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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 25 Sep 2015 :  17:38:34  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I didn't dislike The Veiled Dragon when I last read it, but that's been a very long time... What bugs me more, though, is the way Denning just keeps reusing the same characters -- particular Malik -- over and over and over again. I was very bothered by his appearance in Denning's Sundering book; it felt like he was included simply for the sake of including him.

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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 26 Sep 2015 :  05:02:11  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Parched Sea I thought was a good book, told a fine story and explored a new part of the Realms for me with a new culture. It felt like Horselords to me in some ways with the real world culture adapted to the Realms (nomadic Bedine desert tribes versus nomadic Mongolian type steppes tribes). Unfortunately, the next Ruha book The Veiled Dragon was...one of the worst books in the Harper series if not the Forgotten Realms series. The last chapter of The Parched Sea was definitely rushed, I agree. I wish it ended with Ruha and Lander in Sembia and the next book with Ruha had them together fighting the Sembian Cult of the Dragon cells. Sigh.

Hope you like Elfshadow.



Interesting, I had thought this was a "one-and-done" story, I didn't realize I'd be seeing more of Ruha later down the road. Though based on your review I don't have a whole lot to look forward to. I see that it is book 12 in the Harpers series, so I won't get to that for a very long time, as I will probably just read these a few at a time, interspersed with other series. Thanks for the tip though.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
30212 Posts

Posted - 26 Sep 2015 :  05:25:01  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ruha also shows up in Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad, and in the Return of the Archwizards trilogy. And Malik is in those, too.

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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 02 Oct 2015 :  18:54:24  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Elfshadow last night. This was a very good book. I wanted it to be a great one, but a few small glitches kept it from hitting that lofty mark. I see this is her first foray into the Realms, and first novel overall. She had a few kinks to work out, and it showed. Still, I can already see why Elaine Cunningham is so well liked and respected, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.

I'm surprised at how much I enjoy the character of Danilo Thann. Normally I have a very short leash for silliness or buffoonery (see any post I've made regarding Grubb/Novak books) but because I know Dan is a shrewd, perceptive, intelligent person underneath the foolishness, it makes the act immensely fun. I'm not sure what to make of Elaith Craulnober yet, but my guess is I'll be seeing a whole lot more of him in books to come.

Tomorrow I will start the next in the series: Red Magic.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 08 Oct 2015 16:55:49
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 08 Oct 2015 :  17:11:01  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Last night I finished Red Magic. This is the lone entry in the Forgotten Realms by Jean Rabe, but I've read a bunch of her Dragonlance work not all that long ago.

I'm convinced she has a secondary hobby in the fashion industry, because every character she writes - regardless of race, class, or gender - is absolutely obsessed with clothing. The first thing any of her characters do upon reaching a new town or city is go clothes shopping. I noticed this initially in her Dragons of a New Age trilogy, then again in the Dhamon Saga. And now, in Red Magic we have a centaur and two humans (one being a druid that cares nothing for civilization or its conventions) immediately hitting the tailor as soon as they arrive in Amruthar. I chuckled a bit and said "Wow, that is so Rabey..." Every book she writes could be trimmed by about 30 pages if she didn't go into exhaustive detail over the character's outfits - color schemes, fabric and texture descriptions....

Other than that, this was a fairly average story, much like Parched Sea. To her credit, she did make me feel a strong revulsion for Maligor, the BBEG. I mentioned way back in the original post that wildlife and environmental conservation resonates deeply with me, and to see how this red wizard so callously tortures the trapped animals for his own sick, twisted ends (mainly in the creation of his darkenbeasts), and the deplorable conditions he kept them in, got me invested in the story. So his eventual defeat, while fairly predictable, was still quite satisfying.

I had a big problem with Galvin wildshaping himself into a darkenbeast to fit in with the flock. This is a druid turning himself into an utter abomination/corruption of nature. Putting game mechanics aside, even if he could get over his revulsion over such a vile form, I don't think he could physically make the transformation.

Well that finishes everything up to 1991 except for Canticle, but I really don't want to start a quintet that will carry all the way into 1994 just now. So instead I'll continue to pick around it, continuing with the Harpers series. Tonight I'll start The Night Parade.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 08 Oct 2015 17:14:12
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
792 Posts

Posted - 08 Oct 2015 :  18:46:50  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
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.
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Firestorm
Senior Scribe

Canada
799 Posts

Posted - 08 Oct 2015 :  19:44:28  Show Profile Send Firestorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Elfshadow last night. This was a very good book. I wanted it to be a great one, but a few small glitches kept it from hitting that lofty mark. I see this is her first foray into the Realms, and first novel overall. She had a few kinks to work out, and it showed. Still, I can already see why Elaine Cunningham is so well liked and respected, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.

I'm surprised at how much I enjoy the character of Danilo Thann. Normally I have a very short leash for silliness or buffoonery (see any post I've made regarding Grubb/Novak books) but because I know Dan is a shrewd, perceptive, intelligent person underneath the foolishness, it makes the act immensely fun. I'm not sure what to make of Elaith Craulnober yet, but my guess is I'll be seeing a whole lot more of him in books to come.

Tomorrow I will start the next in the series: Red Magic.



I once Likened Danilo Thann to Richard Castle, while Arilyn comes off as Kate Beckett lol.

Elaith Craulnober is my favorite realms character.

That book to me was a quintessential realms book. Usage of landmarks and NPC's as secondary characters to help move the story and the realms along was perfect.

Even minor characters like Jannaxil Serpentil were featured in the old 2.e Waterdeep guides. But the days of people reading DnD sourcebooks by the ton and being happy seeing NPC's in novels they have read about in Sourcebooks is a thing of the past I am afraid :(

Since late 90's, I find you only get character write up's after they have already been introduced in novels now instead of vice versa

Edited by - Firestorm on 08 Oct 2015 19:50:06
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Hyperion
Seeker

18 Posts

Posted - 09 Oct 2015 :  12:05:00  Show Profile Send Hyperion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi VikingLegion and all. I'm doing almost the same thing you're doing, reading or re-reading all the FR novels in chronological order. Me too had read several books in the past but I'm now starting over.
I've begun reading for the first time the Moonshae trilogy too and liked it mostly for the reason you said, yet I found it a bit lacking in character developments. Several characters should have received more space and description, like Kevren, Tavish, Fiona, Alexei. I liked Newt a lot but often the Moonshae in the books feel too much like a draft, as they were at the time. I plan to start another thread confronting the books with the FR supplement, which seems to have more details.
Next, I've read for the first time Azure Bond and the other two books of the trilogy. I liked Alias, the Saurials and Olive very much and I'd love to read more books on them, but I think only Finder appears in subsequent books (which I haven't read yet). I like Grubb's style and I even liked Giogi, even if the second book is probably the weaker of the trilogy.
Next, I've read (for the second time) Shandril's saga. Ed Greenwood wrote in the past that the books were heavily butchered by editors and the third one did not even had the ending he wanted, and I think that can be seen. In general however, while I like Ed Greenwood's books, I feel that often his plots lack a planned development and seem too much like a long streak of D&D fights. The major weakness of the plot however, as others have pointed out, is that there is no apparent reason why Elminster did not teleport Shandril and Narm to Silverymoon, sparing them the dangerous journey.
The trilogy however has a lot of gems, like the rage of Manshoon for the death of the Shadowsil, the story of Shandril's parents, Fzoul and much more. I think it would make a great FR movie, with the right script.
Now I'm reading, almost finished, the Avatar trilogy. I'll write my considerations in another post.
I'll tackle R.A Salvatore first six books after that.
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Hyperion
Seeker

18 Posts

Posted - 13 Oct 2015 :  09:12:11  Show Profile Send Hyperion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Finished the Avatar trilogy yesterday.
I liked all the three books. I've already read them 25 years ago and I was now surprised on how much I remembered them well.
I'm not fully convinced by Cyric's story arc. I think his irritation and then hatred toward his companion is well grounded. Kelemvor, Midnight and Adon are often insufferable hypocrites. Midnight and Adon marvelling that Cyric had to shed blood to free them? Come on, he should have left you to the hangman! Yet if I can understand some acts of cruelty by Cyric, as toward Yarbro in Tantras, I think it was a bit out of character for him to go fully sadistic, as in the torture and murder of halfling prisoners. I think his journey to the Dark Side could have been done a little better. Yet the trilogy has the best Realms characters among the books I've read so far, undoubtedly.
Now I'm reading Homeland and that's another favorite Realms book which I read many years ago. It's really good, I think it touches an universal literary topic, coming of age in a highly competitive society that forces you to adapt to it and is merciless with your shortcomings. I guess that applies almost just as well to Menzoberranzan as to our modern Western society, and that's the reason why the book is so interesting, IMO.
While I've read almost all the others Salvatore books too, I think he never again reaches the quality level of this book...

Edited by - Hyperion on 13 Oct 2015 09:14:33
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Cards77
Senior Scribe

USA
549 Posts

Posted - 15 Oct 2015 :  03:07:41  Show Profile Send Cards77 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Elfshadow last night. This was a very good book. She had a few kinks to work out, and it showed.



Such as??
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
792 Posts

Posted - 15 Oct 2015 :  04:02:06  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hyperion

Finished the Avatar trilogy yesterday.
I Yet the trilogy has the best Realms characters among the books I've read so far, undoubtedly.



WOW, again, to each their own, but I thought the 4 main characters in the Avatar trilogy were pretty awful, mostly because of the numerous authors who created the books. I find the best characters are owned by one author who "gets" them. And Adon, Midnight, Cyric, and Kelemvor never felt very real or fleshed out to me.

Especially compared to characters like Jarlaxle, Artemis, Alias, Giogi, Arilyn, Khelben (I could go on, basically I find a lot of characters better written than the Avatar trilogy "heroes", undoubtedly).

But I love hearing about your experiences with re-reading the books regardless!
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 15 Oct 2015 :  04:21:54  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
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.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 15 Oct 2015 :  04:56:11  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cards77

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Elfshadow last night. This was a very good book. She had a few kinks to work out, and it showed.



Such as??



DISCLAIMER: these are minor nitpicks at most, and I found the story to be very good overall, so don't read too much into that statement. I was perusing Cunningham's personal site a bit before writing that, mainly to see how many Realms novels she has written, and I ran across an interesting blurb where she talks about Elfshadow being her first book, and that she made "several mistakes" and learned from them. While she didn't go into specifics of those mistakes, I derived my own meaning from it - which is probably WAY wrong, but here goes:

The prevalence of D&D mechanics. Some stories are written where you can almost hear a d20 rattling around in the background. A specific example is her repeatedly saying how Arilyn "detected the secret door due to her inherent powers as an Elf." Ouch, it's like she lifted that directly out of a Players Handbook and pasted into her story. She uses this line (or some minor variant of it) several times in the story.

I've never viewed an Elf's bonus to find secret doors as some kind of magical alarm system or a glowing neon sign saying "SECRET DOOR IS HERE -->" blinking above the passage, but rather chalked it up to their superior senses subconsciously alerting them when something seems amiss - perhaps their excellent hearing or tactile sense can pick up on minor variations in air flow, or their incredible eyesight detects a tiny hint of light leaking through a crack. I know it's two ways of essentially conveying the same information to the reader, but one feels much more polished to me. Consider the following two sentences:

"Bruenor was wounded by the poison-coated arrow, but since he's a Dwarf with a strong constitution and a racial resistance to such attacks, was able to continue fighting."

"Bruenor was wounded by the poison-coated arrow, but being as tough and rugged as the stone his people mine from the ground, refused to give in to the pain."


The first example sounds like someone who just read a text or manual and is trying to "fit in" with the world they are writing in, whereas the second clearly is paying homage to those rules and mechanics, but in a more flavorful way that doesn't evoke imagery of 5 nerds (and I use that term with only the most glowing of endearments) sitting around a table with Doritos and Mountain Dew. I'm hoping that in subsequent novels Elaine becomes more comfortable with the underlying game and world, and these things fade away. Again I'll reiterate it's a minor gripe on my part, certainly not enough to derail a fine story, but prevalent enough for me to take notice. Yes, I know I'm a PITA and tend to focus on silly things. Sorry...


Edited by - VikingLegion on 15 Oct 2015 05:02:25
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 15 Oct 2015 :  05:47:07  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ok, I also finished The Ring of Winter last night. It started off a little strange - something like a mix of Indiana Jones and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It had a very obvious and concerted "British" vibe to it, especially in the character of Pontifax and several others in the Society of Stalwart Adventurers. I thought it was going to get a little too goofy, but it ended up turning much more serious (and deadly) once they reached Chult. I would've liked to have seen the captain of the Narwhal explained a bit more. She appeared as a pretty, somewhat demure young woman, but then morphed into this scaly, demonic, raging.... thing when angered. She was killed during the dragon turtle attack before I could find out what she actually was.

The talking wombats, complete with cockney accents, were particularly painful to read, and I tried my hardest to ignore them completely. The pretty (relatively speaking) goblin princess M'bobo with the gorgeous flowing blonde locks was an odd stylistic choice as well. She had some parallels to the previously mentioned Captain Bawr. I guess Lowder really likes female leaders that look small, dainty, and "cute" but hide sadistic, psycho killer personalities underneath their good looks, as he used essentially the same character twice. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with it.

I really liked the "paladins of Ubtao", particularly the zombie lord, though his part could've used some expanding on. It felt like he was inserted last minute and didn't get enough screen time to really develop. Also, passing Ubtao's test, while clever, was over in a heartbeat. There was a TON of subtle (and not so subtle) tie-ins to other novels, characters, and regions of the Realms (particularly the Horselords Trilogy), as though the author felt the need to "name drop" as much as possible to link this story to other goings-on in the Realms - even mentioning how Artus once rented an apartment from a fletcher named Razor John, and so forth.

All things considered it was a decent story, on par with The Parched Sea and similar novels of that quality. I was very surprised to see Artus Cimber retain the titular Ring of Winter though. I figured such a massively overpowered artifact would necessitate him painfully having to give it up or risk being seduced. Yet he mentions at the end how he wants to use it for the forces of good, leading me to believe I may see more of this character in future stories.

I've since started in on Pools of Darkness.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 15 Oct 2015 05:50:25
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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USA
30212 Posts

Posted - 15 Oct 2015 :  06:02:18  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Razor John and Artus both come from the pen of the same author.

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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
792 Posts

Posted - 15 Oct 2015 :  15:12:34  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
The talking wombats, complete with cockney accents, were particularly painful to read, and I tried my hardest to ignore them completely.

You think we never agree on anything? We TOTALLY agree on that. I loved Ring of Winter, but the wombats were a really odd ingredient to add. I would have liked it if they had been gnomes or dwarves. Especially if it had been bearded dwarvish sisters...that would have been neat.

Artus retaining the ring pretty much guaranteed he wouldn't get another novel because...he's become a demi-god of sorts. Immortal and so powerful he could pretty much wipe out most of the bad guys without a thought. Zhentil Keep? Now it's frozen in a solid block of ice. Thay? Ditto. I really enjoyed the Undead leading paladin as well, would have loved to see more of him. If Ubtao let him keep his powers, he must not be a truly evil or bad person, just misunderstood. His old Heartlands-style mansion on the giant tortoise was a very neat touch.

For The Night Parade, I guess I like my fantasy to be less dark and more fun wizards and dragons. It was just too dark for my tastes and didn't feel like any other Realms book (until the Undead series I guess from the transition of 3rd-4th edition which I HATED).

I'm sorry you have to read Pools of Darkness. I am worried your brain might melt at the dialogue of the bad guys in the book. Try to get past that if you can as I really did like some of the good-guy characters (undead paladin, wizard obsessed with pools with cat-man familiar, druid siblings).



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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 17 Oct 2015 :  05:10:24  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin
I'm sorry you have to read Pools of Darkness. I am worried your brain might melt at the dialogue of the bad guys in the book.


Ha! I was sorry too, but such is the price of being a completionist I guess. I said I was going to read every novel, so.... The good news is I had a very low bar going into this one, so I was able to chuckle through much of the absurdity. Here's a quick excerpt:

"Bane, redeemer, boss, exalted one, you gotta get tough with those bums. You got the power. You got the magic. You just gotta make 'em notice you."

I don't even know where to start. That was on page 2, so the tone was set immediately. Every "minion" in the book speaks like this, and every BBEG cackles maniacally while delivering lines directly from a 1950's comic book villain. And why did the pit fiend have a bizarre compulsion to shout his name in reverse at the end of every sentence [Latenat!]? I shouldn't critique too harshly, after all they are published authors and I am not, but wow this story is a mess.

On the hero side, I really liked Miltiades (though some of his speeches approached the same level of cheesiness as the villains), and since I'm a sucker for anything feline, Gamaliel was a big hit for me. The rest were so-so. The druid cousins were ok, I liked Talenthia just fine, Andoralson's specialization in illusion magic (split class wizard/druid???) was a bit of a head-scratcher. Evaine did little for me, but her familiar was cool. And the 3 original heroes are cardboard cutouts and poorly developed. Tarl and Shal Bal (I still can't believe that's her name) are boring and lifeless, and Ren O' The Blade is one of the most confusing, contradictory characters I've ever come across, just terrible writing.

But it's not all bad. The action is nearly non-stop, as the characters in both Phlan and on the surface come across a menagerie of monsters faster than I can flip through a Monster Manual. It's a bit like a Michael Bay movie. If I just turn my mind off and enjoy the senseless explosions, I could derive a modicum of entertainment from it.

I was curious about one point brought up early; they mention that it's fashionable for many mages, particularly in this region (which I took to mean the Moonsea area) to modify all of their spells that have a visual component with a "signature color". So all of Shal Bal's spells (still makes me laugh) come out purple, whether it's a magic missile, lightning bolt, or fireball, whereas Evaine's all have a green tint. Is this something brought up in other novels or sourcebooks? I don't recall seeing it anywhere, but it's an interesting concept.

It's now time to start in on the Cleric Quintet, so I can officially wrap up 1991. I'll begin Canticle tomorrow.
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Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2950 Posts

Posted - 17 Oct 2015 :  10:44:24  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Glad too see that more people than me enjoy The Night Parade. Probably among my two or three favorites and the small number that feels like the Realms I use in gaming.

I don't agree with you about the wombats though, its the best idea since aggressive ducks and slave driving intelligent tapirs.

No Canon, more stories, more Realms.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 21 Oct 2015 :  04:36:35  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Canticle a couple nights ago. I had the exact same feelings as I did when I originally read it ~20 years ago - I wanted to like it much more than I actually did.

Cadderly is a strange protagonist. With his magic flashlight, yo-yo weapon, cane that transforms into a blowgun, and drow-inspired crossbow with exploding darts, he comes off a bit goofy (obviously intentional). All he needed were some roller skates and a boxing glove on a spring to complete the grown-up Data from The Goonies theme. It's a RAS book, so of course he is a prodigy - with his eidetic memory (first we have Drizzt the physical wunderkind, now Cadderly his mental counterpart). And I liked his boyish immaturity and lack of reverence - allowing for obvious growth of the character. But do we have to read another character that is so horrendously tormented by being forced to take a sentient life?

I'm not saying I want him to be a callous killer type, like Wolverine or Punisher, but his angst (and sometimes Drizzt's) swings much too far in the opposite direction. I've started in on the second book before writing this and Cadderly is still moping about taking Barjin's life weeks after the fact. First of all, he didn't even do it on purpose, he fired an explosive dart at the mummy and it passed through and hit Barjin in the chest. Second, and more importantly, this is a guy that is a ruthless killer in his own rite, plotted the downfall of the entire region, caused a great deal of chaos and death within the Edificant Library - Cadderly's home, just got done brutally bludgeoning Newander into a grease stain right in front of you, and is about to murder you, your girlfriend, and the Bouldershoulder brothers if not stopped. As far as justified killings go, that's got to be one.

Danica is my favorite character by far. The monk/martial artist theme is one I enjoy very much, but don't see a whole lot of in primarily Western European based fantasy. I'm hoping to see her skills continually improve over the course of this quintet. I like Pikel, for reasons I can't explain. It runs contrary to everything I've stated in this entire thread regarding "silly" characters. There were some awful writing moments though - like Pikel running in place, pumping his legs while preparing to ram into a wall - very cartoonish. And there was a dreadful line about Danica throwing one of her daggers at a ghoul:

"To the lead ghoul, the coming dagger probably seemed like no more than a sliver, flickering as it spun in the dim torchlight. Then the creature got the point, as the dagger buried itself to the hilt in its eye."

Oh no RAS.... that pun... say it ain't so....

But all in all this was a decent book. I wanted it to be more but that doesn't make it a bad story. As mentioned I've since started in on In Sylvan Shadows, roughly 100 pages in and enjoying it quite a bit more than the first.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 21 Oct 2015 04:37:06
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Firestorm
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Canada
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Posted - 21 Oct 2015 :  20:11:04  Show Profile Send Firestorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Canticle a couple nights ago. I had the exact same feelings as I did when I originally read it ~20 years ago - I wanted to like it much more than I actually did.

Cadderly is a strange protagonist. With his magic flashlight, yo-yo weapon, cane that transforms into a blowgun, and drow-inspired crossbow with exploding darts, he comes off a bit goofy (obviously intentional). All he needed were some roller skates and a boxing glove on a spring to complete the grown-up Data from The Goonies theme. It's a RAS book, so of course he is a prodigy - with his eidetic memory (first we have Drizzt the physical wunderkind, now Cadderly his mental counterpart). And I liked his boyish immaturity and lack of reverence - allowing for obvious growth of the character. But do we have to read another character that is so horrendously tormented by being forced to take a sentient life?

I'm not saying I want him to be a callous killer type, like Wolverine or Punisher, but his angst (and sometimes Drizzt's) swings much too far in the opposite direction. I've started in on the second book before writing this and Cadderly is still moping about taking Barjin's life weeks after the fact. First of all, he didn't even do it on purpose, he fired an explosive dart at the mummy and it passed through and hit Barjin in the chest. Second, and more importantly, this is a guy that is a ruthless killer in his own rite, plotted the downfall of the entire region, caused a great deal of chaos and death within the Edificant Library - Cadderly's home, just got done brutally bludgeoning Newander into a grease stain right in front of you, and is about to murder you, your girlfriend, and the Bouldershoulder brothers if not stopped. As far as justified killings go, that's got to be one.

Danica is my favorite character by far. The monk/martial artist theme is one I enjoy very much, but don't see a whole lot of in primarily Western European based fantasy. I'm hoping to see her skills continually improve over the course of this quintet. I like Pikel, for reasons I can't explain. It runs contrary to everything I've stated in this entire thread regarding "silly" characters. There were some awful writing moments though - like Pikel running in place, pumping his legs while preparing to ram into a wall - very cartoonish. And there was a dreadful line about Danica throwing one of her daggers at a ghoul:

"To the lead ghoul, the coming dagger probably seemed like no more than a sliver, flickering as it spun in the dim torchlight. Then the creature got the point, as the dagger buried itself to the hilt in its eye."

Oh no RAS.... that pun... say it ain't so....

But all in all this was a decent book. I wanted it to be more but that doesn't make it a bad story. As mentioned I've since started in on In Sylvan Shadows, roughly 100 pages in and enjoying it quite a bit more than the first.


Book 2 is probably my favorite in that series
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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 21 Oct 2015 :  22:05:11  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Books 2, 3 and 4 were all good (3 probably the best but I liked 4 because dragons!). I really didn't like the Chaos Curse book 5.
Bob wanted to write the series about a monk, but they made him do a cleric series, so he slid Danica in, even though 2nd edition rules didn't have a monk class (at least initially) which is probably why he wasn't allowed to write about monks.
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Firestorm
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Canada
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Posted - 21 Oct 2015 :  22:17:34  Show Profile Send Firestorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Books 2, 3 and 4 were all good (3 probably the best but I liked 4 because dragons!). I really didn't like the Chaos Curse book 5.
Bob wanted to write the series about a monk, but they made him do a cleric series, so he slid Danica in, even though 2nd edition rules didn't have a monk class (at least initially) which is probably why he wasn't allowed to write about monks.


They were always a bit backwards with their rules and didn't think things through logically.
Exec "You have to kill off Artemis Entreri! The assassin class no longer exists"
Bob: "He's not an assassin. He's a rogue that kills for money"
Exec: "hmmm. I guess that works"
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 22 Oct 2015 :  16:16:58  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Firestorm
They were always a bit backwards with their rules and didn't think things through logically.
Exec "You have to kill off Artemis Entreri! The assassin class no longer exists"
Bob: "He's not an assassin. He's a rogue that kills for money"
Exec: "hmmm. I guess that works"



I saw Bob at a speaking engagement a month or two ago and he seemed to want to steer the conversation away from Drizzt/WotC and more towards his Demon Wars material, which he has more (full?) control over. It has to be incredibly frustrating to any author to have a corporate suit (with little or even no writing experience) hanging over your head, dictating what you can and cannot do.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 23 Oct 2015 :  15:47:35  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished In Sylvan Shadows last night. I enjoyed this one quite a bit more than the first. Cadderly is starting to grow up (still a bit mopey) and Danica - the star of the show for me - is really starting to develop her techniques. I particularly liked when she was stabbed in the shoulder and poisoned by Druzil, but was able to fight it off. Rather than just say "and then she used her monk ability to resist the poison", Bob instead went into great detail in how Danica retreated into herself, envisioned the poison as a foreign invader and the wound in her shoulder as an exit door, and then utilized her muscular system and blood flow to coax it out of her body. That's the exact kind of "flavor text" I was talking about in my earlier post regarding Elaine Cunningham, and I hope she develops this better in her subsequent books.

Aside from Cadderly and Danica, the story itself was just much better. While the whole "defense of a magical elven forest against marauding orc-kin" isn't exactly original, and the awakening of the trees might even cause some comparisons to Tolkein's Treebeard and the Ents, it was still pulled off very well.

Tomorrow I will begin Night Masks
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Seravin
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Canada
792 Posts

Posted - 23 Oct 2015 :  15:49:29  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Night Masks is a really well done story in my opinion. Bob has said the villain that book is one of his favorite ever. I particularly enjoyed the character of Vander. Cadderly's growth in books 2-3-4 is enjoyable; too bad about book 5!
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