to fool him by sacrificing a duplicate of his magical staff - that was a good story. The Rathan and Torm snippet was just plain awful... ouch. Also, the vignette with the Sembian woman who runs a finishing school and her 4 ladies visiting Elminster's tower was just brutal.

- There is a scene where Storm and Sylune are reading an in-universe novel called "Heartsteel" - part of a series that comes out of Sembia. The sisters are laughing uproariously at the cheesiness of the tale. But what I found most funny is that when they read some actual passages from it, well... it reads quite a bit like a Greenwood story to me..... Not sure if this was a bit of self-deprecating humor from the author, or...?

+ the internal monologue of Elminster on page 280-281 was terrific, inspiring, even. For a shining moment, he dropped the tiresome snarkiness. It was equal parts wisdom, humility, resignation, and determination - the best writing of the entire 400+ page experience.

- a huge pet peeve of mine in many FR books (and something that drove me nuts in the Dragonlance line as well) is the lack of separation between arcane and divine magic. I view mages as something like medieval fantasy scientists. Arcane magic is a series of formulae and reactions that involve unlocking the proper combinations of somatic, verbal, and material components. Anyone can participate in it, provided they have the mental capability to memorize all the nuances, and the devotion to practice it enough to attain mastery. Wizardry, like Science, is a repeatable, demonstratable act, no begging or cajoling of a deity is needed. But here we have, in addition to Elminster's constant Mystra pleading, Halaster and the Simbul getting in on that act. Initially they both get their butts kicked in Hell. So what do they do? Return to Toril, curl up in the fetal position, and pray to Mystra for more power. She, of course, fully heals them, and then supercharges them to OVER 9,000!!! to go back to Hell and rescue her most precious servant. C'mon, man... that is straight up cleric territory.

- I didn't much care for Nergal's characterization. Demons are supposed to be the chaotic 'roid-ragers. Devils should be smoother, slicker, more in-control plotters and schemers. Nergal read as a classic demon, a Balor on a rampage. There was even a specific entry that mentioned his bull-in-a-china shop journey through El's mind - leaving nothing but "chaos" in his wake. Nope, a devil would never be so haphazard and non-systematic. While we're talking about Nergal, those interactions between the memories basically boiled down to the exact same thing - Nergal chastising Elminster for not showing him memories of any value (i.e. leading to mastery of magic), El responding back with some kind of witty, smartass remark, Nergal smashing him down with a mental bolt, whip, or lash, and then the hollow threat of "YOU TRY MY PATIENCE, MORTAL!! THE NEXT MEMORY YOU SHOW ME HAD BEST BE OF SOME USE OR I SHALL DESTROY YOU UTTERLY!! The frequency of these interludes could've been reduced dramatically, and the book would not have been the worse for it.

+ I really liked how Elminster eventually subverted Nergal. It was subtly done, and even though he hinted throughout the novel how he was injecting some humanity into the devil, it was still fun to see when all the suffering and hard work finally came to fruition. I loved that scene near the end where the Simbul and Nergal are spell-dueling, and Elminster keeps influencing Nergal to misfire or get confused as to what he wants to do to her. Really cool stuff. I would've preferred the book to end there, or with a very short epilogue, on a high note; rather than the anti-climactic free-for-all in the Simbul's throne room.

So, after all that, I don't know where I stand with this book. It certainly wasn't what I hoped and wanted it to be. A few of the random stories were excellent, a few of them were painful, most fell somewhere in between. I felt like Ed just wanted to spin some random lore, like maybe he had a bunch of bits and pieces hanging around that he wanted to put in a monthly Dragon article or something, but didn't make the cut. It was a strange book with lots of highs and lows, I suppose they more-or-less negated each other out and made for an average read.

Up next is Temple Hill. I've not read anything from this author yet, and the cover art looks kind of goofy, so I'm approaching this with a little trepidation, but trying to keep an open mind.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 19 Mar 2017 08:22:15
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
29636 Posts

Posted - 19 Mar 2017 :  15:19:33  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The thing that bothered me most about Elminster in Hell was the way Elminster would somehow contact people by simply remembering them. And as I recall, at least once in the book (I've not read it in a while), one of these remembered people realized that this sudden recollection they were experiencing meant Elminster was in trouble.

If there was any mechanism used for how this contact was established, I missed it. And thus, the story did not work because a large part of it relied on something that simply did not make sense.

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Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
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Thoth
Acolyte

Canada
13 Posts

Posted - 21 Mar 2017 :  16:32:29  Show Profile Send Thoth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

quote:
Originally posted by Thoth

I will say that I have enjoyed this thread.

I have read (and still own) most of the FR novels, from the very beginning. DL as well, although that is another forum elsewhere. Heh.

This has been a fun ride through nostalgia for most of these. Thank you for taking the time to scribe your journey and share it with us!



Hey thanks for the kind words. It's been a lot of fun going through each book. Yeah, sometimes there's no response and I just move on to the next, but other times it sparks a pretty good debate that can be both informative and entertaining.

Like you, I also have read all the Dragonlance books and did a similar thing over on another forum. When I joined they already had a thread going called "What DL book are you currently reading", so I just piggybacked off that and did something similar to what I'm doing here - through all ~160+ books in that line.

http://www.dragonlanceforums.com/showthread.php?3731-DL-Book-Currently-Reading

That's the link, I started in on page 315 with a large post that encompassed several books, before I started doing one post per book.



Wow. I'll have to head over there and check it out!
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
226 Posts

Posted - 21 Mar 2017 :  18:28:57  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Temple Hill last night and found it to be a pretty decent read. My expectations going in were pretty low, but I'm happy to say it was not bad at all. I didn't much care for the gnome cleric of Gond and his "gadgets", but that's more of a personal taste, as I strongly dislike tech mixed with swords-n-sorcery type fantasy. Also the author slightly overused a gimmick wherein he would describe a scene from one character's POV, then the next chapter would be the same scene from another perspective, with the exact same dialogue recycled. Used once or twice it can be interesting, but I think he went to this well just a bit too much.

Other than that, the characters were interesting, the combat was well written, and it had a great D&D session vibe to it. At times it felt like a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl. Normally when I say that it is derisive, but in the case of this story it worked well. I smiled a bit when they were packing up supplies for the trek - never forget your 50' of coiled rope!

It was a decent little story. Nothing earth-shattering or anything that will resonate in the annals of Forgotten Realms history, but it was a good read for what it was. Up next I have the same author taking his crack at the 3rd BG installment; Baldur's Gate II: The Throne of Bhaal. Here's to hoping a change at the helm brings somewhat better results.

Abdel!!
Jaheira?
Abdel!!
Imoen....?
Abdel!!
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
29636 Posts

Posted - 21 Mar 2017 :  19:23:58  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Temple Hill last night and found it to be a pretty decent read. My expectations going in were pretty low, but I'm happy to say it was not bad at all. I didn't much care for the gnome cleric of Gond and his "gadgets", but that's more of a personal taste, as I strongly dislike tech mixed with swords-n-sorcery type fantasy. Also the author slightly overused a gimmick wherein he would describe a scene from one character's POV, then the next chapter would be the same scene from another perspective, with the exact same dialogue recycled. Used once or twice it can be interesting, but I think he went to this well just a bit too much.



I've not read this book, so I'm not familiar with how the author used it, but I've always really liked seeing the same scene from another perspective.

One of my personal faves is Pug/Milamber destroying the Imperial Games, in Raymond E Feist's books. In Magician, the scene is told from the PoV of the guy doing the destroying. In of the Empire books Feist co-wrote with Janny Wurts, we see the same scene from the PoV of one of the spectators at the Games, who wound up fleeing for her life. We also get to see a lot more of the aftermath of this, which is also cool.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

Editor and scribe for The Candlekeep Compendium

I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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Thoth
Acolyte

Canada
13 Posts

Posted - 22 Mar 2017 :  10:49:09  Show Profile Send Thoth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion



It was a decent little story. Nothing earth-shattering or anything that will resonate in the annals of Forgotten Realms history, but it was a good read for what it was. Up next I have the same author taking his crack at the 3rd BG installment; Baldur's Gate II: The Throne of Bhaal. Here's to hoping a change at the helm brings somewhat better results.



Oh, good luck with that.

I read it many years ago, and remember not enjoying it all that much. It wasn't the worst novel I had read, but it was far from the best. Below Average I'd say.

Looking forward to the review!
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