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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 04 Aug 2019 :  04:16:41  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 12swords

Maybe the problem is that the other writers never had an iconic character like Drizzt to write about.


I would say plenty of authors had iconic characters. Farideh is rather popular, as are the Cales, father and son. We've got Alias, Eliath Craulnober, Liriel, Alusair, at least a couple of Red Wizards whose names escape me... And there are a lot more that could have been iconic, given the chance.

Heck, two of the Realms characters I find the most interesting have never been in a novel. One was from a Dragon magazine article, and the other was pretty much a throwaway reference in the intro of a sourcebook.

The problem with WotC has long been their attitude of "oh, this one thing is popular? Well, let's put all of our focus onto that, and the hell with anything else!" They've had so many characters and so much potential that was simply squandered because they weren't willing to take a chance.

And honestly, it's not a bad plan, when running a business, to go with what's known to work, and not take a chance on something not working. But it runs the risk of that one thing becoming less of a draw, and leaving the business with nothing else to market. And especially with game settings, you want to avoid that -- you push game settings by giving people stuff they've not seen, not giving them the same thing repeatedly. WotC -- perhaps due to Hasbro's influence, perhaps due to management that simply doesn't get it -- doesn't seem to realize the Realms is a game setting, and needs to be developed to continue to be popular.

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CorellonsDevout
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Posted - 04 Aug 2019 :  05:38:00  Show Profile  Send CorellonsDevout an AOL message Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by 12swords

Maybe the problem is that the other writers never had an iconic character like Drizzt to write about.


I would say plenty of authors had iconic characters. Farideh is rather popular, as are the Cales, father and son. We've got Alias, Eliath Craulnober, Liriel, Alusair, at least a couple of Red Wizards whose names escape me... And there are a lot more that could have been iconic, given the chance.

Heck, two of the Realms characters I find the most interesting have never been in a novel. One was from a Dragon magazine article, and the other was pretty much a throwaway reference in the intro of a sourcebook.

The problem with WotC has long been their attitude of "oh, this one thing is popular? Well, let's put all of our focus onto that, and the hell with anything else!" They've had so many characters and so much potential that was simply squandered because they weren't willing to take a chance.



This. They saw initial success with Drizzt, so they pushed him, but when the other series (and characters) had the same success, they didn't do the same thing. I think the novel line would still be around if they had given other characters more attention.

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12swords
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Posted - 04 Aug 2019 :  17:45:09  Show Profile Send 12swords a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, probably the other novels didn't have the SAME success as Drizzt books, which is why WOTC started focusing on Drizzt in the first place.

Hasbro is a toy and game company, not a novel publishing company, so I get why they shutdown the novel line and offloaded it to Harper Voyager. They have just enough editors and graphic designers and printing capability to make the RPG books, but even those are restricted to only several a year, not the 'every month 1 or 2 splatbooks come out' type of schedule.

I think there's just too much competition for people's entertainment time and money. Video games (pc and console) are king now, streaming services offer more tv choices than ever before, self-publishing is a thing (ebooks makes the initial investment trivial), there's even some pretty good web fiction out there. LARP and cosplay are things now.
You see it with declining comic sales too. I think a few years ago it was the first time no major title sold 100k units in a month. Despite the popularity of the movies, fewer and fewer people are actually buying comic books now.

If Elaine/Erin/Paul wrote a new FR novel, there'd be a few thousand diehards snapping it up its first month out, but what if Harper needs 15k sales in the first year to break even and doesn't get it? What if at best it ekes out a profit of less than 10k? 10k is a lot of money to most people but if Hasbro is making 10M on 5th edition gamebooks then it's one tenth of one percent of the real money maker. Like Wooley said pretty much every (successful) company focuses on the one thing that makes money. But with Drizzt books maybe they make 50-100k or more, maybe mid 6 figures, who knows.
Harper should commission an anthology of all the most popular FR characters (Alias, Erevis, Liriel, Elminster etc) and issue an anthology with a new Drizzt story too. Then if there seems to be good interest in the other characters they can commission full novels.

Edited by - 12swords on 04 Aug 2019 17:57:47
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CorellonsDevout
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Posted - 04 Aug 2019 :  18:06:27  Show Profile  Send CorellonsDevout an AOL message Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Harper should just take over the FR publishing aspect lol. There are a lot of fans who are unhappy with the ending of the novel line.

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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 04 Aug 2019 :  18:16:47  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 12swords

Well, probably the other novels didn't have the SAME success as Drizzt books, which is why WOTC started focusing on Drizzt in the first place.


But that's the problem: They looked at the success of one thing, and decided that there would be nothing new because that one thing had set such a high bar. So they disregarded anything else that could have become popular, in favor of one thing that was. They forgot one basic truth: At one point, there were NO popular characters in the Realms. EVERY popular FR character, regardless of how long they've been around, was once a new face in a novel by an author we didn't know.

WotC basically tied everything to just one character, and then, when that one character wasn't enough to carry the novels, they dropped them. Rather than try to market to a larger portion of their audience, they focused on a smaller segment, and then dropped novels altogether because that smaller segment didn't bring in the money that the larger segment would have.

We don't have a line of novels now, and WotC is therefore making less money, because they decided that a very narrow focus was the way to go. They put themselves out of the novels business by making bad decisions.

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CorellonsDevout
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Posted - 04 Aug 2019 :  18:40:50  Show Profile  Send CorellonsDevout an AOL message Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
^Exactly. And other novels within the setting that had the same initial success that Drizzt did didn't get the same push because "Drizzt is specialz" (again, nothing against the character himself).

Sweet water and light laughter

Edited by - CorellonsDevout on 04 Aug 2019 18:41:46
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12swords
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Posted - 04 Aug 2019 :  20:03:22  Show Profile Send 12swords a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think it's more like a business getting rid of under-performing stores. For example you have one restaurant in the city that does really well (Drizzt), makes a lot of money. Then you have 4-5 locations in the suburbs that aren't doing as well, with minimal profit after all the expenses. It wouldn't be surprising that the company gets out of the suburb locations and concentrates on just the main location.

I get it, you think with more marketing and promotion the other novels can be profitable. I'm not so sure that's true, even with RAS, it's not like I see Drizzt commercials on national TV. Marketing dollars in general for novels is fairly minimal, after all it's a diminishing market.
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CorellonsDevout
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Posted - 04 Aug 2019 :  20:49:33  Show Profile  Send CorellonsDevout an AOL message Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Except the other stores weren't in the suburbs. They were in the same urban location (D&D). We're not saying marketing was the only issue (WotC has made some...different desicions over the years). I just think if they had focused more attention on pushing the novel line as a whole, rather than giving an individual series all the attention, things would be different.

Again, not saying this is the sole factor. There were doubtless fsctors that had little or nothing to do with Drizzt. But I have said my piece. I will stop harping (for now ;) )

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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 04 Aug 2019 :  21:47:28  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Here was my major beef with Dragonwall when I read it:

http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=15398

Basically I thought the plot made no sense in a lot of ways, and I really, really enjoyed Horselords. I found Crusades "okay" mostly because it had familar characters and brought back the missing princess hook plot from the early gold box games and old grey box.

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gylippus
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Posted - 05 Aug 2019 :  00:04:33  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Here was my major beef with Dragonwall when I read it:

http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=15398

Basically I thought the plot made no sense in a lot of ways, and I really, really enjoyed Horselords. I found Crusades "okay" mostly because it had familar characters and brought back the missing princess hook plot from the early gold box games and old grey box.





That was a good thread, I read your post and all of the replies. Honestly, your complaints are entirely valid and I didn't even think of them. I was too busy looking at Yamun's motivations to think about Minister Ting's. Although in the back of my head I was thinking, "Why is she betraying the emperor and what does she get out of it?" As you point out, that is never properly answered and makes no sense.

My major point was the idea that Yamun wanted revenge. Yes, he did, but his greatest motivation is power. So it also makes no sense that he would just up and leave Shou Lung after he gets the traitors.

Plus, minister Chu and Kwan didn't look like traitors to me. They didn't tell the emperor what they were doing BUT they wanted to get rid of a possible threat before it was too powerful. The Khadun already told them that Yamun was more than happy to conquer everything so his next logical target after Khazari was Shou Lung. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that a divided Tuigan nation is much better for the Shou's security and the Silk Road business than a unified Tuigan. Plus, it was obvious from the text that Chu was a loyal minister and just looking out for the best interest of the kingdom.
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12swords
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Posted - 05 Aug 2019 :  04:59:29  Show Profile Send 12swords a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CorellonsDevout

Except the other stores weren't in the suburbs. They were in the same urban location (D&D). We're not saying marketing was the only issue (WotC has made some...different desicions over the years). I just think if they had focused more attention on pushing the novel line as a whole, rather than giving an individual series all the attention, things would be different.

Again, not saying this is the sole factor. There were doubtless fsctors that had little or nothing to do with Drizzt. But I have said my piece. I will stop harping (for now ;) )



Well, I was more trying to imply that Drizzt, not D&D, was the profit center of the novel line and that's why the company focused on it. And the other characters/books (other locations) were fine in their own way and some had really devout fans but ultimately the sales weren't enough to justify continuing in those locations.

Fiction sales for the past 5 years has been in decline. I'm sure even RAS's books haven't been selling as well lately as they were in the 90's and 00's. There aren't as many bookstores as before. People would rather spend their recreational time looking at their phone, reading news and watching videos on FB and YT, than pick up a book and read. All this makes for a very tough sales environment, and throwing money at promotion would increase sales but probably not enough to make up for the increased cost. No company is going to spend a million dollars promoting a novel line only to see it increase revenue by 500k.

This problem with the Empire trilogy, is it because TSR had 3 different writers for each of the books? The inconsistency of them? Maybe that was one of the issues with their novel line, having different writers for sequels, although I think that practice is common with shared world books.

Edited by - 12swords on 05 Aug 2019 05:02:11
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CorellonsDevout
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USA
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Posted - 05 Aug 2019 :  14:52:41  Show Profile  Send CorellonsDevout an AOL message Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't think books themselves are necessarily suffering, people are just reading on different formats (like ebooks), which is why brick and mortar stores are in decline. Though it does seem like many people don't enjoy reading as much. I don't think the fiction industry as a whole is going to go down (even if there is a bit of a sales decline). At least, it better not! Lol

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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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USA
32223 Posts

Posted - 05 Aug 2019 :  15:12:55  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CorellonsDevout

I don't think books themselves are necessarily suffering, people are just reading on different formats (like ebooks), which is why brick and mortar stores are in decline. Though it does seem like many people don't enjoy reading as much. I don't think the fiction industry as a whole is going to go down (even if there is a bit of a sales decline). At least, it better not! Lol



Actually, I was reading not too long ago that ebook sales had plateaued at about 30% of book sales.

I think the decline of brick and mortar stores is more due to Amazon and being poorly-run, like Borders... And from what I've seen, that decline has pretty much stabilized.

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12swords
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Posted - 05 Aug 2019 :  16:27:45  Show Profile Send 12swords a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Fiction novels, books in general, will always be around, but like you said, people are reading in different formats (mobile, ebooks, etc).

I had a Borders near where I lived for many years, it was a haven for the local homeless. I didn't spend much time there but whenever I was there you'd hardly see anyone at the checkout line. I know it's anecdotal, maybe they had a bunch of sales when I wasn't there, but anytime you have a huge store and like 4 sales per hour, that's not a good combination.

Maybe Hasbro should contract a really popular fantasy author to write a DnD novel, someone like Sanderson or even Martin. Pay them a big upfront fee, even give them partial ownership of the characters, and then watch the money pour in. Maybe it would help jumpstart a TV show or movie trilogy, leading to even more $$, which would help make the corporate overlords happy.

Edited by - 12swords on 05 Aug 2019 16:48:29
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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 05 Aug 2019 :  21:41:14  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
This problem with the Empire trilogy, is it because TSR had 3 different writers for each of the books? The inconsistency of them? Maybe that was one of the issues with their novel line, having different writers for sequels, although I think that practice is common with shared world books.


I do think the Empires trilogy suffered from the 3 different authors, for the reasons I put in my thread. Yamun destested spies and really liked honor, but for some reason was all into spies in the 2nd book because it was a different author. He wanted power and conquest...but in the 2nd book he wants revenge only. The 3rd book doesn't focus on the Shou or the Tugian horde as much as it does the Cormyr set making alliances with Sembia and Zhentil Keep, but when it does focus on the characters from the first two books you can't recognize anything set up.

Basically Horselords was a great novel that set up some great characters, and it could have made an epic trilogy if it was written by one author.

On a positive note, I've always throught the events in the Empires novel is a "Realms Shaking Event" done right...something that is epic and major, involves the players of the Realms, leaves a mark and a legacy behind for people to reference for decades later, shows us new areas of the Realms we haven't seen much of before...but then ends and doesn't blow up the moon along the way and we get back to normalcy afterwards.
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gylippus
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Posted - 06 Aug 2019 :  12:28:12  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am back. Just finished reading King Pinch by David Cook.

King Pinch is the first book in the Nobles series, published in 1995. I stopped reading FR novels by that time and this book and series is entirely new to me. I was also interested to read more David Cook after Horselords.

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and the writing. This book is a bit of a slower read because David Cook uses a lot of slang terms when Pinch is talking to his gang. It sort of reminds me of thieves in London in the 1800s. Cook does a great job of immersing us in the thieves world and bringing it to life. Plus, this book is set in Ankapur, a new setting to me.

In terms of the plot, it wasn't as predictable as I thought. Cook keeps us guessing. By around page 180 or so you think Pinch is definitely Manerick's son and will be king eventually. After he introduces the cup and dagger plot I thought Pinch would somehow drink out of it at the ceremony and become king. However, Cook throws in the body switch, which I wasn't expecting at all. I would say the ending felt a little rushed. The book could have used an epilogue. It would have been nice to see Pinch a few months later, into his reign, and know what was going on and how his friends were set up.

All in all, this is a solid book. If there was a sequel I would definitely read it.

On a side note, the book is riddled with errors. It has omitted words, misspelled words, and at one point Cook mentions Pinch ripping off his new clothes when Pinch already lost them in a previous scene and had to steal clothes from a laundry. All of this makes me believe this book wasn't edited in the least.

Lastly, this book has no map and no picture of the author. Was this the time TSR was trying to save money and the printing quality suffered? No idea.
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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 06 Aug 2019 :  14:39:19  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I couldn't finish King Pinch..I was totally disinterested in the setting, characters, plot and writing style. I didn't hate it, but I guess worse than making me mad...it made me bored? And that rarely happens with a Realms novel! I guess I just couldn't find a character to really make my own in the book, and when I didn't like anyone and had no interest in Ankapur (it may as well have been set on Mars given how far removed it is) that was all she wrote. I was looking forward to the long caravan journey that far South, but then they cheated and just teleported to the Lake of Steam. Okay then. Sorry again, Shandril...
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 06 Aug 2019 :  15:26:41  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

I couldn't finish King Pinch..I was totally disinterested in the setting, characters, plot and writing style. I didn't hate it, but I guess worse than making me mad...it made me bored? And that rarely happens with a Realms novel! I guess I just couldn't find a character to really make my own in the book, and when I didn't like anyone and had no interest in Ankapur (it may as well have been set on Mars given how far removed it is) that was all she wrote. I was looking forward to the long caravan journey that far South, but then they cheated and just teleported to the Lake of Steam. Okay then. Sorry again, Shandril...



I wasn't a huge fan of that one, myself. In particular, I recall being bothered by a gang of four people being called a thieves' guild.

War in Tethyr was one I wasn't able to finish.

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gylippus
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Posted - 06 Aug 2019 :  19:09:54  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

I couldn't finish King Pinch..I was totally disinterested in the setting, characters, plot and writing style. I didn't hate it, but I guess worse than making me mad...it made me bored? And that rarely happens with a Realms novel! I guess I just couldn't find a character to really make my own in the book, and when I didn't like anyone and had no interest in Ankapur (it may as well have been set on Mars given how far removed it is) that was all she wrote. I was looking forward to the long caravan journey that far South, but then they cheated and just teleported to the Lake of Steam. Okay then. Sorry again, Shandril...



I wasn't a huge fan of that one, myself. In particular, I recall being bothered by a gang of four people being called a thieves' guild.

War in Tethyr was one I wasn't able to finish.



Both of you make some interesting points, as usual. First, I don't recall them ever being referred to as a guild. I can go back and check but I am pretty certain they are just referred to as a gang, and Pinch is the regulator or leader. The book led me to believe that there are many gangs in Elturel. Now, they may all eventually be in a loose thieves guild, but in the end they are working for themselves.

Seravin, you make a good point about the characters not growing on you. Maybe it is the vernacular they use, which makes it more difficult to understand them. Pinch and his gang are definitely middle of the road characters. They don't have amazing awesome powers. They can't kill thousands of the enemy. They aren't chosen of Deneir. At one point Pinch almost gets killed by a couple of thugs. Maybe it would have helped if we saw more personal redemption for Pinch. He doesn't seem to really come around to the idea that his friends are super important until the last 10 pages.

On the other hand, I do stand by my points that this book is well written compared to many other FR novels. It doesn't have major plot holes and all of the characters actions make sense, unlike other books. For those reasons I put it middle of the road to upper middle of the road so far.
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CorellonsDevout
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Posted - 06 Aug 2019 :  19:31:46  Show Profile  Send CorellonsDevout an AOL message Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I enjoyed the Finder's Stone books, myself.

In regards to length, I don't know if there is a mandated length or not. Some, like Evermeet: Island of Elves and Cormyr: A Novel are thicker, and some of the newer Drizzt novels are in the 400-page range. But most are in the 300-page range.

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Seravin
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Posted - 06 Aug 2019 :  19:48:35  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I definitely respect that some people may like King Pinch..like I said, I didn't have any gripes with it (which is rare for me!) but I just didn't get interested. Just like Wooly (as usual) I felt the same with War in Tethyr and didn't finish that one. And yet the other Nobles book, The Simbul's Gift, is probably one of the best Realms books I've ever read (and in my top 5).
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 07 Aug 2019 :  03:01:08  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

And yet the other Nobles book, The Simbul's Gift, is probably one of the best Realms books I've ever read (and in my top 5).



I really need to go back and give that one a try. Between my dislike of some of the earlier books and a back cover blurb that failed to grab my attention, I just never got around to reading that book.

...Which is really ironic, considering that I've bought it at least twice!

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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 07 Aug 2019 :  08:08:48  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I really would Wooly - it is refreshing to see Ed's Chosen written in an intelligent way. And this book, more than any others, gets Thay "right"...old school Zulkir intrigue right. Heartily recommend this one.
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gylippus
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Posted - 08 Aug 2019 :  19:29:49  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just finished War in Tethyr

Judging from previous posts Viking and myself may be the only people who have ever read this book.

This is the first book I have read by Victor Milan and my overall judgment is that it is pretty decent, about on the same level as King Pinch. However, I found some of the writing a little uneven. There are points where the story doesn't transition as well as it should and points where the pace lags. The dialogue is fine, although the author uses a few words that I wouldn't really expect people to use that often.

The author name drops a lot of other books. He references Maztica, the Tuigan, the Avatar trilogy, and at the end there is a blurb about Alias. The characters are pretty good. Zaranda is a strong female protagonist and he characterizes her well. I found Stillhawk to be very stereotypical, but his relationship with Shield of Innocence was interesting. Shield of Innocence is a half/orc paladin. Although I found his character refreshing I wish there was a little more backstory as to why he was a paladin.

Farlorn is a bard and he is actually written as a bard. I have read about other 'bard' characters but Farlorn actually uses his skills to get into the Baron's castle. Plus, that was a laugh out loud scene when he rides up on 'Zizzy' the wonder horse.

The plot is fine. The end felt a little rushed and maybe Milan had too many irons in the fire to really do it justice. I am not sure of the book needed Nyadnar. She is a dragon that made and gave birth to a 'daughter' who is fully human and dragon. To top it off she is a new kind of dragon, a gem dragon. If the book just kept her as a young girl with extraordinary power it may be been one less thread the author had to deal with.

In the end, a decent read. So far the Nobles books have been decent to me. I wouldn't mind seeing a short story with more Zaranda and Chenowyn.
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 09 Aug 2019 :  03:53:52  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gylippus

This is the first book I have read by Victor Milan snip



He wrote a couple of BattleTech novels, back in the day, before they destroyed the setting with the Jihad. His books -- like many shared setting books -- were better than some of the others in the setting, and not as good as others. The main thing I remember about the books is that something just didn't quite click for me. I had no real issues with them, but for some reason, when I read them, there was something about them that I couldn't put my finger on, but that was enough to keep me from truly enjoying them. It was like there was some necessary thing that was missing.

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