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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
416 Posts

Posted - 30 Jun 2019 :  12:51:07  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Neverwinter. After the last two RAS books being somewhat less enjoyable than what I'm accustomed to, this one was a bit of a bounceback. I'm still not on board with Dahlia, I think that's my biggest point of contention. But I'm not sure if it's as simple as I just don't like the character, or if I don't like her because she's *not* Wulfgar/Cattie-brie/Bruenor/Regis. I experienced a similar issue reading the Dragonlance line of books. After reading so many novels centered around the iconic Heroes of the Lance (Tanis, Sturm, Caramon, Raistlin, etc.) they were eventually phased out and the setting experienced a time jump. Not 100 years like FR (that was WAY too much), but about 20 years, so several of the original characters were still alive, but the mantle had been passed to their children.

It just wasn't the same.

It's a nearly impossible ask of any author to strike gold twice, with two different casts. I think that's why RAS tried to preserve several of his characters through the time jump, particularly Barrabus/Artemis in this story. I found myself oddly enjoying the Entreri + Drizzt relationship in this book, I don't know if it was nostalgia or the evolution of Artemis' character, but it really worked for me, even if it was just a tiny bit forced or contrived. I also really enjoyed seeing all the various factions lining up, there are a lot of players in this one: the Shadovar and tieflings with Artemis. On the other side you have the Thayan forces, bolstered by the Ashmadai and their hellish legions. Valindra the lich also works for their purposes but is a bit of a wildcard. Now the Abolethic Sovereignty has dipped a tentacle into the fray. Lastly you have Drizzt and Dahlia sort of mucking around on both sides. It's making for an interesting weave of shifting alliances and betrayals.

I really liked how Jestry was transformed by the aboleths in that "Weapon X" process wherein he had umber hulk hide magically infused to his body like an exoskeleton. A tad comic-booky, but I thought it was very cool. Effron, the deformed warlock, HAS to be the son of Alegni and Dahlia I'm guessing. All the pieces fit to that puzzle, and I'm waiting for the big reveal probably in the next book.

Some more allegorical writing by RAS early on, this on simple farmer folk forced into banditry:
"What rights, what proper recourse, for those who have not, when those who have keep all?" If I'm not reading too much into a simple line, that's almost certainly a shot at the egregious wealth discrepancies we see in our everyday life. I don't know how others feel when he makes statements like this, but I enjoy it, particularly his shots against racism and organized religion. Some may say he should just stick to fantasy land stuff, but in my experience allegory has long played an enormous role in every fictional sub-genre, so I have no problem with it.

Up next, I've started on Erin M. Evans Brimstone Angels. Just 60 or so pages deep so far, but I think I'm in for a real treat.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
919 Posts

Posted - 30 Jun 2019 :  16:57:37  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Erin Evans novels are good stuff; although for some reason I found myself losing interest in the 2nd or 3rd book. But I mean to get back to that series as I really like Erin as a person (in interviews she is so nice and humble and lovely) and I think she "gets" the classc feel of the Grubb/Greenwood Realms while also adding elements of hell and devils that are a bit out there.

Neverwinter was an "okay" book, by this point I just wanted the Companions back and Dhalia to go away.
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
416 Posts

Posted - 07 Jul 2019 :  12:54:28  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Brimstone Angels yesterday.
I know I've mentioned this personal story before, but it was one of my best book scores of all time, so I'll self-indulgently repeat it :)

A quick search for this book shows two copies around $40, but after that it jumps up to ~$60, $85, $126, etc. I don't know why this particular book (the first in the Brimstone Angels line, the rest are more reasonable) is valued so high. But back when I was trying to acquire it about a year ago, the absolute cheapest copy at that time was OVER $200! Then, while rooting around in the basement of a local used books seller about 20 minutes from where I work, I happened across a copy of it! I opened the front cover and saw in pencil $3.50. I rushed up to the register (along with a handful of 7 or 8 other nice finds) and the owner started ringing it all up. He told me that next week he's doing a week-long 50% sale off everything in the store, and asked if I wanted to put all this stuff back and return then for the discount. I smiled and said, "Nah, it's ok I'll just pay full price now, I don't mind." I was fairly giddy walking back to the car, explaining to my wife what just went down. I searched online for this book for SO long and never could find a copy that was even close to reasonably priced. I long despaired against ever getting one, wondering if it would be the only hole in the collection. That spot has since been taken by a different book, but that's a story for another time.

Ok, on to the actual review... I've liked everything I've read from Erin M Evans thus far, but I think that's only been 1 novel and 1, maybe 2 short stories. I feel like this book brought her to another level. The character development is exquisite. Sometimes I can go through an entire novel and feel like I still only know the protagonist(s) in a superficial manner. Other times (usually in an Elaine Cunningham tale), I can read just a few pages and already start to form a solid idea of their fears, wants, motivations. Erin definitely falls into the latter camp; I rarely see character development to this degree or quality.

I'm surprised (and pleased) by the somewhat risque content of this book. I've always wondered how the publisher feels about it, and if they or the editor try to steer the author into a more washed down, kid-friendly version. Erin pushes the boundary, which I enjoy. Oddly enough though, she does mix in some of the Realms-specific coded curse words that annoy me so much in the Greenwood novels. But then she takes it a step further and came up with a slew of new ones like karshoji, pothac, and henish. For some reason they don't bother me nearly as much as stlarn, tluin, hrast, and the like. Most likely because they aren't so cumbersome off the tongue, but also because they are coming from a dragonborn and two tieflings - so I can easily imagine they are just substituting Draconic or Infernal for the Common tongue. /Tangent ON: that's what makes Ed's weird made-up swears even stranger to me. It's not like the characters in the books are speaking English as we know it anyway. It's all in an alien language none of us know, translated into English for our purposes. So really the only purpose of stlarn and the others is so EG can throw out a BOATLOAD of pseudo curses to bypass the publisher and make his books feel more adult than they are. /Tangent OFF

I really enjoy Lorcan the cambion. You know he's awful, but at the same time he's somewhat charming, like a Danilo Thann gone over to the Darkside. Farideh is also fun to read. Even though I can't personally attest to what it's like being a coltish, smitten teen-age girl, Erin does such a masterful job of showing Farideh's odd combination awkwardness, embarassment, ambition/burning need to prove her self. It was a brilliant move to give her a twin sister that excels at martial excersises, making Farideh even more desperate and eager to seek approval - first from their adoptive dragonborn father, and later her warlock patron.

I don't love the 4th edition ending of the iconic Blood War between devils and demons, and the transformation of succubi from the tanar'ri side to the baatezu. Some things should just be left alone. On the other hand, the original erinyes and succubi were too similar, so I can at least understand the thought process behind a re-imagining of these creatures. Succubi do seem to be more of a patient, subtle corrupter of souls as opposed to the rage-fiend demons, so maybe that's why they got ported over to the devil's side during the Ascension. But all this is stuff that wasn't Erin's decision, so ultimately doesn't impact my evaluation of her work, which was consistently excellent. Much like Neverwinter this book had a wild array of factions vying for power. I have to assume that was encouraged as a way of making more potential plot hooks for the upcoming video game.

There was a moment of levity for me when Havilar was trying to come up with a fancy sounding name for her glaive. At one point she considered Justice or Cutter, but turned them down as "bad and worse". This made me chuckle a bit, as I had created a magical longsword named Justice for my home D&D campaign that was awarded to the Priest of Tyr. Also Cutter is the nickname RAS uses for Khazid'hea, was that an ultra-subtle dig at Bob? Or mere coincidence? Either way, I was amused.

This was a very strong book and I look forward to the continuation of this story. Up next, I will take a brief break from Forgotten Realms to read a non-FR book I'm pretty excited about. I will return to this project with Venom In Her Veins right after that.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 07 Jul 2019 12:58:48
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Arannis
Acolyte

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 07 Jul 2019 :  16:42:08  Show Profile Send Arannis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have to say that the Brimstone Angels books are one of my favorites. I believe the reason the brimstone angels books are so expensive, correct me if I am wrong, is because her series came towards then end of WotC publishing new novels, so there are fewer copies of the books out there. The whole supply and demand thing. That's what I have heard anyway.
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Zeromaru X
Master of Realmslore

Colombia
1339 Posts

Posted - 07 Jul 2019 :  18:12:15  Show Profile Send Zeromaru X a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion


I don't love the 4th edition ending of the iconic Blood War between devils and demons, and the transformation of succubi from the tanar'ri side to the baatezu.



You should read the whole series, then. Though, to be fair, 4e didn't actually ended it. It put in a cold war phase. I don't know why they said it was ended in the FRCG, but the Brimstone Angels series makes this a good plot to explore.

Long ago, in the distant past, they fell into decay. The philosopher’s path... The river of glory... Even the saints resting in the darkness rise up without response and block the way...
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