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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 14 Aug 2018 :  02:22:43  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've always thought that sava was weird, anyway, even without mixing in divine players gaming for unreasonable odds.

A prior quote of mine:

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Considering the drow love of chaos, I'm surprised the dice aren't used more often than once per game per player. Especially since -- unless those dice are not standard 1d6s -- there's only a 1 in 36 chance of being able to move one of the opponent's pieces.



More frequent rolls, with differing outcomes, would make more sense to me.

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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 14 Aug 2018 02:23:01
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Irennan
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Posted - 14 Aug 2018 :  03:24:47  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think it depends on the origins of the game. Was it created while Lolth was dominant, or back in Ilythiir? In the latter case, the drow weren't fans of chaos back then. The game might have been created in Ilythiir, and then its aesthetics changed by Lolthites.

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Taleras
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72 Posts

Posted - 14 Aug 2018 :  04:19:24  Show Profile Send Taleras a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion
Quick tangent - after looking at her complete list of works, I see something called The Blood Red Harp set in the world of the MMORPG Everquest. Holy crap, I practically LIVED in Norrath for most of my late teens and early twenties, I was so hooked on that game.


quote:
Originally posted by ElaineCunningham
I think you might like this story. The project was ill-fated and the book got no promotion and very little distribution, but I think it's one of my better early novels. Gamers seemed to think that it got the world right. I did a lot of research, of course, but found the actual video game the most difficult part of it. I truly, deeply suck at video games. As in, repeatedly getting lost during the tutorial and falling off the platform of the elven tree city. My son Sean, who was a competative first-person-shooter gamer, observed this over my shoulder and murmurred in awe, "How is that even POSSIBLE?" I had to have him create some high-level characters for me so I could explore the world without getting killed by bumblebees. Good times.



Oh man, I just got SO excited! This book has been on my Amazon wish list for so long and I have yet to pull the trigger. I played way more EQ than I should have in high school, and have relapsed many times over the years. Most recently on the TLP server and Project2002. So much nostalgia. I'm gonna order this ASAP and give it a read.

Edited by - Taleras on 14 Aug 2018 04:20:24
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 14 Aug 2018 :  05:09:18  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

I think it depends on the origins of the game. Was it created while Lolth was dominant, or back in Ilythiir? In the latter case, the drow weren't fans of chaos back then. The game might have been created in Ilythiir, and then its aesthetics changed by Lolthites.



Dunno, but it was played in the War of the Spider Queen books. And there's no reason why, even if the game was millennia old, that it couldn't have changed at some point along the way. Even just a regional variant or houserule that got popular could wind up being a thing, like the jackpot on Free Parking in Monopoly -- it's not an official rule, and the game is only decades old, but I don't know that I've ever played a game of Monopoly without some version of that jackpot.

Modern drow are all about chaos, yet sava is just chess with a miniscule chance for chaos added in. The die roll isn't even mandatory -- so we're talking straight chess with an odd house rule.

That just doesn't seem drowish -- adopt a game played on the surface that follows very strict rules, and change nothing other than adding a less than 3% chance that one time an unexpected element could be added to the game?

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Irennan
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Posted - 14 Aug 2018 :  06:49:40  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, Lolthite drow are not really about chaos--Lolth likes to claim that, but she only embraces chaos intended as messy conflict and murders (strife). And their society is basically made up of tons of strict rules that micromanage every aspect of their life (down to hairstyle, lol), amounting to stagnating tyranny and tradition, while only giving an appearance of chaos. Sava would fit that.

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 14 Aug 2018 :  10:09:31  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

Well, Lolthite drow are not really about chaos--Lolth likes to claim that, but she only embraces chaos intended as messy conflict and murders (strife). And their society is basically made up of tons of strict rules that micromanage every aspect of their life (down to hairstyle, lol), amounting to stagnating tyranny and tradition, while only giving an appearance of chaos. Sava would fit that.



But with only a 3% chance of chaos, if someone opts to take it, it's not even giving an appearance of chaos. And yet it was described in the novels as having that chaos in it that appealed to drow.

I don't recall drow society being that micromanaged. Certainly there are rules about advancement, but even that mostly comes down to "if the victim can't prove it, it didn't happen."

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Irennan
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Posted - 14 Aug 2018 :  13:26:33  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah, that's the only rule as far as crime goes. However, when it comes to every other aspect of their life, the micromanage is definitely there. Ridiculous censorship, many stupid taboos and "don'ts" about relationships, lack of freedom when it comes to choosing their life (the Liriel novels highlight this perfectly), extremely structured social interactions, extremely structured hierarchy, and even small forms of expression (like hairstyle) seem to be decided by station. Sounds hyper-oppressive and micromanaged to me, which is also why Eilistraee values personal freedom so much in her effort to change the drow.

I agree that 3% chance of a roll doesn't even give the appearance of chaos, though, I would up that chance to about 10-15%.

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 14 Aug 2018 :  14:33:41  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
From what I recall, that was all more custom and societal expectation, as opposed to laws.

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Irennan
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Posted - 14 Aug 2018 :  14:42:19  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Not laws as we intend it, still norms that had to be respected, mostly deriving from Lolth&clergy's influence.

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VikingLegion
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Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  00:54:37  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Like you guys, I don't take the sava game too seriously, it's just window dressing for the story. Whether or not the events play out because of the game, or the game movements are influenced by the mortals, ahh who cares?

I finished Storm of the Dead and have a lot of mixed feelings. I'd like to find out more about this undead minotaur Casus.

The whole "blended" Eilistraee/Vhaeraun, possibly being Vhaeraun that won the fight and is "wearing" Eilistraee is an interesting angle, but I'm not sure how to feel about it overall. I like how (if this is even what truly happened) Eilistraee absorbed his worshipers and shows physical manifestations/alterations. And a part of me thinks Smedman purposely wrote the Eilistraeens so heavily misandric so that now she can show how the males and females - prior enemies - now must come together and learn to live with one another.

Or maybe she just got it all wrong as we already surmised.

Cavatina continues to be supremely arrogant. I like how Wendonai exposed her. But once again, is this another case of Smedman purposely writing a person (or organization) as awful just to set up the redemption arc?

I really like Sshamath, the wizard-dominated drow city. It's kinda like Thay: Underdark. I particularly enjoyed the various Colleges, especially the one Q'arlynd is trying to form, the College of Ancient Arcana. I was instantly interested in the various apprentices he gathered to his banner, I thought Smedman did a great job making those characters intriguing right off the bat. I especially liked when they mind-linked and formed "Captain Planet" to open up the magical door hiding the selu-kira(sp?) The other schools were pretty cool too - I LOVED the imagery of the master of the Divination school, with orbs constantly circling around his head, showing various scenes and persons he is mentally tracking - like the magical equivalent of some high tech, cyber Bond villain. I was surprised that he had a Sun Elf and a human in his school, I guess Sshamath is much more egalitarian, or at the very least, cosmopolitan than other drow cities by far.

As for the raid on Kiaransalee's temple - I really liked the drama/tension formed between the various factions. Obviously drow are mistrustful to begin with, but then throw in Protectors, Nightshadows (who are *just* learning to get along) with representatives from 2 different wizardly colleges (are they cooperating or competing?) and you have a nice recipe for a tense situation.

My two biggest problems with this book were:

The whole Faerzress subplot. I never cared for it much as a Forgotten Realms mechanic to begin with. But now we find out it is intimately tied specifically to drow, and is the cause for them to be drawn to, and remain in, the Underdark. To me this reeks of a mandate from up high, so that once the supercharged Faerzress is brought low, we can see SO MANY MORE DROW characters coming up to the surface and joining other mainstream products. Call me a cynic, but it feels like this entire trilogy was cooked up by marketing.

And even though I really dig how the Crones were gathering up voidstones to slowly but surely build a monstrous Engine of Death Energy, it doesn't strike me as right that they can convert that into something that enhances the Faerzress. It's like me pouring gasoline into my cellphone when the battery is low. In my mind it works like this: Positive Energy powers life - plants, animals, etc. Negative Energy breaks down said life (aging, disease, etc.) and also gives a mockery of it to the various undead types. Magical, or "Weave" energy, specifically something linked to Fae, should not be compatible with what the Crones were cooking up. I don't know, I'm probably explaining that terribly. TLDR: it just didn't work for me.

I also had a big problem with how easily Kiaransalee was erased from existence. High magic or no, we're talking about a DEITY here. Yeah, I know Karsus tried to use a form of it to subsume Mystryl (or whatever she was called then). I get it, it's powerful stuff. But they not only erased her, but also screwed with the memory of every living (and unliving) worshipper, presumably on the planet. This is kind of like going back to the Time of Troubles books when TSR decided assassins were too mean for their game and suddenly they're all gone.

So... there were several elements of this book I found interesting and enjoyed reading, despite the continual butchering of Eilistraee and her followers. But there were also some huge points of stickiness that were either too contrived, distasteful, improbable, or just downright bad. Up next; might as well finish it up, upward and onward to book 3: Ascendancy of the Last.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 17 Aug 2018 00:56:43
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  02:37:45  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Call me a cynic, but it feels like this entire trilogy was cooked up by marketing.


It's my opinion that the War of the Spider Queen was a marketing thing. It was poorly coordinately and executed, had little impact on the setting as a whole, and made less sense than the shows my son watched when he was 4.

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Irennan
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Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  04:28:02  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
About Vhaeraun "blending" with Eilistraee, or "wearing her", that was not actually the case, but Eilistraee merely temporarily taking Vhaeraun's portfolio (including the portfolio drow males), but you'll see--Ed also gave an explanation to what happened, but I'll say more when you finish the books.

While forcing the followers to cooperate would have been interesting (if not for Smedman going on in her painting the Eilistraeeans as abusive), Eilistraee as the Masked Lady felt as a huge waste (and also a lost possibility IMHO).

Some might say that it was a kind of growth, that Eilistraee needed to abandon idealism, frivolity and such (not that in Smedman's version there was much of it), and start to get "things done". However' it is definitely not the case, and that kind of (non-)growth defeats one of the most compelling aspects of her character and story.

Eilistraee's not some starry-eyed girl who follows vague or frivolous ideals; she knows far too well how hard her path is, and has seen and felt the weight of pain first-hand. However, while this goddess is more than aware that the world is far from bright and happy, she also firmly believes that the possibility for joy exists even at the height of suffering, and she wants all--especially the drow--to see and find it.

Eilistraee is this goddess who chose to share the fate of her people--to be one of them--sacrificing luxury, comfort, and safety, just so that she could be by their side when they would need her the most. She made that choice knowing what was awaiting her (quite literally, she had foreseen it), that she would bleed for her decision during the centuries and fight alone against forces far grater than her, but she still did it. And despite acknowledging the kind of reality that she was facing, despite all the struggles and losses, not only she has never stopped standing for her people, but she never let her light fade. She never became jaded, she kept on loving and dreaming and teaching the drow to do the same; turned her "scars" into lights for her people.

The Dark Maiden embodies the hope that the drow have to find a better existence, to rise above their pain and demons and smile to life. All that because she's one of them: she shared that battle--she "knows" how things actually are--yet she still has the strength to find the beauty in what was broken, where no one else would even bother, and does all she can to heal it and make it flourish for all. She teaches the drow to do the same, proves to them that they can do it too--because she, a drow like them, does it.

Her focus on beauty, arts, spreading joy, on compassion is essential for (and motivated by) that reason, and not merely some kind of random optimism or frivolity. Eilistraee knows that the drow have been broken by abuse, and still sees them for the part of them that was silenced by cruelty and hatred. The only way that she has to speak to that part, let it awaken, is exactly through the sheer joy of existence and the vibrant love of a mother that she can still find amidst all the pain and despite knowing the reality of the situation. The same things that the drow were denied, but that many of them secretly long for.

Eilistraee with Vhaeraun's portfolio? She lost all that, and she comes off as about killing Lolth, which is incredibly shallow and untrue to her character (although perhaps Smedman's/Athans' version of this goddess never had all that to begin with, as it isn't true to Ed's version of her--and say all you want about Ed's writing, he can create compelling worlds and characters, and Eilistraee's one of the most compelling characters I've come across, while Vhaeraun is one of the most compelling villains. Too bad that Smedman got to put her hands on them).

The missed opportunity with the Masked Lady thing is for more development of her character and Vhaeraun's. It would have been awesome (to me) to see Eilistraee and Vhaeraun trying to get past their differences and working together against their mother, learning from each other (and their followers alongside them), rather than Eilistraee simply taking Vhaeraun's power and adding it to hers, and that having consequences on her. However, that chance was squandered in favor of magicking up changes. I mean, such kind of development is possible once again in the present era, but WotC has stopped the novel line except for Drizzt, so it isn't likely.

--------------------------

I liked Ssamath too, I think it was one of the few well-developed angles of these books, and added much-needed variety to the representation of drow cities in novels.

The part about the faerzress was honestly ridiculous. It never gave addiction, in so many years of FR history we never saw any of Eilistraee's or Vhaeraun's followers experiencing withdrawal from faerzress, or drow new to the surface experiencing it and wanting so badly to return underground. That's stupid (and, on a side note, Liriel--whom Eilistraee even helped in her journey--had already made drow magic possible on the surface, and her problem wasn't faerzress withdrawal, but how important her drow magic was to her). Smedman just pulled that out of thin air. The faerzress being created by the elves is also false, and doesn't make any sense: it *far* predates the arrival of the elves on Toril, and is the byproduct of the energies that shaped the Underdark.

As for the marketing angle, these books were written for a much different reason (prepare the drow for 4e, I'll link what Perkins told me about it after you're done with the series. Even though, perhaps, despite making the drow one-note and even more monolithic, this series could give more excuses to people for creating actual Drizzt clones, and allowing Drizzt to be given more exposition was one of the supposed goals of the changes brought by this series, according to Perkins).

The High Magic ritual was similarly ridiculous, but also a gigantic plot hole. So, you discover a spell that can strike any deity down, because it targets all the people in the world, and not the deity, and you use it on a demigoddess who definitely is the lesser threat, and who is only worshiped by such a narrow % of the drow? That's doubly stupid when you think how useful it would have been for Eilistraee's goal of freeing the drow: Lolth being forgotten would make that far easier (it would leave the drow free to seek out alternatives, without fear and without a monolithic presence at the center of their life). With such a weapon, you'd also wonder why the hell they didn't spam it and destroy all their enemies.

Also, if some newbie to High Magic can cast such a spell, why didn't the elves, the freaking masters of High Magic, use it to delete Lolth and Gruumsh over the eras (and the FR elves have proven to be so very trigger-happy with that kind of magic, so you can't even say that they didn't want to risk using such powers)?

In any case, we later find out (in 5e) that the spell wasn't successful. Necromancers kept remembering Kiaransalee, and invoking her, eventually leading to her return.

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Edited by - Irennan on 19 Aug 2018 20:07:41
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Veylandemar
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Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  07:03:30  Show Profile Send Veylandemar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just chiming in on the Kiaransalee portion of the thread. Her removal from the Realms and the minds of her followers is a throwback to events in the second edition multiverse. It is heavily touched on by the Planescape adventures 'The Great Modron March' and 'Dead Gods', whereby as a precursor event to both adventures, Kiaransalee slew Orcus and stole the realm of Thanatos by the same means.
Orcus, at the time, was divine or semi-divine and Kiaransalee and her Crones struck all memory of his name from the minds of his followers, barring a few pertinent individuals.
Like most Grand Evils, he didn't exactly stay dead, but that's addressed in said adventures and I'll only go into detail if requested.

I did like the callback to said events and it was somewhat apt that Kiaransalee was ended by the means she herself employed against one of her greater rivals. But despite my enjoyment of the author honoring that particular snippet of lore, I too found representations of the gods to be jarring and conflicting with previous iterations.

~V
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Irennan
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Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  07:12:56  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The thing is that, while it was a funny case of poetic justice, it also was a mortal doing some spell and erasing a goddess from the memory of every living being. That raises all the kinds of problems that I've pointed out (why didn't they use it with Lolth, why didn't they spam the spell and autowin, why didn't the elves do that millennia before--being they so trigger-happy with world-spanning cataclysms and effects--and so on). Overall, it was a huge plot hole, aside from being inconsistent with other lore.

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Edited by - Irennan on 17 Aug 2018 10:34:23
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  10:29:41  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Drow using High Magic is also inconsistent with prior lore.

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Irennan
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Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  10:36:46  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Drow using High Magic is also inconsistent with prior lore.



True, but the Miyeritari dark elves were known to be masters of High Magic, so it's not very unlikely that drow free from the Lolthite mentality, and with the guidance of a Kiira, could do it. Vhaeraunites doing High Magic out of the wazoo to allow Vhaeraun to enter Eilistraee's realm was weird, though (and an incredibly stupid plan, but I've already commented on that before).

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Edited by - Irennan on 17 Aug 2018 19:00:55
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 18 Aug 2018 :  04:13:58  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Even though it's not spelled out explicitly, I always felt that the intent of High Magic was that it was a gift of the Seldarine -- which is why prior editions ruled out drow use of it. One has to wonder why, if the drow had High Magic, they sat on it for thousands of years and never even tried to use it against the elves.

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Irennan
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Posted - 19 Aug 2018 :  20:25:52  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Lolthite didn't have it, the Eilistraeeans only acquired it in those novels, but the fact that the Vhaeraunites did have it, apparently, begs the question of why they didn't use it for their goals. We're talking about Lady Penitent, though, it's like both the author and editor went in without knowing the topic and without even giving a flying about the most basic form of respect for characters and lore that they *didn't create*, but didn't hesitate to crap on.

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VikingLegion
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Posted - 19 Aug 2018 :  23:57:02  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Veylandemar

Just chiming in on the Kiaransalee portion of the thread. Her removal from the Realms and the minds of her followers is a throwback to events in the second edition multiverse. It is heavily touched on by the Planescape adventures 'The Great Modron March' and 'Dead Gods', whereby as a precursor event to both adventures, Kiaransalee slew Orcus and stole the realm of Thanatos by the same means.
Orcus, at the time, was divine or semi-divine and Kiaransalee and her Crones struck all memory of his name from the minds of his followers, barring a few pertinent individuals.
Like most Grand Evils, he didn't exactly stay dead, but that's addressed in said adventures and I'll only go into detail if requested.

I did like the callback to said events and it was somewhat apt that Kiaransalee was ended by the means she herself employed against one of her greater rivals. But despite my enjoyment of the author honoring that particular snippet of lore, I too found representations of the gods to be jarring and conflicting with previous iterations.

~V



Good call Veylandemar, I'm a bigger Planescape fan than FR fan, so I absolutely remember that adventure. And yes, there were some fun parallels, but that was a deity slaying another deity, not mortals doing the deed. And even still, an aspect of Orcus survived and become Tenebrous, so the deed was not completed.

@Wooly - I guess I don't consider High Magic to be the province of any specific race, mainly because I don't see arcane magic to be a gift from the gods, but rather an ambient force that anyone can become a wielder of, provided they have the drive and intelligence to do so. I detest "chosen one" tropes, so I say screw it, if an orc, a spriggan, and a hyper-intelligent, mutated gelatinous cube all work hard at it and become archmages, they should be able to form their own circle and command these energies. Of course it should be so ultra-rare and rigorous that only the most skilled and determined wizards have a hope of controlling it, but I don't see any reason why it should be limited by race. Is this not what Karsus was trying to do with his "10th level" or "heavy" magic?

At any rate, I blasted through Ascendancy of the Last. Again, mixed feelings. I was expecting a very different direction for this book. After Eilistraee defeated Vhaeraunn in book 1 and assumed many of his traits (and followers), we next see her go up against Kiaransalee and her Crones in book 2. Since she won that matchup at the very end of the book, I thought we'd pick up book 3 with her starting to show some tendencies of Undeath and Vengeance. I figured Lolth's long game was to allow Eilistraee to defeat these other drow godlings, thinking she is getting stronger with each absorption, but actually becoming more abstracted, more dilute as she spreads out over multiple portfolios and loses her focus on what makes her the Dark Maiden. In book 3 we have Ghaunadar enter the fray and I thought, "Oh boy, she's going to win this fight as well and get all squishy and obsessed with rot!" Then, when Eilistraee is fractured among so many conflicting drives and directions, Lolth delivers the coup de grace.

But it didn't develop that way at all, as you all know. Instead, we have....

Drow Dark Elves now have brown skin and black hair....

Wow... 930ish pages, that's a long walk for... not much payoff. The onyx skin and white hair is such an iconic look. I actually (and I'm sure I'll catch some flack for this) prefer the purple skin look I've seen in several of the covers, simply because it's so exotic, otherworldly, fae. I'm not sure what the developers were thinking, I guess I don't want to get into it too much more for fear it might lead to some uncomfortable real-world parallels. Suffice to say, I was nonplussed, to say the very least.

Some other random thoughts:

There was mention of an earthquake in 1375 and Halaster's death. WTH? Did I miss that somewhere, or did it happen "off screen" in another product? I tend to forget at times that the novel line is not *THE* comprehensive story of the Realms, and when major developments like this happen outside of the books, it really takes me by surprise.

It's well known that the Seven Sisters can hear their name spoken anywhere in the world, as well as the next sentence or so following it. How are there not entire teams of Zhent or CotD apprentices assigned to do nothing but chant these names all day and night long simply to create "white noise" interference? I suppose the 7 must have developed some type of selective screening over time to instinctively know when it's important and when it's dross?

I really liked the Colleges again, I know I already said that in the review of the 2nd book, but I thought Lisa Smedman did a terrific job with developing Sshamath as one of the more interesting drow cities I've encountered since Homeland.

The Ghaunadarans were suitably disgusting, I thought she did a very effective job portraying how gross they were. I can't believe there are so many ooze subtypes. It actually got a bit ridiculous at times, much like the 5,000 dragon subspecies that Byers crammed into the Rage trilogy. More isn't always better, gimme the classics with just a few uniques sprinkled in. Going back to Ghaunadar, I don't like that one of his alternate names is The Elder Eye. That will always make me think of Tharizdun, or even Sauron, truth be told.

The Nightshadows were easily able to infiltrate several Houses of Llurth Dreier. Why didn't Ghaunadar immediately recognize these blasphemers and send a sign that Karas and his boys were posing as Ghaunadar clerics? I kid, I kid - but it's something we talked about not too long ago, and well, those who believe the deities are omniscient and nigh-infallible, there are just so many examples to the contrary. I think they are mostly incompetent buffoons, but YMMV.

I'll wrap it up here, mainly just because I'm tired of this trilogy. For it to end with Halisstra, whom I detest above nearly any character in the entire FR stable, decapitating Cavatina and Eilistraee/Qilue, it was almost more than I could take. It seems the entire point of these books was to remove Wendonai's taint from a large subset of the drow population, lighten their skin a few shades, and justify a great many more dark elves coming up to the surface to be part of newer stories going forward or to be a more common playable PC race.

Mental Note: Research this "Shevarash" the Black Archer. I'm intrigued...

Up next, I started in on RAS's The Orc King, got just a few pages in and realized this was a post-100 year time jump story. I said "Oh Hells No!" and put it down. There are still a boatload of late 1300s DR stories to read, so I have some skipping around to do. Until I can come up with a plan, I'll go back to the Dungeons standalone stories. Tonight I'll start Bruce Cordell's Stardeep.
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CTrunks
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Canada
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Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  00:16:40  Show Profile Send CTrunks a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So, I'm gonna let the others potentially go on rants about how poorly thought out this whole, bizarre... plan for turning the few 'untainted' drow back into dark elves (dark elves who, apparently, don't have their darkvision anymore, judging by the reaction of those drow from Sshamath who were with Q'arlynd - and oh yeah, some of those dark elves are still underground) was, but The Orc King's prologue is the only bit set within the future. The rest of it follows shortly after the end of the short story from the Realms of the Elves (The Last Mythal short story anthology).
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2976 Posts

Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  00:23:16  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ok, so, I have really *a lot* to say about this book, because while the others were horrible in their mistakes, this one beats them all. Before that, I'll answer to some of your points.

Re: High Magic, it is not just super magic capable of world-shaking feat. It is elf-only super magic (often in the form of rituals) that is capable of world-shaking feats, and as such, it is innately superior That said, in the past it has been used to draw power from the Seldarine themselves, so it is not purely arcane in nature.

Re: Halaster--killed off-screen in the 3e Undermountain handbook. As you can probably start seeing from LP, and this tidbit, all these changes are the preparation for the 4e Realms and the Spellplague. That said, Halaster has returned in 5e/post-Sundering, as he is like a lich with the whole Undermountain as his philactery, apparently.

Re: how weren't the false clerics noticed--Vhaeraun has clerics who pose as priestesses of Lolth (see Shakti in Starlights and Shadows). He shields their minds from Lolth. Perhaps Eilistraee took this power from him when taking his portfolio.

Before commenting, I'll write some updates on the status quo of the drow pantheon and some clarifications. I'm telling you what follows because this stuff isn't covered in novels, except some minor tidbits put there as an aside in a couple of the latest 5e novels. Oh, and if you want to see what Perkins told me about the purpose of the changes that LP brought to the drow, here's a link: http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=19597

1)Current status quo
Eilistraee, Vhaeraun, and all the drow pantheon, have returned. Eilistraee currently has her portfolio (she actually even gained freedom in 5e), Vhaeraun has his own. Eilistraee is still a drow goddess, her followers still near entirely drow (I'll explain more below). The two siblings seem to have agreed to a truce--Ed says that they, personally, have even formed some kind of friendship. He also explained that, back in Sacrifice of the Widow, Eilistraee spared him and took his portfolio while imprisoning his sentience in the Weave, as part of a plan with Mystra. After their return, the two personally appeared to their followers, and their cults re-emerged very quickly (Eilistraee showed up under the walls of Waterdeep, and now some of her drow followers are trying to create a new community within it, with the support of the Harpers).

2)Ed's explanation
Ed also explained that neither Eilistraee nor Vhaeraun actually died, due to Mystra intervening. Smedman herself said that she didn't like what WotC was doing with Eilistraee, so (or so she said) she left loopholes for her survival and return (for example, in canon, it isn't really possible for a deity to die like at the end of Ascendancy of the Last, as an avatar. On top of that, the Crescent Blade had been shattered and lost its powers, becoming merely a manifestation of Wendonai, and no longer a weapon able to slay deities and destroy souls, as also proven by Cavatina's). Ed seems to have explanded on the possibility of survival of both Eilistraee and Vhaeraun in his explanation.

So, basically, Mystra had managed to foresee the Spellplague. She knew that, after centuries of reckless spellcasting, the Weave was severly damaged, in need of some kind of "reboot", and had found that such a process had the potential to be catastrophic. Therefore, in the years before 1385, she planned for her survival, and that of her allied deities, or deities that she found valuable. Eilistraee's a long time ally, and given that Mystra strives for magic to be developed, including magical races like the drow, she isn't happy wiht them wasting their potential in petty conflict under Lolth, so it makes sense for her to help other drow gods.

So, when Eilistraee and Vhaeraun clashed, as Eilistraee trapped his sentience in the way, Mystra took care of him. When Qilué was killed while she was an avatar of sorts, Eilistraee herself wasn't killed, but the power/essence(?) that she had poured into Qilué was dragged into the Weave alongside Qilué's soul (the souls of Mystra's chosen are dragged into the Weave when they die) and there it remained, trapped for one century or so. After the Spellplague hit, things didn't go as Mystra expected: she was reduced to a vestige (and assumed dead), and Weave was stranded, making it impossible for Eilistraee's power to be returned to her until the Weave would be repaired.

During that century, Eilistraee couldn't function as a goddess, couldn't grant spells, but she could still manifest to people in the form of a floating mask surrounded by moonlight, able to communicate with them. About one century after, in 1487, when the Weave was made whole, Eilistraee and Vhaeraun both recovered their powers, and re-emerged whole. For Kiaransalee, as I said, it was revealed that her name wasn't actually forgotten, and that people kept praying to her.

3)Corellon and the transformed drow
The transformed drow (the one who were changed by the lifiting of Corellon's curse) were actually very few and basically irrelevant: they were only hundreds (that includes not just Eilistraee's followers, but also non-tainted drow in general). That amounts to a narrow part of Eilistraee's followers base. She, as a lesser goddess, has at least a few thousand followers, meaning that most of her people actually remained drow. In fact, after her return, as I mentioned, Eilistraee is still drow, as are most of her followers, and she has 0 interest in another round of uncursing. There was no sacrifice for such a trivial and superficial thing either (as it evident from the books), the Solars just say some really cruel things about that, tbh (I'll cover that below, tho). The transformed drow have been entirely ignored by WotC, like nearly everything that happens in these novels. Not that the dark elves would have an actual chance of making an impact. They are described more or less like wood elves, they would probably mix up with other Eilistraeean drow, or other elven communities, leading the restored "dark elves" entriely disappear or go unnoticed in the end. Smedman briefly uses them in a later book (and that's it), but she entirely omits their connection to Eilistraee, or their nature. She just has them as brown skinned, black haired elves calling themselves dark elves.

As for Corellon's role, he merely allowed the transformed drow into Arvandor. He also comes off as a major a*****e: for millennia he did absolutely nothing to help his daughter in her struggle against Lolth, and even as she was giving her all, he stood still. He only appeared at the very end, to grab a few souls and grant them access to Arvandor. After that, Corellon didn't do much to actively reach for the drow while his daughter was absent, and he surely didn't take her mantle, despite the symbolism hinting at that. After all, his solars, i.e. his voices, go as far as outright stating that the vast majority of drow are "unwilling" and to be cast down, and that all those who could be changed have already been, which is ridiculous (but I'll say more below). He also isn't even close to be a replacement for Eilistraee in that aspect. He just doesn't have the genuine care that his daughter has (in fact, he's been unjust and rather vain towards the drow as a race), and—most importantly—he doesn't have the millennia of shared history and battles that Eilistraee has with them, and that makes her unique in that regard.

That is also due to a fracture between his and his daughter's approach: Eilistraee wants the drow to take back their life and forge their path as *drow*, because that's what they were born as, simply themselves; Corellon wants to transform them into something that they aren't. Eilistraee sees "drow" as an identity, which she chose to share (she chose to be "one of them"); Corellon sees it as a curse. Father/daughter relationship is, in fact, described as that of allies, but strained.

During the 4e era, Corellon remained mostly his old self, as there was no remarkable even in which he clashed with Lolth (and no active effort to help the drow break free from her, or to actively reach for them, which is what Eilistraee does).

This whole matter of the deities just coming in the game to "win" the souls of the drow doesn't make sense either. It's the drow who choose who to worship, not the deities who win souls. No matter who would triumph in the "game", it would still be up to the drow whether to worship a deity, and which deity. Lolth's defeat wouldn't suddenly make the Lolthite good and turn towards Eilistraee; same when Corellon appeared. Just because he allowed some "purified" souls into his vip paradise doesn't mean that the drow would even bother with him (especially after millennia of absolute indifference towards them and his own daughter). That kind of thing can't be magicked up.

As for the transformation itself, setting aside the fact that it has gross implications, that it has 0 to do with Eilistraee (and even goes against all that she stands for as a character, which I'll clarify later), I don't see the point in it. It basically amounts to a change in skin color (they don't even have the benefit of being able to live under the sunlight. The drow can acquire adaptation to sunlight in as little as 10 years, which is nothing for them). No one had asked for it or wanted it. Being admitted into Arvandor? Why would they care to be in any other place but the afterlife that Eilistraee offers them—which sounds really good, btw. What's the point of Arvandor? Not to mention those who were instakilled, probably in horrible ways, when they were transformed within drow cities...

The real reason for this transformation was to make sure that no good *drow* would exist, because WotC had developed this obsession that Drizzt wasn't special enough apparently (you can also see it from Athans' reader's guide to the Drizzt books, in which he describes the whole Dark Seldarine, but entirely omits Eilistraee. In fact, I wonder if the misrepresentation of Eilistraee wasn't intentional, after all).

4)Demon taint
The Demon taint making the drow unredeemable, like those two angels said, is another thing that, like the faerzress addiction, Smedman pulled out of thin air. It is ridiculous, and ignores a whole history of "tainted" drow choosing to follow Eilistraee, or a different path, including Drizzt (and is even more puzzling when there are good chances that the "pure-blooded", already untainted, drow were likely Lolth followers as well--it had nothing to do with their ethics). Maybe that factor makes them dirty in the eyes of Corellon (who, once again, was so swift in dooming a whole race, including his daughter's followers, when she was at her lowest, and who didn't raise a finger to help her... ever) but not of Eilistraee. Not only that has never been the case (the drow have always had freedom of choice, and one would think that after more than 10k years, the taint would be so diluted to have no effect. Also, if tieflings have freedom of choice with their basically HALF devil heritage, you see the nonsense here...), but to even assume that Eilistraee--who reaches for all drow, who thinks that all of them can embrace a different path, who has given so much for that cause--would think that, is just stupid. Thankfully, 5e re-retconned this crap.

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Edited by - Irennan on 20 Aug 2018 13:55:25
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2976 Posts

Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  00:31:37  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The biggest offender in this novel is, IMHO, the concept of redemption that Smedman introduces. It's basically the Original Sin, and she associates it with a goddess that is diametrally opposed to that concept. In this, Smedman basically crushes the entire point of Eilistraee--it's the worst blow of them all.

Eilistraee's concept of redemption is, to me, beautiful. Her whole MO is all about gently luring the drow out of that prison, setting their spark alight. It's all about helping the dark elves to embark on a journey to experience all that they've been missing on in life; to rediscover the sheer joy of existence and of freely chasing their dreams; to see with their eyes and understand that things don't have to be like Lolth forces them to believe, but that another path exists and it leads to liberation and happiness. Over the course of this journey, she's there in all the important moments, she helps her "children" in various practical ways (especially to thrive on the surface) nurturing, protecting and teaching them life anew, comforting them when they feel defeated or alone (while always being careful to let them free to find their own way).

There's nothing about getting rid of taints, about curses and race-changes in this concept, it's all in understanding, choice, rebirth. Lady Penitent stripped all that of value, because, apparently, choosing to change wasn't enough for Smedman/WotC, there was the need to physically change and being "cleansed" in the eyes of Corellon.

Those novels basically reduced the idea of redemption to some obsession with undoing the drow equivalent of the Original Sin (with the difference that, in this case, it is a curse inflicted on the drow by Corellon). It's magicking up things that should be up to personal choice and growth. It also amounts to "redeem for being born as you", and that's not only utter crap, it is false and it is not Eilistraee. It comes out of nowhere and makes no sense, because Eilistraee doesn't care--and has never cared--about the curse or phyisical appearance of her people.

As I mentioned above, on the contrary, she has a very positive attitude about the matter. The "curse" is now no longer such, but part of who the drow are, of their identity, and Eilistraee acts as a mother goddess to the drow as a whole race to help them flourish again—as drow--not force them to change their race. If she wanted to remove the curse, she'd just have worked towards it. However, she never made a move, she has never cared. In over 10k+ in-universe years (and 20+ years of existing in the published Realms), she never acted on that (not even a tiny bit of effort), never nudged any of her followers towards it, never spoke about that, not even once. Instead, Eilistraee embraced the curse so she would be closer to her people and show them that joy can be found even amidst suffering and despair. And rightfully so, because why should someone who just so happened to be born as a drow, be forced to give up on who they are just to be able to live decently?

Picture any drow who grew up under Lolth (and most of them are not nobles, priestesses etc... they are not nearly as bad, and they do all the bleeding), after all the abuse they receive, being finally rescued and given a new chance, only to be told that they have to be "redeemed for their drow-ness" first, or it's a no-no... that would never lead any of them to choose a different path. That's absolutely not what they need, but to be given value for who they are in their entirety, and that's what Eilistraee does--she understands their struggle and desire of a bette life.

That said, the nastiness associated with this transformation goes even beyond that. The "uncursing" was actually a violence and carried really ugly implications. Basically, those who underwent the transformation were forced to do so (the casters themselves are shown to be horrified). They were forced to give up the bodies they were born with, what they were, and the reason for that was that Corellon wouldn't accept them unless they renounced to their identity as drow. Basically, it showed them that their choice in life didn't matter, to be accepted they had to give up part of their identity—which is the exact contrary of all that Eilistraee teaches (even though, perhaps, the fact that only a small part of those drow were transformed, and the fact that Eilistraee withdrew her guidance from the spell, could be Smedman's way of sneaking in a way to control damage).

Additionally, Smedman decided that the vast majority of the drow (again, the very people whose battle, curse, and suffering Eilistraee chose to share) would be abandoned to their fate, in order to force a handful of the followers of the Dark Maiden to change their appearance, because according to this author, that was the goal all along--and that is infinitely far from being true.

On top of that, the reason provided was "lol, the rest is unwilling and unredeemable, 'cuz reasons". As I said, that is very clearly something that not only would never even cross Eilistraee's mind, because it would defeat all that she has ever believed in, but also makes 0 sense, given that most of Eilistraee's followers came (and still come, present era) from the group of drow that was labeled as "unwilling/tainted" in those novels, and given the existence of children&the likes (who can never be "unwilling"). Even if we assume that this is Corellon's (and not Eilistraee's) stance, the author did a crappy job at clearing it out.

Also, those angels, who are the voice of Corellon, spew some truly cruel stuff there, especially the part when one of them says that, essentially, Eilistraee had exhausted her use in Corellon's eyes, and that most of the drow are and the goddess too were a necessary sacrifice to change the skin color of few of them (and yes, I'm aware that in canon the character that says that is supposed to be the voice of reason, counterpart of the more emotional solar. However, there was absolutely no logic in what he said, and his words were flat out cruel). That was a major WTF moment, and the messages that come out from how this scene is painted are really f***d up (like change being not a choice, but some kind of purification raining from on high, or goodness being tied up to physical appearance, or that no matter what your choices are, you won't be acceptable unless you conform to an arbitrary idea of what is good and acceptable—which is what Corellon does with Eilistraee's followers).

WotCs were pushing their 4e version of the drow, they commissioned Smedman to write these books, and used Eilistraee to try to force their idea of "unredeemably evil drow except for Drizzt", even when that goddess represents the very contrary of that. It's also the reason why, even though I'm really happy that Eilistraee (and all the drow gods) are back, I really, really want a novel that describes their return, if only to show the true face of the Dark Maiden.

------------

Just for a comparison, look at Elaine's portrayal of Eilistraee and her approach to "redeeming" drow.

Eilistraee helps Liriel a great deal in her journey, but she does that delicately, even if with genuine warmth. The goddess helps the young drow to open her heart to the beauty of life, to sisterhood/brotherhood (for example, the first teleport spell cast by Liriel directs her to a group of "moondancers", and they are the first to welcome the young drow on the surface, and to show her genuine affection, which Liriel finds tempting) to caring for other people, and accepting other people caring for her. The Dark Maiden helps Liriel to keep traveling, because the journey is the only way for the young priestess to open her eyes and break her chains.

In many key moments, it can be seen how, never invasively, Eilistraee provides Liriel with all she needs to keep following her heart. For example, it's the Dark Maiden's song that helps Liriel realize how to achieve the goal of her journey, to feel the rune that she needs to carve in the Yggdrasil so that her own magic could work on the surface. When Liriel is on the surface, Eilistraee makes her presence felt (at one time, the goddess herself dances with the drow) to let her know that she's not alone. Another beautiful example can be found when Fyodor is on the verge of death. At that point, Liriel is so close to getting rid of Lolth (with whom she had struck a pact in exchange for power and help), yet she feels crushed because she has to summon the Spider Queen to save Fyodor, thus being forced to renew her allegiance. Instead, at that time, Eilistraee intervenes and makes Liriel glow with her own magic to bring Fyodor back from the brink of death, allowing the drow to fully embrace her own path, free from Lolth. As Elaine herself put it, to Liriel, despite her choice of becoming a priestess of Mystra, Eilistraee still symbolizes the sheer joy of existence, beauty, affection that she discovered in her journey to the surface--and that's what this goddess is supposed to be to the drow.

The interesting part is that Eilistraee's interaction with Liriel is very subtle, it's never intrusive or overt, it doesn't take much space, but in those few moments, Elaine really nails what Eilistraee is about (infinitely better than Sedman did in 4 whole books), and she delivers it perfectly.

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Edited by - Irennan on 20 Aug 2018 03:11:05
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Hyperion
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Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  10:14:55  Show Profile Send Hyperion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I agree with Irennan's thoughts, but I wish the idea of the dark elves would have been used better, creating a whole new subrace both in the Underdark and the Surface, maybe of Seldarine' followers.
The basic problem of many Realms book is that Greenwood was not consulted by the authors, and so basically each authors does his own thing and there is no central guidance. Yet the problem exist also with Greenwood himself, because he has written books which do not really fit with a D&D environment (for example Shandril's saga, where teleport should have made the whole plot absurd).
The same problem exists with the gods, which are depicted in a wholly different and contradictory way by different authors.
Basically the novels line should have been done differently right from the start, with Greenwood having the last word about what was in line in the Realms and what was not but also the TSR crew checking his consistence with D&D rules. But they did not care enough to do it and probably the general public was not refined enough to care either.
One of the first trilogies, the Moonshae, was not supposed to be set in the Realms at all and it is quite clear.
Probably the Dragonlance line was on average a bit better for internal consistency, but other settings (for example Mystara) had the same lack of consistency in the novels, with each author going his own way.
To me many Realms books just feel like general fantasy books the author fit into the Realms ex post by adding some random names, without bothering to know the setting very well. For some aspects, this is true even for Salvatore, which clearly did not read at all the available supplements for some places where he set his books (Calimsham and Calimport, foremost). I think only a few authors, like Elaine Cunningham and Richard Lee Byers, really did their homework and wrote books which really seems to have been conceived and written as Forgotten Realms books.
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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  13:51:13  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hyperion
I think only a few authors, like Elaine Cunningham and Richard Lee Byers, really did their homework and wrote books which really seems to have been conceived and written as Forgotten Realms books.



Meh - I can name at least one greivous lapse in Realms' lore consistency from each of those authors.

Generally though, some authors better than others; I think Ed is the best at it by virtue of it is HIS Realms and the man is an epic world builder (your note on the lack of teleportation magic in the Shandril saga -- it actually defies all logic as they DO use teleportation in Crown of Fire to go back and forth to the Citadel of the Raven, twice, sigh, just never to go to Silverymoon).

To me, Jeff Grubb/Kate Novak get the Realms the best as Jeff was the Realms editor from the OGB era...but I'm sure even he probably has errors to existing Realms lore in his novels if you pick hard enough at it...


Edited by - Seravin on 20 Aug 2018 13:54:54
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2976 Posts

Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  13:54:34  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
With something as large and complex as the Realms, some errors are kind of inevitable. However, things like the crap going on in LP are gross and avoidable after having done as little as skimming through the source material.

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Edited by - Irennan on 20 Aug 2018 13:55:33
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