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gylippus
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Posted - 15 Mar 2019 :  01:57:33  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
So, I finally started my own thread. I am reading Forgotten Realms novels mostly in order, but it just depends on what strikes my interest at any given point in time.

I just finished 'Crypt of the Shadowking' by Mark Anthony, the 6th book in the Harper series.

First off, wow! I really, really enjoyed this book. It was a joy to read and never felt like a chore, like some of the other books I have slogged through. Apparently, this is Mark Anthony's first book as sole author and he did a fantastic job. The characters are memorable and the plot has a few layers that make it more than a point A to B book.

Caledan - He is the main character, a former harper and a bard. I kind of got a Han Solo vibe from him, but he was different enough to keep my interest. On the other hand, I always thought bards could cast spells. Yes, he does some shadow magic at the end, but he doesn't cast anything else the entire book. According to the wiki he is a level 9 bard (2e). So what makes him a bard and not just a fighter that plays an instrument?

Mari - The love interest, but also an independent character with her own personality. I like the fact she is not the 'traditional' beauty or damsel in distress.

Tyveris - Definitely one of my favorite characters. It is cool to see a Tabaxi from Chult in the book. Although I really got more of a feeling he was like a Samoan rather than a slender native of Chult. It was nice to see a mix of a monk/priest with a warrior. I also couldn't help but think of Cadderly, since he is also a disciple of Oghma.

Ferret - His character was a bit of a stereotype, but he sacrificed himself for the party and was very noble in the end.

The only small complaint I have is that the shadevar seemed very much like a Nazgul. I couldn't help but think how the Nazgul couldn't follow Frodo into Rivendell because Glorfindel caused the river to magically sweep them away. There was a very similar scene in the book, when they cross a river to flee the shadevar. Still, it is a minor quibble with an otherwise great book.

I think there is a sequel to this book so now I have to go find it on eBay. Plus, it would be interesting to know if there is more material that covers shadow magic.

Edited by - gylippus on 15 Mar 2019 02:00:31

Seravin
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Posted - 15 Mar 2019 :  19:10:08  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So my nitpick on this book that has nothing to do with the author is the Shadow/shade/shadowmaster/etc overuse in the Realms. We have the Maulgrym, that are from the plane of shadow, shapeshifters who are mortal enemies of the chosen..then there are the Shade, the wizards of Netheril from the city of Shade that moved to the plane of shadow to avoid disaster then came back and are completely overused from 3rd edition onwards ruining Sembia and other aspects of the Realms (Tilverton? Ordulin?), then there is the Shadowking and the Shadevar, completely unrelated to the above two...and we also have Shar and all things Shar does that involve Shadow including the Shadow Weave.

Mix in some Drow and it's emo paradise! I doubt Mark Anthony was aware of any of the above when he wrote this as the Maulgrym were cut from Spellfire and not really mentioned and the other shadow aspects didn't come out until 3rd edition onwards (Shar was barely in the early editions FR material and novels).

So this is not Mark Anthony's fault - it just gets very confusing in retrospect to have unrelated Shadevar, Shadowmasters, Shadowkings, and Shade And Shade Princes all in the same shared universe going on. In my opinion :)

I love the two Shadowking books, and I think Shadevar are quite interesting in their depiction. When this novel came out we hadn't seen Peter Jackson's LOTR movies so I think resemblance to the Nazgul from the movies can be excused, although if you're referencing Tolkien's creations from the book I can understand that as well. They seem much more brutal than Nazgul to me, just silent, deadly unstoppable killers. Great villains and concepts, and quite an inovative way to kill them.

My big beef with the over plot of this novel is that the Zhents are just able to completely take over a peaceful, major trading city on a key trade route and the Harpers and neighbouring cities/kingdoms that are allied do literally nothing for how long? While the people suffer. I don't really understand how Zhentil Keep and the Zhenterim are such major players and have armies, compared to say the Cult or the Knights of the Shield that seem to have operatives and major mages but not huge vast armies of zergs to throw at the Dales or Cormyr or Iriaebor in this case. They suffer so many massive defeats (how many did Shandril kill in Crown of Fire alone with her raid on the Citadel of the Raven?). Are there just tens of thousands of people willing to become Zhents from the world for cash? Okay then.

It just doesn't ring true that no one from Waterdeep to Cormyr to Sembia would care that the Zhents took over a key trading route city and locked away the peaceful rulers. And the people just..accept it too. I dunno. I didn't buy that. And the Harpers sending Mari..alone? What? that's their plan? Berdusk is right next door to Iriaebor.

I also think it would have been neat if the library in the Snowflake Mountains they visit was the Edificant Library! :)

The character are generally very neat, and the sequel is pretty cool. It deals with the Harpers trying to silence renegades in a way that is in line with the Harper sourcebook (which is great). For Caledan, bards casting spells, or paladins doing any magic aside from lay hands, or rangers casting spells, just wasn't much of a thing in the novels. He was more of a fighter/rogue in this book than a bard to me. But still a good character, with lots of fun adventures in the city as they try to incite rebellion.
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gylippus
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Posted - 15 Mar 2019 :  22:09:59  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

So my nitpick on this book that has nothing to do with the author is the Shadow/shade/shadowmaster/etc overuse in the Realms.



Good post! I will defer to your knowledge of shadows and shades because I obviously haven't read nearly as much about the realms as you have. I had no idea those other things existed. I do agree that it can be confusing. I found myself wondering, "what exactly is shadow magic?" What kind of spells can you cast? It seems that people can only access it by playing instruments. There was a reference in the book about a woman who played a flute that could make shadows dance. Okay, so then what other useful things can you do besides lock a shadow king up in a tomb with 7 notes? Not to nitpick the book, which I liked, but I found 7 notes to be somewhat underwhelming. I mean, what happens if someone just accidentally plays those seven notes? I think it would have been better if it was actually a prolonged song. In the book they said it took something like a week or more for Talek to lock the shadow king up. Why did that struggle take so long when Caledan did it in 2 minutes? Maybe it was the fact the shadow king didn't have full power, I have no idea.

I do agree with your observation about other cities taking note of what was going on and trying to stop it from happening. Those Zhents just seem to pop up everywhere without much opposition. And yet again the Harper's plan was a lack of a plan...

Still, I enjoyed the book much more than Red Magic or the Ring of Winter. It is one of the best Harper books so far. Although I have to go back and read Elfshadow.
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 16 Mar 2019 :  02:22:22  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've not read this book since they were still publishing Harpers novels... And part of the reason is the names. The story was not all that, to me, but the names turned a mediocre book into a disliked one. Caledan Caldorian. Mari al'Marien. Talek Talembar. Each individual name would be fine, by itself -- Caledan is an okay name, and Caldorian is a cooler one. But together? No. Repeating entire syllables in the given and surnames is just painful, and it's worse because the author was clearly enamored of that naming scheme, because he kept doing it!

The names bugged me enough that they kept throwing me out of the story. And when something in the story throws you out of it, there's a problem.

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Seravin
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Posted - 16 Mar 2019 :  08:06:32  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think we raised that in Viking's post about the names...Caledan Caldorian was intentional and discussed in the sequel book; but yah the alliteration (repetition of initial consonant sounds) of the characters' names is kind of odd I agree. Mari al'Marien is ridiculous, in particular if Caledan Caldorian is deliberate for a plot point then don't do the same thing incidentally with your side characters, Mark Anthony :)

I think if you could get past the names Wooly the story is actually quite fun, and not badly crafted in my opinion. The sequel does a decent job too.

I'm curious Gylippus, what did you not like about Ring of Winter? Could you do your review here? That's always been one of my faves aside from the talking badgers I don't have any issues with it and I know it's generally a fan fave around here. But I'm sure there are legit criticisms I'd like to hear of the book too!
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 16 Mar 2019 :  16:03:12  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't recall finding the story all that interesting, either.

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gylippus
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Posted - 23 Mar 2019 :  22:16:56  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

I think we raised that in Viking's post about the names...Caledan Caldorian was intentional and discussed in the sequel book; but yah the alliteration (repetition of initial consonant sounds) of the characters' names is kind of odd I agree. Mari al'Marien is ridiculous, in particular if Caledan Caldorian is deliberate for a plot point then don't do the same thing incidentally with your side characters, Mark Anthony :)



For some reason the names didn't bother me at all. I remember thinking, "Hmmm, his last name is like his first name" then I just moved on. I think he almost always refers to Mari by the first name, but I could be wrong.

Well, I am finding out one thing about this forum, there is no accounting for taste. For instance, I thought the Ring of Winter was the weakest Harper book so far, while others love it. That is fine. FR leaves room for all different tastes. My major problems with the ROW:

1. It just seemed completely derivative of British colonialism. From the accents and behaviors of the main characters (explorers in an exploring society), the badgers (the accents were painful), and even reference to a tin roof on the trading station. I couldn't get over the tin roof. I kept thinking about how hard it would be to find tin in FR. Plus, I think tin was decently expensive in pre industrial societies so it would be costly to use it as a roofing material.

2. Artus himself didn't seem too powerful or have many skills. This isn't a huge problem BUT he did say he had been adventuring for like a decade at least. It may have been longer. So, if we look at level progression it feels like he should have been more powerful than a level 4 or 5 fighter.

3. The bad guy Kaverin was on the same ship as Artus after Artus took over ship. So he just sat in a side cabin and had people bring him food and Artus had no thought of searching the ENTIRE ship? Sailing ships are not that big. This just seems like too much of a stretch.

4. Why would Ubtao choose Artus as a Barae? Ubtao is a God, he would have known Artus had no intention of really staying to protect the Tabaxi. Why didn't Ubtao strip Ras Nsi of his powers?

So, for those reasons I wasn't a huge fan of the book. On the other hand, I don't think it was awful. It was simply my least favorite FR Harpers book so far. Also, I realize there are plot holes in all of these books you could drive a truck through. I mean, in the end this is disposable fantasy written for a certain target audience. This isn't high literature or even super in depth fantasy. I could also find plot holes in Tolkien, such as the whole eagle problem. People have written entire websites about why the eagles didn't just fly Frodo to Mt. Doom.

Maybe I liked Crypt of the Shadowking because it felt like a traditional fantasy world.

Harper 1 - Lawrence in Arabia
Harper 2 - I will get back to this because I am reading it now and enjoying it
Harper 3 - Serious plot issues we already discussed
Harper 4 - I liked it BUT it did seem a lot like Lovecraft
Harper 5 - Allan Quartermain and The Lost City of Gold
Harper 6 - FR fantasy setting
Harper 7 - Just bought it from EBAY, looking forward to it
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Seravin
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Posted - 24 Mar 2019 :  13:19:41  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Awesome stuff Gylippus! I love this discourse :)

So for your points - 1. I am not aware of the rarity or price of tin in the FR and just assumed there was some Chultan mine that had tin deposits (is that even a thing, I could Wiki it but I'm too lazy!). I imagine a lightweight pliable metal would be a good thing to have so I can see it would be expensive, but I just thought the population of Chult and perhaps the abundance of it there made it useful for roofing? Hmm. Didn't put much thought into it though!

2. I think Artus is meant to be a relatable protagonist such that he doesn't display superheroic skills/strength (just like the reader) and also to contrast how powerful the holder of the Ring of Winter becomes (and also how powerful Skuld is?). He's capable in a fight, charismatic enough to have loyal friends, and a few magic items up his sleeve. Again, he was able to run with these Chosen of Ubtao through a jungle showing massive endurance as well, so he was at least capable if not a super-hero like Drizzt and Elminster and co.

3. I think this was covered by them posing as ambassadors from Tantras who would recognize Artus as being guilty of murder (for killing Kaverin Ebonhands after he'd already been sentenced/raised?). It was pretty weak though as Tantras wouldn't have jurisdiction in Cormyr or Chult or anywhere else to stop Artus so I kind of agree with you, it's weak. They had a magic user with them so the best recourse would have been illusions to appear like the Tantras ambassadors while dealing with Artus but just wanting to be left alone in the room they had booked for the journey, rather than Artus just avoid them completely the whole journey for fear of being found out for his "crimes".

4. Who knows why gods do what they do! I think Artus's role in savin the Tabaxi from the invasion (that he also caused in a way?) was key in that decision - but a bit redundant as if he has the Ring of Winter he'd have been immortal and capable of helping his new wife and her people whenever he wanted. Ras Nsi!! I think part of what I love about the book is that he DIDN'T get stripped of his powers by the god despite his "evil" ways of protecting the city. I think that moral grey area is actually quite cool and rare in the early Realms books and why I think Ras Nsi is one of my favorite minor characters in the Realms (what they did to him post spell plague is stupid though). But I think the question why didn't Ubtao strip him of his paladin-hood is quite a good one to ask, and ponder over. But I don't see it as a plot hole.

If we want to discuss plot holes, let's go into Elfshadow when you're done :)

Edited by - Seravin on 24 Mar 2019 20:18:23
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 24 Mar 2019 :  14:34:18  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think Ras Nsi was allowed to keep his powers because he was still protecting the people of Mezro. They may not have liked his methods, but he was still their protector.

Besides... All he was doing was using the power Ubtao gave him. I think Ubtao saw in Nsi someone who was willing to play in the gray area of being evil to be good, and who wasn't overly concerned about the appreciation of those he protected -- so he gave that power to Nsi as pretty much the only one who could wield it.

Ubtao's test was basically a test of personal wisdom, nothing else... But the powers he gave did seem to be specifically suited to the nature of their wielders. (In fact, it could be that the power he gave was just a generic thing, the way a wish spell is a blank check -- and then, the first thing a bara thought about shaped the power)

Also, as far as I'm concerned, post-Spellplague Ras Nsi is an entirely different character. If I had to run that character, I'd say the original Ras Nsi was killed, and the post-Spellplague one was an imposter. It is utterly beyond me why they didn't just call that NPC a new character -- it would have been easier and made more sense.

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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 24 Mar 2019 14:36:30
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VikingLegion
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Posted - 24 Mar 2019 :  18:00:18  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert


The names bugged me enough that they kept throwing me out of the story. And when something in the story throws you out of it, there's a problem.



You mean, like some of these things:

Gods tripping over cats?
People shouting "Crossbow!" in reference to getting a better seat on a horse and buggy, (i.e. calling shotgun)
Repurposing lines from The Wizard of Oz?
Moander flying across the Dalelands like something out of an Ed Wood movie?
Imps speaking in our real-world Spanish?
Mistaking a gnomish built fusion chamber as a "few chin chamber"?
An antagonist named "Big Ugly"?
Phrases like, "That's just ducky!" and "I was wowsered by its beauty"?
A drow named Ziixxxita (because drow have lots of Z's and X's in their names)?

All examples pulled from Jeff Grubb novels/short stories.


Edited by - VikingLegion on 24 Mar 2019 18:01:20
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 24 Mar 2019 :  18:47:30  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert


The names bugged me enough that they kept throwing me out of the story. And when something in the story throws you out of it, there's a problem.



You mean, like some of these things:

Gods tripping over cats?
People shouting "Crossbow!" in reference to getting a better seat on a horse and buggy, (i.e. calling shotgun)
Repurposing lines from The Wizard of Oz?
Moander flying across the Dalelands like something out of an Ed Wood movie?
Imps speaking in our real-world Spanish?
Mistaking a gnomish built fusion chamber as a "few chin chamber"?
An antagonist named "Big Ugly"?
Phrases like, "That's just ducky!" and "I was wowsered by its beauty"?
A drow named Ziixxxita (because drow have lots of Z's and X's in their names)?

All examples pulled from Jeff Grubb novels/short stories.





I only recognize two of those examples, and neither bothered me.

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Seravin
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Posted - 24 Mar 2019 :  20:14:21  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Lol aww I mean...those to me are nitpicks and poor minor writing/editing choices. I have more problems with actual plot holes or shared-universe continuity problems by authors who refused to do research on the subject matter and just shoe-horned their own ideas into the Realms without care of the lore that came before them.

I mean, the god tripping over cats thing was I believe in reference to the goddesses of good and bad luck respectively, which the cat is just a manifestation of their immense powers over luck in a way that mortals viewing it can relate. I generally don't like when any Realms author brings Gods and Goddesses into the novels as characters though...much prefer the deities to be all-powerful concepts that are beyond dialogue and interaction with mortals--they use their priests and in INCREDIBLY RARE circumstances, an avatar. To use ACTUAL deities in their home plane as characters in a novel is ridiculous to me.
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gylippus
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Posted - 25 Mar 2019 :  17:51:19  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ok, so I finished reading Elfshadow and here is my 2 cents worth. First, I enjoyed it. I read it a long time ago and remember enjoying it then, but I didn't know if it was going to hold up. Luckily it did. I would put it towards the top of the Harper series as of right now. Let me see if I have this straight.

Kymil hated moon elves so he had an assassin slip through the portal caused by the Moonblade that led from Waterdeep to Evermeet. The assassin killed King Zaor, the moon elf king. As the assassin was running away he was hit with an arrow by Bran Skorlsun (raven on the arrow). He got through the portal but Kymil then killed him because he was seen. Apparently, the elves on Evermeet were upset. They took the moonstone out of the blade and gave it to Bran and banished him. Arilyn's mom was also banished.

Kymil paid some thugs to kill Arilyn's mom. Arilyn inherited the blade and Kymil took her in as his student simply to keep the blade close. He then had to devise a way to get the moonstone back in the blade. He did this controlling the Elfshadow to kill people and framing Arilyn. He then contacted some Harpers he knew and had them tell Bran to track Arilyn to make sure she wasn't the assassin. All of this eventually led to Bran being close to Arilyn and the moonstone entered the blade again. As it did it destroyed the topaz Kymil used to spy on her and almost killed him.

I guess he had to do all of this in the hope that the sword would be whole again (Arilyn had to be alive to use it), and getting Arilyn close to the point of the portal so his trained assassins could enter the portal again and kill the royal family.

Whewww! It seems like it would have been easier to kill Bran, take the stone, and put the stone in the sword. He could have lied to Arilyn and told her he found it. Then, he could have easily manipulated her to go to the point of the portal.

Also, I may have been slightly confused at the end. Apparently, this portal could be moved and hidden. But it didn't seem like Arilyn had any real control over the portal at all. Can she open and close it with the sword? Or does the sword just have to be near it? If they moved the portal, why didn't they move it somewhere incredibly inconvenient, like the top of a mountain or the bottom of a lake, or in a glacier, or something?

Anyway, in the end I enjoyed the book. I like the characters of Danilo Thann and Arilyn. I am not sure how I feel about Elaith Craunlnober. I will definitely be looking forward to the sequel.
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Seravin
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Posted - 25 Mar 2019 :  18:40:08  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
First - I think Elaine did a magnificent job in Elfshadow with the awesome characters of Danilo, Arilyn, and describing Waterdeep and Evereska and the Halfway Inn and really really gets the Realms and writes them as well as any author going. She's amazing and Elfsong (the sequel) is one of my faves. However...I just can't abide plot holes you can drive a bus through.

So....yes, to start I don't get why the elves chose to give the Moonstone to Bran rather than just destroy the Moonstone altogether knowing the risk it posed. It seems awfully perverse of them to punish Arilyn's mom for being with a human and having a child with him the way they did, instead of protecting Evermeet forever against the risk of the Elfgate, they just decided to teach this princess hussy a lesson by banishing her from Evermeet, stripping her of her princess-ness, changing her name, and keeping her from being with her human lover/father of her child by giving him the key to her sword's diabolic power. Umm. Okay, so no one thought there could be a better way to protect Evermeet than that? IS Queen A really that much of a sadistic b?

To your point, I don't know that Kymil could have killed Bran (at least not easily) given he is an epic level Ranger and master harper. So maybe that's why he had his massively convoluted plan?

Also, let's discuss Kymil. The Harpers are stated in both the Code of the Harpers 2nd edition sourcebook and the Harper Series novel "Curse of the Shadowmage" as being VERY not keen on Harpers that go rogue/renegade, and the penalty for being a traitor or even turning in your badge is apparently death, they hunt you down with Harper hunters and kill you dead.

So, given that is canon...Kymil kills 20 odd Harpers while acting as a Harper agent and he's just imprisoned for this crime? Why not executed for this? That's TWENTY murders on his hand of the Harpers. Harpers kill Zhents and Cultists for breakfast for far less crimes. And the Moon Elves..they know Kymil committed REGICIDE for god's sake, and tried to kill the rest of the royal family for dessert. Yet they're fine with just locking Kymil up instead of sentencing him to death? But no one has a problem with all of Kymil's bodyguards and friends being killed by Arilyn? No, just Kymil gets mercy because REASONS only Elaine can answer (she said that the Harpers made a mistake leaving him alive and I guess the elves did too which is not a good reason and a major plot hole to me).

The novel has the characters convinced that Kymil just HAS to go to stand trial because what Harper would believe that Arilyn is innocent? OH GIVE ME A BREAK - just Blackstaff and Danilo and Laeral and Bran and anyone with a brain knows Arilyn didn't do anything wrong and the history of the Moonblade (known by the Harpers that would be "judging" her) would make this a pretty clear-cut case that she is totally innocent. Not to mention that this is a world where Detect Lie spells are readily available, Speak with Dead spells are available to arch mage chosen of Mystras, and god knows how many other ways to prove Arilyn isn't guilty. Also who is more powerful/influential in the Harpers than Khelben anyway? No one mentioned in this book is. Bran is a master Harper and absolutely knows she didn't do it, and he's on the case too. The plothhole of "needing" Kymil to be kept alive to "testify" is ridiculous and makes me kind of hate the end of this book. And why would Kymil even stand trial or admit guilt? He doesn't seem the type to do anything but rot in silence rather than admit anything.

It's a shame that this kind of thing ruins books for me, because I recognize it is a very well researched and written book and I do love the characters and I don't begrudge anyone who loves the book at all. I just get stuck sometimes on what I think are irredeemable plot holes (and I hate the novel Evermeet's present day storyline because of this ending).



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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 25 Mar 2019 :  20:52:57  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think Kymil was kept alive because they wanted to make sure if there was a further need to question him, they could.

As for not destroying the moonstone... Doing that would likely damage the magic of the moonblade. Compared to that, what's waiting a few decades for Bran to die and for the blade to pass into more responsible hands?

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gylippus
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Posted - 25 Mar 2019 :  21:46:09  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin
To your point, I don't know that Kymil could have killed Bran (at least not easily) given he is an epic level Ranger and master harper.



Thanks for the quick reply Seravin. I agree with pretty much all of your points. To make another couple of points:

1. Kymil's plan seemed somewhat weak. Put six gold elves through the portal and hope they could kill the entire royal family. Let's say, for argument's sake, they do kill the entire royal family. Do you think all of the moon elves would gladly have a council of gold elves rule over Evermeet AFTER the royal family was murdered? It seems that this would have started a race war between gold and moon elves, thereby, making ALL of the elves weaker and hastening the loss of elven power.

2. I don't know the history of the realms like you guys, but why did they make a moon elf royal family? I understand there was some talk about stability after the fall of Myth Drannor, but how does this really make anything more stable? Why not have a council composed of all of the elven races?

3. I like Arilyn, and I know she is a good fighter BUT there is no way she could have fended off all six gold elf champions.

4. Didn't Arilyn have to be alive to wield the Moonblade and open the gate? Could someone clarify this for me. Once the gate opened Kymil said to kill her. Will the gate remain open when she is dead?

5. Elaith seems too powerful to me. He is a level 9 fighter (second edition) BUT Bran is a level 17 ranger. LEVEL 17! There was a scene where Elaith got the drop on Bran and pointed a sword or dagger at him. Is it just me or would Elaith have no chance of getting near Bran if Bran didn't want it to happen?

6. Why didn't Kymil have the elfshadow kill Bran?

Despite all of this I really love the book. Danilo Thann has to be one of the best written characters in FR. I also like how their relationship grows and Arilyn starts to have feelings for him. There is no doubt that Elaine's characterization are some of the best. I also like how she doesn't dwell too long on battle scenes. I am not a big fan of long extended battle scenes. She writes just enough to let you know what is going on then moves on with the story, which is better spent developing the characters. I will get back to the Cleric Quintet book 2 when half the book was a long battle scene in the forest that left me yawning.
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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 26 Mar 2019 :  08:51:23  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I think Kymil was kept alive because they wanted to make sure if there was a further need to question him, they could.

As for not destroying the moonstone... Doing that would likely damage the magic of the moonblade. Compared to that, what's waiting a few decades for Bran to die and for the blade to pass into more responsible hands?



Further need to question him about..what exactly? They stated they needed him alive to clear Arilyn's name which I think is bollocks as you already have her innocence to be declared by Blackstaff and Danilo and Bran, among others, but surely AFTER the trial there is no need to keep him alive that is ever stated. Nor that makes sense for the elves or the Harpers. They both kill their enemies mercilessly in countless novels/sourcebooks. And Kymil is one of their worst enemies, much more than a common drow footsoldier or Cult of the Dragon mercenary, both of which would be slaughtered without question.

Destroying the moonblade they believed would go inert on the Princess Zoar's (could be wrong on her name!) death anyway? Would the loss of one moonblade usable by a single person in a generation REALLY be worth the risk that a secret movable gate to Evermeet's royal family's personal space be worth that? A gate that bypasses all of Evermeet's defenses? I think you're grasping and that is not a logical reason at all. Destory it, or keep the gem on Evermeet then with the royal treasures. At least then people would have to bypass the defenses already to get the gem. The plan to give it to Bran to keep him away from Arilyn's mother is needlessly convoluted and makes no sense in scrutiny other than the elf royal family are being cruel/stupid for the sake of being cruel/stupid. And Queen A is never depicted as being cruel/stupid in other books/sources.

Edited by - Seravin on 26 Mar 2019 12:15:59
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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 26 Mar 2019 :  08:56:28  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'll address all your points Gillypus - but Bran did in my opinion outmatch Elaith in their brief encounter (Elaith thought he had the drop on him but Bran had already gone and Elaith says something to the effect of "damn, he's good" and was startled by how fast he moved). Also - Elaith is a multi-class 9th level fighter/9th level magic user, which would put him around 18 or so levels in total earned and make him somewhat equivalent via 2nd edition to a 17th level character.
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TBeholder
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 26 Mar 2019 :  10:05:03  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gylippus

1. Kymil's plan seemed somewhat weak. Put six gold elves through the portal and hope they could kill the entire royal family. Let's say, for argument's sake, they do kill the entire royal family. Do you think all of the moon elves would gladly have a council of gold elves rule over Evermeet AFTER the royal family was murdered? It seems that this would have started a race war between gold and moon elves, thereby, making ALL of the elves weaker and hastening the loss of elven power.

Obviously, but it requires thinking beyond the point demanded by "me don't like, waaaagh!", and the barbarian elves are somewhat... mentally infantile.
See also the Battle of the Gods Theater, it's very revealing.
quote:
2. I don't know the history of the realms like you guys, but why did they make a moon elf royal family?

Exactly because moon elves on average are less inclined to do moronic things.
They are more adaptive and capable of dealing with anyone who isn't an elf. All signs already pointed at "they'll have to".
quote:
Why not have a council composed of all of the elven races?

Because they'll need someone who can speak for them, not more politics.
quote:
3. I like Arilyn, and I know she is a good fighter BUT there is no way she could have fended off all six gold elf champions.

This depends on your definition of "champions". She didn't do all that well without an artifact and help, either. Also...
quote:
4. Didn't Arilyn have to be alive to wield the Moonblade and open the gate? Could someone clarify this for me. Once the gate opened Kymil said to kill her. Will the gate remain open when she is dead?

...they had a good reason to not end the fight until all who can go through goes through.
The gate would close, but there are others, and they are guarded against those who try to get in, rather than get out.
quote:

5. Elaith seems too powerful to me. He is a level 9 fighter (second edition) BUT Bran is a level 17 ranger.

(sigh)
quote:
6. Why didn't Kymil have the elfshadow kill Bran?

He's too far to reach quickly (by design), way too alert and it's too risky in that between his story and carrying that gem, who could tell how the blade or shadow would react?

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch
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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 26 Mar 2019 :  11:48:41  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"1. Kymil's plan seemed somewhat weak. Put six gold elves through the portal and hope they could kill the entire royal family. Let's say, for argument's sake, they do kill the entire royal family. Do you think all of the moon elves would gladly have a council of gold elves rule over Evermeet AFTER the royal family was murdered? It seems that this would have started a race war between gold and moon elves, thereby, making ALL of the elves weaker and hastening the loss of elven power."

Really it only works from a nihilistic point of view of trying to weaken and destroy the moon elves, it wouldn't seem to accomplish his goals as the elves wouldn't treat kindly to a bloody coup the way orcs or goblins would accept a new leader who slew their old leader. Seems a bit weak but I think Kymil being bent on murdering the moon elves maybe explains that? Although he seems cold and rational in Elfshadow (less so in Evermeet the novel) and yeah, I'd question his end game motivation in Elfshadow as being a bit too thoughtless given how much planning and convolution is involved in his planning to actually OPEN the elf gate.

"2. I don't know the history of the realms like you guys, but why did they make a moon elf royal family? I understand there was some talk about stability after the fall of Myth Drannor, but how does this really make anything more stable? Why not have a council composed of all of the elven races?"

I think the Moonflower family has been chosen by the Seldarine to lead Evermeet - and I'm not an expert either but that is my understanding that the family is somewhat "Chosen" and special by the gods. Which is as good an answer as any for there being a moon elf royal family.

"3. I like Arilyn, and I know she is a good fighter BUT there is no way she could have fended off all six gold elf champions."

I think that's to say Arilyn is a good fighter and the (artifact) Moonblade she wields makes her ridiculously strong, such that her "shadow" self is capable of slaying 20 harpers and going toe-to-toe with Bran.

"4. Didn't Arilyn have to be alive to wield the Moonblade and open the gate? Could someone clarify this for me. Once the gate opened Kymil said to kill her. Will the gate remain open when she is dead?"

I think only Elaine or Ed could answer how long the sword's initiated magic would function once the wielder is dead? Kymil seemed to know the gate would stay open for at least a time? Maybe he knows from other moonblades that once cast, the magic affect lasts for a period of time regardless of the status of the wielder.

"5. Elaith seems too powerful to me. He is a level 9 fighter (second edition) BUT Bran is a level 17 ranger. LEVEL 17! There was a scene where Elaith got the drop on Bran and pointed a sword or dagger at him. Is it just me or would Elaith have no chance of getting near Bran if Bran didn't want it to happen? "

As stated, Elaith is multi-class and Bran was able to surprise him with how fast he was despite his advanced age - also the novels don't care much for the stats.

"6. Why didn't Kymil have the elfshadow kill Bran? "

Kymil needed Bran to come out of hiding to get the gem for elfgate - which he tried to do by having Arilyn a suspect in the killings etc - however once Bran was out he did try to have the elfshadow kill Bran at the end of the novel and Bran was able to stay alive and battle the elfshadow to a stand still until the gem reuinted in the sword, blew up etc and nearly killed Kymil..I think?
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gylippus
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Posted - 03 Apr 2019 :  22:34:17  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I just finished reading Soldiers of Ice, 7th in the Harpers Series.

First off, the book is solid. It follows the adventures of Martine, a ranger and low level Harper, on her first real mission. She is given the task of closing a rift into the elemental plane of ice that has appeared on a glacier in the north by her mentor Jazrac the wizard. Before she could close the rift with some magic stones an elemental by the name of Vreesar comes through it. The elemental tries to find the keystone to open the rift and starts a war between a tribe of gnolls and a village of gnomes.

As I said, the book is solid, but for some reason I just couldn't get into it as much as I had hoped. It wasn't a horrible slog like some other FR books, but it wasn't an enticing read that kept me turning the pages. I appreciate the fact that David Cook wrote a strong gnoll character with Krote. Often times we only see the 'monsters' as cannon fodder for the heroes blade, so it was refreshing to get a little perspective from the gnoll's point of view. In my opinion, Krote was the strongest character in the book. The other characters never resonated with me. Martine was interesting but seemed like a cookie cutter and Vil was nothing more than a cardboard cutout.

About halfway through the book I thought, "Why didn't Jazrac teleport to the rift and seal it?" It would have taken 30 minutes. Luckily, we get the reason shortly thereafter when it appears that Jazrac is a cowardly pencil pusher. He is the equivalent of a bureaucrat that never leaves the office but orders others to do the dirty work. That was a clever move on Cook's part. It was nice to see someone actually flee from battle. On the other hand, I feel like Jazrac could have done much more damage when he finally started fighting. He cast 1 fireball spell, 1 magic missile spell, and then died.

Lastly, I HATE it when the book has a small map of the area (in this case a valley), but no world map to let us know where this is located in general. Can we have an inset map? This seems to happen a lot in FR novels, and I am always left wondering, "Where the heck is this place?"
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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 04 Apr 2019 :  11:49:53  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I agree with all you've said Gylippus! I think the book is solid and my favorite parts are just the atmospheric elements...the cabin in the woods and the Warren and the Great Rift and the gnoll camp..I honestly get shivers from reading the book and I think David Cook did a great job in the setting/atmosphere. I could smell the awful stench in the gnoll chief's room.

I think it *could* have been a GREAT novel if Martine was a bit more developed/likeable as a character, and we had a better gnome character to latch onto. Krote the gnoll was a wonderful character I agree completely. I would have liked to see more of Martine's exotic mount..maybe it got wounded but not killed in the flight/eruption and came back in the end to fight the creature. Jazrac was an awful character, deliberately so, but why is he regarded by the Harpers at all as written? I don't think Storm/Elminster/et al would have any time at all for a bumbling coward paper pusher who is apparently also incompetent at his job? It doesn't work in the context of the Harper network and took me out of the shared universe regarding him.

Vil had potential as a character..a semi-fallen Paladin..but it wasn't developed and he died. And Jazrac dies. and the lovely exotic mount dies. And I don't know it just seems like the death count was awful high for a Harper book unnecessarily and I just think one main good guy death is enough (Jazrac in this case cause he was a dufus).

Personal tastes of course, I am sure some people like it when the good guys have to sacrifice everything and they all end up dead or horribly maimed, but I don't read fantasy to get depressed or sad. I read it to escape the drudgery and I want happy endings for the likeable people.

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gylippus
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Posted - 04 Apr 2019 :  18:42:02  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Seravin,

I agree about Vil. If this was a trilogy we could have seen his character develop over the course of three books and I think there would have been a successful pay out. It would have been interesting if he was wounded by Vreesar and then managed to heal himself with the power of Torm, restoring his paladin powers.

I also did not like a single gnome in the book. I understand they were angry, but on the other hand, if Martine wasn't around Vreesar would have killed them all.

Lastly, it would have been cool to get a sequel to just see the relationship between Krote and Martine develop. An adventure in Mulmaster could have been cool.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
975 Posts

Posted - 05 Apr 2019 :  08:16:35  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gylippus

Seravin,

I agree about Vil. If this was a trilogy we could have seen his character develop over the course of three books and I think there would have been a successful pay out. It would have been interesting if he was wounded by Vreesar and then managed to heal himself with the power of Torm, restoring his paladin powers.

I also did not like a single gnome in the book. I understand they were angry, but on the other hand, if Martine wasn't around Vreesar would have killed them all.

Lastly, it would have been cool to get a sequel to just see the relationship between Krote and Martine develop. An adventure in Mulmaster could have been cool.



Yes! I would have read a Krote/Martine book in a heartbeat.
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
443 Posts

Posted - 10 Apr 2019 :  02:07:52  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Cook's stories may not be to everyone's tastes, but I think he's among the best (if not *the* best) at describing various cultures of the Realms. I approach his books like they are 50% story/ 50% gazetteer. I really liked this book, even if the characters weren't particularly likeable or memorable.

As for Vreesar, he is a gelugon (ice devil). I think I mentioned the same confusion in my post because he is repeatedly referred to as an elemental, despite the obvious physical descriptions that match the critters that come from Cania, Eighth Ring of The Nine Hells.
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gylippus
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52 Posts

Posted - 14 Apr 2019 :  13:16:40  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finally finished reading the Finder's Stone Trilogy and here are my thoughts if anyone cares.

First, I remember reading these books back in the early 90s and absolutely loving them and nothing has changed for me. Personally, I think these are some of the best books you can read set in FR and Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb are amazing. I know they wrote a few other books, but I wish they wrote a whole lot more. I wonder what the FR would be like if they became the flagship authors rather than Salvatore.

Everyone knows the books and the story so I won't bother reposting that, but let me post what I enjoyed the most. It is hard to do this because I liked all of the books but ...

1st - The characters. Kate and Jeff spend a lot of time developing the characters, which I really appreciate. A found myself really rooting for Alias and company in the first book.

2nd - I love the mystery aspect of the books. It makes them more than just a simple fetch quest and keeps you guessing. This element was heavy in the first and second book, but not as much in the third book.

3rd - The humor. Personally, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the dialogue, which almost never happens in a realms book. I thought the dialogue was well written and clever.

After I finished reading the first book I picked up the second book and felt disappointed when I realized Alias wasn't in it. I thought, how can this even be nearly as good as the first book with no Alias and Dragonbait? Then ... I absolutely fell in love with the second book. It is like a murder mystery set in a small fantasy town. You are introduced to a lot of characters and they are all so quirky and well written it just makes you love that one slice of the realms. Giogioni is absolutely fantastic. I love seeing him develop as an unsure and sheltered young man to fulfill his destiny. Olive develops into a more likeable character in the second book and when she turns into a donkey it is wonderful. I still feel bad for Olive and Thomas because Jade died.

I only wish the FR gods would have mercy on us and force Kate Novak and Jeff Grub to write more books with Giogioni and Cat. I would even like to see another book in Immersea. Does Aunt Dorath finally chill out? What about Samtavan and Julia? Maybe Steele becomes even more of a villain and tries to destroy his family? Which reminds me, the scene where Steele thinks he has the power of a Wyvern is hilarious. He actually tries to claw Cat with his own hand, thinking it is a claw, and then leaps out the window. We need more of that writing.

For me, the third book was the weakest BUT that is like saying Topsail is not as good as Sierra Nevada beer. It is still BEER! And I likes it... One problem they have in the third book is that Elminster has to be dispensed with, because he could solve the problem in about 1 second. So he gets transported to another plane or something and is stuck there for the duration of the book. On the other hand, Finder finally redeems himself and he becomes a GOD! We find out a lot more about Saurials and of course Dragonbaits sad life. One thing that moderately annoyed me in this book was that Alias felt so pissy at Ackabar and his wife (already totally forgot her name). And of course I was super bummed when Ackabar died, but what a death!

Anyway, I could go on and on. I am in post Azure Bonds depression because I know I have no more of the books to look forward to. Yet again, I have absolutely NO idea why TSR would not have Kate and Jeff write more books. It utterly baffles me.

Last point, I often wonder about the lengths of FR books. Azure Bonds was 380 pages, The Wyvern's Spur 313, and Song of the Saurials 312. I have noticed most FR books are around 300, but some aren't. Did TSR mandate a length or not? If so, why is Azure Bonds 80 pages over that length? This can go in the other direction also. I am reading The Cleric Quintet now and I noticed book three should really be around 250 pages, but it was super padded and managed to limp in close to 290. Also, the size of the font in the Night Masks is larger, which means it should be even shorter compared to other books AND some of the scenes are dragged out for no reason besides to meet a length quota (I will get into all of that when I post an official review of that series). Anyway, if anyone knows more about this length issue let me know, I am curious.

Edited by - gylippus on 14 Apr 2019 13:56:33
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