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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2670 Posts

Posted - 16 Jul 2017 :  15:30:22  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Windwalker last night. I've got a lot of random points to make, so I'll just throw them out there in no particular order in a stream of consciousness fashion:

Characters who worship, or at least pay homage to, multiple deities seemed to be all the rage in 2003/2004 - Halistra and Liriel (Lolth/Eilistraee), Shakti (Lolth/Vhaeraun), Larajin (Hanali Celanil/Sune).

Are the wychlaren of Rashemen arcane or divine casters? When I hear "witch" I think of a female warlock type, but the witches of this country feel more shamanic/druidic to me, interacting with the spirits of the land and ancestors and so on.

I really loved a few of the small touches Elaine included in this book. The hut of Baba Yaga was awesome, as was the inclusion of the Woodman. I really like the primal spirits, and Rashemen is one of the more interesting locations on Faerun for me. I do, however, wish that final battle was expanded on a bit. You had all these great elements coming together - the Woodman, the lythari/spirit wolfpack, and so on, but it was glossed over way too quickly in a very Tolkeinesque "Battle of the Five Armies" in about a page. Woodman literally got one paragraph - he stepped out from the forest, crushed a bunch of zombie drow underfoot, and the rout was on. I know the majority of this battle was a spiritual one, but still it would've been excellent to get more of the armies clashing.

I've touched on this before, but I still think it's so dumb that Gromph - the archmage of Menzoberranzan - has to be the one to light Narbondel each day. Elaine's reasoning, that it "tethers" him to the city, is very fitting for the matriarchal society (and a slap in the face to the mightiest male), but at the same time, I feel it makes Gromph completely vulnerable. Everyone knows exactly where he'll be at a precise time each day. 2-5 warriors of a lower house with even moderate skill and armed with an antimagic field (like the stone one of the demons used in a previous RAS book) could lay an easy ambush, taking out the best wizard in the region. Bring him back to your House, dissolve the body in acid so there's nothing for the priestesses to use to contact his spirit, and you've tremendously weakened the top House. Is there anything more dangerous for a drow than to become predictable?

Out of all of Elaine's wonderful, deep, and interesting characters, Liriel is probably the one I have the hardest time getting into. Maybe it's as simple as drow oversaturation, I'm not really sure. Or the fact that she seems to be insanely skillful - she's a better than average fighter, an accomplished mage, an ex-priestess, maybe a bit of a thief too, oh and she also happens to be one of the most beautiful drow in Menzoberranzan (of course). Just a bit too Mary Sue for me. There are also some side characters in this story that made it feel a bit too crowded - Thorn, Qilue's daughter, Sharlarra, etc. I think Elaine is the best character builder in the FR stable, but in this book it felt (at least to me) like too many players fighting for screen time, and as a result, none of them were developed enough.

Even though Liriel isn't exactly my cup o' tea, Fyodor is terrific - and the main draw for me in the entire Starlight and Shadows series. It can't be simple to write a compelling berserker/barbarian type, as it's so easy to fall into the familiar tropes we all know and expect. But Fyodor has some excellent nuance to his character. He has this great natural wisdom to him, and just a touch of dry wit/sarcasm to keep Liriel's "spoiled princess" tendencies in check. He was the star of the show for me, and his final scene was very touching and well done.

One of my favorite scenes overall, and I'm not sure why, was when Liriel unraveled the tapestry of souls to free the elven spirits. I like the direction Liriel's character was taking - like she was meant to be some kind of psychopomp, which goes absolutely great with all the Raven imagery used throughout this series.

Lastly, there was an appalling number of typos in this book. I don't put that on the author, sometimes the brain is moving faster than the fingers can keep up. If this book had an editor, shame on them for absolutely dropping the ball. I don't think there are 3 consecutive pages in the entire book that don't have an error. After finishing the book, I went back and scanned through random pages just to confirm my observation - and sure enough I found 3 mistakes in just a 2 page sample. It was prevalent enough to be a distraction and a detraction from the story. Maybe WotC was too cheap to even assign an editor, I'm not sure.

Tonight I'll start on the Rogues series with Book 1: The Alabaster Staff.




I agree with you that there were many side characters in this book, it reminded me a bit of Ed's books, but I honestly really enjoyed all of them. Maybe that's because I find myself able to grow attached even to minor characters (or that I create tons of NPCs when crafting D&D campaigns too), but IMO that all of them added their little part to the story, and that I would feel thier absence if the story didn't have them (I also felt awful for Ysolde, and Qilu as well. Lost her whole family within like an year). I would have been happy to see them receive more attention, but alas WotC's novel have a fixed page count.

Plus, 2 of those characters--Thorn and Sharlarra--will become Liriel's companions in her future travels. If you haven't yet, read this short story: http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=19521 It's the last part of Liriel's tale (unless Elaine decides to write some more short stories about her and her friends: they're still alive in the current era/1491).

I also share your enjoyment of the direction where Liriel's character was headed in relation to accompanying spirits to their aferlife. You'll see something (kinda) related to it in the short story that I linked.

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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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2263 Posts

Posted - 16 Jul 2017 :  18:20:31  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Lastly, there was an appalling number of typos in this book. I don't put that on the author, sometimes the brain is moving faster than the fingers can keep up. If this book had an editor, shame on them for absolutely dropping the ball. I don't think there are 3 consecutive pages in the entire book that don't have an error. After finishing the book, I went back and scanned through random pages just to confirm my observation - and sure enough I found 3 mistakes in just a 2 page sample. It was prevalent enough to be a distraction and a detraction from the story. Maybe WotC was too cheap to even assign an editor, I'm not sure.





Out of curiosity, did you read this in ebook? I suspect that many of the ebooks were scanned from a hard copy, but not proofed. Since scanning is never 100% accurate, errors are introduced.
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Veylandemar
Acolyte

7 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  04:33:57  Show Profile Send Veylandemar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Elaine!

As you've graced us, perchance you could answer a question we were rattling about a few pages back.

In the introduction to one of the WotSQ there was an acknowledgement of your assistance in untangling a plot point that the author was having trouble with.
Is that something you're able to bring to light?

~V
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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2263 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  20:26:55  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Veylandemar
In the introduction to one of the WotSQ there was an acknowledgement of your assistance in untangling a plot point that the author was having trouble with.
Is that something you're able to bring to light?




I was working on Windwalker while WotSQ was being written, and since there was some overlap with Menzoberranzan drow, I asked for info and was given the story bible that outlined the series plot in broad strokes. The appearance of Quenthal Baenre surprised me, since she was killed a few years previously in one of Bob's books. I double checked, and sure enough: dead drow. So I called Phil Athans, the series editor, with this find. There was a moment of dead silence, followed by, and I quote, "Oh, shit...."

Since I was in the early stages of writing Windwalker, I suggested a fix: When Shakit went to the Abyss, she could bring Quenthal back. Windwalker takes place before the events of WotSQ, so this would create an in-story explanation that wouldn't disrupt the existing narrative flow of the series. The author could deal with Quenthal's return in a sentence or two, then hit the ground running. Any fans who wanted more detail could be referred to Windwalker. It was not only an easy solution, but also good cross-marketing. Phil liked the idea, so that's what we did.

I should probably mention, however, that a couple years back I read an article on Phil's blog that remembered this event quite differently. According to his recollection, he saw the problem and asked me to make the fix. And that's fine. According to all the psychology and neuroscience books I've been reading (for another project, not part of this discussion....), memories are not retrieved, so much as recreated. It's pretty normal for people to fashion different recollections of the same event. I'm pretty confident of mine, however, because it required a considerable amount of effort--reading the story bible, double checking Bob's novel, coming up with a solution, calling Phil. My surprise and amusement at his scatalogical response made the event more memorable than it might otherwise have been. My point is, you may hear different versions of this tale. This one is mine.

Edited by - ElaineCunningham on 17 Jul 2017 20:27:31
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Hyperion
Seeker

16 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2017 :  09:03:52  Show Profile Send Hyperion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Great story! I was wondering recently re-reading Salvatore's books why Quenthel was brought back and how exactly and this indeed the explanation :)
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
258 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2017 :  15:22:32  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@Irennan - thanks for letting me know about that short story. I just pulled all the anthologies from my bookcases, and see that it appears in the Best of the Realms III: The Stories of Elaine Cunningham. That is a 2007 book, so one I won't get to for awhile, as I'm still in 2003/2004. Liriel looks like Whoopi Goldberg on the cover.

@Elaine - awesome Quenthel story. We had speculated what that acknowledgment could possibly be about a few pages back, thank you so much for sharing.

As for your other question: not an e-book. I'm not sure if it's the tactile feel, smell, or just the materialistic aspect of wanting to be able to put it up on the shelf with the rest of the collection after reading; but I always go with a physical book. E-books are a measure of last resort that I will only grudgingly go to when it is absolutely the only way I can consume a story. The version I read is not the 2003 hardcover, but the 2004 paperback edition. Many of the typos I referred to are things like incorrect pronouns, sentences where words like "the" or "a" were omitted, switching "loose" for "lose"; stuff of that nature that many would not notice. Hell, I probably make a dozen such mistakes in my own postings. But I have a keen eye for spotting them in other's works. Again, my mention of this was not a criticism of your work, I was just wondering about the process that TSR/WotC takes in the publication of these books, and how carefully they were edited, if indeed they were edited at all. I see that Phil Athans is credited as the editor on many projects of this era, but I don't know if that capacity included reading every book to spot mistakes, or was it more of an overarching supervisor role that steered the general direction of the novel line and tried to maintain continuity among the various authors and projects?



Edited by - VikingLegion on 18 Jul 2017 15:31:51
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
5464 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2017 :  17:47:13  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ElaineCunningham

quote:
Originally posted by Veylandemar
In the introduction to one of the WotSQ there was an acknowledgement of your assistance in untangling a plot point that the author was having trouble with.
Is that something you're able to bring to light?




I was working on Windwalker while WotSQ was being written, and since there was some overlap with Menzoberranzan drow, I asked for info and was given the story bible that outlined the series plot in broad strokes. The appearance of Quenthal Baenre surprised me, since she was killed a few years previously in one of Bob's books. I double checked, and sure enough: dead drow. So I called Phil Athans, the series editor, with this find. There was a moment of dead silence, followed by, and I quote, "Oh, shit...."

Since I was in the early stages of writing Windwalker, I suggested a fix: When Shakit went to the Abyss, she could bring Quenthal back. Windwalker takes place before the events of WotSQ, so this would create an in-story explanation that wouldn't disrupt the existing narrative flow of the series. The author could deal with Quenthal's return in a sentence or two, then hit the ground running. Any fans who wanted more detail could be referred to Windwalker. It was not only an easy solution, but also good cross-marketing. Phil liked the idea, so that's what we did.

I should probably mention, however, that a couple years back I read an article on Phil's blog that remembered this event quite differently. According to his recollection, he saw the problem and asked me to make the fix. And that's fine. According to all the psychology and neuroscience books I've been reading (for another project, not part of this discussion....), memories are not retrieved, so much as recreated. It's pretty normal for people to fashion different recollections of the same event. I'm pretty confident of mine, however, because it required a considerable amount of effort--reading the story bible, double checking Bob's novel, coming up with a solution, calling Phil. My surprise and amusement at his scatalogical response made the event more memorable than it might otherwise have been. My point is, you may hear different versions of this tale. This one is mine.



That... is ... beautiful.. I had heard something along these lines (not that you were involved), but at that time not having been heavily into the Salvatore stories (I actually started getting caught up at the end of 4e... and I'm still behind on most of 4e and 5e Salvatore books).

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2263 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2017 :  21:34:02  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion
As for your other question: not an e-book. I'm not sure if it's the tactile feel, smell, or just the materialistic aspect of wanting to be able to put it up on the shelf with the rest of the collection after reading; but I always go with a physical book. E-books are a measure of last resort that I will only grudgingly go to when it is absolutely the only way I can consume a story. The version I read is not the 2003 hardcover, but the 2004 paperback edition. Many of the typos I referred to are things like incorrect pronouns, sentences where words like "the" or "a" were omitted, switching "loose" for "lose"; stuff of that nature that many would not notice. Hell, I probably make a dozen such mistakes in my own postings. But I have a keen eye for spotting them in other's works. Again, my mention of this was not a criticism of your work, I was just wondering about the process that TSR/WotC takes in the publication of these books, and how carefully they were edited, if indeed they were edited at all. I see that Phil Athans is credited as the editor on many projects of this era, but I don't know if that capacity included reading every book to spot mistakes, or was it more of an overarching supervisor role that steered the general direction of the novel line and tried to maintain continuity among the various authors and projects?





Short answer: I don't remember what the editing process was on this particular book. It has been quite a while since Windwalker was published.

I usually read my books after they're released, but I don't recall reading the paperback. Since it was published a year after the hardcover, it seems unlikely that the book was scanned to create a new file. I'm curious now. If I had the time, I'd check out the hard cover and paperback to see what errors got through the editing process (whatever THAT may have been....) and whether there are differences between the two editions.
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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2263 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2017 :  21:35:26  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

@Irennan - thanks for letting me know about that short story. I just pulled all the anthologies from my bookcases, and see that it appears in the Best of the Realms III: The Stories of Elaine Cunningham. That is a 2007 book, so one I won't get to for awhile, as I'm still in 2003/2004. Liriel looks like Whoopi Goldberg on the cover.




Yeah, the cover for that book is one of the worst in TSR/WotC history. It looks like a very rough draft, not something you'd put on an actual book. And seriously, LIME GREEN?
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2670 Posts

Posted - 19 Jul 2017 :  00:07:28  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ElaineCunningham

quote:
Originally posted by Veylandemar
In the introduction to one of the WotSQ there was an acknowledgment of your assistance in untangling a plot point that the author was having trouble with.
Is that something you're able to bring to light?




I was working on Windwalker while WotSQ was being written, and since there was some overlap with Menzoberranzan drow, I asked for info and was given the story bible that outlined the series plot in broad strokes. The appearance of Quenthal Baenre surprised me, since she was killed a few years previously in one of Bob's books. I double checked, and sure enough: dead drow. So I called Phil Athans, the series editor, with this find. There was a moment of dead silence, followed by, and I quote, "Oh, shit...."

Since I was in the early stages of writing Windwalker, I suggested a fix: When Shakit went to the Abyss, she could bring Quenthal back. Windwalker takes place before the events of WotSQ, so this would create an in-story explanation that wouldn't disrupt the existing narrative flow of the series. The author could deal with Quenthal's return in a sentence or two, then hit the ground running. Any fans who wanted more detail could be referred to Windwalker. It was not only an easy solution, but also good cross-marketing. Phil liked the idea, so that's what we did.

I should probably mention, however, that a couple years back I read an article on Phil's blog that remembered this event quite differently. According to his recollection, he saw the problem and asked me to make the fix. And that's fine. According to all the psychology and neuroscience books I've been reading (for another project, not part of this discussion....), memories are not retrieved, so much as recreated. It's pretty normal for people to fashion different recollections of the same event. I'm pretty confident of mine, however, because it required a considerable amount of effort--reading the story bible, double checking Bob's novel, coming up with a solution, calling Phil. My surprise and amusement at his scatological response made the event more memorable than it might otherwise have been. My point is, you may hear different versions of this tale. This one is mine.



Thank you for the deep care that you put into your work set in the Realms, Elaine. It's a level of respect for the setting that sadly hasn't been common in the history of its publication. The Realms really miss your touch.

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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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2263 Posts

Posted - 19 Jul 2017 :  15:29:57  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingsLegion

Or the fact that she seems to be insanely skillful - she's a better than average fighter, an accomplished mage, an ex-priestess, maybe a bit of a thief too, oh and she also happens to be one of the most beautiful drow in Menzoberranzan (of course). Just a bit too Mary Sue for me.



I'm not disputing your opinion--the line between a Mary Sue character and a character who's sufficiently powerful to appeal to a particular audience is a matter of perception and preference. The line is different for every reader. When you write sword and sorcery, you go in knowing that some readers will see a character as Mary Sue and some will dismiss the same character as being insufficiently powerful to be interesting. Fact of life, as all the "Who would win: X or Y?" threads that have popped up in every forum since the dawn of the internet would attest. I understand, expect, and respect individual readers' opinions on this matter. Mary Sue is, ultimately, in the eye of the beholder.

That said, here are a few thoughts on the matter.

Yes, Liriel is beautiful, but elves of all sort are renown for their beauty. She's not exceptional in this regard, except for the unusual color of her eyes; in fact, I don't see drow beauty as a particularly broad spectrum. There are a few outliers; for example, Shakti is regarded as plain because she tends to squint, has a slightly awkward gait, and doesn't give a damn about her appearance. She's considered plump by drow standards, which is like being a women's size 8 instead of a 2. A human male noted her curves, but didn't characterize her as being overweight. By human standards, she wasn't. Humans would consider both Liriel and Shakti to be beautiful, assuming they weren't completely distracted by the usual human response to drow, which involves a great deal of screaming and running and possibly wishing they had worn their brown pants that day.

Liriel is an accomplished spell caster, but then, she has had nearly unlimited resources to develop this skill. She started training when she was little more than a toddler, and for several decades she had excellent instructors, private tutors, and a level of wealth that gave her access to all the books and spell components she could want.

She's not particularly good with conventional melee weapons; in fact, her lack of attention to this vital drow skill was emphasized in her first book. She had a private instructor to try to bring her up to speed, and she wasn't all that interested in what he had to offer. She's better with thrown weapons because she took up knife throwing during one of her jaunts to the Menzoberranzan equivalent of a tavern. It was a social thing, like throwing darts, but with a more practical application. She's a highly social person, so she has lots of practice.

The priestess thing was forced upon her when she was sent to the academy. And it's such an integral part of drow culture that she didn't take long to adapt. She eventually gravitated toward the goddess of magic, which combined her two passions.

The thief thing? Not so much.

$.02,
ec

Edited by - ElaineCunningham on 19 Jul 2017 15:41:25
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2670 Posts

Posted - 19 Jul 2017 :  15:39:15  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just noting that there's a mistake in the quote. That's Viking Legion's comment, not mine.

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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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2263 Posts

Posted - 19 Jul 2017 :  15:40:07  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote


quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

Thank you for the deep care that you put into your work set in the Realms, Elaine. It's a level of respect for the setting that sadly hasn't been common in the history of its publication. The Realms really miss your touch.



Thanks for the kind thought! Having worked with many other writers and designers in the Realms, I can attest that many, if not most, of them put a similar level of care into their work.

In general, though, I do tend to spend (far too much) time obsessing over details. It's a personality quirk. Example: My one and only paranormal romance story opens with a man who has dreams about women who later turned up dead. The precise shade of underwear worn by one such woman took me ten minutes to decide, because it was the sort of detail that characterized not only her personality, but also the man who observed her. It was summer, and she'd just come back from vacation with a deep tan, so she was wearing bright colors. Red was out--too overtly sexual. Other bright shades are not commonly used, and would draw too much attention to the detail. I finally settled on fuchsia, but since no guy who isn't also a visual artist would ever use that term, it became "bright pink." Ten minutes for this. Now you know why I don't write faster.



Edited by - ElaineCunningham on 19 Jul 2017 15:42:22
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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2263 Posts

Posted - 19 Jul 2017 :  15:40:54  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

Just noting that there's a mistake in the quote. That's Viking Legion's comment, not mine.



Oops! Sorry--will fix that.
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2670 Posts

Posted - 19 Jul 2017 :  15:54:08  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ElaineCunningham



quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

Thank you for the deep care that you put into your work set in the Realms, Elaine. It's a level of respect for the setting that sadly hasn't been common in the history of its publication. The Realms really miss your touch.



Thanks for the kind thought! Having worked with many other writers and designers in the Realms, I can attest that many, if not most, of them put a similar level of care into their work.


I'm sure that many do, but in the history of the FR novels, there were some portrayals or bits of lore being changed to the point where it could no longer be chalked up to interpretation, and that could have been fixed by a simple glance at sources that are easy to find. Especially during the years leading to the creation of 4e.

quote:
In general, though, I do tend to spend (far too much) time obsessing over details. It's a personality quirk. Example: My one and only paranormal romance story opens with a man who has dreams about women who later turned up dead. The precise shade of underwear worn by one such woman took me ten minutes to decide, because it was the sort of detail that characterized not only her personality, but also the man who observed her. It was summer, and she'd just come back from vacation with a deep tan, so she was wearing bright colors. Red was out--too overtly sexual. Other bright shades are not commonly used, and would draw too much attention to the detail. I finally settled on fuchsia, but since no guy who isn't also a visual artist would ever use that term, it became "bright pink." Ten minutes for this. Now you know why I don't write faster.






But the results show. You can really feel that motifs, actions, symbols are very carefully chosen to capture the character or situation that is being described. It makes your stories truly evocative.

I remember Ed's interview about you, and the words that he said perfectly reflect this (about how you could make the Realms come alive, as if you were in his mind).

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 19 Jul 2017 15:55:50
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
258 Posts

Posted - 24 Jul 2017 :  01:17:24  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ElaineCunningham

I'm not disputing your opinion--the line between a Mary Sue character and a character who's sufficiently powerful to appeal to a particular audience is a matter of perception and preference. The line is different for every reader. When you write sword and sorcery, you go in knowing that some readers will see a character as Mary Sue and some will dismiss the same character as being insufficiently powerful to be interesting. Fact of life, as all the "Who would win: X or Y?" threads that have popped up in every forum since the dawn of the internet would attest. I understand, expect, and respect individual readers' opinions on this matter. Mary Sue is, ultimately, in the eye of the beholder.

That said, here are a few thoughts on the matter.

Yes, Liriel is beautiful, but elves of all sort are renown for their beauty. She's not exceptional in this regard, except for the unusual color of her eyes; in fact, I don't see drow beauty as a particularly broad spectrum. There are a few outliers; for example, Shakti is regarded as plain because she tends to squint, has a slightly awkward gait, and doesn't give a damn about her appearance. She's considered plump by drow standards, which is like being a women's size 8 instead of a 2. A human male noted her curves, but didn't characterize her as being overweight. By human standards, she wasn't. Humans would consider both Liriel and Shakti to be beautiful, assuming they weren't completely distracted by the usual human response to drow, which involves a great deal of screaming and running and possibly wishing they had worn their brown pants that day.

Liriel is an accomplished spell caster, but then, she has had nearly unlimited resources to develop this skill. She started training when she was little more than a toddler, and for several decades she had excellent instructors, private tutors, and a level of wealth that gave her access to all the books and spell components she could want.

She's not particularly good with conventional melee weapons; in fact, her lack of attention to this vital drow skill was emphasized in her first book. She had a private instructor to try to bring her up to speed, and she wasn't all that interested in what he had to offer. She's better with thrown weapons because she took up knife throwing during one of her jaunts to the Menzoberranzan equivalent of a tavern. It was a social thing, like throwing darts, but with a more practical application. She's a highly social person, so she has lots of practice.

The priestess thing was forced upon her when she was sent to the academy. And it's such an integral part of drow culture that she didn't take long to adapt. She eventually gravitated toward the goddess of magic, which combined her two passions.

The thief thing? Not so much.

$.02,
ec



I understand your point that drow are, by nature, generally fey and beautiful in their own dark sort of way. But there was a specific line in the book that stated Liriel is "one of the most beautiful drow in Menzoberranzan", so I think we're talking about more than just typical elven striking features. I mean, it makes sense; Gromph, despite being a lowly male, is one of the most powerful figures in the city, and therefore didn't have to settle for the Shakti types. I recall in the first book that Liriel's mother was uncommonly beautiful (as well as less vicious than a typical dark elf, thus explaining some of Liriel's tendencies), so surely Liriel has the genetic stock to back up being drop-dead gorgeous.

But the thing about Liriel the character, at least for me, is that breath-taking beauty was not only a completely unnecessary addition, but incongruous with how she was developing in *my* mind :) I sort of saw her as a bit of a tomboy, mixing it up in the pubs with the guys, throwing a round of darts (or knives in this case), drinking a brew - just one of the dudes. In our world that would be the girl in the jeans and t-shirt who doesn't spend an hour putting on makeup or doing her hair in the most stylish trends. She's attractive in her own way (mostly through self-assuredness), but she's not (nor does she want to be) super-model hot. So when I read that Liriel is among the top 1% in beauty amongst a race that is almost by default beautiful, I thought it was a bit much considering everything else she already has going on.

As for the lack of melee skills, yes you absolutely made a point of it in the early book, but here we see Liriel hold off Gorlist in one-on-one combat for no small amount of time. She was never going to win that fight, obviously. But given his martial skill, he would have cut her to ribbons faster than I typed this sentence. I'd have to re-read it, maybe he was just toying with her a bit to prolong and savor his vengeance?

Lastly, on the multi-class skill character: whenever I start to see that trend developing, all I can think is it's another Elminster - Fighter/Thief/Priest/Archmage uber-character coming about. So I apologize if I jumped the gun a bit early on that one. Your justifications for Liriel's widely diverse skill set is reasonable based on her upbringing. Also, I can understand the allure of wanting to write extremely effective characters, so perhaps I'm being a bit hypocritical on that count. I've made a few half-hearted attempts at writing over the years; I'll spare you the unbearably amateurish details, but my favorite creation was a hero that was specifically "engineered" to be something of an army of one - meaning he could cover all the routine bases (fighting, stealth/traps, magic, etc.) and not be reliant on the interdependency of a party of adventurers. So, in short, I get that you take pride in your creation and want her to kick a lot of butt.

Thank you as always for your contributions to this thread. I love hearing about some of the process that goes on behind the scenes - both for your books specifically, as well as the greater FR library as a whole.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
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Posted - 24 Jul 2017 :  01:26:24  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Alabaster Staff last night. I'll be brief, as I'm guessing it won't engender a whole lot of conversation. When I see a new author I've never heard of in the FR stable, there's always a bit of nervous trepidation - is this going to be one of those rare gems, or a total clunker?

This book was neither extreme. I thought it was a solid effort and a decent read. The dialogue was a bit spotty at times - with Kehrsyn falling into a bit of valley girl slang, but it wasn't too distracting. The plot was full of intrigue, and while "the big reveal" wasn't a huge surprise as far as a trusted individual going bad, his true identity and ultimate plan was very well done. There were a TON of factions in this story - Red Wizards, Zhents, Tiamatans, Gilgeamans, Harpers, the local Thieves Guild - so much that it got a bit confusing to parse out at times (like a Greenwood Lite novel), but I think this first-time Realms author just wanted to jam pack it with as much flavor as he could - and it mostly worked.

Good story. Not groundbreaking or anything people probably went nuts over, but it got the job done. Up next I'll continue the Rogues series with: The Black Bouquet.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 24 Jul 2017 01:27:24
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