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Alaundo
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Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  18:30:28  Show Profile  Visit Alaundo's Homepage  Click to see Alaundo's MSN Messenger address Send Alaundo a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Well met

Over the past couple of years, there have been numerous new fans to the Realms who have entered Candlekeep and asked a simple and yet crucial question...."what is the best novel\series for me to read as a newcomer to the Forgotten Realms?".

Therefore, after much thought, i'd like to collate a list, with thy help of course, of essential novels to help get a new fan to the Realms started. Now this is no easy feat, and there are likely to be many conflicting opinions. What we're looking for, is a small list of novels which give a good broad overview of the setting, contain riveting tales, are packed with Realms flavor and also tales which are key to the setting to ensure major events are covered, if need be.

Again, I state, this won't be easy. Whilst some novels will spring instantly to mind, think over as to whether they are essential tales and give a good image of the Realms.

For starters, feel free to throw in your suggestions herein and reasons for nominating them. Ultimately, we will (hopefully) come to some sort of agreement on a shortlist and i'll create a definative locked topic to help those seeking advice on this subject.

Many thanks for thy help

Alaundo
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  18:57:44  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, I think the Finder's Stone trilogy and the Songs & Swords books are the best ones to read, in terms of flavor.

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Tremaine
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United Kingdom
86 Posts

Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  19:08:52  Show Profile Send Tremaine a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think the sembia series would be a good place to start for new fans and the city series would be good as well.

I agree with wooly on the finder stone and songs and sword series there are excellent reads

Edited by - Tremaine on 06 Aug 2005 19:09:33
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Kuje
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Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  19:26:38  Show Profile  Send Kuje an AOL message  Click to see Kuje's MSN Messenger address  Send Kuje a Yahoo! Message Send Kuje a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Spellfire novels would be my 1st choice.

For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet and excite you... Books are full of the things that you don't get in real life - wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. - Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

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Melfius
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Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  19:31:49  Show Profile  Visit Melfius's Homepage  Send Melfius an AOL message Send Melfius a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think the Sembia series would be a great beginner set. It will introduce the concept of multiple authors sharing one world.

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Faraer
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3291 Posts

Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  19:49:39  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Spellfire, by far.
Elfshadow
Cormyr: A Novel
The Halls of Stormweather
Azure Bonds
The Best of the Realms, Book II: The Stories of Ed Greenwood, unless we're talking novels only.

Reasons mostly obvious, I hope. Elminster's Daughter and Forsaken House would work too.

Edited by - Faraer on 06 Aug 2005 19:51:23
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Lord Rad
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United Kingdom
2080 Posts

Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  20:01:10  Show Profile  Visit Lord Rad's Homepage  Click to see Lord Rad's MSN Messenger address Send Lord Rad a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sheesh this is a tough one, but a great idea. I've seen similar efforts for Dragonlance novels etc and it would be good to get a list together for the Realms.

I'll throw the following into the pot for starters (in no particular order):

The Sembia Series (a good down-to-earth look at a localised tale, various flavors)
Azure Bonds (a different tale with a good flavor and nice pace)
Cormyr: A Novel (a fantastic history of a key kingdom of the Realms)
Evermeeet: Island of Elves (Again, the perfect history and elven bible)
Both Best of the Realms anthologies (a nice broad overview!)
The Scions of Arrabar (Fantastic! Again, a localised tale and moves away from hack-n-slash to more mystery and intrigue)
The Rage (Need to show new fans the current situation)

I'm pondering whether to throw The Avatar Trilogy in there as it was probably the most major event.

I could actually go on and on... I think it would be wise to build into this list, a "you must have read Trilogy X before reading Trilogy Y" type of recommendation. Maybe multiple levels of recommendation. A "MUST read" handful of novels, followed by a second and third level of continuations as such.

Lord Rad

"What? No, I wasn't reading your module. I was just looking at the pictures"

Edited by - Lord Rad on 06 Aug 2005 20:03:24
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webmanus
Learned Scribe

Sweden
338 Posts

Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  20:13:08  Show Profile  Visit webmanus's Homepage  Click to see webmanus's MSN Messenger address Send webmanus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would say The Avatar Trilogy. The reason for that, is that the books represents a generation shift; old gods die and new are born. The readers will follow the minds of humans, and gods. And, the books take the reader to several places. Thus, those books are a kind of three in one:

- You will be taken to several places.
- You will learn how folks of the Realms think.
- You will learn how gods think, and what they do.

Furthermore, when I think about suggesting novels to a newcommer, I also think on campaign expansions (accessory/supplements). I mean, to a new DM, I would say:

- Buy the D&D core books
- Buy the FRCS
- Buy the <novels>
- Buy a campaign expansion covering an area covered by the <novels>

And, The Avatar Trilogy ends in Waterdeep ... And, what do we have out there ...
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Alaundo
Head Moderator
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United Kingdom
5571 Posts

Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  20:17:26  Show Profile  Visit Alaundo's Homepage  Click to see Alaundo's MSN Messenger address Send Alaundo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well met

Splendid. Thank ye all for the suggestions so far. A great selection and some very valid points raised. Keep 'em coming.

Webmanus, I agree regarding sourcebooks... the FRCS is a definate. However, let us stick to novels for now, remember, some may have no interest in actual gaming products or furthering more in-depth knowledge by reading a sourcebook, even if it is based upon a novel. They simply want a good read and stick to novels only.

Most of my own recommendations have been covered here. It IS a hard decision, i'll give it some more thought and add a few extra's soon.

Alaundo
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webmanus
Learned Scribe

Sweden
338 Posts

Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  20:30:50  Show Profile  Visit webmanus's Homepage  Click to see webmanus's MSN Messenger address Send webmanus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes Alaundo,

I understand, that we are suggesting novels. Maybe, if I just rewrite my post ... then you will see my cunning plan

Writing ... writing ... writing ... OK, new post below:

1. You say to the new fan "Buy the Avatar Trilogy".
2. The fan comes back, and says that he or she liked the books so much. Then, you either recommend some other novels. But, if the person shows interest for D&D and the Realms, then, just suggest the following: "Buy the D&D core books, the FRCS, and a campaign expansion such as City of Splendors Waterdeep."

And, we have a new member. Thanks to The Avatar Trilogy ...

Saludos,
Manuel of the Manus Web

Link to my homepage: http://user.tninet.se/~bsu242v/
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Alaundo
Head Moderator
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United Kingdom
5571 Posts

Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  20:47:30  Show Profile  Visit Alaundo's Homepage  Click to see Alaundo's MSN Messenger address Send Alaundo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by webmanus

Yes Alaundo,

I understand, that we are suggesting novels. Maybe, if I just rewrite my post ... then you will see my cunning plan

Writing ... writing ... writing ... OK, new post below:

1. You say to the new fan "Buy the Avatar Trilogy".
2. The fan comes back, and says that he or she liked the books so much. Then, you either recommend some other novels. But, if the person shows interest for D&D and the Realms, then, just suggest the following: "Buy the D&D core books, the FRCS, and a campaign expansion such as City of Splendors Waterdeep."

And, we have a new member. Thanks to The Avatar Trilogy ...

Saludos,
Manuel of the Manus Web



Hmmmmmm, a cunning plan indeed, webmanus

::promotes webmanus to head of the FR\Candlekeep Press Gang::

Alaundo
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ode904
Learned Scribe

Finland
193 Posts

Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  22:59:07  Show Profile  Click to see ode904's MSN Messenger address Send ode904 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Songs % Swords. It has good collection of characters(main characters are humans, elves & half-elves and some of them are wizards),serie gives lots of information about all kinds of things in Faerun, especially about magic which is good. And those books take place in good areas too.
Then is good to read maybe Starlight & shadows(drows, more of magic, travelling Faerun)
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DDH_101
Master of Realmslore

Canada
1272 Posts

Posted - 06 Aug 2005 :  23:38:17  Show Profile  Visit DDH_101's Homepage  Click to see DDH_101's MSN Messenger address Send DDH_101 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would say RAS's novels first for people who just started reading FR and knows nothing about the setting.

The Elminster series is a must because there is so much Realmslore and Elminster is such an important character.

Then like many others have said, the Avatar series because it's the biggest RSE of all time.

"Trust in the shadows, for the bright way makes you an easy target." -Mask
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Xysma
Master of Realmslore

USA
1089 Posts

Posted - 07 Aug 2005 :  04:33:57  Show Profile  Visit Xysma's Homepage Send Xysma a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To get a feel for the Realms, I would recommend Shandril's Saga, the Finder's Stone trilogy, the Songs and Swords series, Realms of Infamy, and Realms of Valor. If you are going to be playing in the 3e Realms, I would add the Avatar series and Elminster's Daughter. I also think the Hunter's Blades trilogy is an excellent depiction of the dwarves of the Realms.

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Paec_djinn
Learned Scribe

173 Posts

Posted - 07 Aug 2005 :  04:45:46  Show Profile  Visit Paec_djinn's Homepage Send Paec_djinn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I started with the Sembia series and IMO, it's a damn good place to start. Perhaps the anthologies could be used as a beginning to but I'm not too sure. I'm just speaking based on experience. The Sembia series is an extremely good series for starters and old timers alike.
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Shadovar
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785 Posts

Posted - 07 Aug 2005 :  05:42:16  Show Profile  Visit Shadovar's Homepage Send Shadovar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I suggest beginning with the following (not necessarily must follow the order):

1) The Avatar Series (a in depth look at the deities of Faerun.)

2) Cleric Quintet (Should not be too difficult to understand for beginners.)

3) The Song and Swords Series (good for a start.)

4) The Hunter Blades Trilogy (for those who seek to plunge straight into big action first.)

5) Shandril's Saga (an intro. to the events, lands before the Arrival, plus a good look into the Zhentarim.)

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Alaundo
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Posted - 07 Aug 2005 :  10:28:36  Show Profile  Visit Alaundo's Homepage  Click to see Alaundo's MSN Messenger address Send Alaundo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by DDH_101

I would say RAS's novels first for people who just started reading FR and knows nothing about the setting.

The Elminster series is a must because there is so much Realmslore and Elminster is such an important character.

Then like many others have said, the Avatar series because it's the biggest RSE of all time.



Well met

Hmmm, "RAS's novels" is a little vague, DDH_101. Afterall there are quite a lot

Although I often defend the fact that The Dark Elf Trilogy should be read first, i'd say for new fans of the Realms to read The Icewind Dale Trilogy to get a good feel.

Shadovar, I disagree that The Hunter's Blade's Trilogy should be read. Starting at the end will result in too many past events being lost within the reading of these novels... the Wulfar\Dellie\Cattie-Brie and Drizzt situation, Khazid-Hea, the relationships between the companions overall etc.


Alaundo
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Paec_djinn
Learned Scribe

173 Posts

Posted - 07 Aug 2005 :  12:35:21  Show Profile  Visit Paec_djinn's Homepage Send Paec_djinn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by webmanus

I would say The Avatar Trilogy. The reason for that, is that the books represents a generation shift; old gods die and new are born. The readers will follow the minds of humans, and gods. And, the books take the reader to several places. Thus, those books are a kind of three in one:

- You will be taken to several places.
- You will learn how folks of the Realms think.
- You will learn how gods think, and what they do.


I just noticed this and I have to disagree. My first official FR book was Shadowdale and I never actually finished it before I finished The Shattered Mask.

I have to say that while the book takes readers to a few places, none of them are detailed that extensively that readers will have no place to focus their attention on. And this confused me for Shadowdale (note that IMO Tantras and Waterdeep are a little less confusing).

I also have to say that readers don't learn as much of how people of the realms think except for the clerics, Zhents and the party of four.

Readers do learn about the gods though but it seems rather confusing, considering they have all been banished from the Heavens. And you don't see what their powers are though you can assume alot by their actions.
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Lameth
Learned Scribe

Germany
196 Posts

Posted - 07 Aug 2005 :  16:36:50  Show Profile  Visit Lameth's Homepage  Send Lameth an ICQ Message Send Lameth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
1) The Avatar Series

2) Finders Stone Trilogy

3) Icewind Dale Trilogy

4) Cleric Quintet

Edited by - Lameth on 07 Aug 2005 16:37:17
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 07 Aug 2005 :  16:53:04  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'd not recommend the Avatar novels too early for a new person. The were some of the first Realms novels I read, but they didn't do a great job of conveying the flavor of the Realms -- at least, the original trilogy didn't. The latter two books were much better in that regard.

The only reason I would include those novels is because it's hard to get a good understanding of the Realms if you leave out this important event. So much else is built on it or references it...

The books I listed in my earlier post are, to me, the most flavorful of all the Realms novels, and thus the best ones for a new person.

Some have also mentioned Shandril's Saga. Those books have plenty of flavor, but I've never been a huge fan. Part of what has always bugged me about them was the fact that in Spellfire, I felt like I'd walked into the middle of a soap opera. I know much of that is due to the editorial axe that has been taken to those books, but I think it could be a bit overwhelming for a new person.

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Faraer
Great Reader

3291 Posts

Posted - 07 Aug 2005 :  20:14:50  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
But the Realms is like that. Its characters have history and secrets, its stories don't all have abrupt beginnings and endings -- though Shandril's and Narm's story is perfectly self-contained. Spellfire was written to showcase the Realms for new readers, and although Ed's improved technically as a novelist since then, it does that better than any novel since. Though the Knights books will be excellent candidates when we have them.

The other thing about the Avatar books is that their interest depends on already knowing and caring about the place that's being turned on its head. A war novel isn't the best introduction to what places are like in peacetime. (And for Realms flavour, the Avatar trilogy is far inferior to both the FRE modules and the Shadow of the Avatar books.)

Edited by - Faraer on 07 Aug 2005 20:15:03
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 07 Aug 2005 :  20:28:35  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Faraer

But the Realms is like that. Its characters have history and secrets, its stories don't all have abrupt beginnings and endings -- though Shandril's and Narm's story is perfectly self-contained. Spellfire was written to showcase the Realms for new readers, and although Ed's improved technically as a novelist since then, it does that better than any novel since. Though the Knights books will be excellent candidates when we have them.


Yeah, but what bugged me was that we saw all these other scraps of stories, with no resolution, and the definite feeling that other stuff had been going on elsewhere. This is great on a small scale, but there's a lot of it in Spellfire, and it could leave a new reader scratching their head, wondering about these pieces of stories. At least, that's what it did to me when I read it, when there was only a couple of Realms novels available.

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KnightErrantJR
Great Reader

USA
5402 Posts

Posted - 07 Aug 2005 :  20:35:24  Show Profile  Visit KnightErrantJR's Homepage Send KnightErrantJR a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would have to say that I would give out what they should read to get started in three phases . . . what gives a good feel, what gives a good overveiw, and what gives a primer on essestial events, to be read in that order.

As far as the good feel, the following is what I would recommend:



1) The Icewind Dale Trilogy (Whatever you might think of RAS later books, this one is about an adventuring group saving their corner of the world, and it give a very brief overview of a few more complicated issues, like the Hosttower of the Arcane and Calimshan).

2) The Finder's Stone Trilogy. (While it has twists and turns, its fairly easy to follow, talks about adventuring companies and power groups, and shows off Cormyr, the Dales, and Westgate, among other locations).

3) The Song and Swords Books (For our purposes, I would leave out Thornhold as extraneous to the purpose of this first series of books, other than that, we get to see Harpers, the Lords Alliance, and Waterdeep, as well as some great characters).



As far as the overview books:



1) The Cormyr Saga (especially the first book. As far as my logic goes, the other two books would actually fall into the next catagory).

2) Evermeet (Its the history of Elves since they arrived in Faerun, c'mon!)



Primer on essestial events (Stuff that is referenced commonly in other books and is the basis for some of the strife that sets up later series):



1) The Avatar Books (Yes, they are disjointed, but overall what happens here doesn't stay here . . . everthing set afterword mentions this to one degree or another).

2) The Return of the Archwizards Trilogy (the only reason this is here is that without this, anytime the Shades show up in another book, such as say, Mistress of the Night, if you are ONLY a novel fan, you have no real idea about where these guys came from).



I think after this three step program you have a pretty solid basis for knowing events that are references in the future books, or even the other books that are not part of this list, and I think this order, flavor, background, and essential information, is the way to go to keep someone interested in the Realms without flooding them.

Keep in mind, this list of mine has nothing to do with what I personally think are good books. I have greatly enjoyed the Erevis Cale books, The Year of Rogue Dragons, and the Last Mythal series, but as of yet at least, I wouldn't have anyone that didn't get a good basis in Realms reading jump to them first, or even second.

"Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder."--Saint Thomas Aquinas

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Edited by - KnightErrantJR on 07 Aug 2005 20:35:49
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Freakboy
Seeker

USA
63 Posts

Posted - 07 Aug 2005 :  22:31:12  Show Profile  Visit Freakboy's Homepage Send Freakboy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
For a first timer I think Salvatore's Icewind Dale Trilogy is a good place to start. It is a compelling story and there is a reason Salvatore is a multi-title New York Times best selling author. His work is good. His early work is especially good and will make an easy entrance for a new fan.

After that it gets a little more complicated. Evermeet should be included because it explains a lot about why the Elves are the way they are in the Realmns. Additionally, the Avatars Series needs to be included because so much of what goes on in the Realms references it.

Beyond that it depends a lot on the tastes of the person reading the books. I would recommend Elaine's books including the Starlight and Shadows books and Arilyn and Danillo's books. If they really like the Drow after reading Drizzt's books then I would say the Dark Elf Trilogy and the paths of Darkness Series by Salvatore along with Elaine's Liriel books and then the WotSQ.

Additionally, I think the anthologies have to be considered simply because they are short stories and a single book will contain stories on a wide range of areas. The Best of the Realms books are good examples of this as are the Realms of (like Shadow and Underdark) books.

So to summarize.

1st The Icewind Dale Trilogy
2nd The Avatar's Series
3rd Evermeet
4th Depends on the tastes of the reader



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Faramicos
Senior Scribe

Denmark
468 Posts

Posted - 12 Aug 2005 :  13:51:08  Show Profile  Visit Faramicos's Homepage Send Faramicos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If the Icewind Dale Trilogy is to be read it should come after reading the Dark Elf Trilogy. It is after all 6 books about a single characters life...

"When dragons make war, worlds can only tremble in the shadow of angry wings"
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

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29792 Posts

Posted - 12 Aug 2005 :  17:51:03  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Faramicos

If the Icewind Dale Trilogy is to be read it should come after reading the Dark Elf Trilogy. It is after all 6 books about a single characters life...



Well, there's been debate over that point in the past...

But for a beginner, I'd not recommend that route. They'll get a lot better feel for the Realms from the Icewind Dale trilogy than they will from the Dark Elf trilogy.

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