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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
401 Posts

Posted - 02 Feb 2019 :  21:04:24  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Gylippus,
That's a pretty interesting coincidence that we both recently finished books that take place in Chult, albeit they are like 140 or so years apart from each other. My writeup of Ring of Winter is back on page 4 if you're interested. I definitely got the same British explorer vibe as you (I think anyone would, it was laid on pretty thick). My thoughts on the wombats: "The talking wombats, complete with cockney accents, were particularly painful to read, and I tried my hardest to ignore them completely." It was also one of the first and only things Seravin and I have ever agreed on :)

I had forgotten about the paladins of Ubtao until I went back and re-read my writeup, especially the zombie lord dude who lives in a mansion on the back of a giant tortoise. I wonder whatever happened to that group, or if Ubtao is still even a deity in this new post-Spellplague Forgotten Realms.

Anyway, welcome aboard to this thread. On it's current page we are into the novels of 2009 or so. But if you're reading from the beginning and want to discuss any of the earlier stuff, absolutely feel free to quote an old post, even if it's way back on an early page. This thread is all about re-living the journey.



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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
401 Posts

Posted - 02 Feb 2019 :  21:37:27  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Last night I finished Downshadow. This was an up and down experience for me. I've had a hard time thus far getting into the works of Erik Scott De Bie, his style just doesn't suit me. But this book started off really dark and gritty, much more mature than his usual fare. It centers around a vigilante who prowls the streets at night, cleaning up the criminal element of Waterdeep while working a desk job by day among the Guard. It starts to get a little bit sillier with all the various newspapers acting like the Enquirer and other tabloid rags of their day, but I was still on board. Where it started to fall apart for me a bit was during the big Masquerade revel/ball held in the temple of Sune. The main character, Kalen, had no fewer than 8 female characters vying for his attention at one point, most of which were just typical fantasy-novel dumb, tropey sluts.

Araezra, the Captain of the Guard, was probably the most frustratingly written of them all. She is best known for two things - her almost unearthly beauty (of course) and the iron discipline that allowed her to become the youngest female ever to reach the rank of valabrar. Ok, so if she's this paragon of self-control, why is every other scene show her crying, pounding her fist into a wall, or showing some other form of hysterics because Kalen (the one man in Waterdeep she can't have) won't reciprocate her feelings?

The others followed various typical conventions - the damsel in distress, the uppity bitch, etc. The most interesting of them was Fayne, she had this manic "Harley Quinn" type quality to her that was exasperating at times, but interesting in a wicked kind of way for the most part.

Still, the story got almost completely lost for me for at least a third of the book and devolved into something that more resembled a cheesy teen drama on the CW channel. It got a little creepy when Kalen, who had taken in a young female waif with no memory, starts developing a budding romance with the girl who is like half his age. He seems to have a thing for saving helpless females (especially girls just budding into womanhood) who then of course have to express their gratitude in any way they can...

I thought this excerpt showed his pervy side the best:
"Kalen had seen Fayne nearly naked at the temple, but that had been different. A battle, when his blood was up. Now, her skin seemed smooth and soft.
She was so very vulnerable, deprived of clothing. She seemed younger and lighter - fragile.
Like Myrin."


But then, in the last 50 pages or so the book shifts gears back to being totally badass. The interactions between Kalen and Rath (a dwarven assassin who might've been the most compelling character) and also between Kalen and Fayne were terrific. Great writing, inspired dialogue and insight into their psyches, I couldn't believe it was the same book.

So again, a really uneven experience. The highs were very high, but the lows... well, you get the idea. Ed Greenwood absolutely gushes with praise for this story, both on the back of the book and again in the Intro. The silliness and.. well.. teenage-boy wish-fulfillment aspect of the revel (a banquet hall full of exotic, gorgeous women fighting over one man) read a lot like one of his novels, so I can see why he enjoyed it so much. It was worth reading for the good parts

Up next I go back to the Wilds series for the The Restless Shore.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 02 Feb 2019 21:44:07
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Madpig
Learned Scribe

Finland
138 Posts

Posted - 04 Feb 2019 :  06:24:57  Show Profile Send Madpig a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Last night I finished Downshadow. This was an up and down experience for me. I've had a hard time thus far getting into the works of Erik Scott De Bie, his style just doesn't suit me. But this book started off really dark and gritty, much more mature than his usual fare. It centers around a vigilante who prowls the streets at night, cleaning up the criminal element of Waterdeep while working a desk job by day among the Guard. It starts to get a little bit sillier with all the various newspapers acting like the Enquirer and other tabloid rags of their day, but I was still on board. Where it started to fall apart for me a bit was during the big Masquerade revel/ball held in the temple of Sune. The main character, Kalen, had no fewer than 8 female characters vying for his attention at one point, most of which were just typical fantasy-novel dumb, tropey sluts.

Araezra, the Captain of the Guard, was probably the most frustratingly written of them all. She is best known for two things - her almost unearthly beauty (of course) and the iron discipline that allowed her to become the youngest female ever to reach the rank of valabrar. Ok, so if she's this paragon of self-control, why is every other scene show her crying, pounding her fist into a wall, or showing some other form of hysterics because Kalen (the one man in Waterdeep she can't have) won't reciprocate her feelings?

The others followed various typical conventions - the damsel in distress, the uppity bitch, etc. The most interesting of them was Fayne, she had this manic "Harley Quinn" type quality to her that was exasperating at times, but interesting in a wicked kind of way for the most part.

Still, the story got almost completely lost for me for at least a third of the book and devolved into something that more resembled a cheesy teen drama on the CW channel. It got a little creepy when Kalen, who had taken in a young female waif with no memory, starts developing a budding romance with the girl who is like half his age. He seems to have a thing for saving helpless females (especially girls just budding into womanhood) who then of course have to express their gratitude in any way they can...

I thought this excerpt showed his pervy side the best:
"Kalen had seen Fayne nearly naked at the temple, but that had been different. A battle, when his blood was up. Now, her skin seemed smooth and soft.
She was so very vulnerable, deprived of clothing. She seemed younger and lighter - fragile.
Like Myrin."


But then, in the last 50 pages or so the book shifts gears back to being totally badass. The interactions between Kalen and Rath (a dwarven assassin who might've been the most compelling character) and also between Kalen and Fayne were terrific. Great writing, inspired dialogue and insight into their psyches, I couldn't believe it was the same book.

So again, a really uneven experience. The highs were very high, but the lows... well, you get the idea. Ed Greenwood absolutely gushes with praise for this story, both on the back of the book and again in the Intro. The silliness and.. well.. teenage-boy wish-fulfillment aspect of the revel (a banquet hall full of exotic, gorgeous women fighting over one man) read a lot like one of his novels, so I can see why he enjoyed it so much. It was worth reading for the good parts

Up next I go back to the Wilds series for the The Restless Shore.



My feelings of this novel were pretty much the same as yours. I have re-read it only once, and that means that the book was not too good. 2nd on the series I read again once too, but the 3rd was a really a struggle to go through even once.

I only liked the premise, really flawed hero on physical sense. As normally we have only superpeople as heroes.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
908 Posts

Posted - 08 Feb 2019 :  14:15:13  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Gylippus,
That's a pretty interesting coincidence that we both recently finished books that take place in Chult, albeit they are like 140 or so years apart from each other. My writeup of Ring of Winter is back on page 4 if you're interested. I definitely got the same British explorer vibe as you (I think anyone would, it was laid on pretty thick). My thoughts on the wombats: "The talking wombats, complete with cockney accents, were particularly painful to read, and I tried my hardest to ignore them completely." It was also one of the first and only things Seravin and I have ever agreed on :)



Lies and slander! We agree on most things...just not on the awesome-sauce that is Azure Bonds!

I don't really enjoy Eric's novels either, but he's not the worst offender for writing like a WB-style teen drama in the Realms' library!
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
401 Posts

Posted - 09 Feb 2019 :  13:20:44  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Restless Shore a couple days ago. First off, I think James P. Davis is an underrated author. He does such a great job of conveying mood and a sort of creepy vibe I've found to be present in all 3 of the books I've read from him so far. He tends to write about out-of-the way, remote locations, never anything in the "mainstream". But I see he has a Waterdeep novel coming up, so that will be interesting for me to see if he changes up anything in his style.

I read this entire book not even knowing where the hell in the world it was set. I feared looking it up for spoilers, so I just researched it now. It's set in Akanul, which apparently is a transplant from Abeir that fused over to Toril as a result of the Spellplague. I still don't know all the ramifications of what happened during that event, the novels seem to just sort of nibble on the periphery without ever coming out and fully explaining things. I've always known there were "twin worlds" but still a bit more exposition on this end would be nice.

Genasi seem much different from anything I've known in my Planescape 2e experience. Now they can choose which element they belong to? Even more, they can alter it spontaneously? One of the main characters in this book favors her water aspect (much to the chagrin of her fire-loving family), but at several points in the heat of battle she goes all "Flame On!" I'm theorizing this is yet another 4e change, I know all the distinct elemental planes were merged into one dimension called the "Elemental Chaos" (yuck!) I don't know if that is supposed to be a wild maelstrom of all the elements swirling around, or if it's some kind of weird, undefined proto-matter that can take on the aspects of air, earth, fire, or water - and that's why these modern genasi can change on the fly. I guess it doesn't matter much, I'm just thinking out loud.

As for the story, we have a group of very broken adventurers trying to travel to an old town overrun by aboleth long ago in order to rescue a kidnapped sister of one of the protagonists. It was a really spooky, eerie tale (I really liked "The Choir") I know I'm guilty of using the term Lovecraftian far too much, but this story was just full of squirming, mutated, tentacled horrors, like a really twisted anime. For a long while I didn't really know who the main antagonist was, but once it became clear I thought it was such a cool and creepy idea. Davis's style is probably not for everyone (much like Ciencin and The Night Parade) but it worked for me.

Up next, I keep ping-ponging between The Wilds series and the EG Presents Waterdeep books. So, now I go back to the latter for the next installment: City of the Dead.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
32006 Posts

Posted - 09 Feb 2019 :  14:04:21  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah, in 4E, the genasi went from "very rare, almost entirely human individuals with some slight elemental thing" to "dime-a-dozen humanoids with weird skintones, neon stripes, and KEWL elemental mashups and tricks never even hinted at before!"

It's one of the many reasons I did not embrace 4E.

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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 09 Feb 2019 14:04:49
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
401 Posts

Posted - 17 Feb 2019 :  13:02:39  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Yeah, in 4E, the genasi went from "very rare, almost entirely human individuals with some slight elemental thing" to "dime-a-dozen humanoids with weird skintones, neon stripes, and KEWL elemental mashups and tricks never even hinted at before!"

It's one of the many reasons I did not embrace 4E.



4e Initial Concept Team:

"What if Michael Bay made a fantasy video game, and then we made a tabletop adaptation of said game?"
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
401 Posts

Posted - 17 Feb 2019 :  13:18:35  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished City of the Dead several days ago but couldn't get around to posting. This book was... strange but also very charming. Rosemary Jones definitely writes far differently from anyone else in the Realms group of authors. There are some who would read this novel and undoubtedly say "This doesn't feel like a Realms book!" and I might agree, although honestly, after all this time, I'm not sure I even know what that means anymore (if I ever did?)

This book is full of quirky but likeable characters. The violence is almost invariably non-lethal, just wrestling and bludgeoning type stuff. Jone's Waterdeep seems to be a more fey and whimsical place. I think this book was written with more of a YA sensibility in mind, which normally would turn me off, but I found it to be delightful. Many of the character names were ridiculous - like Leaplow and Cadriffle, but it didn't bother me. There was a small fey creature called a thorn named Briarsting who rode around on an animated topiary dragon who reminded me so much of Sir Didymus - the little terrier knight who rode on the back of a sheep dog in the movie Labyrinth. This book was practically screaming for Tony DiTerlizzi or Brian Froud to provide illustrations. In fact, if City of the Dead were made into a movie (obviously that would never happen), it would almost certainly require the Jim Henson studios to provide the visual look.

There were no high stakes here, no universe-threatening evil. Just a couple of feuding nobles and a haunting curse that caused the dead within Waterdeep's cemetery to get very restless. Normally this confluence of so many YA elements would turn me off from a story, but in this exception I found it to be a very fun and enjoyable read.

I've gone back to the Wilds and am about halfway through The Edge of Chaos.
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gylippus
Seeker

22 Posts

Posted - 19 Feb 2019 :  02:38:26  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Night Parade was a tough read for me, it feels the least "Realms" like of the Harper series; it's very HP Lovecraft to me. Interested to hear your thoughts. I liked Red Magic mostly because Thay under the Zulkirs representing all the schools of magic was such a cool idea (MUCH MUCH MUCH BETTER THAN LICH-KING THAY! ugh don't get me started on that). I liked seeing how Thay manipulated weather to create orange groves and fertile lands, used zombies as slave labour, and how centaurs were part of daily life there. I would have liked to see more of the Simbul's Aglarond in the novel though.



Yeah, I really liked the school specialist magocracy, it made for a unique country with great originality and tons of political intrigue as each school believes itself to be the strongest. You raise an interesting point about zombie slave labor. Now, I wouldn't want a decomposing man to harvest my produce, but I could certainly see utilizing them as miners - a job with a terribly high mortality rate, exhausting work conditions, exposure to bad air - things a zombie wouldn't be even remotely affected by. I don't know anything about "Lich King Thay", as my FR knowledge only took me up to the mid/late 1990s, but I can only surmise the obvious and that Szass Tam must have eventually succeeded in supplanting his fellow zulkirs. I'll let you know how I feel about that once I've crossed that bridge, but I suspect I'll feel the same way you do, in that a "necropolis" theme has been done before, and Thay has become less special.

I've been on the graveyard shift this week, which means LOTS of time to read whiling away the hours, and have finished two books, the first of which is The Night Parade. It's funny Seravin, I'm not sure we'll ever see eye-to-eye on anything :) As you mentioned, this book had a Lovecraftian vibe to it. Maybe it's the HPL superfan in me talking, or perhaps it's just that we're in October when my mind switches into creepy/horror mode, but I thought this book was TERRIFIC. Definitely the best of the Harpers series thus far (only Elfshadow even comes close) and lands in my top ten overall (covering only 1987-1991 at this time).

I thought it curious when you said it "feels the least Realms" to you, and wouldn't mind hearing you expound on that statement. Is it because of the horror theme in general? Or specifically the concept of the Night Parade? I didn't have a whole lot of the FR sourcebooks, so I don't know if these creatures have any kind of established canon, or if Ciencin went a bit off the reservation and just freelanced this story. In that vein, I've often wondered just how much personal freedom any FR author had back in those days. Was there strong communication between the various writers, or did they more or less have free reign to set up shop in their own little corners and do their thing with little editorial oversight? Back to it being "Realms/Non-Realms", well I guess maybe I don't have a strong notion of what that is supposed to mean. As an open sandbox type of shared world, I see it as a massive patchwork quilt of various styles and sensibilities - from swashbuckling to grimdark, serious to campy, and various levels of low/high magic fantasy dependent on the author and region being written about.

Anyway, to somewhat get back on track, I very much enjoyed this novel. As a lover of horror, this book gave me a bit of a Hellraiser feel, I pictured the various forms of the Night Parade members to be something like the Cenobites. But then there was also the aspect of them coming to town like some demonic gypsy carnival, playing their music, enchanting the public - this gave me a bit of a "Something Wicked This Way Comes" feel. Lastly, this book had some pretty seriously overt sexuality to it, which surprised me in that many of the TSR/WotC books of this age were teen targeted, and while flirting with sexual themes, rarely crossed a certain line. Night Parade gleefully went right over this limitation several times, which made me enjoy it even more for pushing the boundaries.

Again, maybe it's just because Halloween is right around the corner, but this book pushed all the right buttons for me. Sure, maybe it's a less conventional Realms book, but that didn't hinder my enjoyment of it one bit.



So, I just read Night Parade and I wanted t put in my 2 cents worth. I totally agree with VikingLegion that it is one of the best books in FR, at least out of the ones I have read. The characters are written on a much deeper level than many other books and the author introduces us to many interesting characters and then kills off most of them. I appreciate the fact that he kills many of the characters because some authors seem to have issues with killing their creations. Plus, this book was written in the early 90s and has a very strong female lead character, which is refreshing. Ok, on to some details.

I especially liked Lucius the mage. I was really starting t enjoy his character when he was killed, but his death fit the story and he went out on a noble note. Towards the end of the book I appreciated the fact that the author made me feel for Imperator Zeal and Tamara. I would have liked to see them live, but yet again their deaths were written well. Plus, I was enjoying the budding romance between Krystin and Ord. I would have liked to see those two characters in another book. If they are, let me know. Lord Sixx was well written. He was one of those villains you just loved to hate. On the other hand, you almost feel a little sorry for the Night Parade because they lost their own world and need the apparatus to make more 'monsters'. You really understand their motivations, which helps the story.

Someone mentioned that the book felt like H.P. Lovecraft. Funny you should say that, I definitely got that vibe, but I don't think it took away from the story. It was certainly different than many FR novels, but that is what makes it interesting.

One point. At the end of the book they mention there are 2 million people in Calimport and my jaw hit the floor. I have read a decent amount of FR novels back in the day and I always got the idea the biggest cities had like 100 - 200k people. For some reason, I just couldn't get over that number. The historian in me started thinking about how big that was. Yes, I know ancient Rome had over 1 million people, and probably Constantinople, and cities in India and China, but those were the most massive and grand cities in the entire world at their time. I also thought about how much food you would need to feed that many people. Anyway, maybe someone could fill me in on population levels in FR.

Lastly, who the heck was the guy on the cover of the book? He didn't look like Lord Sixx at all. He looks like an ice genie or something. So, yea, the cover art is terrible.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
908 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2019 :  15:13:47  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The population of cities in the Realms is one of my big beefs with the editors from the 80s-2000s as it varies so widely from edition to edition. But in the early 90s, yes, Calimport was the largest city in the Realms with millions of people (bigger than Waterdeep) and dwarfed the larger cities in the "classic" Heartlands (like Suzail, Marsember, Tantras, Raven's Bluff, Saerloon, Selgaunt, Baldur's Gate, Zhentil Keep, Silvery Moon, etc which would all have been 50-150k at most). Then the next era Waterdeep was largest and Calimport would drop down in population, with no explanation. Poor continuity.

Has Ed spoken about the populations of most cities? He and Jeff Grubb wrote the amazing Forgotten Realms Adventures sourcebook which has detailed populations that make sense so I'm gonna go with that as being his vision.

I'm not sure how a 2 million person city would feed itself in an arid dessert like Calimsham was meant to be though outside of trading with the fertile lands like Tethyr, but what resources did they have to trade? I'm not sure it works but this is a fantasy land so anything is possible.
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
401 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2019 :  21:28:01  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Gylippus, we have some kind of weird mind-meld thing going on here. I had just finished The Fanged Crown, a book set in Chult at the time you finished Ring of Winter and came here to comment. Then, in my 2nd to most recent writeup of The Restless Shore I made reference to The Night Parade and lo and behold, that's the book you just finished reading! Strange things are afoot at the Circle K. Or maybe it's all just coincidence and I overthink things.

Anyhow, I recently finished The Edge of Chaos. This is the first and only Realms book by this particular author (Jak Koke) which is a shame, I'd like to see more of his work. This book took a theme I touched on in one of the Cordell works - pilgrims purposefully exposing themselves to Spellplague in the hopes of acquiring a scar that will give them amazing powers - and goes all in with it. It's sort of like playing the Ultimate Lottery - either you get fabulously rich or you are incinerated on the spot. I find it sad that the most disadvantaged members of society often turn to the most desperately unlikely means of improving their lots in life.

There were a lot of explicit and mature themes in this book, moreso than the average FR story. Koke does an excellent job of writing broken characters, the rogue Duvan who is used by various factions his entire life, Slanya the orphan with a secret so dark she can't even admit it to herself - just really interesting and deep development. I was able to call one of the big reveals, Tyrangal was obviously more than human.

But even with the interesting protagonists, something held me back from really investing in this book for the early portions of it. But the end really ramped it up by several levels. The ultimate fate of Vraith (the main baddie) was just amazingly fitting. Also one of the heroes made a sacrifice that was heart-breaking. I'm generally a fan of bleak endings as rarely do things work out nicely for everyone without major pain being endured. But every now and then I get really caught up and, despite myself, cheer for the happy Disney ending just because these guys have already experienced so much pain. But alas, it was not meant to be. And really I have to applaud the author for staying true to the story and gut-punching me, it is ultimately more memorable that way.

Up next I started RAS's The Ghost King. I read the back of the book, Bob's personal note in the beginning, and the other author's comments in the front, and it seems like something devastatingly sad is going to happen in this book. I told my wife that and she said, "IF HE KILLS GUENHWYVAR I WILL NEVER READ ANOTHER OF HIS BOOKS!" (She's only read the original Dark Elf Trilogy so far.) I know that won't be the case, as I've seen Guen on the cover of future books, but obviously something dark is going to go down in this one. No spoilers, please!

Edited by - VikingLegion on 20 Feb 2019 21:28:44
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Madpig
Learned Scribe

Finland
138 Posts

Posted - 21 Feb 2019 :  07:01:24  Show Profile Send Madpig a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

G

Up next I started RAS's The Ghost King. I read the back of the book, Bob's personal note in the beginning, and the other author's comments in the front, and it seems like something devastatingly sad is going to happen in this book. I told my wife that and she said, "IF HE KILLS GUENHWYVAR I WILL NEVER READ ANOTHER OF HIS BOOKS!" (She's only read the original Dark Elf Trilogy so far.) I know that won't be the case, as I've seen Guen on the cover of future books, but obviously something dark is going to go down in this one. No spoilers, please!




I actually do wait your thoughts about this. It has rather darker tone than many of the other RAS books. And makes some characters unusually vulnerable.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
908 Posts

Posted - 21 Feb 2019 :  13:35:37  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm torn on Ghost King - on the one hand I think it is one of my fave books Bob did - but on the other hand you can sense that he was forced to do certain things as a result of the changes to the Realms going on and I don't think he did those things particularly well (perhaps on purpose). Certainly later interviews you can tell he wasn't pleased with the direction, and unlike with Artemis being kept alive by his protests from 1st edition to 2nd edition, he wasn't able to shut down the time skip from 3rd to 4th edition and all that entails for his creations (initially anyway as well all know the Sundering and 5th edition just reboots everything).

That aside, the dark tone is kind of interesting and well done, and I do like the grim aspects of the book - it has a night of the living dead feel. Probably my fave of his books since Servant of the Shard, but I've never wanted to re-read it.
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Demzer
Senior Scribe

675 Posts

Posted - 21 Feb 2019 :  23:37:29  Show Profile Send Demzer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

I'm not sure how a 2 million person city would feed itself in an arid dessert like Calimsham was meant to be though outside of trading with the fertile lands like Tethyr, but what resources did they have to trade? I'm not sure it works but this is a fantasy land so anything is possible.



Calimshan is not a desert, it is a country that is much more extended than the Calim Desert and mostly flat, with two great rivers that keep the desert from expanding and much of the land usable. Still, Calimshan has problems to sustain it's population and that's why it imports a lot of food.

Citing Empires of the Sands: "Calimshan has a very strong trading economy, dealing with nearly every other nation in the Forgotten Realms. There are many things - magical items, exotic spices, alchemical supplies, fine horses, gems, and silk - unique to Calimshan that the rest of the Realms wants."

As for Calimport itself, the brilliant Steven E. Schend explained in the Calimport supplement the fluctuating figures for it: in a nutshell, the official census counts only land-holders as true citizens, which tops at about 200000, plus around 5 slaves per citizens which are not counted in the census, bringing the total past the million. As all trade cities of Faerun (but on steroids since it's the biggest and it's been there for around 7 millennia, although not always fully inhabited) its population ebbs and flows with the seasons and events, rising almost to the impressive 2 million figure during the summer and dipping as "low" as around 900000. As already stated, Calimshan imports a lot of food-stuff (not meat, that is plentiful) and naval trade is preferred, that's why Calimport's docks can hold up to 600 ships at any one time.

I strongly suggest reading the Empires of the Shining Sea and Calimport game supplements to really understand Calimshan. I'll not speak about comparisons to Waterdeep, I'll just say that it's easy to mistake all the attention that the City of Splendors gets with it's actual size compared to other cities of the Realms that are basically never in the spotlight.

Edited by - Demzer on 22 Feb 2019 09:24:21
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
908 Posts

Posted - 22 Feb 2019 :  10:54:18  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's just odd that population is not fragmented between land-holders and inhabitants in any other source FR material (even Thay were slaves outnumber citizens by a wide margin but the cities there were always given in comparative numbers to other large Realms cities). In my opinion only - it was just poor editing that got "fixed" with this slavecount handwave when the powers that be wanted Waterdeep to be known as the largest/most important city in the Realms and having a city be 15-20x bigger than it didn't fit with that narrative so they nerfed it back to sub 200k and never referenced millions again post 2nd edition (now down to 60k post spell plague because genies or some nonsense sigh).

I still don't think that pre-refridgeration or modern transportation that a city surrounded by desert and unable to sustain lifestock would feed 2 million humans, regardless of how much they trade (Ruha made comments about that in the Parched Sea and feeding camels). There's a reason there wasn't large-scale cities surrounded entirely by desert in real life until modern tech.

Then again - a few magical permanent portals to the plain of water or bowls of everflowing water would solve 99% of my logic problems - magic is better than technology! I don't remember references to that in those sourcebooks you mention though, which is at odds with the Parched Sea sourcebooks that tell of how the Zhents created oases in Anauroch to sustain their supply chains. Maybe the Calim desert is just less hostile than Anauroch or Calimport has fertile lands buffering it before the desert? That would make sense.


Edited by - Seravin on 22 Feb 2019 11:17:50
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Demzer
Senior Scribe

675 Posts

Posted - 23 Feb 2019 :  11:36:32  Show Profile Send Demzer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

I still don't think that pre-refridgeration or modern transportation that a city surrounded by desert and unable to sustain lifestock would feed 2 million humans, regardless of how much they trade (Ruha made comments about that in the Parched Sea and feeding camels). There's a reason there wasn't large-scale cities surrounded entirely by desert in real life until modern tech.


Again, Calimport is not surrounded by a desert, it's at the mouth of the River Calim which is the big river that by itself stops the desert from expanding. Calimshan has lots of plains that are basically used only for lifestock and horses, the biggest food imports are grains, fruits and vegetables.

Please read the sources, there is no need for funky fantasy solutions and magic that can fail, everything works fine with geography, climate and money. Obviously this doesn't mean that every slave in Calimport gets 3 full meals a day or anything like that, but there is enough to keep the population up there in the triple/quadruple digits of thousands.
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
401 Posts

Posted - 23 Feb 2019 :  13:51:56  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

It's just odd that population is not fragmented between land-holders and inhabitants in any other source FR material (even Thay were slaves outnumber citizens by a wide margin but the cities there were always given in comparative numbers to other large Realms cities). In my opinion only - it was just poor editing that got "fixed" with this slavecount handwave when the powers that be wanted Waterdeep to be known as the largest/most important city in the Realms and having a city be 15-20x bigger than it didn't fit with that narrative so they nerfed it back to sub 200k and never referenced millions again post 2nd edition (now down to 60k post spell plague because genies or some nonsense sigh).

I still don't think that pre-refridgeration or modern transportation that a city surrounded by desert and unable to sustain lifestock would feed 2 million humans, regardless of how much they trade (Ruha made comments about that in the Parched Sea and feeding camels). There's a reason there wasn't large-scale cities surrounded entirely by desert in real life until modern tech.

Then again - a few magical permanent portals to the plain of water or bowls of everflowing water would solve 99% of my logic problems - magic is better than technology! I don't remember references to that in those sourcebooks you mention though, which is at odds with the Parched Sea sourcebooks that tell of how the Zhents created oases in Anauroch to sustain their supply chains. Maybe the Calim desert is just less hostile than Anauroch or Calimport has fertile lands buffering it before the desert? That would make sense.





I haven't finished Ghost King yet, probably need 2-3 more nights, but I came across this passage which is very germane to the conversation. It comes from one of the Drizzt musings that start some of the chapters. He's contemplating what far-ranging effects this "unraveling of the Weave" will have on the world. He seems to suggest magic is used far more than I thought for mundane tasks - like preserving foodstuffs, waste and sanitation, etc.:

"Do the farmers around the larger cities of Faerun, around Waterdeep and Silverymoon, know how to manage their produce without the magical aid of the druids? Without such magical help, will they be able to meet the demands of the large populations in those cities? And that is only the top level of the problems that will arise should magic fail! Even the sewers of Waterdeep are complicated affairs, built over many generations, and aided at certain critical points, since the city has so expanded, by the power of wizards summoning elementals to help usher away the waste. Without them - what?

And what of Calimport? Regis has told me often that there are far too many people there, beyond any sensible number for which the ocean and desert could possibly provide. But the fabulously rich Pashas have supplemented their natural resources by employing mighty clerics to summon food and drink for the markets, and mighty wizards to teleport in fresh sustenance from faraway lands.

Without that aid, what chaos might ensue?


I'm not saying that to contradict you Demzer. I didn't realize there was fertile land around Calimport, that is interesting and I'm glad you shared the info. It's likely that RAS might not even be aware of that (as several of us weren't) and simply freelanced that bit about clerics summoning food, which is a no-brainer to me - a 1st level spell that can circumvent one of the largest problems any civilization faces... But even still, I think there has to be a blend of traditional and magical means to deal with a population of that size. As a person with some experience in city management, I can tell you that just the drinking water and sewage removal alone wouldn't be remotely possible for a city of 2 million utilizing Medieval technologies only. For comparison sake, early Medieval London contained 8,000 inhabitants. Later on, Renaissance level technology boosted this population to 100,000 - still only 1/20th of what Calimport is said to contain.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 23 Feb 2019 13:55:44
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
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Posted - 24 Feb 2019 :  01:47:22  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think that quite simply magic is the answer. The religions creating food every dawn or dusk and handing it out to supplicants in the hope that their religion will be boosted is a no brainer to me. Lots of mentions of magical fountains in Calimport for water. As for waste removal, I can also see waste collecting in chambers where wizards are hired to disintegrate it (or magic disintegration chambers have been created) - a 10-foot cube might not sound very big as per the spell but that'a not a bad chunk of refuse. Ed has detailed various refuse systems in his many writings, from otyughs to specialised fungi farms so there are mundane solutions also. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a huge sub-stratum under Calimport that is quite literally a vast fungi farm that processes the refuse that showers in every second. Isolated horizontally but not vertically, it would make a great adventuring place to retrieve something someone dropped down the privy hole!

-- George Krashos

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

Edited by - George Krashos on 24 Feb 2019 01:48:12
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
908 Posts

Posted - 25 Feb 2019 :  16:11:23  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

I still don't think that pre-refridgeration or modern transportation that a city surrounded by desert and unable to sustain lifestock would feed 2 million humans, regardless of how much they trade (Ruha made comments about that in the Parched Sea and feeding camels). There's a reason there wasn't large-scale cities surrounded entirely by desert in real life until modern tech.


Again, Calimport is not surrounded by a desert, it's at the mouth of the River Calim which is the big river that by itself stops the desert from expanding. Calimshan has lots of plains that are basically used only for lifestock and horses, the biggest food imports are grains, fruits and vegetables.

Please read the sources, there is no need for funky fantasy solutions and magic that can fail, everything works fine with geography, climate and money. Obviously this doesn't mean that every slave in Calimport gets 3 full meals a day or anything like that, but there is enough to keep the population up there in the triple/quadruple digits of thousands.



You're coming across condescending. Some maps seem to show the city quite far from the Calim river and it is described as being "on the desert". From this map on Candlekeep it doesn't look to reside on the mouth of the river, like Kaltar or Memnon are shown ON the river, hence my confusion:

http://www.candlekeep.com/images/gallery/yack_calimshan.jpeg

Logically the city SHOULD be based around the mouth of the river rather than dozens (hundreds) of miles away from it. Unless they don't need to be on the river, for reasons that George and Viking have pointed out (magic fountains and create food/water spells from clergy).

From the city map, the walls of the city are surrounded by desert, no where is the city shown to be actually built on the mouth of the Calim river. The novels don't talk about the river being in or near the city either, they just discuss the ocean port. Here:

https://www.worldanvil.com/uploads/maps/c6480349b3150f7eaf1ccad87bfad531.jpg

and

https://www.worldanvil.com/w/faerun-allblackz93/map/dca8fe1c-502b-4710-87ce-68ebd2bfeeb1

So you can see where references to the Calim river solving fresh water needs of a ridiculously large city is confusing. A city that size would need easy access to huge amounts of fresh water to sustain millions of people who DO need to drink daily; not including the water that would be needed to flush waste from 2 million people (I imagine they use ocean water for that, but I wouldn't want to swim in the Calimport harbour haha!).

If it is actually directly on the mouth of the river and all the city maps I've seen are wrong, then fair point, that would be fine and no magic needed as you say. But there is obviously also a lot of information/maps out there that depict the city surrounded entirely by ocean and desert that contradicts this point and points to magic use to sustain the life in the city (imagine a "funky fantasy explanation" in a fantasy setting!!).


Logistics aside, I have to say, the 2 million figure seems ludicrous relative to the size of other major Realms' capital cities.

Edited by - Seravin on 25 Feb 2019 16:54:11
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
401 Posts

Posted - 26 Feb 2019 :  00:25:45  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

I think that quite simply magic is the answer. The religions creating food every dawn or dusk and handing it out to supplicants in the hope that their religion will be boosted is a no brainer to me. Lots of mentions of magical fountains in Calimport for water. As for waste removal, I can also see waste collecting in chambers where wizards are hired to disintegrate it (or magic disintegration chambers have been created) - a 10-foot cube might not sound very big as per the spell but that'a not a bad chunk of refuse. Ed has detailed various refuse systems in his many writings, from otyughs to specialised fungi farms so there are mundane solutions also. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a huge sub-stratum under Calimport that is quite literally a vast fungi farm that processes the refuse that showers in every second. Isolated horizontally but not vertically, it would make a great adventuring place to retrieve something someone dropped down the privy hole!

-- George Krashos



I've always been partial to an activatable portal that leads to the Para-Elemental Plane of Ooze (at the confluence of Earth and Water.) Open that up for an hour a day, send everything through and let the natural conditions plus the inhabitants (Jubilex and Co.) break it all down for you :)
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VikingLegion
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USA
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Posted - 26 Feb 2019 :  00:42:48  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Ghost King last night. Catti-brie as a mage still doesn't sit well with me. Now that she's 10 years in and beyond the apprentice point... nope, still doesn't feel right.

I particularly enjoyed one of Cadderly's lines about the philosophical purpose of Spirit Soaring, and the Deneir religion in general. Rather than be tied to dogma and ritual, they continuously strive to learn and seek new knowledge. He stated, "Here the Truth is considered Divine, and not the other way around." - implying most other religions adhere to the principal of "The Divine is the Truth, so don't question it!" approach that I've always loathed.

I also really liked the scene where Ivan mentally expels the illithid from trying to dominate his mind by channeling his anger. It was very well written.

About 3/4 through the book there is one of the "Drizzt Introspections" that I've come to enjoy so much. This one was DARK! Normally they are fairly upbeat, optimistic (if not uplifting and inspiring) musings of the world and our place in it, but geez this one was heavy... RAS's notes in the beginning of the book allude to some tough times in his life (his brother passing) and how he sometimes travels down a darker road than intended. Sure seems like that was the case here.

Speaking of which... the last 20 pages or so, all hell broke loose! I liked Cadderly's astral showdown with the Ghost King, wherein he sort of becomes the new Ghost King, doomed for eternity to keep drawing that ward around the tower. Neat stuff. It didn't hit me particularly hard because he's never been a character I liked all that much. I do feel awful for Danica and the kids though. To not only lose your husband/dad, but to be able to see a spectral version of him every night walking that lonely road, and being utterly unable to reach or affect him - ouch.

As for Catti-brie and Regis, I guess I felt like they would wake up at some point from their catatonia. Those final few scenes where Mielikki ushers their souls away to her private glade while Drizzt and Bruenor wail away in anguish were really powerful. Even moreso the very final paragraph that encapsulates Regis' "sort-of" contentment in this heavenly forest, yet a vague sense of something not quite right. That last line of "for guests who never came..." was absolutely killer. I'm not afraid to admit I got just a bit choked up on that one. However, it was mitigated heavily by my suspicions that this entire scene is simply to put the lesser-lived races (human and halfling) into a sort of stasis where they can be retrieved later by a grieving, angry, and darker Drizzt/Bruenor 100 years later when RAS has finished transitioning to the new FR timeline.

Lastly, Pwent and Athrogate hitting it off as buddies has me equal parts amused and groaning in frustration.


Up next, back to the Wilds series for Mel Odom's Wrath of the Blue Lady.
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
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Posted - 03 Mar 2019 :  13:17:12  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Wrath of the Blue Lady. This book was ok, but nothing amazing. We get another monk protagonist, there seems to have been an abundance of those lately. Normally that is something I would cheer for, the monk class has always been my favorite all the way back to AD&D, but there certainly has been a glut of them recently. This book has yet another odd resemblance to the Cordell series in that an evil eladrin is the antagonist.

We finally get a halfway decent explanation of the Abeir/Toril merger, but I still wasn't 100% sure if the eladrin's transplanted lair came from Abeir or the Feywild. There was some funny interactions between Shang Li (the main character) and his cantankerous father - the two clearly love each other yet seem to enjoy nothing more than needling and getting under each other's skin. They gather up a ragtag crew of misfits - a tiefling rogue, a dragonborn paladin, a "cursed" ship's mage, etc. and embark to recover a magical tome before the eladrin can translate its secrets and expand her empire. As I said, it was an ok story, but not one I'll be thinking about much down the road. This book was absolutely LOADED with typos - 3 or 4 per chapter, and they were glaring (and distracting.) Also we see the trope of a totally contrived weapon upgrade right before taking on the big bad. That always strikes me as ludicrous, particularly when the fighter in question uses a specifically exotic weapon type, and then finds an incredibly powerful version of this rare weapon just before the final encounter.

But, it was a decent story with somewhat interesting characters. Not Odom's best work, but it was readable. Up next I've started on Mark Sehestedt's Chosen of Nandewen Trilogy with book 1: The Fall of Highwatch. I really enjoyed the vibe of his previous works, so here's to hoping I have a good series coming up.
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gylippus
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Posted - 05 Mar 2019 :  01:34:43  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished The Parched Sea tonight. This is one of those stories that moves along well, is fairly satisfying, but if you ask me about it a year from now I'll only remember the characters of Lander and Ruha. That's not a knock against the book or Denning, there's just nothing amazingly good or glaringly bad about this novel. It's just a story that effectively tells a tale without a whole lot of frills or extras. Being that I knew very little about this region (other than in the days of Netheril) this was a good book to give me some insight into Anauroch and the Bedine people.

The last ~10 pages felt very rushed, as though the author let the page count get a little bit away from him, and then realized he only had a small amount of time to wrap it all up. Other than that, no significant complaints. It was a good start to the Harpers
series, one which I will continue on with for the meantime. Next up is book 2: Elfshadow by Elaine Cunningham - who I have heard nothing but tremendous praise for, so I'm fighting the tendency to get over-hyped for this book.



Sorry to bring up your old posts but I just finished this and the ending really irritated me. I really liked Lander and I felt like he deserved something better than a stupid poison dagger. In fact, I skipped ahead at some point and saw Lander die then threw it in a corner for a week until I gutted it out today. I agree the end was rushed. It seemed like Yekhal died super easy. I would feel better if Ruha went on a quest in a future book to ressurect Lander, but doesn’t seem like that happens. In the end it has a Lawrence of Arabia vibe, but not in a bad way. Ok, Red Magic up next.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
908 Posts

Posted - 05 Mar 2019 :  08:23:05  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Nice hearing your thoughts Gylippus. I feel like the author Denning wrote himself in a corner with the Lander vision and it would have been actually a good twist if Ruha learned she COULD defeat her fate/visions when it came to Lander, rather than just accepting her visions as something she could never change. That would actually have made a neat story with a lesson for the reader and Ruha. And kept Lander alive to show her some of the Dales and Semiba.

The second Ruha book is...well..interesting. Definitely mixed reactions towards the Shou accents written in the book. Lander's name comes up a few times and it's clear that Ruha didn't get over him at least. They do dracoliches properly in that book which is one of the first times that's been done in the Realms. They should be near impossible to kill permanently due to the phylactery but for some reason Ed's Spellfire books completely ignore this core concept of what a Dracolich is. Sigh.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 05 Mar 2019 :  10:12:12  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

They should be near impossible to kill permanently due to the phylactery but for some reason Ed's Spellfire books completely ignore this core concept of what a Dracolich is. Sigh.



I'm fairly certain Ed wouldn't have ignored this core concept of something he created... It's been stated, more than once, that the editorial axe bit very deeply into Spellfire -- a third of the book or more was cut out.

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