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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 06 May 2017 :  22:43:20  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
From what I've gathered from your comments on various regions (Thay, Sembia, Anauroch, etc.) You seem to highly value learning about the cultures, peoples, and places of Faerun. In that regard alone this is a must read series, as Halruua doesn't get a whole lot of screentime elsewhere. Elaine's excellent character development and intricate plot is just icing on the cake. It'll be fun to read yourcomments afterwards.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 08 May 2017 :  04:43:49  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Realms of Shadow last night and found it to be one of the better anthologies I've yet read. I know the whole Shade/ Shadow/ Shadevar arc isn't to everyone's tastes, but this was a very solid collection of short stories. Even those tales I would consider the lesser contributions stacked up well against the other "Realms of" books. Some thoughts on the ones I found most noteworthy:

Trial By Ordeal - Lisa Smedman - very interesting story that delves into the nature of sentience, intelligence, and self-awareness. These are usually themes explored more in sci-fi, so it was really neat to see it done from a fantasy standpoint. I almost expected there to be some kind of magical variant of the Turing Test. A really thought-provoking story that got the book off to an excellent start.

Too Long in the Dark - Paul S. Kemp - after the first couple stories, I found myself wanting to know more about how Shade Enclave was transported into the Plane of Shadow. I recall thinking how awesome it would be if one of these stories touches on this moment, and then I got exactly what I was hoping for. The transition was suitably horrifying, and there was even a terrific Frankenstein vibe with Zoss obsessing on restoring his dead lady to life. About the only thing missing is some more background info on Shade Enclave before that fateful day. I find myself craving information on how this floating island was perceived by the rest of Netheril. Were they feared and respected? Largely ignored? Or derided as the "stupid little brother" of the other enclaves, with their inferior shadow magic that can't come close to reaching the glory of Mystryl's Weave.

Liar's Game - Jessica Beavan - I couldn't find anything about this author other than this one solitary contribution. This story of a druid-turned-shadowmage was very much on the macabre side, and a bit repulsive at times in how vile she treats the animals she once cared for. Not the best entry of the bunch, but it did do a pretty good job of evoking some emotion, albeit mostly disgust and pity for the character she treats so poorly.

That Curious Sword - RA Salvatore - I'm not quite sure what to make of Artemis and Jarlaxle on the open road. Their Odd Couple shtick doesn't quite play true to me, if only because I always thought of Entreri as way too far gone to ever be anything but a soulless monster. I get that RAS digs the character and wants to make him something of a reclamation project, but I'm not buying in quite yet. I did really like how his dagger absorbed the shadevari life force and transferred a bit of that "shadow stuff" to Artemis. Perhaps it's just the Rule of Cool speaking, but man that just made him even more badass. Jarlaxle, on the other hand, I'm really enjoying. I think, on some level, he's having a blast. He was on top with Bregan D'Arth (sp?) for so long, it's almost like he got bored with completely dominating the underbelly of drow culture. Now he's on the road, starting over from scratch (if one can call having bags of holding full of ridiculous amounts of coin and magic gadgets to counter every conceivable scenario, "scratch"), it feels like he's invigorated.

A Little Knowledge - Elaine Cunningham - Yay, more Halruua stuff! Coming right off the heels of finishing the Counselors and Kings trilogy, this was a nice light snack to add a bit more to the region. I have a really bizarre tangent to add to this part, but I'm not sure I want to derail things. Maybe I'll edit it in later.

Astride the Wind - Phillip Athans - Google the phrase "that's the way we've always done it monkeys" and you'll see the inspiration for this story of kenku enslavement. I was surprised by how deeply I got into this story by the end, and how visceral my reaction was. I've raked this author over the coals a bit for the Baldur's Gate material, so it's only fair I give some credit here for a job well done.

There are 6 other stories I didn't mention specifically, but all of them added something, and I wouldn't call any of them clunkers, like you usually see at least one or two of in any collection. I also really enjoyed how the book was setup in chronological order to include stories from ancient Netheril, during the Fall, the intervening years, and the present day events of the Return of the Archwizards series. This book was a buffet of good information and storytelling.

Tomorrow night I will start in on Heirs of Prophecy.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 14 May 2017 :  23:11:34  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Heirs of Prophecy a few nights ago. I've enjoyed both short stories I've read from Lisa Smedman, and felt the same about this book up until the last 30 pages or so. I'm a bit conflicted with the finish. Spoilers to follow - if the term can be used for a 15 year old book - but if you haven't read it yet and plan to, stop here.

Using a love charm to disable the big bad felt weird, almost like a cop out. I'm not sure why I feel that way, ordinarily I admire when a protagonist solves problems in a manner that is appropriate to their character - like when stealthy types use infiltration, intelligent types use some form of innovation, etc. Not all problems should be solved by the brawler method, so isn't it right that a priestess of Hanali/Sune utilizes beauty and love to overcome evil? I guess I didn't care for it for two reasons: first, she went right back to the same well right away. After "setting up" Doriantha with the leader from Hillsfar, she then magically compelled Drakkar to fall in love with her. I found it improbable this strategy would've worked once, let alone twice. How did not one of Maalthiir's subordinates realize something was up, he went from detesting elves and trying to provoke a war, to instantly being smitten. His mage, (starts with N, can't remember the name), the one that was sensitive enough to detect the presence of Leifander even though he was nothing but air at the time, couldn't tell that something was off with his boss? That really strains credulity.

Then, Larajin goes and uses the same trick on the mage that has been plaguing her since the previous short story. At first I thought he would be simply too powerful for this charm to affect him, but the story continually made it known that Larajin is some kind of "Chosen" and therefore her magic is considerably more powerful than expected. That made the scenario much more plausible for me.

So even though I applaud Larajin for using a non-conventional means to save the day (other than the typical "kill the bad guys"), I didn't like it being used twice in rapid succession. Also, there's something to be said for a Goddess of Love granting a spell that is akin to mental rape. Can it be called love if it is magically forced upon an unwilling recipient? That can get into some pretty sticky discussion territory.

So, all that considered, I'd say this is a mostly very good book with a few issues at the end that prevent me from completely enjoying it. I really liked the Larajin/Leifander dynamic, the uncomfortable racial tension between Sembia and the elves, the druid council was well done, the action was spot on. That end though.... I'm still not sure about it.

Up next in publishing order is the first book of the War of the Spider Queen series. However, I'm going to skip around a bit, read some other books, and then tackle the WotSQ all back to back. So instead I've started the third Shandril installment: Hand of Fire.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 18 May 2017 :  18:12:06  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yesterday I finished Hand of Fire. It represented everything I enjoy in a Greenwood novel, along with everything I find frustrating in one. I swear I vacillate 100 times between whether I'm going to write a glowing review or a scathing one. It's always one extreme or the other.

I'm glad we finally have a resolution to the Shandril Saga. This entire trilogy has been boiled down to basically the same theme over and over: a motley assortment of varied bad guys come after Shandril, she hesitates to fight, she then gets pissed off over something and goes all Dark Phoenix on everyone - slaughtering archmages, beholders, drow, dragons, liches, whatever; they are all just so much wheat for her to scythe through - and then collapses into tears at all the carnage she just wrought. To be 100% blunt, it's gotten stale.

The secondary characters are where I try to find my enjoyment in these books - but even that is a very up-and-down experience. I was slow to warm up to Mirt the Moneylender, but now he's become one of the top attractions. Sharantyr, on the other hand, has some problems to work on. Is it me or is she the sloppiest fighter the KoMD have ever let into their ranks? If not for her ironguard enchantment, she'd have been slain two dozen times in this book alone. I think it's just an excuse so she (or more importantly, her garb) can take damage without her getting too hurt, so she can be naked every 4th page - a staple for every EG female character. I guess if I were 12 years old this would make for titillating reading, but now I find it's just become tediously predictable.

The two Harpers that accompany the caravan - Arauntar and Beldimarr (I won't remember their names a week from now) were what I call JAGs (Just a Guy). They are tough, snarky warriors, quick with a quip and a blade, a bit cynical/world-weary, but hiding hearts of gold under their crusty exteriors. One is taller and rangier, the other is short and stout. They are carbon copies of two other Harpers from a previous book. I had to look it up, but found them - Itharr and Belkram from Shadows of Doom - clones in all but name, even down to their physical descriptions. He sort of does the same things with his bad guys. The Zhents, Cult of the Dragon, and Thayans lose archmages so fast, but it never seems to matter, he just comes up with more. It got to the point where I couldn't even tell a Hlael from a Hesperdan from a Drauthtar - they're not even worth learning the backstories (if they even have one) or characteristics of, since they are slaughtered like mayflies and replaced in dizzying fashion.

The little tidbits of lore that start each chapter are fascinating to me. He creates all these snippets from various plays, in-world books, events, and characters. It's insane to think how much passion and effort he's put in to make Faerun a living, breathing world. That, and some of the character interactions - ranging from humorous to deeply touching - are wonderful moments, and the reason I soldier through the other elements that don't work so well for me.

So there it is. Like all Greenwood novels, I find myself bewildered. I don't know if I liked or disliked it. I guess the only answer I can come up with is... both?

Tonight I'll start The Thousand Orcs.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 18 May 2017 18:14:53
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
4788 Posts

Posted - 18 May 2017 :  23:25:18  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To give you some context, Ed was originally promised a 5-novel arc dealing with Shandril and the third book was to have culminated in her arriving in Silverymoon and the safety of Alustriel after a series of suitable adventures. Those plans were changed and Ed was told to kill her off, and so he did. I know that the denouement of Spellfire which involved yet "another" dracolich attack occurred as a consequence of editorial direction. I wouldn't be surprised if Ed was told he had to feature the Zhents, the Cult and the Red Wizards all in the same narrative. But yes, much as I love he man, I too find the breakneck avalanche of burning corpses in Hand of Fire to be "samey".

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Hyperion
Seeker

15 Posts

Posted - 19 May 2017 :  08:42:54  Show Profile Send Hyperion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have mixed feelings about the Shandril saga too. It is quite clear that the third book was heavily edited, as Ed said.
Still the books are a bit repetitive at times and as someone pointed out in this very forum some time ago, they also have a big logical fallacy in the fact that Shandril and the harpers do not simply teleport to Silverymoon from the start. The fallacy is made bigger by the fact that they do teleport to Zhentil keep instead. I do not know if or how this could have been resolved. Maybe by some spells to block or follow teleport, which IIRC existed in AD&D2ed.
The story could work well as a movie, imo, as it shows much of the Realms and has its epic and dramatic moments..

Edited by - Hyperion on 19 May 2017 08:44:17
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
789 Posts

Posted - 19 May 2017 :  18:15:32  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I guess I could re-read Hand of Fire, but I immensely hated it on first read. I actually really like Crown of Fire; the show down with Elminster, Storm and Manshoon is just Realms-porn to me to see them fight in the classic OGB era. And the raid on the Citadel of the Ravens and showdown with Fzoul is great fun. That event however should have set the Zhents back about 100 years based on the leadership, beholders, troops and systemic damage they sustained.

Like in Spellfire, the wise Salvarad and leaders of the Cult were like..yeah this is too much for us, let's just say nah to the chase. And their Dracoliches will all regenerate as the spellfire only destroyed their bodies, not the true phylacteries of the dracoliches. So they lost some treasure and the Shadosil and some fodder. And their dracoliches need to eat some stuff to get back to size. But that was enough for them to pull out.

The Zhents lost so much over the first 2 books...I've no idea how many high level wizards they are meant to have but considering the numbers that are cut down and how poorly they are treated by the ruling group its a wonder they have any left at all.

Anyway Hand of Fire was just so nonsensible to me for the same reason the first two books were.....WHY are the powers that be letting them get in a caravan to RIDE across Faerun knowing they will be attacked every 2 minutes on the way when teleportation is available? If the Chosen of Mystra are personally involved...as they are...all of them are capable (maybe not Dove) of a teleport spell. Couldn't Alustriel just go hey Narm and Shan, come with me to Silvermoon bibbity bobbity boo? Oh I'll just teleport you to the ZHENT HEADQUARTERS instead of to safety. Sigh. (Sorry I see Hyperion just said this too...100% agree).

Reeks of contrivance. And the plot was so same-same of the other two novels of being chased, destroying everyone, being remorseful of her power and the death of her friends. Yawn. This was just not a good book.

But I still love Crown of Fire which has the same issues...I think for the Mirt bits and darn if I don't love Eveningstar being featured so much.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 22 May 2017 :  16:09:29  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@ George Krashos - I love to hear the behind-the-scenes info that helps explain some of the curious directions a book takes. I wonder if the powers that be were as heavy handed in other projects, the attention seems mainly to be focused on Ed's novels. I know there was that whole edict about assassins, but RAS managed to sidestep that quite easily. Did they truly have a different set of standards/expectations/playing rules for the creator of the IP? It seems he had a pretty short leash, while other authors had minimal to no oversight.

@ Hyperion and Seravin - I really struggle with the teleportation thing as well. That port to Zhentil Keep is really too bad, because otherwise I have my own fanon reason for the Harpers/Chosen not being able to simply whisk Shandril and Narm to Silverymoon. I think of Spellfire as a sort of quasi-intelligent/sentient force, that needs a mortal to act as a host body. This entity seeks to protect its host and therefore attacks/disrupts/absorbs any incoming spell. Being unable to discern between benevolent and harmful spells, it just nukes all of them indiscriminately - meaning Shandril can't be the beneficiary of a bless or heal spell (but she can use Spellfire to heal anyway, making her self-sufficient).

But then I remember the illusion spell cast on the couple to make them appear like fat Chauntean clerics. Oops, there goes my headcanon. Maybe I'll just choose to ignore that part, as it didn't last very long and wasn't ultimately a big factor on their journey. Even still, it's almost impossible to reconcile with the teleport to ZK, unless maybe the Spellfire spell defense system is not 100% perfect, and some castings do slip through. That's a lot of /handwaving to deal with though...
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dazzlerdal
Great Reader

United Kingdom
3292 Posts

Posted - 22 May 2017 :  20:24:59  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm fairly sure Ed explained away all the weirdness of Spellfire and what spells work and what don't and why in his thread.

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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
4788 Posts

Posted - 23 May 2017 :  00:22:33  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dazzlerdal

I'm fairly sure Ed explained away all the weirdness of Spellfire and what spells work and what don't and why in his thread.



Yeah he did, but as I recall, in "Crown of Fire" Shandril was teleported to Zhentil Keep to unleash hell. Would have loved to have read a scene in any of the novels where they tried to teleport her to Silverymoon and suffered a "backlash" as they tried to teleport a spellfire wielder into the quasi-mythal there. Of course that means they can simply port her to a mile down the road from Silverymoon ... but that's magic for you. It ruins everything!

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Sunderstone
Seeker

50 Posts

Posted - 25 May 2017 :  13:42:18  Show Profile Send Sunderstone a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Last night I finished Darkwalker on Moonshae. I first read this book way back when I was 11 or 12. As my introduction to Forgotten Realms it holds a dear place in my heart. I read this, along with Dragons of Autumn Twilight, and the Lord of the Rings books, all around the same time period - and I've been hopelessly hooked on fantasy ever since.

I've read a ton of Douglas Niles works, mostly in Dragonlance, and I can say unreservedly that his original Moonshae Trilogy is his finest work. I'm happy to report it withstood the test of time, and that I still highly enjoyed my re-read, now that I'm nearing 40 (unlike when I re-watched the pilot episode of Voltron a few years back and was shocked at how something so awesome from my childhood could be so hideously bad now). I think Niles writes large-scale warfare as good as anyone, particularly when incorporating fantasy units and the effects they would have on a battlefield.

As an avid recycler/conservationist, the theme of Nature vs. those who would despoil it is a powerful one for me, and a major thrust of this story. I won't hesitate to admit that when I first read this in 1989, I was in tears, or damn close, as Kazgaroth poisoned the Moonwells and killed or maimed the Earthmother's beautiful children (killing the leviathan, corrupting the Pack towards evil, and grievously injuring Kammerynn the unicorn.)

I know some people don't share my enthusiasm for his book, and often point towards the lead character of Tristan as extremely unlikeable. But this is obviously done to show him as an immature brat, in order to give him plenty of room to grow and develop. He did come off rather whiny and petulant at times, but I see the rationale, so I don't make too big a deal of it.

If I do have a nitpick, it's with the useage of Firbolgs as the giant enemies of the Ffolk. Every other source I've ever seen depicts this subrace of giants to be noble, courageous creatures, if a bit shy and reclusive - *not* the depraved and misshapen creatures we find in this story. I think the sinister Verbeeg may have filled this role a bit better. Or, going with Kazgaroth's themes of corruption and mutability, perhaps the deformed and hideous Fomorians could've made for a better fit. I think Niles simply saw the Irish connection - being that Firbolgs are a pseudo-historical tribe that settled in Ireland, eventually warring with, and losing to, the Tuatha de Danaan - and used them to enhance the Celtic feel. However, Fomorians also have a Celtic background, so again they may have fit this role better.

That aside, this book was a very strong read, even so many years later. Tonight I started in on the sequel: Black Wizards



I just re-read myself and I agree. I first read it nearly thirty years ago and it's amazing who well it holds up over time. It also hearkens back to a time when Realms books were character driven or locally driven instead of WSEs.

It really brought characters alive and gave them real depth but also did a great job of worldbuilding the MoonShaes and it's history with the Kendrick dynasty, the Druids, and Northman cultures.

The ancillary characters were fantastic and Gavin, the giant blacksmith is still one of my favorite characters in the Realms. Who doesn't like a human so large he was mistaken to be a Firbolg and wields a six foot hammer with a fifty pound head with ease? But rather than be an adventurer or royal he was simple tradesmen who lost his wife and two daughters and ended up being one of the heroes of the story.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 25 May 2017 :  17:13:53  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Sunderstone

I just re-read myself and I agree. I first read it nearly thirty years ago and it's amazing who well it holds up over time. It also hearkens back to a time when Realms books were character driven or locally driven instead of WSEs.

It really brought characters alive and gave them real depth but also did a great job of worldbuilding the MoonShaes and it's history with the Kendrick dynasty, the Druids, and Northman cultures.

The ancillary characters were fantastic and Gavin, the giant blacksmith is still one of my favorite characters in the Realms. Who doesn't like a human so large he was mistaken to be a Firbolg and wields a six foot hammer with a fifty pound head with ease? But rather than be an adventurer or royal he was simple tradesmen who lost his wife and two daughters and ended up being one of the heroes of the story.



Hey, thanks for the comment. If you're just starting this thread, we've covered a good amount of ground (into the early 2000s currently). Good call on Gavin the blacksmith, as soon as you mentioned his name I instantly recalled his heroic stand, even though that was quite some time and a great many books ago for me. I was genuinely surprised at the somewhat lukewarm reception the original Moonshae trilogy received in this thread. Even accounting for the nostalgia factor, it still remains one of my favorite Realms stories to this day, but that's not the vibe I get from fellow Candlekeepers.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 25 May 2017 :  17:33:14  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Thousand Orcs a couple nights ago. Let me get one thing off my chest right away: the names! When RAS comes up with names he's really all over the place. Sometimes he knocks it out of the park, but sometimes it's just brutal... I was actually jotting a few of them down on a scrap piece of paper I kept in the back of the book, but now I can't seem to find it. The ones I remember were:

Dagnabbit - ugghh... I can almost forgive this one, being he is the son of General Dagna (I pretended "bbit" is some kind of familial add-on, like the way Norse use son and dotter), but then he went and yelled "Dagnabbit!!" when he was placed in a frustrating situation, like some old 1840s gold miner with one tooth in his head. That was awful.

Cordio Muffinhead - I guess naming dwarves and using derivatives of various stones/rocks and tools/implements (axe/hammer/chisel/etc) must get boring eventually, so sometimes you have to go outside the norm. But Muffinhead? Really, Muffinhead?

Withegroo Seian'Doo - the human wizard that leads the town of Shallows. I'm not even sure what to do with that one.

Kaer'lic Suun Wett - drow priestess. I ended up calling her Lick-Soon-Wet, interpret that however you will.

Nanfoodle - gnome alchemist. If this were the only oddball name I'd chalk it up to him being both a gnome and an eccentric scientist. But when Nanfoodle is the best of the weird names....

Drizzt - yeah, I'll go there. I've heard at least 4 different fan pronunciations. I have to believe that if Bob knew what kind of popularity his dark elf would gain, he might've spent 10 more minutes coming up with a better name :P

The Town of Clicking Heels - there's no place like home?

Ok, thanks for letting me get that out of the way. I felt this was one of the better RAS books from the last few I've read. The Companions get their butts kicked pretty soundly, the threat is very ominous, and the stakes are suitably high. The sideplot of intrigue in Mirabar didn't do a whole lot for me, but it was a decent cutaway from the main story. And good for Obould for having some organization and a vision for his people. Too often we see multiple tribes of savage humanoids united under the banner of an evil mage, a dark priest of some fell deity, or maybe even a dragon. It's nice to see a leader emerge from within their own ranks. I can't put my finger on any one element of this book, I just thought it was a solid read from start to finish (minus those names!) A good sign is that I'm eager to continue this storyline, but alas that is not in the cards. Up next I've got more Uskevren material, with Sands of the Soul.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 25 May 2017 19:12:51
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Sunderstone
Seeker

50 Posts

Posted - 25 May 2017 :  21:29:41  Show Profile Send Sunderstone a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

quote:
Originally posted by Sunderstone

I just re-read myself and I agree. I first read it nearly thirty years ago and it's amazing who well it holds up over time. It also hearkens back to a time when Realms books were character driven or locally driven instead of WSEs.

It really brought characters alive and gave them real depth but also did a great job of worldbuilding the MoonShaes and it's history with the Kendrick dynasty, the Druids, and Northman cultures.

The ancillary characters were fantastic and Gavin, the giant blacksmith is still one of my favorite characters in the Realms. Who doesn't like a human so large he was mistaken to be a Firbolg and wields a six foot hammer with a fifty pound head with ease? But rather than be an adventurer or royal he was simple tradesmen who lost his wife and two daughters and ended up being one of the heroes of the story.



Hey, thanks for the comment. If you're just starting this thread, we've covered a good amount of ground (into the early 2000s currently). Good call on Gavin the blacksmith, as soon as you mentioned his name I instantly recalled his heroic stand, even though that was quite some time and a great many books ago for me. I was genuinely surprised at the somewhat lukewarm reception the original Moonshae trilogy received in this thread. Even accounting for the nostalgia factor, it still remains one of my favorite Realms stories to this day, but that's not the vibe I get from fellow Candlekeepers.



One man on foot, immense though he was, turning aside a cavalry charge of magically enhanced warriors was epic! IMHO, his sacrifice in saving Robyn from Laric and Bloodriders was one of the best scenes in any Realms book!
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Hyperion
Seeker

15 Posts

Posted - 26 May 2017 :  11:16:13  Show Profile Send Hyperion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It could be because I read them only recently and not as a teen like others Realms books, but I did not find the original Moonshae trilogy very impressive. I like Celtic myths and so on and I appreciated the Earthmother theme, but the characters just did not impress me very much, and even the deaths did not really move me.
I think the enemy is not really engaging, because it's just evil and his story is not really explained. The wizards of the second book were a bit better in this regard, but not much.
I found the protagonists not really interesting nor well developed, quite flat compared to other characters of other fantasy books and to the characters of the Sembia series, the Avatar trilogy, any Elaine Cunningham, Jeff Grubb and even many of Greenwood and Salvatore.
The setting is not really well developed and at times seems a bit too much a generic medieval Ireland.
I found the story only moderately engaging and quite predictable in its developments.
So I cannot say I would recommend the books to anyone.
I'm reading the second trilogy now and I've found it moderately better, at least for the developments of the story, but only up to a certain point, and in fact I'm reading it quite slowly.
Just my opinion eh, but even Gavin did not move me so much. Too expected, maybe.

Edited by - Hyperion on 26 May 2017 11:16:45
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Hyperion
Seeker

15 Posts

Posted - 26 May 2017 :  11:37:47  Show Profile Send Hyperion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished The Thousand Orcs a couple nights ago. Let me get one thing off my chest right away: the names! When RAS comes up with names he's really all over the place.



It get worse with later books :)
I've read all Salvatore Realms books now but at times I were not sure why I was doing it. Drizzt books from about the ninth on started to become very predictable to me, because is just too obvious he will somehow survive, and that was before I knew there were more books to read, as I originally read them when they were published.
That occurs also in many comics, but you may wish to read them anyway because there are twists in the setting and the story, but Salvatore books are very focused on the protagonists, and I think the setting and the story are often too much on the background. Anyway I too found the Thousand Orcs interesting at first, but later.. well to be discussed when you'll get to it.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 28 May 2017 :  23:29:32  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Sands of the Soul last night. I've really enjoyed all the Uskevren material, but I think this book was one of the weaker links. It's not that it was bad, it just simply didn't measure up to what I've seen in the other Sembian books. The dialogue was a bit odd at times, Steorff turned into a crazy rage-monkey, and the fight scenes were lackluster. Lines like "and she swung her sword and dispatched two enemies" didn't exactly paint the most vivid of pictures.

Where it really shined was in the description of Calimport after the protagonists traveled there. She did a great job bringing the city to life, particularly in the architecture, which felt like she did her research. Also some background history and culture on the city/region was very well done.

The strangest part was when Tazi travels to something called the "Dark Bazaar". Did the author create that, or is there a canon reference to it somewhere? It felt very odd and surreal, like her Ravenloft book that I struggled to get through several years ago. A strange chapter, for sure.

Up next I go back and finish up the 3rd installment of the Archwizards Trilogy: The Sorcerer.
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
4788 Posts

Posted - 29 May 2017 :  23:27:01  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion
The strangest part was when Tazi travels to something called the "Dark Bazaar". Did the author create that, or is there a canon reference to it somewhere? It felt very odd and surreal, like her Ravenloft book that I struggled to get through several years ago. A strange chapter, for sure.



I'm pretty sure it is given some detail in Steven Schend's "Calimport" accessory.

-- George Krashos

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

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2017 :  13:06:03  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Knocked out 3 books last week while on vacation and in-transit. Because I'm covering multiple books in one post, the details will be a bit fuzzier:

The Sorcerer - I liked this book quite a bit more than I thought I would. It was the best of this trilogy, I felt. The action was good, the characters were pretty well developed, nobody was outrageously dumb or noticeably out of character as we've discussed in some Denning novels. I liked the intrigue between the various factions, as nothing was cut-and-dry. You had humans, elves, phaerimm, and Netherese all at cross purposes and all looking to influence events to best meet their own needs. My biggest gripe with this book is that everyone is a grand master at *throwing swords*. I have to think this must be an incredibly difficult skill - to launch a weapon that was never meant, even remotely, for missile combat. Yet every elf or human in this story can pick up a blade and chuck it 50 feet, splitting an opponent down the middle. It had me wondering if that is a specific property of the darkswords that Melegaunt forged for the Vaasans.

Dissolution - next up I started in on the War of the Spider Queen. I plan to deviate from my regular publication date order and read all 6 of these in a row. As the first book of the series, it fell on Byers to introduce a large cast of characters and get the reader somewhat invested in them. I thought he succeeded admirably. Even though I'm not a huge fan of drow, the cast is interesting - particularly Ryld and Pharaun, whom I found to be quite entertaining. The identity of the mysterious "Prophet" wasn't all that hard to predict, but the plot didn't suffer for it. Good start to the series.

Insurrection - another good book, but a bit of a step down from the first, if only because it's essentially the same story just in a different city (Ched Nasad, rather than Menzoberranzan). Still, it was engaging, especially learning an entirely new hierarchy of noble Houses and new Matron Mothers. Aliiza and Khanyr Vhok make for an interesting wildcard faction. It got a little repetitive towards the end, as the group is trying to flee the burning/falling city and constantly have to keep fighting different drow and duergar warbands. I imagine it was no easy task for each author to have a portion of the story assigned to them, and then told to stretch it out for close to 400 pages - because why tell a story about drow in a trilogy when you can extend it to a sextet and sell twice the number of books, right? So, other than how it got a little... Spellfirey towards the end, it was still a pretty good story.

Up next is the third book in the WotSQ: Condemnation.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 20 Jun 2017 :  22:43:35  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Condemnation a couple nights ago. My wife always asks me what book I'm reading, and when I replied with the title, she said "You're reading a book called Condom Nation?" *tap* *tap*, is this thing on?

No responses as yet for books 1 and 2 of this series, I'm not sure if it didn't go over well at the time, or maybe people were just at a drow oversaturation point. In any case, I thought it's been pretty good so far, and book 3 has been the best of the bunch. I really liked City of Ravens (also by Richard Baker), and after this book I'm eagerly looking forward to more of his work - particularly the Last Mythal trilogy.

As for this story, I liked that they really got out and about, rather than primarily hanging in one city. The Hlaungadath chapters were really cool, as were the Labyrinth and all the minotaur/Baphomet followers. The intrigue and strategy behind the Gracklstugh/Menzoberranzan conflict was nicely done as well. I'd like to learn a bit more about Araumycos, perhaps another time. But my favorite part of this book was the odyssey through the Astral Plane and into the Abyss. I know we talked earlier (during one of the Grubb/Novak books) that some posters don't much care for planar travels - as it turns a pure Forgotten Realms story into something of an FR/Planescape hybrid - but I don't mind it at all, when it's done well. I thought Baker did an excellent job of explaining, mechanically, what the characters were doing without it being too heavy-handed in exposition. Tzirik's plan was pretty sweet, I love how he duped the idiot spider kissers. But I guess they made up for it by planting Jeggred back home. The scene where he killed Tzirik's material body and caused his planar representation to be erased was super cool, like Cypher pulling the plug on his fellow crewman of the Nebuchadnezzar.

Lastly, I'll say I was very surprised by Halistra's capture by the surface elves/humans. I was sure the priestess of Eilistraee would convert her, but instead she played them for fools and made good on her escape. I still feel she is going to be a redemption character in the end, but it feels way more realistic for it not to have taken hold on the very first try. I felt bad for the two that she murdered in her escape, but c'mon, what can you expect when you extend that much trust to a Lolthite?

Up next is book 4: Extinction.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 20 Jun 2017 22:48:37
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CTrunks
Acolyte

Canada
14 Posts

Posted - 21 Jun 2017 :  00:24:47  Show Profile Send CTrunks a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The first three books of the WotSQ saga were all, for the most part, pretty good. Dissolution set up the main party fairly well, and gave us a hint of the stakes for the series. I've always found that Insurrection starts off alright, but really starts to drag through the second half, especially during the running battle through Ched Nasad. Even so, it did a good job of showing the alternative to the uprising in the first book, and gave a hint of just how boned the drow were if they devolved into infighting (the drow national pasttime). And Condemnation (which fights with Dissolution for my favorite book of the series) is a bit more of an adventure that also introduces several new 'antagonists' and players looking to take advantage of the chaos from Lolth going silent, and further driving a wedge into the already-barely-there cohesion of the group from Menzo.

They're all good books that do what they need to, and set us up for the second half. For good or for ill.
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Madpig
Learned Scribe

Finland
117 Posts

Posted - 22 Jun 2017 :  06:40:59  Show Profile Send Madpig a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Condemnation a couple nights ago. My wife always asks me what book I'm reading, and when I replied with the title, she said "You're reading a book called Condom Nation?" *tap* *tap*, is this thing on?

No responses as yet for books 1 and 2 of this series, I'm not sure if it didn't go over well at the time, or maybe people were just at a drow oversaturation point. In any case, I thought it's been pretty good so far, and book 3 has been the best of the bunch. I really liked City of Ravens (also by Richard Baker), and after this book I'm eagerly looking forward to more of his work - particularly the Last Mythal trilogy.

As for this story, I liked that they really got out and about, rather than primarily hanging in one city. The Hlaungadath chapters were really cool, as were the Labyrinth and all the minotaur/Baphomet followers. The intrigue and strategy behind the Gracklstugh/Menzoberranzan conflict was nicely done as well. I'd like to learn a bit more about Araumycos, perhaps another time. But my favorite part of this book was the odyssey through the Astral Plane and into the Abyss. I know we talked earlier (during one of the Grubb/Novak books) that some posters don't much care for planar travels - as it turns a pure Forgotten Realms story into something of an FR/Planescape hybrid - but I don't mind it at all, when it's done well. I thought Baker did an excellent job of explaining, mechanically, what the characters were doing without it being too heavy-handed in exposition. Tzirik's plan was pretty sweet, I love how he duped the idiot spider kissers. But I guess they made up for it by planting Jeggred back home. The scene where he killed Tzirik's material body and caused his planar representation to be erased was super cool, like Cypher pulling the plug on his fellow crewman of the Nebuchadnezzar.

Lastly, I'll say I was very surprised by Halistra's capture by the surface elves/humans. I was sure the priestess of Eilistraee would convert her, but instead she played them for fools and made good on her escape. I still feel she is going to be a redemption character in the end, but it feels way more realistic for it not to have taken hold on the very first try. I felt bad for the two that she murdered in her escape, but c'mon, what can you expect when you extend that much trust to a Lolthite?

Up next is book 4: Extinction.




There have been may years since I have read that series. But I have really no recollection on books 3-5. I remember that books 1 and 6 were among my all time favorites. Also I think that style of having series of 6 books with 6 different authors is not the way to go. Because characters personalities are changing too much between the books.
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Veylandemar
Acolyte

4 Posts

Posted - 23 Jun 2017 :  03:07:22  Show Profile Send Veylandemar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Madpig

There have been may years since I have read that series. But I have really no recollection on books 3-5. I remember that books 1 and 6 were among my all time favorites. Also I think that style of having series of 6 books with 6 different authors is not the way to go. Because characters personalities are changing too much between the books.



Very true. I've just re-read all six books alongside Viking's reviews and am now re-reading the Lady Penitent trilogy. There's a drastic shift in character personalities in Book 5 which seems difficult to reconcile Phillip Athens' iterations of the main party with what has come before.

I won't go into too many details for now, but may chime in further once Viking has finished the series.
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2602 Posts

Posted - 23 Jun 2017 :  07:09:12  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Veylandemar

quote:
Originally posted by Madpig

There have been may years since I have read that series. But I have really no recollection on books 3-5. I remember that books 1 and 6 were among my all time favorites. Also I think that style of having series of 6 books with 6 different authors is not the way to go. Because characters personalities are changing too much between the books.



Very true. I've just re-read all six books alongside Viking's reviews and am now re-reading the Lady Penitent trilogy. There's a drastic shift in character personalities in Book 5 which seems difficult to reconcile Phillip Athens' iterations of the main party with what has come before.

I won't go into too many details for now, but may chime in further once Viking has finished the series.



Between those shifts, and even major inconsistencies between those books and the lore of the drow gods and general lore (Lolth's plan makes absolutely 0 sense, just to make an example), both WotSQ and LP could have used a lot of further editing.

Both series were handled really badly IMO, which is a shame because the story had some potential to show some much needed (and only logic) evolution within the drow. Instead, what we got was heavy editorial mandate, inconsistencies, and that with the recent changes of 5e/the Sundering, those series might as well have never been written.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2602 Posts

Posted - 23 Jun 2017 :  07:11:15  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Condemnation a couple nights ago. My wife always asks me what book I'm reading, and when I replied with the title, she said "You're reading a book called Condom Nation?" *tap* *tap*, is this thing on?

No responses as yet for books 1 and 2 of this series, I'm not sure if it didn't go over well at the time, or maybe people were just at a drow oversaturation point. In any case, I thought it's been pretty good so far, and book 3 has been the best of the bunch. I really liked City of Ravens (also by Richard Baker), and after this book I'm eagerly looking forward to more of his work - particularly the Last Mythal trilogy.

As for this story, I liked that they really got out and about, rather than primarily hanging in one city. The Hlaungadath chapters were really cool, as were the Labyrinth and all the minotaur/Baphomet followers. The intrigue and strategy behind the Gracklstugh/Menzoberranzan conflict was nicely done as well. I'd like to learn a bit more about Araumycos, perhaps another time. But my favorite part of this book was the odyssey through the Astral Plane and into the Abyss. I know we talked earlier (during one of the Grubb/Novak books) that some posters don't much care for planar travels - as it turns a pure Forgotten Realms story into something of an FR/Planescape hybrid - but I don't mind it at all, when it's done well. I thought Baker did an excellent job of explaining, mechanically, what the characters were doing without it being too heavy-handed in exposition. Tzirik's plan was pretty sweet, I love how he duped the idiot spider kissers. But I guess they made up for it by planting Jeggred back home. The scene where he killed Tzirik's material body and caused his planar representation to be erased was super cool, like Cypher pulling the plug on his fellow crewman of the Nebuchadnezzar.

Lastly, I'll say I was very surprised by Halistra's capture by the surface elves/humans. I was sure the priestess of Eilistraee would convert her, but instead she played them for fools and made good on her escape. I still feel she is going to be a redemption character in the end, but it feels way more realistic for it not to have taken hold on the very first try. I felt bad for the two that she murdered in her escape, but c'mon, what can you expect when you extend that much trust to a Lolthite?

Up next is book 4: Extinction.



Book 3 was my favourite (or the only one that I actually enjoyed). Things started going downhill with book 4, IMO.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 23 Jun 2017 07:12:24
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