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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2986 Posts

Posted - 07 Mar 2018 :  00:58:45  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for chiming in, Elaine. I enjoyed all the insight and lore that the book provided, but it sounds like there was some serious untapped potential there.

The more I read about WotC's editor's choices, the more I'm convinced that the Realms would have been better off with a different team. Alas...

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
Senior Scribe

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 08 Mar 2018 :  01:57:55  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Elaine,

Once again we all thank you for the wonderful inside look you provide us into the process, whether it's good, bad, or sometimes ugly (how did you not strangle that editor!?!?!) I'm so glad you mentioned Cormyr, because that's exactly what I thought and hoped this story would be when I started it. Even though I tend to nitpick Greenwood and Grubb's specific individual styles, their collaboration produced one of my favorite Realms books. Cormyr was a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I very much thought City of Splendors would reach similar heights, but unfortunately meddling from up high sabotaged that. But after re-reading my overly negative review, I realize I did focus almost entirely on what I didn't like. There were quite a few excellent moments, I think I just wanted this book to be so much more, I killed my own enjoyment of it through self-hype, if that makes any sense.

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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2332 Posts

Posted - 08 Mar 2018 :  18:50:58  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Elaine,

Once again we all thank you for the wonderful inside look you provide us into the process, whether it's good, bad, or sometimes ugly (how did you not strangle that editor!?!?!) I'm so glad you mentioned Cormyr, because that's exactly what I thought and hoped this story would be when I started it. Even though I tend to nitpick Greenwood and Grubb's specific individual styles, their collaboration produced one of my favorite Realms books. Cormyr was a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I very much thought City of Splendors would reach similar heights, but unfortunately meddling from up high sabotaged that. But after re-reading my overly negative review, I realize I did focus almost entirely on what I didn't like. There were quite a few excellent moments, I think I just wanted this book to be so much more, I killed my own enjoyment of it through self-hype, if that makes any sense.





No worries. I have much the same feeling about this book: It could have, and should have, been much more.

Strangling the editor was neither an option nor an impulse. These things are not the decision of one person, but simply a fact of life in shared-world fiction. New editions happen. Game designers come and go. Editorial directions change. You flow with it as best you can. Sometimes things work out better than initially expected, sometimes not. On balance, though, I find that the fun of shared-world writing outweighs the frustrations.
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 09 Mar 2018 :  00:40:25  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Master of Chains a couple days ago. I haven't heard much praise for this entire line of "Classes" books, I don't think they were very well received. For my part, I've found them to be a mixed bag, but I don't consider any of them to be awful or excellent, just varying degrees of in-between. This book was also an up-and-down experience. I was bothered at how little description was given to the setting initially. It wasn't until page 200 that there was any kind of significant exposition on Erlkazar, a land I knew nothing about, not even its general location. I didn't want to look it up for fear of spoilers, so I went 2/3 of the book without any kind of feel for the background. The baron (and presumed bad guy for most of the story) ruled from a place called Zerith Hold - does that sound like Zhentil Keep Lite to anyone else? A mage tricked several undead with illusion spells, I don't think that works. Also it was absurd how the protagonist acquired his magical spiked chain. After going through a good portion of the book using the chain that bound him in slavery (obvious, but cool concept), he eventually sheds that item. Then, while helping defend a rebel camp, he finds himself again weaponless. Another rebel says "Hang on a moment, I have something that might work." He then goes to his foot locker and pulls out a powerfully enchanted spiked chain that glows purple and discharges jolts of electricity with each strike. Wait.... what? Aside from the obvious question of why does he carry this potent weapon around that he doesn't know how to use, it's just absurdly convenient that he's in the presence of another fighter who happens to have been using just such a weapon exclusively since breaking free from his slavers.

But it wasn't all bad. The essence of the story had a lot of promise. Two brothers, separated by circumstance and then reunited after much has changed, find themselves at cross purposes. There was some great betrayal (unintentional and otherwise), a villain that turned out to be not what he seemed, shifting alliances, etc. The "bones" of this book had a great story somewhere in there, it's just the execution was lacking in several regards. I really dig the idea/concept of a chain-fighter specialist. In fact, I had planned to play one when I first read it as an option for 3.0 - it just seemed so edgy and cool to try out, especially when at higher levels they start to take on some supernatural affinities with chains that make them more than just a fighter skilled in an exotic weapon style. I was hoping this book would have a neat story describing just such a transformation - like maybe a pact with a kyton or devil patron, bonding to a sentient weapon, some kind of magical accident in the presence of a chained up prisoner, I don't know, think Marvel origin story... - but instead it was just an ex-slave dude that got good with a chain by necessity, then stumbled across an enchanted version. Missed opportunity there.

Rob Zombie looked totally badass on the cover.

Up next it's back to the Priests series with Richard Lee Byers Queen of the Depths.
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 10 Mar 2018 :  15:59:52  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I blasted through Queen of the Depths in about 2 days. I think this might've been the best of the Classes books thus far. I've said it before, I really like Richard Lee Byers style. He always makes me hit the internet to look up a word, or words, I've never been exposed to, and I read A LOT. His characters are usually pretty interesting, his fight scenes are always solid and well-informed with a real-world fencing background, and he sneaks in some great dialogue, both witty at times and serious when it needs to be. He really excels with these swashbuckling type heroes and Indiana Jonesish stories, for lack of a better term. I also like how he incorporates other parts of the realms. For instance, I enjoyed seeing Captain Vurgrom, who has made several other appearances: the Threat from the Sea trilogy, the Shackled City adventure path, and I'm sure several other references. Late in the book there was also a cameo by the wizard Jorunhast. I don't recall how far back in the "hast" line he is (Amedahast, Thanderahast, Vangerdahast, etc.) but the name feels familiar from the book Cormyr: A Novel, which we've oddly been talking about a lot lately... I do like when authors drop references like that, it really makes the Realms feel like the vast, detailed shared world that it is.

Anyway, very solid book, I find the more I am exposed to Seros the more interesting it is. I know a while back we talked about an excellent sourcebook for this area, something I will eventually find a copy of. Ok, up next in the order I get to RAS's Promise of the Witch King.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 10 Mar 2018 16:01:36
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 16 Mar 2018 :  00:36:38  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Last night I finished Promise of the Witch King. Disclaimer: I'm a big RAS fan, I've always loved his works. For many years he WAS the Realms, for me anyway. That said, no author is above some critique, and this book I felt was amongst (if not the) least enjoyable of his I can recall.

Jarlaxle and Artemis have made their way to the Vaasa/Damara area. So far so good, I'm pretty keen on finding out more about the Bloodstone Lands, so this is working for me. There's an excellent portion in Chapter 2 with Entreri engaging in some pretty serious introspection. It wasn't subtle, but I thought it was very well done. I'm not sure I understand the whole flute subplot, and why Jarlaxle is so obsessed with turning this souless assassin into a real boy. Is there some kind of huge end-game I'm not aware of yet, what is his ultimate plan? Or is it simply a case of Jarlaxle acting on a whim. One never knows with that guy, he just sort of does what he wants.

Then things take a downward turn. I thought the whole evil artifact that builds an edifice or bastion of badness (Zhengyi's book to castle) was a bit reminiscent of Crenshinibon and the towers (Cryshal-Tirith). Not exactly the same thing, but similar enough. And then we have the character of Athrogate - a crazy dwarven warrior that often speaks in rhymes (and bad ones at that). C'mon.... has that really worked out for anyone? Here are a couple of the unbearable examples:

"I'm feeling a bump and a bit of a shake/ I'm thinkin' to find a few monsters to break!"
"I got yer back, I got yer head/ Them snakes attack ye, they wind up dead!"

Painful...

And while I would never, ever accuse him of "mailing it in", this book did have some sloppiness to it: several repeated words or phrases in extremely close proximity to each other, it just felt a bit rushed. The supporting cast of characters never really endeared themselves to me. I kind of like Mariabronne (name notwithstanding), but he majorly screwed up towards the end and caused both his own death as well as at least one of his companions as they rushed to try to save him. I know he was supposed to be reckless and adventurous, but that was downright stupid. The rest of the crew were fairly forgettable. I think one of the big problems, for me anyway, was almost the entirety of this book centered on that one adventuring group. There was only one "cutaway" that I can think of, a brief interlude in the nearby town to show them prepping for a big defense against Zhengyi's minions. Other than that it was just chapter after chapter of the group exploring a castle. It read more like a dungeon-crawl module (and not a great one at that) than a story. It just didn't do anything for me.

Up next is a brief (probably VERY brief) break as I re-read the unbelievably excellent novel Ready Player One, in preparation of the movie coming out in a couple weeks. I should tear through this in a few days at most, and then resume my Realms trek.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 17 Mar 2018 11:41:17
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Lamora
Learned Scribe

USA
76 Posts

Posted - 16 Mar 2018 :  04:24:39  Show Profile Send Lamora a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This book was slightly a let-down in some ways. There is all that build up of Vaasa and Damara and then... the duo leave the region. It felt unfinished to me. Though I enjoyed Athrogate as a character and how OP he is. The rhyming does grate though.
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Madpig
Learned Scribe

Finland
133 Posts

Posted - 17 Mar 2018 :  21:58:06  Show Profile Send Madpig a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Viking you are going to get a lot more of that rhyming in future :D So be prepared. For me, Promise was one of the most interesting works of RAS. Next book is even better. Have to say, it is sometimes good that I am not a native speaker, so that rhyming did not bother me as much.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
855 Posts

Posted - 18 Mar 2018 :  15:31:07  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Servant of the Shard is my fave of Bob's books (followed by The Crystal Shard and Ghost King); so to me I was hoping for an amazing second book and got one of the least enjoyable of Bob's books. Sigh. I agree with your review! Book 3 in the Sellswords isn't much better but at least it has showy characters and memorable scenes.

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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2018 :  01:41:01  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Ghostwalker several days ago but hadn't found time to get on here for a writeup. As soon as I realized the main character was a revenant type being, I immediately assumed this book would be a Crow ripoff. And while it did share some traits with that story (how could it not?), there were also some elements of Batman, Ghost Rider, even something of an anime/Ninja Scroll vibe thrown in there. This entire book read sort of like a guilty pleasure to me, the badass martial arts fighter from beyond the grave, avenging his own death by murdering his murderers. Throw in an oversized black cloak with rents and holes in it that flows all around him as though possessing a life of its own - pure fan service, but yet I found it very entertaining at times. This book, especially several of the action sequences, did a terrific job of making me imagine the scene playing out. I know when "The FR D&D Movie" was announced there was much speculation on which characters/places it would use - whether Elminster or Drizzt would be a focus, etc. Many fans preferred the idea of a fresh start and avoiding the heavy hitters. I had that notion in the back of my mind while reading this book and couldn't help but think how cinematic parts of it were, it's like I was drawing my own mental storyboards as I went along.

Some things that didn't work for me were the comedic stylings of Derst and Bars - two knights sent as bodyguards for one of the female investigators. Their humor and I guess rakish/witty banter just fell flat. Also the main villain very frequently spoke in rhymes.... ARGHHHH, didn't I just deal with that in the previous book? This guy gets half a pass though, as he is a bard. Terrible poetry notwithstanding, he was a pretty interesting villain. He's a former adventurer who is anything but heroic, yet uses his charisma and musical/magic charms to win over the rabble and set himself up as a great savior and friend of the common man. But he wasn't your typical moustache-twirling, manipulating villain. He was a bit neurotic, full of equal parts arrogance and self-loathing. I thought he was well-nuanced and stood out as a character, albeit in a loathsome fashion. The Ghost Lady of the Forest was another unique character in that she had some good intentions, but was pretty awful despite what she would consider justified actions. I enjoy these kind of morally gray types.

So, while it probably didn't make much of a blip on the overall FR scene, I thought it was a fun and diverting read. Up next I continue with the Fighters series with the next book: Son of Thunder.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 07 Apr 2018 14:23:20
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 03 Apr 2018 :  22:13:05  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Son of Thunder several days ago. I was pleased immediately to see the name Elaine Cunningham in the acknowledgments. Her quote on the back cover - that this book is "rich in Realmslore" is very accurate. Yes, it's a story about Uthgardt barbarians for the most part - but it also manages to include an enormous amount of info and tidbits from other parts of the world, particularly areas with Zhent influence like Darkhold and Llorkh. There are updates on Manshoon, Fzoul, Sememmon/Ashemmi, etc.

There was some great info to be had on the formation of the Uthgardts, from Netherese refugees to where they are currently (I think Dazzlerdal posited some theories in either this thread or another awhile back, I'm wondering if he read this book). The somewhat murky history of the Bey of Runlatha, aka Beorrun, aka Berrun is clarified quite well. There's also some good lore on some of the other tribes, including the Great Wyrm tribe and the unfortunate end of their spirit totem Elrem.

I particularly enjoyed some of the info on the Unicorn Run. I thought this was just a river in the High Forest that had a somewhat-stronger-than-normal connection to nature, maybe a portal to the Seelie Court or something of that nature. But it's so much more than that, if one believes the legends. I really liked the delve into that area.

It just occured to me I haven't even broached the story itself yet. It's about the Thunderbeast tribe and their efforts to protect a mystical, hidden sanctuary containing the dinosaurs sacred to their people. The Zhents want the artifact - a surviving piece from ancient Netheril - that powers the illusion spell that hides this vale. It's funny, the story takes a back seat to all the great lore going on, but that's not to say it's a bad or deficient story. There is a typical "chosen one", the main character, who becomes a receptacle of the Thunderbeast's power, able to transform in the heat of battle with an exoskeleton of armor and heightened strength/speed and so on.

Good book overall. After the mediocre Master of Chains, I've found the next two in the Fighters series to be somewhat pleasant surprises. Up next I keep going with this group of novels with: Bladesinger. I'm actually about halfway through it already, so I'm expecting to have that writeup by the weekend.

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Murray Leeder
Forgotten Realms Author

Canada
226 Posts

Posted - 04 Apr 2018 :  20:21:39  Show Profile  Visit Murray Leeder's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Son of Thunder several days ago. I was pleased immediately to see the name Elaine Cunningham in the acknowledgments. Her quote on the back cover - that this book is "rich in Realmslore" is very accurate. Yes, it's a story about Uthgardt barbarians for the most part - but it also manages to include an enormous amount of info and tidbits from other parts of the world, particularly areas with Zhent influence like Darkhold and Llorkh. There are updates on Manshoon, Fzoul, Sememmon/Ashemmi, etc.

There was some great info to be had on the formation of the Uthgardts, from Netherese refugees to where they are currently (I think Dazzlerdal posited some theories in either this thread or another awhile back, I'm wondering if he read this book). The somewhat murky history of the Bey of Runlatha, aka Beorrun, aka Berrun is clarified quite well. There's also some good lore on some of the other tribes, including the Great Wyrm tribe and the unfortunate end of their spirit totem Elrem.

I particularly enjoyed some of the info on the Unicorn Run. I thought this was just a river in the High Forest that had a somewhat-stronger-than-normal connection to nature, maybe a portal to the Seelie Court or something of that nature. But it's so much more than that, if one believes the legends. I really liked the delve into that area.

It just occured to me I haven't even broached the story itself yet. It's about the Thunderbeast tribe and their efforts to protect a mystical, hidden sanctuary containing the dinosaurs sacred to their people. The Zhents want the artifact - a surviving piece from ancient Netheril - that powers the illusion spell that hides this vale. It's funny, the story takes a back seat to all the great lore going on, but that's not to say it's a bad or deficient story. There is a typical "chosen one", the main character, who becomes a receptacle of the Thunderbeast's power, able to transform in the heat of battle with an exoskeleton of armor and heightened strength/speed and so on.

Good book overall. After the mediocre Master of Chains, I've found the next two in the Fighters series to be somewhat pleasant surprises. Up next I keep going with this group of novels with: Bladesinger. I'm actually about halfway through it already, so I'm expecting to have that writeup by the weekend.





Thanks for the kind words. You've hit on something interesting; the story was very much conceived around lore, its study and its implications.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
31582 Posts

Posted - 05 Apr 2018 :  02:46:10  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Son of Thunder several days ago. I was pleased immediately to see the name Elaine Cunningham in the acknowledgments. Her quote on the back cover - that this book is "rich in Realmslore" is very accurate. Yes, it's a story about Uthgardt barbarians for the most part - but it also manages to include an enormous amount of info and tidbits from other parts of the world, particularly areas with Zhent influence like Darkhold and Llorkh. There are updates on Manshoon, Fzoul, Sememmon/Ashemmi, etc.

There was some great info to be had on the formation of the Uthgardts, from Netherese refugees to where they are currently (I think Dazzlerdal posited some theories in either this thread or another awhile back, I'm wondering if he read this book). The somewhat murky history of the Bey of Runlatha, aka Beorrun, aka Berrun is clarified quite well. There's also some good lore on some of the other tribes, including the Great Wyrm tribe and the unfortunate end of their spirit totem Elrem.

I particularly enjoyed some of the info on the Unicorn Run. I thought this was just a river in the High Forest that had a somewhat-stronger-than-normal connection to nature, maybe a portal to the Seelie Court or something of that nature. But it's so much more than that, if one believes the legends. I really liked the delve into that area.

It just occured to me I haven't even broached the story itself yet. It's about the Thunderbeast tribe and their efforts to protect a mystical, hidden sanctuary containing the dinosaurs sacred to their people. The Zhents want the artifact - a surviving piece from ancient Netheril - that powers the illusion spell that hides this vale. It's funny, the story takes a back seat to all the great lore going on, but that's not to say it's a bad or deficient story. There is a typical "chosen one", the main character, who becomes a receptacle of the Thunderbeast's power, able to transform in the heat of battle with an exoskeleton of armor and heightened strength/speed and so on.

Good book overall. After the mediocre Master of Chains, I've found the next two in the Fighters series to be somewhat pleasant surprises. Up next I keep going with this group of novels with: Bladesinger. I'm actually about halfway through it already, so I'm expecting to have that writeup by the weekend.





I've never read this book, myself; I skipped most of the Classes books. But your description of it has encouraged me to find a copy and give it a shot.

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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
5304 Posts

Posted - 05 Apr 2018 :  06:36:48  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Murray Leeder
Thanks for the kind words. You've hit on something interesting; the story was very much conceived around lore, its study and its implications.



I enjoyed it a lot too Murray, and certainly appreciated your Realms research and scholarship.

-- George Krashos

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

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 07 Apr 2018 :  14:41:33  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert
I've never read this book, myself; I skipped most of the Classes books. But your description of it has encouraged me to find a copy and give it a shot.



I get the feeling that the Classes series either were not received all that well, or simply didn't get much widespread exposure. I've enjoyed them for the most part, I think a lot of that has to due with the fact that they are standalone stories. Not everything has to be an epic quintet that shakes the entire world. Often I prefer a 300 page book that is going to introduce a new character and tell a complete tale within its own borders. For my part I've found these series to be:

Rogues - somewhat average, maybe a bit below. Admittedly rogues are not my favorite protagonist type though, so perhaps my reactions were biased. The Black Bouquet, by Richard Lee Byers (the one with the female monk of Shar as the villain!) was the standout here, the rest were... meh

Priests - better than average. In fact, I thought they were all much better than expected aside from the one written by a contest winner.

Fighters - also better than expected. Master of Chains had some serious issues. Ghostwalker was super fun in a popcorn/movie kind of way. Son of Thunder is being discussed now, and Bladesinger is up next.


Edited by - VikingLegion on 07 Apr 2018 14:42:38
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 07 Apr 2018 :  14:51:13  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Murray Leeder


Thanks for the kind words. You've hit on something interesting; the story was very much conceived around lore, its study and its implications.



Yeah, I'm a Netheril (and Myth Drannor) junkie, so any story that hearkens back to the older kingdoms is fascinating to me. I really liked the archaeological feel in parts of this book, from the discovery of the axe in the Fallen Lands to Geildarr's attempts to unravel its lore (both magical and mundane library research) was really interesting. Thanks for the engaging read, and also thanks for chiming in on this thread, I always get a thrill when the authors drop in and share!
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 07 Apr 2018 :  15:27:51  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Quick interlude before the Bladesinger review:

I have a book called Dragons: Worlds Afire. I don't even remember where it came from or how I obtained it. It's a large, flat book, like a coffee table style. It contains four novellas, each written in a different WOTC world, and all lavishly illustrated and including introductory comments by the author. I read the Dragonlance story some years ago, back when I was going through that series. There are also stories set in FR, Eberron, and Magic: The Gathering. I don't know if I'll ever read the latter two, I don't have much interest in either setting. But I did read the Realms one, a RAS tale titled; If Ever They Happened Upon My Lair.

I really liked this story. probably as much as I disliked Promise of the Witch King. It's a prequel to PotWK, in that it explains how Zhengyi managed to trap the soul of a black dragon in his book. Very solid story, great artwork, I have nothing negative to say about it. Once again, RAS pays an ode to Tolkein, describing a dragon's "lamplight" gaze. I believe he's the only TSR/WotC author to use this particular bit of draconic flavor, with actual beams of light emitting from their eyes to illuminate intruders in their lair. If you've seen the old Bakshi Hobbit cartoon from the 70s, you know what I'm talking about.

Ok, up next is Bladesinger.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 07 Apr 2018 15:31:09
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 07 Apr 2018 :  15:28:28  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Bladesinger

If books 2 and 3 of the Fighters series were pleasant surprises, this book was a revelation. The author did an amazing job making me "feel" the region of Rashemen. In many books I admit I'm guilty of somewhat glossing over the descriptions of weather, trees, scenery and so on. I sometimes find it to be little more than window dressing, page filler. Strohm's work in this area (at least for this book, I'm not too familiar with him otherwise) was terrific. It really made the soul of this region shine, making the setting almost like a character in itself.

His characters were all intriguing - flawed, damaged, and very nuanced. The main protagonist is a half-elf outcast who is trying to learn the elven art of Bladesinging, while facing the obvious stigma of his partial human heritage. He comes off a bit angsty/mopey at times, but when you see what he's gone through, it becomes very understandable. He is accompanied by a maimed druid, a crusty Halfling fighter that acts more like a dwarf than a Halfling, and a native Rashemi ranger to guide them. Between the great, descriptive scenery writing and the excellent character development, if I didn't glance at the cover before reading I would swear this was a Cunningham novel. I recall her doing a similarly excellent job with Rashemen in one of the Liriel books. It also reminded me heavily of another novelist many of you might not be familiar with - Nancy Varian Berberick. She worked mainly in the Dragonlance line, she has such an evocative, beautiful writing style, I often enjoyed her stories more than the "headliners" of that world, and Bladesinger reminded me quite a bit of her tone and style.

About the only negatives I could come up with for this story are:

1. The dialogue was a bit comic-booky at times, particularly the main villain when she addresses the heroes. Kinda cheesy/contrived/tropey

2. The elven names... just about every character and even location with an elven connection had an "ae" or "ea" combination somewhere within, making them all start to blur together for me. Taenaran, Avaelearean, Aelrindel, Faelyn, Arvaedra, Andaerean, Talaedra, etc. Ughh!

But these are minor nitpicks, at best. This was an excellent novel and I believe something of a hidden gem. If you haven't read it, give it a try. I just found 13 copies for under $4 in less than a minute of searching.

Up next, I start the Watercourse Trilogy with book 1: Whisper of Waves.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 07 Apr 2018 16:08:59
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dazzlerdal
Great Reader

United Kingdom
4149 Posts

Posted - 10 Apr 2018 :  20:29:25  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Son of Thunder several days ago. I was pleased immediately to see the name Elaine Cunningham in the acknowledgments. Her quote on the back cover - that this book is "rich in Realmslore" is very accurate. Yes, it's a story about Uthgardt barbarians for the most part - but it also manages to include an enormous amount of info and tidbits from other parts of the world, particularly areas with Zhent influence like Darkhold and Llorkh. There are updates on Manshoon, Fzoul, Sememmon/Ashemmi, etc.

There was some great info to be had on the formation of the Uthgardts, from Netherese refugees to where they are currently (I think Dazzlerdal posited some theories in either this thread or another awhile back, I'm wondering if he read this book). The somewhat murky history of the Bey of Runlatha, aka Beorrun, aka Berrun is clarified quite well. There's also some good lore on some of the other tribes, including the Great Wyrm tribe and the unfortunate end of their spirit totem Elrem.

I particularly enjoyed some of the info on the Unicorn Run. I thought this was just a river in the High Forest that had a somewhat-stronger-than-normal connection to nature, maybe a portal to the Seelie Court or something of that nature. But it's so much more than that, if one believes the legends. I really liked the delve into that area.

It just occured to me I haven't even broached the story itself yet. It's about the Thunderbeast tribe and their efforts to protect a mystical, hidden sanctuary containing the dinosaurs sacred to their people. The Zhents want the artifact - a surviving piece from ancient Netheril - that powers the illusion spell that hides this vale. It's funny, the story takes a back seat to all the great lore going on, but that's not to say it's a bad or deficient story. There is a typical "chosen one", the main character, who becomes a receptacle of the Thunderbeast's power, able to transform in the heat of battle with an exoskeleton of armor and heightened strength/speed and so on.

Good book overall. After the mediocre Master of Chains, I've found the next two in the Fighters series to be somewhat pleasant surprises. Up next I keep going with this group of novels with: Bladesinger. I'm actually about halfway through it already, so I'm expecting to have that writeup by the weekend.





I don't recall any specific theories I posted on the uthgardt but I am quite forgetful.
I haven't read any realms novels apart from Blackstaff as I generally consider the novels to be poorly researched (Steven Schend and Ed Greenwood of course cannot poorly research the realms because they helped make it into the gem it was) and I'm a gamer first and foremost but based on your recommendation I will give Sons of Thunder a read at some point.

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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
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Posted - 10 Apr 2018 :  21:15:09  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dazzlerdal



I don't recall any specific theories I posted on the uthgardt but I am quite forgetful.
I haven't read any realms novels apart from Blackstaff as I generally consider the novels to be poorly researched (Steven Schend and Ed Greenwood of course cannot poorly research the realms because they helped make it into the gem it was) and I'm a gamer first and foremost but based on your recommendation I will give Sons of Thunder a read at some point.



So you've read exactly one novel and consider all of them poorly researched, based on one that wasn't?

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Murray Leeder
Forgotten Realms Author

Canada
226 Posts

Posted - 10 Apr 2018 :  21:20:52  Show Profile  Visit Murray Leeder's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

quote:
Originally posted by Murray Leeder


Thanks for the kind words. You've hit on something interesting; the story was very much conceived around lore, its study and its implications.



Yeah, I'm a Netheril (and Myth Drannor) junkie, so any story that hearkens back to the older kingdoms is fascinating to me. I really liked the archaeological feel in parts of this book, from the discovery of the axe in the Fallen Lands to Geildarr's attempts to unravel its lore (both magical and mundane library research) was really interesting. Thanks for the engaging read, and also thanks for chiming in on this thread, I always get a thrill when the authors drop in and share!



I appreciate it. By the way, you remark on Vell as a "typical chosen one" character -- this is true but I had hoped to play with this archetype since he is chosen not for merit but because of an accident of lineage, gains little personal benefit from his new powers which only estrange him from his peers (both the Uthgardt and the Shepherds), and he forsakes them when he gets the chance. Not sure if all came off, but that was what I was going for -- a kind of reluctant hero who never gets over that reluctance.
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VikingLegion
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USA
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Posted - 11 Apr 2018 :  01:07:09  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Murray Leeder
I appreciate it. By the way, you remark on Vell as a "typical chosen one" character -- this is true but I had hoped to play with this archetype since he is chosen not for merit but because of an accident of lineage, gains little personal benefit from his new powers which only estrange him from his peers (both the Uthgardt and the Shepherds), and he forsakes them when he gets the chance. Not sure if all came off, but that was what I was going for -- a kind of reluctant hero who never gets over that reluctance.



Yeah, I guess my syntax wasn't very clear there. I didn't mean to say "typical" as though Vell is a dime-a-dozen or unoriginal. I simply meant it more in the sense that the concept of a character being selected by the gods/fate/karma/the cosmos/whatever (in this case the coincidence of a bloodline) - to do something greater than they imagined they could achieve, was utilized in this book. It was just my clumsy way of trying to do a quick plot summary, since I spent so much time focusing on all the lore aspects, I was forgetting to mention what the actual story was about! I enjoyed Vell's awkward, outcast nature, and the fact that he was such a marginal warrior he was left behind on guard duty while the other members of his tribe held the more glory-filled positions. I find that archetype much more interesting than the wunderkind that is automatically awesome at everything. And as far as rejecting that power after finally gaining the respect, even adoration, of his peers.... well, Vell's a stronger man than I am.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 11 Apr 2018 01:15:00
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Thoth
Seeker

Canada
31 Posts

Posted - 11 Apr 2018 :  14:01:19  Show Profile Send Thoth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Glad to see you are still hitting the books! LOL!

I enjoy reading your reviews whenever you post!
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 14 Apr 2018 :  20:01:24  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Thoth

Glad to see you are still hitting the books! LOL!

I enjoy reading your reviews whenever you post!



Well, I'll be at it for quite some time to go still, as we're only in the mid 2000s and still have over a decade of releases to go!

Speaking of which, I just finished Whisper of Waves, the final book from my 2005 list, but one I had put off reading in favor of several others. The reason being, quite simply, I hadn't enjoyed anything I've read of Phil Athans up to this point, and therefore kept jumping other books/series ahead of it. Well... it turns out this is by far his most effective story to date. Yes, I'm well familiar with the fact that it's a re-telling of The Fountainhead given a Forgotten Realms skin. But even that being the case, the quality of the writing is the best I've seen from him. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Marek creates his own personal demiplane from raw "hellstuff" in order to have somewhere private to raise and train his drake army.

This book had some surprisingly risqué moments - the sexual encounters particularly. But it was also very dark and cynical, with everyone in the town seemingly a functional sociopath, out to lie, cheat, steal, or murder their way to the top.

The characters are interesting and well developed. Ivar Devorast is like some kind of savant - a Renaissance Man in terms of brilliance in several fields of study, yet he can't seem to understand even basic social cues (or more accurately, he simply can't be bothered to respond to them). Leonardo DaVinci meets Sheldon Cooper. I read an interesting article from Athans himself that explains what he was going for in the creation of the Devorast character, aside from the obvious comparison to Howard Roark. It actually has a lot to do with the old alignment wheel from 2e D&D, it was pretty interesting. Caolin recently provided this link in another scroll titled The Watercourse Trilogy:
https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/id-like-to-thank-my-parents-ed-greenwood-and-ayn-rand/

The other main character of note is Phyrea. She appears to be something of an enigma, perfectly confident on the outside (at times), yet wildly insecure emotionally. She is beautiful to the point where she can turn every head in the room, yet she loathes herself enough to participate in cutting (self-mutilation). I think she is Athans' most intriguing creation, provided she is not too similar to Dominique Francon (I have not read The Fountainhead, so I can't make that comparison fairly).

There was one specific line on page 199 that made me think of Game of Thrones.

A naga tells Ivar, "There are few humans like you, Devorast."
"No", he said with the confidence of a Ssa'Naja, "there is no one like me."

Super close to one of Jaime Lannister's most iconic lines. I wonder if Athans had read that book and had the line swimming around somewhere in his head or not. Anyway, I decided to skip several other books in between and continue on with this trilogy, hoping he keeps up the good work. I'm currently reading Lies of Light.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 14 Apr 2018 20:03:41
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
361 Posts

Posted - 18 Apr 2018 :  01:54:42  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Lies of Light a couple days ago. I've heard from some that book 1 is the highwater mark (pun intended!) of this series, and that the rest gets less interesting. But I haven't found that to be the case, I thought book 2 was almost identical in terms of quality. Therefore I don't have much to add that I haven't already stated. Phyrea continues to be Athans' crowning achievement, she's such an odd mixture of weird, hot, and deranged. What's up with Salatis and his ever-shifting deity worship? He's been a follower of Shar, Umberlee, Malar, Talos, Azuth, and now Mask - changing his allegiance every few months it seems. I'm not sure if he's a parody of a character from The Fountainhead or just a bit of a screwball.

Anyway, another pretty decent book. I was very discouraged to begin this series, but now I see my fears were unfounded. As long as book 3: Scream of Stone doesn't completely tank, this series will end up being ok - and actually fairly important in terms of Realms geography and what kind of economic/political effect this canal will have on a great many nations.
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