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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
856 Posts

Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  13:57:57  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yep - you can tell by this point in the novel line, no one gave a crap about continuity or editing to make sure the lore wasn't a mess. It shows with LP in particular!
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Hyperion
Seeker

31 Posts

Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  16:03:34  Show Profile Send Hyperion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I suspect the problem is no one ever gave a crap :) except for the most die hard fans :)
If you play in the Realms, you can still make up your own solutions/stories. Some however are quite difficult, as the mentioned example in Crown of Fire, which does not make any sense indeed. You could maybe assume teleportation is always dangerous and therefore Shandril was willing to risk it only when, frustrated and enraged by the constant attacks, she decided the only way was to deliver a fatal blow to the Zhent, but is a stretch at best.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
856 Posts

Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  16:11:30  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Only way to solve it would be to have it written/stated from the start that portals work but teleportation spells don't work because Spellfire would involuntarily snatch up the magic involved in the teleport spell (but a portal Shandril is able to keep from being destroyed by Spellfire). However...that wasn't how it was written. Sigh. They teleport back and forth from CotR and it is clearly a spell scroll not a portal. It doesn't work. It was a huge flub in Crown of Fire. Someoene said Ed has written about why they didn't use teleports to Silverymoon somewhere..I don't think I ever saw it though. Any scribes want to link or copy/paste? Was it just a "test" for Shandril? (that obviously failed given the ending of Hand of Fire)
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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2332 Posts

Posted - 21 Aug 2018 :  14:41:35  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham 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.



We try, but we do miss things now and then.

Not making excuses, but adding another POV to this discussion: One of the sources of continuity issues is that the rules and lore change over time, and writers can't retrofit their novels to take the new rules into account.

For example, it used to be that drow magic or magic items faded on the surface when daylight hit. That was changed, which might puzzle 3.5 players who are reading books written under 2nd Ed rules. I have been challenged for using the terms "forest elf" and "green elf" interchangably, but back when I was writing, they were interchangable. Someone who knows nothing of the Realms before 4.0 would be very puzzled by Elfshadow and Evermeet, not to mention the Counselors & Kings trilogy, because wait--isn't Evermeet in the Feywild, and isn't Halruaa underwater?

The Realms was a living, changing world for a long time. It was pretty much inevitable that not everything written along that time span would line up perfectly.

Edited by - ElaineCunningham on 21 Aug 2018 15:02:40
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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2332 Posts

Posted - 21 Aug 2018 :  14:53:30  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hyperion

I suspect the problem is no one ever gave a crap :) except for the most die hard fans :).



I can state without reservation that this is not true.

When I started writing in the Realms, I read everything. Every novel, every game product, the magazines, and all the comic books I could get my hands on. I'm a history geek, and I considered the novels to be historical fiction, with the lore as "historical fact." My first editor, James Lowder, once said I knew the Realms as well as anyone but Ed and Jeff. And if I had a question, I picked up the phone and called someone. In those early years, I spent a lot of time talking to Jim Lowder, Ed Greenwood, Bob Salvatore, and Stephen Schend.

In my early years, editing was extensive and multi-layered. It started at the outline stage. After an outline was reviewed by the editor, it would go to the game department. Several people would go through it and make comments, which the editor consolidated and passed along. The first draft of the manuscript would also be reviewed for continuity, both by the fiction editor and the game department. Game designer Stephen Schend went over the first draft of Elfsong in meticulous detail. Not just for rules and lore, but movement stats. One example: Elaith Craulnober was running across the roofs of Waterdeep and jumped from one building to another. Stephen got out the Waterdeep maps, calculated the distance, checked Elaith's stats, and concluded that yup, that worked. And it WAS doable because before I turned in the manuscript, I studied the Waterdeep maps, calculated the distance, and checked Elaith's stats. That was standard operating procedure at the time.

Things did get a little looser as the years went on and the books and lore proliferated. At some point, the outlines and manuscripts stopped going to the game department. I can't vouch for anything that happened over the past ten years, because I wasn't involved, but I worked with a lot of people who cared a whole hell of a lot about what they wrote and what they published.

Edited by - ElaineCunningham on 21 Aug 2018 15:06:58
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
856 Posts

Posted - 21 Aug 2018 :  15:42:31  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Any thoughts on Lady Penitent, Elaine? Like many others, I really disliked it and the events after it.

Regarding continuity / editing for existing rules and lore - as others have said you got it right and are a shining example of what to do when writing a book in a shared world in my opinion. James had the right answer. Thank you for your effort back in the day, it showed in your work.

My only tiny nitpicky curmudgeon uber-nerdy issue with your first Realms novel I've already raised in this very thread so no need to rehash! The "need" to keep Kymil Nimesin alive in Elfshadow to prove Arilyn was innocent - despite the existence of detect lie, speak with dead, and similar divination magic that would have been available to any major Harper trial held on the matter (and Bran and Khelben testimony as Master Harpers at the time would not have been dismissed either; they knew she was innocent and Kymil guilty of regicide and ~20 Harper murders).
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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2332 Posts

Posted - 21 Aug 2018 :  18:39:44  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Any thoughts on Lady Penitent, Elaine? Like many others, I really disliked it and the events after it.




I didn't read this trilogy. I stopped reading most of the novels when I stopped writing for the Realms. In general, though, I only recommend books. If I don't like a novel, I don't discuss it.
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2987 Posts

Posted - 21 Aug 2018 :  20:40:02  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ElaineCunningham


I can state without reservation that this is not true.

When I started writing in the Realms, I read everything. Every novel, every game product, the magazines, and all the comic books I could get my hands on. I'm a history geek, and I considered the novels to be historical fiction, with the lore as "historical fact." My first editor, James Lowder, once said I knew the Realms as well as anyone but Ed and Jeff. And if I had a question, I picked up the phone and called someone. In those early years, I spent a lot of time talking to Jim Lowder, Ed Greenwood, Bob Salvatore, and Stephen Schend.

In my early years, editing was extensive and multi-layered. It started at the outline stage. After an outline was reviewed by the editor, it would go to the game department. Several people would go through it and make comments, which the editor consolidated and passed along. The first draft of the manuscript would also be reviewed for continuity, both by the fiction editor and the game department. Game designer Stephen Schend went over the first draft of Elfsong in meticulous detail. Not just for rules and lore, but movement stats. One example: Elaith Craulnober was running across the roofs of Waterdeep and jumped from one building to another. Stephen got out the Waterdeep maps, calculated the distance, checked Elaith's stats, and concluded that yup, that worked. And it WAS doable because before I turned in the manuscript, I studied the Waterdeep maps, calculated the distance, and checked Elaith's stats. That was standard operating procedure at the time.

Things did get a little looser as the years went on and the books and lore proliferated. At some point, the outlines and manuscripts stopped going to the game department. I can't vouch for anything that happened over the past ten years, because I wasn't involved, but I worked with a lot of people who cared a whole hell of a lot about what they wrote and what they published.



Wow. I think that forcing an author to stay true to every *game* detail is somewhat of a limitation, but it sure does show a deep level of care for the IP. While I won't complain about the stat-checks going away, it's sad that the care for continuity went away with that.

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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Mirtek
Senior Scribe

532 Posts

Posted - 21 Aug 2018 :  21:05:46  Show Profile Send Mirtek a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

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.

It's also problematic when compared to the only remotely similiar high magic spell, that was used to banish Moander.

IIRC it required a subdued avatar of the deity as one of the material components and the sacrifice of the involved high mages.

In the novel it was kind of like "He, do you have anything to do in the next 15 minutes? No? Great, how about slaying a deity?"
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Hyperion
Seeker

31 Posts

Posted - 23 Aug 2018 :  11:52:42  Show Profile Send Hyperion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks Elaine for the detailed answer. There are many good books in the Realms novel line and I've read most of them, and I can hardly tell I disliked many of them. Even those which did not feel much "Realmsian" to me were not necessarily bad books. I also liked Once around the Realms, for the pastiche it was :) and I know my opinion is rather minoritarian.
What I want to specify here is that my comment was not to tell there are many "bad" Realms book, but rather that there are many books which are only incidentally set in the Realms, but they could have been set in any other fantasy world. They lack details on the Realms to make them good Realms book, even if they may be good book or at least "not too bad" books in other aspects.
You say they were checked for consistency and I believe it, but probably they were not checked enough for "significant use of the setting details", which is clear only for some authors, like you, and much less for others.
For example I liked much the books of the Maztica trilogy but it felt a bit like it could have placed in any other fantasy world with an european-like culture invading an aztec-like culture, and Helm in fact was depicted as quite different from other descriptions of him in Greenwood or others material. The author created a good story, but he did not have at the time an in depht knowledge of the setting, and in fact his Moonshae trilogy too was not supposed to be set in the Realms, originally.
Many Realms books do not have much Realms in them, even if they may be good books.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
856 Posts

Posted - 23 Aug 2018 :  14:38:11  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My book that seems so out of place is the Night Parade...in Calimsham of all places..but could have been any city and doesn't feel like it belongs in the Realms at all. Not a book I loved and not one I felt had any flavour of the Realms in it.
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
362 Posts

Posted - 01 Sep 2018 :  20:49:49  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

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).



Well put, and I particularly admire your analogy to Original Sin. I wasn't even thinking that deep/metaphysical, but rather focusing on the abominable overall message that "Goodness is a few shades lighter." With inclusivity (racial/gender/orientation/etc.) in gaming being such a hot-button item right now, this book stands out even more glaringly as being shockingly tone deaf. I guess it's a good thing the trilogy is a decade old and not likely to have anyone (but us weirdos) talking about it, it's the kind of thing WotC would want to take a mulligan on.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 01 Sep 2018 21:24:07
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
362 Posts

Posted - 01 Sep 2018 :  21:14:03  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I feel like I've been away for a long time! I finished Stardeep several days ago. This book was outstanding. Cordell definitely has his own fantasy vibe and sensibilities, and it's probably not for everyone. In fact, in my own review of Darkvision I stated that his magi-tek/crystal "cybernetic" enhancements just weren't working for me. But here in Stardeep we see perhaps even more sci-fi elements and terminology - the containment well, Cynosure: a sentient defense system reminiscent of HAL 9000, and so on. But he pulled it off magnificently, IMO.

This whole "Dungeons being used as prisoners for elder evil beings" theme seems to repeat a bit in FR. Not that I mind the trope, just an observation.

The characters were extremely unique and interesting. I liked Gage's demon gauntlets, even if they were more than a bit reminiscent of Vampire Hunter D. Kiril, a character I found only marginally interesting in the previous book, really grew on me here. The story of the slaughter that led her to her alcoholic ways was tragic and powerful. Delphe was pretty cool too, I wonder if her name was inspired by the Oracle at Delphi, seems reasonable even though Telarian is the one with prophetic sight.

Speaking of Telarian, his descent into madness was extremely satisfying. There's nothing scarier than a villain who firmly believes he's the hero doing the right thing. Telarian has that Tony Stark massive ego, wherein he, and only he, can save everyone from themselves - but he just ends up making everything so much worse.

Angul/Nis were show-stealers. Nis is kind of the Danny DeVito to Angul's Schwarzenegger - comprised of all the leftovers when the purity, righteousness, and dedication to duty was siphoned out. But yet Nis is still massively powerful - his cold logic and emotional detachment insulate his wielder against all doubt, a perfect counterpart to Angul's crusaderlike zealousness.

A monk named Raidon Kane? Going to have to dock a few points for that - both first name and surname. Very cool character, but that name. C'mon Bruce...

The salt liches underneath Stardeep were a super cool touch. As was the very Lovecraftian vibe of Xxiphu rising up to take over the world. I also really enjoyed how Kiril simply couldn't resist the drug that is Angul at the end, even though she knew it would be better for both parties if they parted ways. Flawed protagonists are usually so much more interesting and things are set up nicely for the Abolethic Sovereignty trilogy, even though I won't get there for quite some time.

I've since moved on to finish the Dungeons series and am nearly done with Crypt of the Moaning Diamond. Review on Monday possibly?


Edited by - VikingLegion on 08 Sep 2018 13:28:56
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
362 Posts

Posted - 01 Sep 2018 :  21:17:36  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CTrunks

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).



Good info, thanks.

Re-shuffling reading order again :)
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
362 Posts

Posted - 08 Sep 2018 :  13:24:21  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I feel like I'm falling behind! I've since finished two more books since the last post a week ago. Seeing as there were no comments regarding Stardeep, I'll just move on to the first of the two:

Crypt of the Moaning Diamond is the first novel by Rosemary Jones. It's a little bit light on Realms lore but it appears she made a sincere effort, at least as far as the region it is set in. I found the the cultural information on Procampur to be very interesting, their mannerisms, dedication to politeness and duty, the strict caste of a city where your standing in the hierarchy is dictated openly by the color of your roof shingles. She did a very good job bringing the "character" of the region out. I did a little digging into Procampur and found out this story takes place in the mid-1200s DR. I wouldn't have known that otherwise, as this story seemed to take place a little bit in a void of its own. A simple **Chapter 1: Tsurlagol 1246 DR** location/date blurb would've been a really nice touch. In fact, I think all Realms books should start in that manner to immediately let the reader know where, and more importantly, when they are.

Like a few other books I've mentioned, this one suffered from a single group PoV with no (or too few) cutaways. Also the language was surprisingly simplistic at times, like describing an enemy as "a bad guy with big, mean guards." I think this was done deliberately, as the main protagonist, Ivy, is a farmgirl turned mercenary. She mentions several times she just wants to make enough money to fix the hole in her barn roof, so I have to believe that was done on purpose to play up Ivy's rustic and unsophisticated upbringing. The way her personality clashed with the stuffy, ultra-proper Procampuran officer Sanval was amusing. There were a lot of very eccentric characters - a half-orc and a genasi that are step sisters (same father, VERY different mothers!), the dwarf who is obsessed with his pet dog, and so on. They were quirky and odd, and took a little while to grow on me, but I definitely liked them by the end.

The bugbear poets were an interesting choice....

All in all it was an ok book, nothing anyone would consider essential to the Realms, but I enjoyed it for what it was. Since then I've already finished The Orc King, I'll try to get to that tomorrow.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 08 Sep 2018 13:31:00
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
362 Posts

Posted - 09 Sep 2018 :  13:09:03  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Orc King - good story overall but I do have some specific critiques:

I didn't care for the start which was 100 years in the post-Spellplague future. I hate it when TV shows open up with a scene, something dramatic happens, then it fades to black with a line that says "2 weeks earlier" or whatever before going to the main episode. It's a completely unnecessary gimmick, just start at the beginning. Also the ultra-racist orc-hunting band of ethnic cleansers - did they need to be so obviously modeled after a despicable real-world organization whose name I'll not mention? These humans, elves, and dwarves dedicated to destroying all orcs, even (particularly!) peaceful ones wear hoods, robes, and call themselves the Casin Cu Calas, or the "Triple C."

Alustriel - I've said it before and I'll say it again, I like RAS's depiction of her better than Greenwood's. I know that sounds odd, being that EG is the creator, but I feel similarly about Lynn Abbey's Simbul. Ed's Sisters are essentially the same character with minor deviances, the other authors bring out better nuance. RAS's Alustriel has a much more regal aspect.

Sunset and Innovindil's big scene was hard to read. I had such strongly mixed feelings - I wanted them to escape because I really dig the characters. But at the same time I recognized how important it was for the orcs to get a win in order to establish credibility as proper villains. The bad guy's plots have to succeed from time to time or they become little more than incompetent clowns. So, even as I was reading the scene, I was cheering for RAS not to pull any punches, to make this end how it needs to end, but dreading it all the while.

Wulfgar's goodbye felt like a real goodbye. Is he being written out of the Drizzt universe to clear the way for Drizzt/Cattie? Is he being sent away to spin off into other side-tales of Icewind Dale? Or is he being put on temporary hiatus so that he may gather a large tribe and someday come thundering out of the North with an army of berserkers to save the day as an unexpected reinforcement in some future engagement? I guess only time will answer that question.

So Cattie is a mage now, I guess. I've always felt the Companions of the Hall could've used a bit more diversity. Sure, Regis has thief skills, but the rest are basically just warriors mainly. They have obvious style differences, of course, but no spellcasters among them. Drizzt's ranger side doesn't really shine through to me all that much aside from some occasional tracking. Guen could be seen as an Animal Companion, but being a magically summoned entity, anyone could do the same as long as they possess the onyx figurine. It makes me think of a Joss Whedon interview I saw before Avengers 2. He was so excited to bring in the Scarlet Witch character, because before that, all his protagonists were "punchy heroes" (Captain America, Hulk, Thor) and Wanda finally gave him someone to explore some other forms of interesting combat.

So, back to Cattie. She went from young tomboy to devastating archer with the introduction of Taulmaril. RAS must've gotten bored with that at some point so he gave her Khazid'hea and she became a very good (but not great) swordswoman. Now she has an injured hip and loaned out her bow, so I guess that's Bob's way of saying he feels the character has stagnated and needs a new path. Enter Alustriel and her offer to tutor Cat as a mage. She handles herself very well with a wand in the first battle (aside from blasting herself in the foot once!), and now thanks to Drizzt scavenging a robe from Jack the Gnome, she already has a magnificent (probably overpowered) magical garment to start her career. If I know Salvatore, I'm sure she'll be capable of dueling Manshoon to a standstill by the next book.

Criticisms aside, this book did do something rather amazing - make me feel sympathy for orcs. There's the obvious Obould plotline that's been running for awhile now; how he wants to carve out a more civilized empire for his people. But you know what was even more important than that? The short scene with the two orc sentries out on patrol, gathering firewood. They gripe about their wives scolding them, complain about typical soldier duties, and so on right before an elven arrow takes one through the throat and the other is cut down by sword. That one little snippet did more to humanize them (if that makes sense) than all the rest.

The climactic scene with Bruenor and Obould staring each other down, unsure of what will come next after unexpectedly helping each other, was really tense and well done.

Up next, I grabbed book one of the citadels, Neversfall.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
856 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2018 :  10:05:56  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's not really dealt with much, but my understaning from D&D mechanics and previous novels is that magic use is not something you stumble into at middle age when you break your hip. Rather you have a gift for the art that is recognized early and you go on to apprentice in your teens with a wizard. Cattie-Sue..I mean Cattie-Brie being good at everything she tries and having no discernable character flaws or interesting traits makes her the worst for me. And yes, I'm sure Bob just wanted to bring in some magic-use to his core character base who are all fighters (Regis barely thieves in any of the books, his hook in the beginning was more the Ruby to charm people than it was to climb walls and detect/disarm traps or backstab with his "mace" which why would he even be a thief with a mace?).

I wasn't a fan of Orc King, and I view it as Bob flexing his power to make the Realms different than intended, as I can't say that Ed's vision would include humanized orcs trading with the good races. Seems a bit shoe-horned Real World politics thurst into the Realms for my tastes, which wouldn't be the first time he's done this with his priest of Selune child molesters nonsense.
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CTrunks
Seeker

Canada
20 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2018 :  13:53:25  Show Profile Send CTrunks a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I dunno, a thief with a mace could make sense. It's the same concept as an orc thief; you whack 'em on the head, then take their stuff while they're unconscious.

I do agree that turning Cattie-Brie from a warrior to a mage did come out of nowhere, and doesn't really go anywhere. Honestly, I gotta wonder if the decision of doing the Spellplague (the "Great Nonsense") caused a change in plans from what might have been planned for Cattie-Brie and Drizzt. Likewise, I think Wulfgar leaving was another change that might not have been planned immediately, but was done to write him out before the Great Nonsense could occur.

My bigger problem with the book is more of a hindsight thing, and something I can't really... explain without spoilers for later books. At the time, though, and even on its own, I do like the idea of Many-Arrows; trying to civilize a group of orcs isn't, necessarily, a bad thing to me. Yeah, it feels like a decision that was made because World of WarCraft was, at the time, stupid popular, but it's not an awful idea. And I honestly thought that the conflict between the two factions of orcs - those who want to continue to get their murder and pillage on, versus those that see the potential to improve their lives and focus on long-term goals over short-term gains - was an interesting one to me. It's a visionary fighting against generations of tradition, all while worrying about their neighbors whose toes have been viciously stepped on. If given a few generations, it could have some real potential, and signal the start of change for their people as a whole.

Plus, the Ondonti were once a thing, so it's not like there was zero precedent for 'good' orcs in the Realms. But it was probably also because of WoW (and WarCraft 3 before it).

I also think it's something kinda mirrored with Tos'un Armgo, though it was much more internal. He started off - in this book, anyway - as someone who was focused only on his survival, and was given the option between the easy path (taking advantage of the orcs of Clan Ggruch for chaos and lulz, even though he really hated the whole lot of them by that point), or the harder path (working with the elves from the Moonwood, even though there was a risk he'd have to face the consequences for being involved in this whole mess). And in the end, he chose the harder path, and apparently proved himself to the others. It was another thing that had potential.
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Irennan
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Italy
2987 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2018 :  14:11:37  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I appreciate the attempt at adding nuance to the orcs, it makes the narrative including them more interesting, and it opens up the opportunity for stories that don't just include them as mere cannon fodder. Plus, @Seravin, I'd say that it is in line with Ed's take on "evil" races: if he added entirely different faiths and cultures to the drow, why not the orcs? Also, if orc cultures/subraces like the Ondonti exist, if the orcs could successfully coexist with the humans in Thesk after the whole Tuigan invasion thing, it's not much of a stretch to say that something like Many Arrows could come to be.

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

Edited by - Irennan on 12 Sep 2018 17:25:50
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Seravin
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Canada
856 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2018 :  17:18:27  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CTrunks
But it was probably also because of WoW (and WarCraft 3 before it).



Ding ding ding...this is exactly right in my opinion. The timing of this Orc Kingdom/Obould/ManyArrows and a "lich king" ruling in Thay (removing the unique Zulkirs ruling that IS in Ed's vision) at the same time as the massive popularity of World of Warcraft and someone at WotC Hasbro wanting to align their IP with what the kids like elsewhere just makes me hate both things too much to be objective.

I still *personally* don't think Ed would have peaceful orcs in great enough numbers to form a peaceful trading civilization, as it didn't happen in the OGB -- to me Ed's thinking is that orcs are inherently evil when taken as a group and too stupid to cooperate, operating on a hierachry of fear and punishment and killing your way to the top. The only thing that makes them a power is their ability to breed such large numbers they horde every few decades (see also kobolds, goblins, gnolls, etc).

I agree that individual orcs could be much more neutral and perhaps even the occasional orc could be "good", but these should be so rare as to be a non-factor based on the D&D orc.

All that said, they made it happen and I guess FR orcs are now just "misunderstood" like Drizzt. Then of course *spoilers ruin my point here*, but yeah, it's all not worth talking about because of what occurs post.

I think I'm the only one who liked Pirate King :)
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Irennan
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Italy
2987 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2018 :  17:28:50  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

I still *personally* don't think Ed would have peaceful orcs in great enough numbers to form a peaceful trading civilization, as it didn't happen in the OGB



Ed's Realms are much larger than what the OGB showed. For example, the OGB didn't include Eilistraee, but Ed has stated multiple times that Eilistraee had already been part of his Realms and campaign for a long time when TSR asked him for more drow deities. The same could be true for the orcs. In general, Ed's Realms are open to variety when it comes to these things. Then again, we can only speculate on this.

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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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2987 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2018 :  17:30:15  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CTrunks

Plus, the Ondonti were once a thing, so it's not like there was zero precedent for 'good' orcs in the Realms. But it was probably also because of WoW (and WarCraft 3 before it).




The Ondonti date back to 2e, so they predate Warcraft 3 and WoW, though.

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
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USA
362 Posts

Posted - 20 Sep 2018 :  00:52:00  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Neversfall a few days ago. My notes are extremely sparse, it just didn't feel all that remarkable to me, probably because I'm largely unfamiliar with the Shining South. I did like the formians as sometimes enemies/sometimes allies. I've said it many times before, but my background was mainly in Planescape before FR, and I've always felt formians had a lot of potential, precisely because they are not exactly evil, but so rigidly lawful that several of their actions can easily by interpreted as such. They were utilized well in this story. The main characters were believable and went through some decent development.

What drove me absolutely nuts was the piss-poor editing. By page two there were already major errors - like a character name being spelled differently in back-to-back paragraphs. I can understand this happening on page 180 or something, as mental familiarity sets in and an editor's concentration lapses, but on page 2? I've read that many people don't even notice a misspelling when it occurs wihtin the middle of a word, so long as the beginning and end are accurate. Also on page 2, "Adeenya had begun training behind her father's back, in preparation for join the Maquar." How can an editor be checked out by PAGE TWO?!?!? Elaine, how does this stuff make it to final print? Am I crazy?

Page 275 is the beginning of Chapter 21
Page 288 we have Chapter 29 - WHAT HAPPENED TO 22-28?
Page 295 brings us the final chapter, titled Chapter 24... naturally

So... a decent story overall, nothing particularly good or bad. I guess some slack should be given for a first time novelist, I can't imagine how nerve-frazzling that monumental task must be, as I've never made it past chapter 2 in my several aborted attempts at writing.
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VikingLegion
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USA
362 Posts

Posted - 20 Sep 2018 :  02:05:19  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I have partially read the anthology Realms of War. I noticed the stories are arranged in order of their Dale Reckoning Year, so I figured I'd read the "safe" ones that occurred some time ago. I'll now put this back on the shelf and revisit the rest of the tales after I catch up in the main line of products.[snip]


Finished it up, here are the remainder:

The Siege of Zerith Hold - Jess Lebow - I barely remembered the characters from the novel that spawned this short story. I find the history of Tethyr/Erlkazar just doesn't stick in my head anyway. This was a solid, though unremarkable story of defenders beating back the typical goblinoid horde that outnumbers them 10:1. There was nothing wrong with it, it just didn't do much for me.

Mercy's Reward - Mark Sehestedt - Hordelands, love it. References to Frostfell, love it. More lythari, check. Really good story from an author that has been growing on me the more I see of his work.

Redemption - Elaine Cunningham - when I said I was sad at having read the last offering from EC, I was not aware of this story, so it came as an unexpected boon. I just got done saying Tethyr is "meh" for me, but E.C. always seems to make it more interesting to me with the elven/human conflict, the lythari (seeing a lot of them lately!), and so on. Good story, it brings back the elven assassin named Ferret. I savored it as slowly as I could, like that last spoonful of ice-cream at the end of the sundae!

Changing Tides - Mel Odom - I think I was a little bit alone in my admiration of the Threat from the Seas Trilogy, if I recall correctly. This story is yet another aquatic adventure in the region, and another pretty good one IMO. Here we have a morally vague treasure hunter getting caught between several factions: greedy humans, territorial sea-elves, and savage sahuagin (are there any other kind?) I still don't understand how an underwater wall manned by elves is supposed to hem in the sahuagin. If it doesn't reach to, and even above, the surface, what difference would it make at 10 feet or 600 feet high? Either way foes can attack at multiple angles, or simply swim above defenders causing them to abandon their post to intercept.

Chase the Dark - Jaleigh Johnson - I feel like a broken record here, but I really dig Jaleigh's style and vibe. It's very different from the traditional D&D writers, but not so out of tune as to be incompatible. I always find her stories to be refreshing and interesting.

Bones and Stones - RAS - an excellent short about the damage that is only realized after a battle. Some may criticize his choice to "recycle" portions of Drizzt's musings from one of the Obould novels. I thought it was a masterfully done job of interspersing one of the best examples of those journal thoughts with a simple story of two soldiers from opposing sides (Pwent and an orc) each trying to recover corpses for proper burial and honoring. It was no Dark Mirror, but it was one of his better shorts.

Second Chance - Richard Lee Byers - I haven't started the Thay trilogy yet, so this one made me nervous. I decided to read it and stop if my spidey sense went off over incoming major spoilers. That did not happen, this seems to be a very early engagement in the Thayan civil war that I already know is going to happen. Decent story of a young priest who loses his nerve and has to rekindle his courage. I don't feel the quality was up to Byers' usual standards, but it was ok.

And that does it for the Realms of War anthology. Fitting that it ended with with a Thayan tale, as the next book I plan to start is Unclean, the first of the Haunted Lands books. As I typed that I felt, somewhere, Seravin twitch in disappointment over the terrible mis-handling of one of the most interesting magocracies in FR lore.

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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
856 Posts

Posted - 25 Sep 2018 :  17:47:11  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
As I typed that I felt, somewhere, Seravin twitch in disappointment over the terrible mis-handling of one of the most interesting magocracies in FR lore.


The dissapointing setting changes/Realms Shaking Events to make things more like Warcarft aside...

RLB wrote on Facebook that he hadn't read The Simbul's Gift before writing this trilogy. I think that is a really horrible disservice to the Realms as a shared setting, since The Simbul's Gift shows Thay in a light that I think is very true to Ed's vision and very much in line with the setting Source Material (Red Magic and the Thay box set). As well, characters from that book are written completely inconsistently (especially Aznar Thrull who is actually reckless as opposed to HUGELY paranoid to the point of madness in "Gift"). I don't understand how an author can be told to write a book on Thay and then not read one of the only novels actually set there before to see how the characters were handled. Or at least the editors. Nevermind that the Zulkir of Evocation has no contingency magic on his person despite it being a evocation school magic..sigh. I could go on, but I hated this book/series for more reasons than what it did to Thay.
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