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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
792 Posts

Posted - 08 Jun 2016 :  17:42:04  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I never read about anyone finding it rude to ask your religion on the Realms...that's interesting. But if true, Ruha didn't know because she asks Tombor what god to thank when he heals her, and he gives non-answers. I don't know, I like it when the twist is not something so on the nose; a priest of Mask COULD lie about his religion if directly asked and that would have been fine. The reader shouldn't have to be tipped off about Tombor so obviously, it makes it seem like the reader is way smarter than the heroes (outside of Ruha) and that bugs me. Because I don't think people become rulers and Harper heroes by being stupid and ignorant of evil in their midst that makes NO attempt to hide itself.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
271 Posts

Posted - 12 Jun 2016 :  05:45:28  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well I finished Dangerous Games the other night. It's mostly more of the same odd style - bizarre words and now I've noticed the author seems enamored with pairing up rhyming verbs. The vase shattered and clattered to the floor. The dragon huffed and puffed a gout of flame. Sunbright bled and fled the scene. In book 1 he used the term "scooched" at least a dozen times. In book 2 he's replaced this with "spanked" and "hams" (as in the backs of the thighs or thighs/buttocks) Two weapons clashing a parry spanked off each other. The crossbow bolt spanked off the floor and careened wildly. The elf "spanked Sunbright through the opening into semi-darkness, then shoved his hams from behind to keep him moving." [That last one is a direct quote] I challenge anyone here to read this book and find a run of 5 consecutive pages where he doesn't update us on what the asses of the characters are doing. Every fight has someone taking an arrow in the rump, or being knocked "on their hams" or "flexing their buttocks to break the hold". It's just utterly bizarre, like he made a game of how many backside references he could fit into one book.

I don't know a ton about Karsus, other than the well-known stuff - that he used heavy magic and 10th level spells and tried to cast his infamous Avatar spell. So this was my first exposure to the man behind the story. Emery writes him as a total crazy-pants - filthy dirty, unkempt hair that he tears out in patches while blathering on between topics like Brad Pitt in 12 monkeys, clapping his hands in delight while watching people die horribly, throwing temper tantrums if he's interrupted or doesn't get his way - just your stereotypical wingnut/man-child. As I said I don't know if there's official lore to support this version, but it didn't work for me, much like Marc Anthony's "cackling old madman" Halaster in Escape from Undermountain. If anyone with better knowledge of Karsus can chime in, that would be much appreciated. I see him as a megalomaniac, of course, but way more in control of himself - meticulous and methodical, not stark-raving loony.

On the plus side there were a few really enjoyable moments. The despicable fops and dandies prowling around Karsus Enclave, preying on the less fortunate and using their money/connections to elude any trouble, gave me this great "Clockwork Orange" vibe. I really enjoyed that scene and it did a fine job of showcasing the decadence and rot of the empire. Also there was a terrific fight scene between Sunbright and some mages in a library or similar building where he just goes off and slaughters them. It was so viciously written it felt like a Tarantino flick. It was nice to see him really cut loose. Lastly, I liked his "Wounded Healer" vision quest/shamanic transformation. That scene really worked for me, though it was a shame that after an initial expenditure/burst of power he wasn't able to retain more of it.

Ok that's all. I've since started in on the finale, Dangerous Games

Edited by - VikingLegion on 12 Jun 2016 05:47:22
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
30201 Posts

Posted - 12 Jun 2016 :  15:49:53  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I was not a fan of that trilogy, myself.

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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
4883 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2016 :  11:07:44  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The best insight into Karsus is a glimpse provided by Ed in "The Temptation of Elminster".

-- George Krashos

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

USA
271 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2016 :  06:56:06  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Mortal Consequences tonight, thus ending the Netheril Trilogy. As before, more odd words abound - maunder, raddled, stippled, humping (not in that sense, but rather as a form of locomotion for some beasts), gigging, and higgledy-piggledy. I mentioned in a previous post how I don't feel the author has a strong grip on the D&D world when he continually crossed lower planar fiends with the undead. He continued that trend in this book when explaining the general upheaval and state of the land and its various races/factions by stating "the trolls burned down their own forests". C'mon... there is not a troll alive that would use fire as a weapon or tool, it's pretty much the ONLY thing they fear.

In the epilogue there is mention of the Rengarth Barbarians eventually becoming the....???? at which point it gets cut off. I'm no FR ethnic historian, do they merge their racial stock with the Northmen and the Beorunni to become the Uthgardt?

I've been fairly harsh on this series. I guess I was hoping for much more Netheril from something called the Netheril Trilogy. Instead it focused far, far more on a fairly uninteresting barbarian tribe, with only book 2 really spending a significant amount of time on the Empire of Magic. Karsus was also a huge disappointment for me. Lastly, the much-mentioned strange writing style of this author - it frequently had a nails-on-chalkboard effect on me, I just couldn't get over it. Even still, this series was leagues better than abominations like Once Around the Realms or the "Pools" series, so I should temper my critique a bit.

Up next in my order is Silver Shadows which I plan to start tomorrow night.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 14 Jun 2016 07:02:59
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BenN
Learned Scribe

Japan
338 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2016 :  07:21:14  Show Profile Send BenN a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion
IUp next in my order is Silver Shadows which I plan to start tomorrow night.

You're in for a treat; this is one of my favourite FR novels.
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dazzlerdal
Great Reader

United Kingdom
3463 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2016 :  10:17:27  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes the Rengarth do form part of the ancestry of the uthgardt.
The cultural similarities between the uthgardt and rengarth are many so i reckon they formed the majority of the initial rengarth and beorunni fusion.

I believe the story goes that the bey of tunlatha rescued the low netherese of runlatha and led them through the low road west to thr savage frontier.
Here they likely encountered and merged with the rengarth barbarians that fled west separately during the Fall.

I cant quite recall when uthgar and his northmen appeared on the scene but i think it was many centuries later at which point the rengarth and low netherese would be one people.

Uthgar likely conquered/united the beorungardt tribes behind his banner and added a smattering of northmen into the mix (and the raiding tendencies).

Of course i have a few minor problems with those scenarios that i will attempt to address at some point. The cataclysmic nature of the Fall leaves us a lot of room for canon manoeuvre and interpretation because it was the realmsian equivalent of the fall of Rome and loss of civilisation (and history).
Thus i'd view anything about netheril as interpretation only rather than absolute canon. For instance i would make karsus a man driven mad by responsibility and his own ego, unable to cope with his failure to save the world which led him towards tyranny and desperation, rather than raving madman.

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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
271 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2016 :  05:07:54  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dazzlerdal

Thus i'd view anything about netheril as interpretation only rather than absolute canon. For instance i would make karsus a man driven mad by responsibility and his own ego, unable to cope with his failure to save the world which led him towards tyranny and desperation, rather than raving madman.



I cannot agree more with that interpretation of Karsus over what we got in the Netheril Trilogy.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
271 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2016 :  05:28:26  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BenN

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion
IUp next in my order is Silver Shadows which I plan to start tomorrow night.

You're in for a treat; this is one of my favourite FR novels.



I can see why, it was terrific. I didn't know a thing about the lythari before this novel, but I really liked what I saw. She also helped me get a much better picture on Tethyr - an area I've never really had much of a grasp of. Elaine's characters seem so much more vivid and deeply developed to me than those of, well just about any other author in the FR stable at this point (I'm about halfway through 1996). She's equally adept at dialogue, intrigue, combat, lore - there just doesn't seem to be a weakness in her game.

That said, the character of Jill the dwarf was a miss for me. It wasn't anything against his unusual name or the comedic value he brought to the story. He just seemed to come out of nowhere and was a bit of a one-trick pony - like some 11th hour insertion of a Bouldershoulder Brothers mash-up character. Also, all the work to bring back Zoastria didn't have a whole lot of payout, as she failed to make it through even one battle. I mean, I get that she served her purpose by inspiring the forest elves by her presence alone, and it was a necessary device to transfer the moonblade away (and then back to) Arilyn, so she did what she was created to do. I just thought her screen time after being thawed out from the carbonite was a bit unimpressive. But I'm really picking hard to find these nits, because this book was mostly outstanding.

I had a really funny thought while reading the scene where Arilyn sleeps with Foxfire. At first I thought "You can't do that, we all know you're supposed to end up with Dan!" But then I realized how, as a male, I usually see the male protagonist sleep his way around a bit (either he is coerced, or tricked by the evil sorceress in disguise, or charmed by a love potion, etc.) before finally ending up with his lady love by the end of the story. So I guess it is eminently fair that Ms. Cunningham turns the gender tables on this tradition. Good on you Arilyn, for getting a little action on the side :)

Ok, enough of that. Up next I believe is Cormyr: A Novel.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 19 Jun 2016 05:31:09
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
30201 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2016 :  18:10:55  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I had a really funny thought while reading the scene where Arilyn sleeps with Foxfire. At first I thought "You can't do that, we all know you're supposed to end up with Dan!" But then I realized how, as a male, I usually see the male protagonist sleep his way around a bit (either he is coerced, or tricked by the evil sorceress in disguise, or charmed by a love potion, etc.) before finally ending up with his lady love by the end of the story. So I guess it is eminently fair that Ms. Cunningham turns the gender tables on this tradition. Good on you Arilyn, for getting a little action on the side :)



I don't see it as Arilyn sleeping around, since she wasn't really in a relationship with Danilo, as she herself perceived it.

She knew, intellectually, that Danilo was interested in her, but she was not in a place in her own life to accept that. Arilyn had always seen herself as an elf, but had been rejected and made aware she was different by the same elves she wanted to be accepted by. Foxfire accepted her as an elf, but he also realized she wasn't an elf, and accepted that about her, as well. Other events in the book helped, but its was Foxfire that enabled Arilyn to finally accept who she was. And it was only when she was comfortable with herself that she could accept Danilo's affection.

Before that, Danilo was like a coworker who had a one-sided crush. She liked him, she trusted him, she respected him -- but she just didn't think of him the same way he thought of her.

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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 19 Jun 2016 18:12:07
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
792 Posts

Posted - 20 Jun 2016 :  03:40:07  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My shock was that Foxfire was her first ever lover. I guess I get it, but my Arilyn was a dark and gritty "good" assasin who had some one off flings in her career but never let anyone get emotionally close. A 40 year old virgin assassin who has all kinds of contacts in the seedy underbellies just felt off to me... I was surprised.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
271 Posts

Posted - 20 Jun 2016 :  04:16:15  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert


I don't see it as Arilyn sleeping around, since she wasn't really in a relationship with Danilo, as she herself perceived it.

She knew, intellectually, that Danilo was interested in her, but she was not in a place in her own life to accept that. Arilyn had always seen herself as an elf, but had been rejected and made aware she was different by the same elves she wanted to be accepted by. Foxfire accepted her as an elf, but he also realized she wasn't an elf, and accepted that about her, as well. Other events in the book helped, but its was Foxfire that enabled Arilyn to finally accept who she was. And it was only when she was comfortable with herself that she could accept Danilo's affection.

Before that, Danilo was like a coworker who had a one-sided crush. She liked him, she trusted him, she respected him -- but she just didn't think of him the same way he thought of her.



Everything you say is spot on. I wasn't thinking about it so much from an in-universe Arilyn perspective, but rather more of a meta-analysis that the guy heroes tend to get several chances to sew their wild oats before settling down with the princess, but female protagonists, not necessarily. So I can't refute your logic, I was more giving a mental fist-bump to Elaine for letting her female hero have a little fun.

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

My shock was that Foxfire was her first ever lover. I guess I get it, but my Arilyn was a dark and gritty "good" assasin who had some one off flings in her career but never let anyone get emotionally close. A 40 year old virgin assassin who has all kinds of contacts in the seedy underbellies just felt off to me... I was surprised.



No kidding! When Foxfire said "But you were a maiden still before Midsummer" I did a bit of a double take and had to re-read the line. Though never specifically mentioned, I just sort of assumed she "blew off some steam" from time to time, especially after completing a particularly dangerous or exhilarating Harper mission.

I view fantasy worlds as not being chock-full of adventurers around every corner. I think of adventurers as being the elite, like our own top-level athletes, movie stars, musicians, etc. And when these types cross paths there are bound to be some incidental "hook-ups". I'm not saying I thought of Arilyn as a floozy or easy, but geez Elminster gets laid every 12 pages, by goddesses no less. So good on Arilyn for having a fling.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
30201 Posts

Posted - 20 Jun 2016 :  12:45:58  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

My shock was that Foxfire was her first ever lover. I guess I get it, but my Arilyn was a dark and gritty "good" assasin who had some one off flings in her career but never let anyone get emotionally close. A 40 year old virgin assassin who has all kinds of contacts in the seedy underbellies just felt off to me... I was surprised.



Keep in mind, as a half-elf, she was more the equivalent of a 25 year old human.

And until she was out on her own, she was surrounded by those who simply wouldn't accept her. So by the time she was out there earning a reputation as someone to not cross swords with, she was already emotially closed off.

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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
792 Posts

Posted - 20 Jun 2016 :  13:25:15  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I 100% get emotionally closed off--Arilyn is super tough, but I guess being a man myself...we get these urges that have nothing to do with emotions :) That's why I couldn't relate to the whole seedy-assassin virgin business. On the whole it's Elaine's character and I can get by why Arilyn wouldn't go "release steam" as Viking Legion put it. I was also initially surprised at her being a virgin because I had misread her relationship with a ranger in the first book as being a former lover (he was assassinated but the book clarifies that Arilyn let people THINK they were former lovers but really just friends).
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Cards77
Senior Scribe

USA
549 Posts

Posted - 24 Jun 2016 :  16:07:21  Show Profile Send Cards77 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Well I finished Dangerous Games the other night. It's mostly more of the same odd style - bizarre words and now I've noticed the author seems enamored with pairing up rhyming verbs. The vase shattered and clattered to the floor. The dragon huffed and puffed a gout of flame. Sunbright bled and fled the scene. In book 1 he used the term "scooched" at least a dozen times. In book 2 he's replaced this with "spanked" and "hams" (as in the backs of the thighs or thighs/buttocks) Two weapons clashing a parry spanked off each other. The crossbow bolt spanked off the floor and careened wildly. The elf "spanked Sunbright through the opening into semi-darkness, then shoved his hams from behind to keep him moving." [That last one is a direct quote] I challenge anyone here to read this book and find a run of 5 consecutive pages where he doesn't update us on what the asses of the characters are doing. Every fight has someone taking an arrow in the rump, or being knocked "on their hams" or "flexing their buttocks to break the hold". It's just utterly bizarre, like he made a game of how many backside references he could fit into one book.

I don't know a ton about Karsus, other than the well-known stuff - that he used heavy magic and 10th level spells and tried to cast his infamous Avatar spell. So this was my first exposure to the man behind the story. Emery writes him as a total crazy-pants - filthy dirty, unkempt hair that he tears out in patches while blathering on between topics like Brad Pitt in 12 monkeys, clapping his hands in delight while watching people die horribly, throwing temper tantrums if he's interrupted or doesn't get his way - just your stereotypical wingnut/man-child. As I said I don't know if there's official lore to support this version, but it didn't work for me, much like Marc Anthony's "cackling old madman" Halaster in Escape from Undermountain. If anyone with better knowledge of Karsus can chime in, that would be much appreciated. I see him as a megalomaniac, of course, but way more in control of himself - meticulous and methodical, not stark-raving loony.

On the plus side there were a few really enjoyable moments. The despicable fops and dandies prowling around Karsus Enclave, preying on the less fortunate and using their money/connections to elude any trouble, gave me this great "Clockwork Orange" vibe. I really enjoyed that scene and it did a fine job of showcasing the decadence and rot of the empire. Also there was a terrific fight scene between Sunbright and some mages in a library or similar building where he just goes off and slaughters them. It was so viciously written it felt like a Tarantino flick. It was nice to see him really cut loose. Lastly, I liked his "Wounded Healer" vision quest/shamanic transformation. That scene really worked for me, though it was a shame that after an initial expenditure/burst of power he wasn't able to retain more of it.

Ok that's all. I've since started in on the finale, Dangerous Games



This is why only Troy Denning "the Destroyer of Worlds" should be allowed to write major world changing novels such as these.


He's far and away the best author ever at writing RSE's and world shaking events.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
271 Posts

Posted - 28 Jun 2016 :  03:29:16  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Cormyr: A Novel tonight. I was filled with trepidation upon starting this book. As I've mentioned in previous reviews, I find Greenwood's frenetic writing style to be somewhat hard to follow at times, and I've not been shy about my dislike for Grubb's authoring when he descends too far into goofiness.

But a strange thing happened with this book....

It's like both authors cancelled out in each other those exact traits that don't work for me. Somehow Grubb reined in Greenwood's scattershot to a more focused approach, while simultaneously Greenwood curbed Grubb's tendencies for foolishness. There were still moments where each of their signatures shine through, to be sure. But for the most part this book was pretty terrific. Would it be too effusive to say this is one of the more indispensable masterpieces of Realms lore?

At first I didn't like the skipping around in time periods. I thought a straight chronological approach would've been better. But I was wrong. It would've built up a history for 50% of the book and then turned over entirely to the 1369DR storyline for the rest of the way. Nope, interspersing the chapters was definitely the way to go. And while I enjoyed the "current" storyline (I say that about a book that is 20 years old, proving how out of date I am!), it was the historical chapters I found absolutely riveting. My particular favorite was Galaghard's fight against the Witch Lords, with Othorion Keove and his elven host showing up just in time to save the day - just epic, majestic, Tolkeinesque writing in this chapter, I was smiling the whole time.

I was struck, forcibly and repeatedly, by some absolutely eerie coincidences between this book and A Game of Thrones - the first of GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire series - so much so that I had to look up the publishing dates of each. Both books were initially published in 1996, with Cormyr edging out GoT by a mere month - July for Ed, August for George. With that excruciatingly small a gap, there's simply no way possible either book could've influenced the other. That said, here are a few I managed to jot down:

I can't seem to figure out the syntax for a bullet list....

* Azoun's father is Rhighaerd, while the Targaryens have a Prince Rhaegar.
* Both books have a character specifically named the Kingslayer -Jorunhast the mage, predecessor to Vangerdahast slays Salembar the regent, and of course Jaime Lannister kills Aerys Targaryen.
* Speaking of Aerys, he is known by the moniker "The Mad King", as was Boldovar Obarskyr.
* Both the Red Keep in King's Landing and Orbarskyr Castle contain a dungeon filled with old dragon skulls.
* Vangerdahast - a crafty, chubby, scheming man who constantly mutters the phrase "for the good of the realm" reminded me so much of Varys throughout this book (the fact they both start with "V" made it even more forceful). But then, on page 180 of my hardcover edition he refers to himself as "some sort of spider that tugged their father this way and that". At that point I put the book down for a bit and said, "c'mon.... someone is messing with me...".
* I didn't realize all the Obarskyrs were such players. Azoun IV's constant wenching and having "50 some-odd bastards spread around Suzail" couldn't help but draw comparisons to Robert Baratheon and his brood. This made the Red Wizardess's big reveal of birthing a son of royal blood not dissimilar to the "Gendry" storyline in GoT.
* On the subject of the Red Wizardess, I just read her name as Melisandre, the Red Lady :P
* 2 kings are severely wounded on a hunting trip that is compromised by treachery. Ok so a boar is no abraxus - magical/clockwork, poison wielding golden bull construct - so I had to reach a bit on that one.
* GoT has the Iron Throne - a chair forged from 1,000 blades of conquered lords given up as a sign of fealty. Obarskyr Castle has something called The Sword Portal: "Most folk in Suzail had stood before those massive double doors at least once in their lives, gaping at the armor plate that sheathed the thick timbers. Everyone in the city knew that the door was as thick as a brawny man's forearm, and everyone in the realm knew what the thick tangle of welded-on swords that covered both doors were: the captured blades of "foes of the Crown"".

Again, eerie similarities. With such close publication dates I can't say there's any kind of funny business going on here, I just thought there were enough of these little moments to make it worth mentioning.

For the first time in almost 5 years I'm going to take a slight break from TSR/WotC books (having finished every Planescape, Dark Sun, Ravenloft, Dragonlance book, and now the first decade of FR books) and read a book called Ready Player One, as I've heard some good things about it. After that brief interlude I will resume my Realms attack with Passage to Dawn, so there might be a little while before the next update.






Edited by - VikingLegion on 28 Jun 2016 04:01:53
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
271 Posts

Posted - 09 Jul 2016 :  02:56:06  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's off topic to this thread (and forum), but for those wondering, Ready Player One was absurdly good - maybe the most fun I've had reading a book in.... ever? If you are somewhere around 40 years old, have a love of 80s geek culture - cartoons, video games, movies, D&D, etc. you owe it to yourself to read this book. Bonus points if you've ever played an old-school MMO like Everquest.

Moving on, I finished Passage to Dawn a few days ago. I usually try to write these the night I finish, but didn't get around to it this time, so it's not as fresh in my mind. I didn't love the whole witch/prophesy thing. I don't know if he was going for some kind of ode to The Odyssey, I just didn't care for it. The story overall was ok, but definitely the least enjoyable of the "Drizzt and Friends" books. Also, for the first time we see his Icewind Dale characters linking up with his Cleric Quintet characters. Cattie-brie missed not once, but twice with her magical bow in the same book! This was definitely noteworthy to me, as I cannot recall a single time before that she didn't devastate her target with Taulmaril.

Since then I've started in on Mage in the Iron Mask with no small amount of trepidation, based on the author.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
271 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2016 :  03:56:51  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Finished Mage in the Iron Mask last night and was mildly (emphasis on mild) pleased. This was undoubtedly only because I put myself in the mindset that it would be an utter abomination like Once Around the Realms, so by setting the bar ultra-low I was pleasantly surprised to find this was only a bad book, not an excruciating one.

Then again, the author just couldn't resist inserting some of his trademark idiocy - like a fellow named Seau Raisis that suffers from a terribly itchy skin condition, which can only be cured by a cleric named Oleigh that comes up with a special healing oil to apply (Oil of Oleigh, ugh...) Why does he do that? Does anyone find it witty, clever, or funny? I'm sure there were several more such gems that eluded me, I really only gave about 20% effort as I half-read/half-skimmed this book. Still, as I said earlier, it wasn't nearly as bad as OAtR, so for that I suppose I should give it some small amount of credit. I sincerely hope this is the last of the Volo/Passepout offerings, though I'm too scared to look it up and be disheartened if there are more.

I've since started in on Murder in Halruua
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
271 Posts

Posted - 21 Jul 2016 :  21:41:41  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Murder in Halruaa last night. It was an odd book. I actually would've liked to have seen quite a bit more exposition on Halruaa, it wasn't until near the very end when they board one of the famed skyships that it really felt like it was anything but a story that could've been plopped down in any generic fantasy setting. At 249 pages this was a pretty sparse read. The story had some decent twists and turns, as to be expected from a murder mystery, but it was also filled with a prevalence of goofy puns based on the name of the main character - Pryce Covington (the Pryce is right, that's the Pryce you have to pay) - every time he spoke I pictured that guy on CSI putting his sunglasses on. There were also a boatload of minor characters introduced, mostly I guess to seed the field with plenty of suspects. None of them had much impact for me, in fact I think I blended a few of them together. All told it wasn't a bad book, just not one I'd highly recommend.

Tonight I'll start in on Stormlight.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
271 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2016 :  05:49:13  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Finished Stormlight last night, it was an odd and interesting book. Just on the off chance I didn't realize it was an Ed G story, he made sure to open up with Storm chopping wood on her farm in the early morning wearing only boots, gloves, and nothing else but a fine sheen of sweat. That's so Greenwood...

While doing other chores on her farm it she carries a tree to mend a hole in her fence. The tree is described as being: "as long as three horses, and weighed almost as much". Ok, some super quick interweb searches tell me the average adult horse is 1,102 pounds, making three of them 3.3k. An equally quick and lazy search of "car weights" shows me a 2012 Toyota Camry as weighing 3,190 pounds. Ok, I know the Chosen of Mystra must get some significant passive stat boosts, but Storm can carry a midsize Sedan on her shoulders across her farm? Granted it said she was puffing with effort, but wow I had no idea she was so physically powerful. How would she ever lose a swordfight? Even if her opponent manages to parry, she would turn his arms, shoulders, ribs to jelly with bone-shattering force on every strike, blocked or not.

***EDIT***
***Just got back from rushing my cat to the vet ER and am too tired/dispirited to finish this write-up now. Maybe tomorrow.***

Well, insomnia being what it is, I guess I might as well finish this up now, since there's no way I'm getting any sleep tonight:

I liked the overall feel and vibe of this book. Being trapped in a castle with a shape-shifting killing machine that slowly picks off one person after another and absorbs their skills and memories gave it more of a horror theme - like Aliens or better yet, John Carpenter's The Thing.

There was a subplot towards the end that made almost no sense to me. Some magical rod is discovered by one of the war wizards and he inadvertently releases the soul of a dead dragon - Dendeirmerdammarar. Ye gods, some of the dragon names in FR.... I swear I didn't make that one up. Anyway, The Foe appears to assimilate the dragon, gaining fiery breath, yet a few pages later we see the draconic ghost flying away towards Suzail to wreak vengeance on Amedehast, the first royal wizard that imprisoned it centuries ago. Vangerdahast, through long range crystal ball scrying, then manages to somehow reduce the ghost back into a small trinket, which then plummets to the earth - disaster avoided. This whole tangent seemed completely incongruous and unnecessary to the rest of the tale, I just don't know why it was there.

Also Storm got a bit comic booky/video gamey towards the end, using her silver fire to "blast off" into the air and perform some kind of crash down Street Fighter kick to the enemy's chest. Other than that and the absurdly high body count (the foe slaughtered more armsmen than could've possibly fit in that keep), this was a pretty interesting and exciting read. I've found the last two Greenwoods to be quite enjoyable, moreso than the earlier Spellfire material.

Up next I go back to the Nobles series for The Council of Blades.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 26 Jul 2016 08:02:04
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Firestorm
Senior Scribe

Canada
799 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2016 :  22:47:40  Show Profile Send Firestorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Cormyr: A Novel tonight. I was filled with trepidation upon starting this book. As I've mentioned in previous reviews, I find Greenwood's frenetic writing style to be somewhat hard to follow at times, and I've not been shy about my dislike for Grubb's authoring when he descends too far into goofiness.

But a strange thing happened with this book....

It's like both authors cancelled out in each other those exact traits that don't work for me. Somehow Grubb reined in Greenwood's scattershot to a more focused approach, while simultaneously Greenwood curbed Grubb's tendencies for foolishness. There were still moments where each of their signatures shine through, to be sure. But for the most part this book was pretty terrific. Would it be too effusive to say this is one of the more indispensable masterpieces of Realms lore?

At first I didn't like the skipping around in time periods. I thought a straight chronological approach would've been better. But I was wrong. It would've built up a history for 50% of the book and then turned over entirely to the 1369DR storyline for the rest of the way. Nope, interspersing the chapters was definitely the way to go. And while I enjoyed the "current" storyline (I say that about a book that is 20 years old, proving how out of date I am!), it was the historical chapters I found absolutely riveting. My particular favorite was Galaghard's fight against the Witch Lords, with Othorion Keove and his elven host showing up just in time to save the day - just epic, majestic, Tolkeinesque writing in this chapter, I was smiling the whole time.

I was struck, forcibly and repeatedly, by some absolutely eerie coincidences between this book and A Game of Thrones - the first of GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire series - so much so that I had to look up the publishing dates of each. Both books were initially published in 1996, with Cormyr edging out GoT by a mere month - July for Ed, August for George. With that excruciatingly small a gap, there's simply no way possible either book could've influenced the other. That said, here are a few I managed to jot down:

I can't seem to figure out the syntax for a bullet list....

* Azoun's father is Rhighaerd, while the Targaryens have a Prince Rhaegar.
* Both books have a character specifically named the Kingslayer -Jorunhast the mage, predecessor to Vangerdahast slays Salembar the regent, and of course Jaime Lannister kills Aerys Targaryen.
* Speaking of Aerys, he is known by the moniker "The Mad King", as was Boldovar Obarskyr.
* Both the Red Keep in King's Landing and Orbarskyr Castle contain a dungeon filled with old dragon skulls.
* Vangerdahast - a crafty, chubby, scheming man who constantly mutters the phrase "for the good of the realm" reminded me so much of Varys throughout this book (the fact they both start with "V" made it even more forceful). But then, on page 180 of my hardcover edition he refers to himself as "some sort of spider that tugged their father this way and that". At that point I put the book down for a bit and said, "c'mon.... someone is messing with me...".
* I didn't realize all the Obarskyrs were such players. Azoun IV's constant wenching and having "50 some-odd bastards spread around Suzail" couldn't help but draw comparisons to Robert Baratheon and his brood. This made the Red Wizardess's big reveal of birthing a son of royal blood not dissimilar to the "Gendry" storyline in GoT.
* On the subject of the Red Wizardess, I just read her name as Melisandre, the Red Lady :P
* 2 kings are severely wounded on a hunting trip that is compromised by treachery. Ok so a boar is no abraxus - magical/clockwork, poison wielding golden bull construct - so I had to reach a bit on that one.
* GoT has the Iron Throne - a chair forged from 1,000 blades of conquered lords given up as a sign of fealty. Obarskyr Castle has something called The Sword Portal: "Most folk in Suzail had stood before those massive double doors at least once in their lives, gaping at the armor plate that sheathed the thick timbers. Everyone in the city knew that the door was as thick as a brawny man's forearm, and everyone in the realm knew what the thick tangle of welded-on swords that covered both doors were: the captured blades of "foes of the Crown"".

Again, eerie similarities. With such close publication dates I can't say there's any kind of funny business going on here, I just thought there were enough of these little moments to make it worth mentioning.

For the first time in almost 5 years I'm going to take a slight break from TSR/WotC books (having finished every Planescape, Dark Sun, Ravenloft, Dragonlance book, and now the first decade of FR books) and read a book called Ready Player One, as I've heard some good things about it. After that brief interlude I will resume my Realms attack with Passage to Dawn, so there might be a little while before the next update.









Finally!

glad you enjoyed it, even if I think you are crazy for not liking otherGrubb
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BrianDavion
Seeker

71 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2016 :  23:06:26  Show Profile Send BrianDavion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
regarding the minor similarities between GOT and cormyr, could it be both Ed and GRRM where inspired by the same sources? perhaps a historical kingdom or something?
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Adhriva
Learned Scribe

USA
133 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2016 :  23:55:55  Show Profile  Visit Adhriva's Homepage  Send Adhriva an AOL message  Send Adhriva a Yahoo! Message Send Adhriva a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BrianDavion

regarding the minor similarities between GOT and cormyr, could it be both Ed and GRRM where inspired by the same sources? perhaps a historical kingdom or something?

That would be, atleast as the most significant influence (but far from the only one), The War of the Roses.

Professional illustrator and comic book artist.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
271 Posts

Posted - 02 Aug 2016 :  18:37:34  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Council of Blades several days ago but had a week from hell and never got on here to talk about it. I'm guessing it won't engender a whole lot of conversation anyway, so no big deal. I found it to be a rather odd book, and found this scroll on Candlekeep from back in 2006 that mirrors my thoughts exactly:

http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6422

The "Renaissance Italy" feel of the book seemed completely incongruous to me. Also there was a whole lot of silliness, mainly from the firebird, but also some of the caricature-like characters (the mother-in-law foremost). I think if this was a standalone book in an undefined fantasy world it might've been more enjoyable to me. The story wasn't awful, and when left to the military aspects I thought the writer did a very good job. It was the other supporting chapters that fell a bit flat, and the fact that it felt like a fish out of water when viewed as a Realms product.

I've since started in on Finder's Bane and am already about 2/3 of the way through it.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 02 Aug 2016 18:38:23
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
792 Posts

Posted - 03 Aug 2016 :  03:30:14  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Finder's Bane is a neat book to me. I hope you enjoy it.
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