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Firestorm
Senior Scribe

Canada
799 Posts

Posted - 08 Aug 2017 :  20:28:26  Show Profile Send Firestorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Twilight falling is excellent and it keeps getting better.

No doubt you have been hearing for a long time how amazing Paul Kemp's books are and had a "it is ok" moment for his first book, Shadows witness. But he improved upon his first writing effort in spades and keeps doing it.
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Artemas Entreri
Great Reader

USA
3056 Posts

Posted - 08 Aug 2017 :  20:45:05  Show Profile  Visit Artemas Entreri's Homepage Send Artemas Entreri a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Firestorm

Twilight falling is excellent and it keeps getting better.

No doubt you have been hearing for a long time how amazing Paul Kemp's books are and had a "it is ok" moment for his first book, Shadows witness. But he improved upon his first writing effort in spades and keeps doing it.



... and hopefully will return one day with another addition to the Realms novel line.

Some people have a way with words, and other people...oh, uh, not have way. -Steve Martin

Check out my eBay store for great Realms/Dragonlance/Ravenloft/Dark Sun/etc series! http://stores.ebay.com/Remembered-Realms-and-Hobbies

Be my friend on Goodreads.com: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6751111-brian
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Madpig
Learned Scribe

Finland
124 Posts

Posted - 09 Aug 2017 :  07:18:12  Show Profile Send Madpig a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Artemas Entreri

quote:
Originally posted by Firestorm

Twilight falling is excellent and it keeps getting better.

No doubt you have been hearing for a long time how amazing Paul Kemp's books are and had a "it is ok" moment for his first book, Shadows witness. But he improved upon his first writing effort in spades and keeps doing it.



... and hopefully will return one day with another addition to the Realms novel line.



Even more impossible wish is to get Godborn as a trilogy, as originally was intended. While it was good, it was rushed because Wizbros actions. To me, Paul is THE BEST Realms author.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 10 Aug 2017 :  07:45:39  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

I really need to finish up some other books and get started on the Erevis Cale trilogy...



Umm... yeah... you really do =)

I finished Twilight Dawning a couple nights ago. I think I had to take a day just to soak in its awesomeness before posting here. Wow, incredible stuff. Someday, when I'm all done with this, I may try to do a ranking just for fun. This book instantly vaulted into the top 10 without even contemplating what such a list might look to me at the roughly halfway point. I knew from the first chapter or so I was in for something special, and it really delivered.

Kemp's insight into the human psyche really adds another dimension to the book. Cale's internal struggles and even Riven's development were utterly fascinating. Speaking of Riven, I get a bit of an Artemis vibe in that I feel the author created what was originally intended to be a soulless killing machine - but then the character grew on them a bit and had to be explored/expanded a bit more. I really enjoyed how the two of them worked together; grudgingly at first, but then with ever more mutual respect as the story progressed. Jak Fleet is an important character as he acts as sort of an external conscious for Cale, keeping him from indulging too easily in his darker tendencies. But even Jak got a little dirty in this one, by necessity, so it will be *very* interesting to see if he can recover or if he continues a slow, downward spiral.

I bought all 3 of the "Cale Trilogy" in an omnibus format awhile back, and it also includes 2 short stories. I bought this book for convenience only, not even realizing it had those shorts in it, but now I'm glad for it, as the first one (and maybe the 2nd, haven't looked yet) was released only in Dragon Magazine, and I would've missed it. It was called All the Sinners, Saints and explored the first collaboration between Cale and Riven, so it was a good read before even starting the main story.

It was a tiny bit confusing to see an Oghman priest named Sephris in this story, right after reading the total badarse monk named Sefris in Byer's story, so that caused a little jarring for me. Also there were a handful of small nitpicks I could point out in this book, but won't bother, as it was of such high quality overall. Terrific work, Kemp instantly vaults up there with Cunningham and Salvatore as my FR heavy hitters.

Up next: I realize I goofed really bad last week and read The Best of the Realms II: The Stories of Ed Greenwood, which wasn't released until 2005 (I'm still working on 2003/2004). The book I was supposed to read was The Best of the Realms. D'oh!! So I pulled that one off the shelf and checked out the titles. They are all reprints from previous anthologies except for a RAS story at the very end. So I'll read that next and then jump into another book. I very badly want to continue on with the Erevis Cale trilogy, but I see (by publication date) another Uskevren book came out before then. It's a Tazi solo adventure called The Crimson Gold. I sort of feel compelled to read it next, just on the off chance it references anything Cale related. It was published in December of 2003, whereas Cale Book 2 wasn't until June of 2004. Damn... decisions, decisions...
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 11 Aug 2017 :  23:26:10  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished the short story Empty Joys - the only original tale in The Best of the Realms anthology. It was a Jarlaxle/Entreri romp, I wouldn't say it was notably good or bad, just a story. I think RAS is just playing around with these two, trying to figure out which direction to take them in next. I can tell just by looking at the cover art of the books still to come that these two will feature heavily in at least one adventure together. This story had them infiltrate an out of the way band of highwaymen, then slaughter them on a whim (it seems) to save a couple of farmer's daughters from what assuredly would've been an awful night. It seems like Jarlaxle is trying to force Artemis into embracing some kind of "hero" lifestyle, though why is beyond me at this point. He reports in to Kimmuriel at the end, which surprised me. I thought he severed ties with Bregan D'arth, but apparently not. Furthermore, he semi-explained his plan of reforming Artemis, again, I don't know what the end game is here.

Up next: I've already started The Crimson Gold and am reading it with a vengeance, in order to get back to the Erevis Cale trilogy.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 11 Aug 2017 23:27:26
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 13 Aug 2017 :  08:35:30  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Crimson Gold this morning. I mentioned reading it as fast as possible in order to get back to the Erevis Cale trilogy, but that's probably a bit unfair. I'm sure the author worked hard on this book, and I should give it its due. There was only one minor mention of Cale "leaving Stormweather Halls several months back", so I could've easily saved this book for later, but I don't regret the decision.

I think this is the 3rd or 4th offering from Whitney-Robinson (counting short stories) and I think maybe her most effective yet. I really dig Thay as one of the most interesting countries in the Realms, so I was engaged immediately. Doubly so once I realized the demon-lord Eltab would feature prominently. About 20... maybe 25 years ago I recall reading a small blurb about the city of Eltabbar and how its canal system is actually an elaborate binding rune for a demon that is held underground (Eltabbar = "bars" Eltab from returning). I distinctly remember it going on to say that maps of the city are ruthlessly forbidden, as each "copy" of the mystical rune drains a tiny portion of its potency, and if enough are made, Eltab would be able to escape. This really fired up my imagination, and I'd always wanted to make an adventure out of it for my players, but just never got around to it. So it's something that's just been sort of rattling around in my brain for at least two decades.

Tazi did a whole lot of maturing in this story. It's good to see her focus in a bit and find some purpose.

I was a bit unsure about Justikar, the gray dwarf. He possessed some minor psionic talent, mainly just a bit of low-grade telepathy, nothing too crazy. But his explanation of how he has it is that, due to their enslavement by illithid ages ago, most of his race has developed this talent to some extent. I'm no dwarf expert, but that immediately makes me think of derro, not duergar. I'll have to do a little digging around on that one, unless any of you learned scribes already know the answer.

On a downside, even though I was excited by the locale of Thay for this story, this Thay didn't quite measure up. A ton of the major players were featured, but in a crammed-in fashion that didn't really let any of them breathe much or display their character. I think I hold Lynn Abbey's The Simbul's Gift as the bar for Thay-based stories, and it's just not likely anyone else is going to write it as well.

It also got just a touch ridiculous at the end, what with Tam basically handing over the majority of the country's defenses to an outsider who really has no believable motivation to save them. Justikar controls the entire darkenbeast fleet, while Tazi (due to some bizarre and rushed rituals) becomes some kind of undead/orc-lord to control the split forces of the juju zombies and the alchemically altered "Blooded Ones". If you haven't read this book you probably are scratching your head at the last sentence. Basically, Szass Tam "marks" Tazi with his own arcane seal in the form of a magical tattoo that gives her full control over his undead horde. Then she is dipped in some kind of alchemical solution they use on baby orcs to give them greater strength and ferocity. It almost invariably kills all adults (of any race), but of course Thazienne is the exception and she survives the "Weapon X" process. This forces the orcs to see her as an equal, and thus they will follow her into battle. Both of these transformations take place in the span of about 2 pages, and had me bewildered.

So now how many of the Uskevrens have transformed into some kind of supernatural advanced-being?
- Talbot starts off as a werewolf in the very first story, so he gets a pass.
- Tamlin goes from ineffectual fop to some kind of Dream Sorcerer.
- Cale (while not an actual Uskevren, he just lives with them) takes on a bunch of shadow stuff and I'm guessing he is now a full shade, or at least shares many properties with them
- Thazienne goes from sneak-thief to some kind of Ghoul-Lord/Orc-Queen that might give Obould a run for his money. Though it appears she is scrubbed of both conditions before leaving Thay.
- I don't know if there's more to Larajin's arc, but it seems she's some kind of dual-Chosen of two deities.

It's like each author is trying to out-awesome the other. Dial it down a bit guys, it's starting to read like a comic book.

Ok, with that out of the way, this was an enjoyable book, warts and all. I don't know if the events in this book start the process of Thay's transformation or not. Seravin had mentioned quite a while back what's in store for this country and I'm not a fan at all of what it is going to turn into.

Up next: not sure, I have to do a quick scan to see if I can go back to the Erevis trilogy or if I need to read anything else in between.
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Lamora
Seeker

USA
69 Posts

Posted - 13 Aug 2017 :  15:30:26  Show Profile Send Lamora a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Huh. I don't think I have ever even heard of this book. But I do really enjoy Thay, so I might look into getting it.

I am really enjoying your romp through the Realms. As someone who started with Salvatore and branched out into a few other series in the Realms, I missed most of the stand alones and older series. Its nice to see someone's perspective on them. Keep up the great work.
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Madpig
Learned Scribe

Finland
124 Posts

Posted - 14 Aug 2017 :  07:36:46  Show Profile Send Madpig a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lamora

Huh. I don't think I have ever even heard of this book. But I do really enjoy Thay, so I might look into getting it.

I am really enjoying your romp through the Realms. As someone who started with Salvatore and branched out into a few other series in the Realms, I missed most of the stand alones and older series. Its nice to see someone's perspective on them. Keep up the great work.



Same here. This also makes me sad to see how many novels we got way back then. Always something to wait for. Thats why its good that I have never read any Harpers, Rogues, etc. stories.
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
5818 Posts

Posted - 14 Aug 2017 :  12:58:24  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion


It's like each author is trying to out-awesome the other. Dial it down a bit guys, it's starting to read like a comic book.



Lol, yeah, I remember reading that Uskevren series and thinking to myself how much it reminded me of the old Thieve's World series (though Thieve's World was better). I just loved reading the authors talking about another author's characters and putting them down while building up their own. I remember there was like a witch maybe and a vampiress who did not like each other that did this a good bit. You know, there's probably a good 30-40 years on those novels, but I may need to pick them backup up for a reread.... if I can ever get my current pile of to do's down.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
792 Posts

Posted - 14 Aug 2017 :  18:12:12  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On Thay - yes sorry if I spoiled what's in store, but the Haunted Lands books I just couldn't get through that series, and it doesn't help that the books are so poorly written (to me, and The Simbul's Gift and Red Magic handled Thay very well setting the bar high). Haunted Lands was WAY too much of the RSE-style that ended what most of us grognards loved about the Realms and the OGB; rather than creating something interesting they destroyed Thay as it was and made it into something popular at the time by World of Warcraft.

And Haunted Lands ushered in with it the Spellplague and time skip and pretty much killed the Realms for me....

I digress.

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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
792 Posts

Posted - 14 Aug 2017 :  18:14:53  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Cale stories did to Sembia what Haunted Lands did to Thay - utterly change something I loved and thought was neat, for the sake of changing things to fit some flash in the pan storyline. So I don't like it. I know it's well written, but I liked Sembia as it was and is again, a merchant ruled meritocracy where money talks (with a thin veil of racism lingering against elves). Not some shade empire. Ugh.
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idilippy
Senior Scribe

USA
405 Posts

Posted - 14 Aug 2017 :  23:58:40  Show Profile Send idilippy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Remember the second set of Cale stories were written when the transition to 4e was happening and the shades taking over was going to happen anyways. The Erevis Cale trilogy was the first trilogy, a different trilogy.

Edit: very cool to see this thread. I've got different opinions about a number of your book reviews, especially the Alias stuff and Moonshae stuff, but reading every single realms book is an enormous undertaking and it's fun to see someone else do it and have to read through all the stuff I've flat out forgotten.

Also, apologies in advance if you don't like the out awesome each other thing haha it seems like the stakes only keep getting higher and the frequency of major world altering evens gets more ridiculous as you go along.

Edited by - idilippy on 15 Aug 2017 00:03:24
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2017 :  17:31:17  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@Lamora and Madpig - thanks for the comments, it's been a lot of fun to sort of document and share this journey through the Realms novel line. Also it's sparked some fascinating discussion and occasionally some really juicy morsels of inside information when some of the authors or guys like George Krashos chime in.

@Sleyvas - I actually had several of the Thieves' World books in hand awhile back at a used bookstore but put them back on the shelf (since I was already buying about 12 Realms and Greyhawk books). I may just have to go back to that shop and pick up a few. How "D&Dish" is their fantasy world? Is it magic saturated or more conservative? Lots of monsters like dragons, griffons, orcs, etc or more human-centric? Any insight on their casting systems?

@Seravin - yeah, I know there's a lot of changes that took place to dull your enthusiasm for the books, but as Idilippy said, this first Cale trilogy isn't changing Sembia.

@Idilippy - welcome aboard and well met! Glad you are enjoying the thread. It doesn't surprise me that we don't see eye-to-eye on some of the older series, I get that a lot :) The Moonshaes seem to be especially polarizing - there are a few who really dig it (myself included) and others who feel very strongly negatively towards it, not much in the way of middle ground. I'm guessing you fall in the latter camp. As for the Alias stuff, I'll reiterate that I think the ideas and concepts are terrific, it's just the dopey dialogue that drags down what could otherwise be amazing stuff. But I recognize I'm very heavily in the minority on that, as that trilogy appears to be one of the more beloved. We can pick that scab again if you wish, I'm always up for a lively debate, and I've found there are some cool cats on this site that can have a civil and interesting conversation even when we are miles apart in opinion.

Ok, that out of the way, I finished Dawn of Night and found it continued the excellence of the first book.

How terrific was Kemp's portrayal of Skullport?!?!? I've seen this cesspool described in several different works now, from several different authors, and Kemp's was my favorite thus far. It was so gritty, nasty, and foul, I could practically feel the grime on my fingers transferring from the book. I like that he takes a very adult approach, not afraid to talk very frankly about narcotics, slavery, prostitution, and all the various seedy elements of the city (also he's not afraid to sneak some curses in there, something not seen in the vast majority of TSR/WoTC books). His depiction of Skullport made me truly feel like I will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy on the face of Toril.

I found it amusing that Cale and Riven repeatedly stressed to Jak how awful Skullport is, and that nothing they can do can "fix" it. They went out of their way to tell Jak not to get involved trying to help anyone as it would jeopardize the mission. Then, after drilling this into Fleet's head, they are the first two to break their own rule. Cale starts a tavern brawl over the honor of a pretty, young barmaid, and Riven murders some pirates right out in the open streets to save an elderly dog from getting killed. Don't get me wrong, I was 100% on board with both their actions, I just found it amusing that they were so worried about Jak going "white knight", and they were the ones that let Skullport get under their skins.

Speaking of both of those events, I really liked Varra. We didn't get to see a whole lot of her, but I hope she makes an appearance in the third book. I guess that'll depend on the fate of Skullport, as all I know right now is that the magical mantle that powers the Skulls and supports the ceiling got sucked pretty much dry, and the whole dang cavern might be falling in. As for Riven and his rescue of the old hound with the broken leg - I felt like I held my breath for that entire section. At the logical level I know it's just a book and there is no real dog, but I was really invested in that scene and ready to be furious if the dog was killed.

The caravan ambush was also really well done. Kemp does such a masterful job of amping up the drama and anticipation - when all the various elements were coming together and Cale and Co. passed right by an invisible Azriim so close as to almost be touching, all the while being mindlinked through Magadon... That scene was intense. Many of these moments play out like a movie in my mind, and the suspense and tension were palpable.

I have a gut feeling Riven's betrayal at the end was a play. Even with Cale's preternatural resilience and regeneration, I feel like Riven would've been able to do enough damage to kill him permanently if that were his desire. Cale even noted that "the one-eyed assassin knew how to kill" as he was getting carved up. I feel like Riven's strikes were calculated to bring an excruciating amount of pain and damage, but stop just a hair short of being terminal. Hell, he probably even had fun doing it, based on some of their cantankerous exchanges throughout this book. I guess that's something we can revisit after I finish the trilogy.

Up next: [TBD]
I don't see anything in 2005 that would interfere with Midnight's Mask, so I'm just going to go ahead and finish this trilogy!

Edited by - VikingLegion on 17 Aug 2017 17:40:23
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 22 Aug 2017 :  03:15:44  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Midnight's Mask on Saturday. This was an excellent finish to an excellent trilogy - really top drawer stuff. The omnibus I read also contained another short story called Soulbound. The short wasn't spectacular, but was a solid read and gave a bit more background info on Kesson Rel and the shadow dragon.

As for the main story, I'll get my one gripe out of the way early: when Riven decided he no longer had to "play the game" any longer and could attack the slaadi, I had a hard time believing he would announce exactly that. I understand why the author wrote it that way, but c'mon... Riven would've struck from surprise - probably eliminating Dolgan, and then having a more satisfying one-on-one duel with Azriim. By allowing them to prepare for the battle, just as they were metamorphosing from gray to death slaadi was a major tactical mistake I can't justify for this ultimate pragmatist.

Ok, that out of the way - I LOVED how uncaring and nihilistic the Sojourner was; and all that plotting and machinations just to walk a day in the shade! Terrific! I can bet that some readers found the culmination to be a letdown and a mishandling of a major villain, but I thought it was perfect. Vhostym was a sublime representation of a random, bleak, and uncaring universe with no greater plan or design. Sometimes, despite your best efforts and precautions, poop happens and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Vhostym's utter callousness was equal parts chilling, frustrating, and maybe even just a tiny bit humorous, in a dark and awful way of course. That moment of realization for Cale, when he fully grasped how all these people died just to satisfy the whimsy of this selfish prick, was handled perfectly. I don't know if Kemp has any kind of background in psychology, his character's reactions always seem to be spot-on for me. I got a small chuckle out of the fact that I finished this story on the weekend right before the solar eclipse that everyone is going bananas over.

So what, exactly, was the Sojourner? I recall in the opening pages of... I think book 2, he was described as some kind of gith - but not a githyanki or githzerai; the only 2 subraces I'm familiar with. I'll take a few moments now to go find it.***
*** Ok, it was on the 2nd page of the 2nd book - he is referred to as a githvyrik. I'll have to look that up for sure!

Too bad about Jak, he was a really good character. There was a fair bit of foreshadowing, but still I was hoping he'd make it through. Jak was Cale's emotional anchor, so I'm wondering if the character I'll find in the next trilogy will be significantly darker, or if he'll find some other way to ground himself (Varra, perhaps?) But that won't be for quite some time. I've jumped around quite a bit of late to finish specific series (WotSQ, Cale, etc.), but now I have to go back and finish the final book of 2003: The Sapphire Crescent. This will put that year to bed and then I can worry about filling in the gaps of 2004-05.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 22 Aug 2017 03:17:49
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
4887 Posts

Posted - 22 Aug 2017 :  10:57:45  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Paul has previously confirmed that the Sojourner was a gith - as in the original race before they split into githyanki and githzerai.

-- George Krashos

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

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 22 Aug 2017 :  19:26:05  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
George K. with the spot-on info, as usual. Thanks! That makes a lot of sense, given The Sojourner's vast age and magical/psionic power.

Upon further reflection on this book, I do think it suffers more than a little from a case of The Raiders Minimization. That term comes from an episode of The Big Bang Theory in which Amy ruins Raiders of the Lost Ark for all the guys by proposing that Indiana Jones makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to the outcome. Sure, he keeps Marion's amulet from the Nazis, but it doesn't matter because Major Arnold Toht gets the imprint burned into his hand which allows them to recreate it. And yes, he gets to the Ark first (the Nazis would've found it eventually) but it makes no difference, as they simply take it from him. They would've opened it and all been consumed by holy fire regardless of Indy's presence, as Belloq mentioned he wanted to "test it out" before delivering it to Hitler. The point is, Indiana Jones could've literally sat out this entire movie and it would've resolved itself in almost the exact same fashion. Heck, he even failed to keep the golden idol from Belloq in Peru during the opening scene - he made no difference!

Consider Vhostym's plan to create an eclipse so he could walk a day in the shade. It involves stealing the astrolabe thingy from Stormweather Tower. Even though Cale manages to split that artifact in half, it doesn't matter because Azriim has already discerned the location of the Fane of Shadows. Cale successfully tracks the bad guys to the Fane, just minutes behind them - but he needn't have bothered, as they still made off with the Shadow Tap. Next they head to Skullport, and despite the protagonist's best efforts, the bad guys are successful in draining the ancient Netherese mantle. Ditto for the other, underwater city (the name of which eludes me at the moment), Cale and Co. put up a game fight, but again fail to thwart the scheme.

Lastly, Vhostym casts his grand spell and rips a chunk of Selune's Tear away to block out the sun. He takes his little stroll on the beach, and here we finally see Cale make something that resembles a difference. He interrupts the Sojourner's play time and kills him with his bare hands - but all that did was hasten the process by a few hours - Vhostym would've died at the end of the day regardless.

After the break-in of the Uskevren household, when Cale swore vengeance for the slain guards, he could've instead just stayed behind to beef up security at Stormweather and this story would've progressed 98% the same. I guess the only entity that really profited from Cale's decision was Mask, as he forced Erevis deeper into the fold. Maybe that was the point all along.

Don't get me wrong - this didn't take one iota away from my enjoyment of the trilogy, I just thought it was a fun point to bring up for possible discussion.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 22 Aug 2017 19:28:22
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idilippy
Senior Scribe

USA
405 Posts

Posted - 22 Aug 2017 :  20:58:34  Show Profile Send idilippy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Didn't killing Vhostym then also affect where the tear ends up? Keeping the tear from ending up too close and falling to Faerun and killing a bunch of other people? I need to reread the trilogy. I loved the way all of that was a set up for Sojourner to walk in the shade, a great example of utter uncaring selfishness as opposed to world domination or destruction of all Faerun.
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Firestorm
Senior Scribe

Canada
799 Posts

Posted - 28 Aug 2017 :  14:05:03  Show Profile Send Firestorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by idilippy

Didn't killing Vhostym then also affect where the tear ends up? Keeping the tear from ending up too close and falling to Faerun and killing a bunch of other people? I need to reread the trilogy. I loved the way all of that was a set up for Sojourner to walk in the shade, a great example of utter uncaring selfishness as opposed to world domination or destruction of all Faerun.



It broke into pieces while entering orbit and caused the rain of fire.

It took me some time to process the crown of flame and how the guy just did it on a whim to relive his youth, as opposed to having a master plan I was waiting patiently to read.

After I processed it on second read, I felt it was genius
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 01 Sep 2017 :  21:26:40  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yep, Firestorm beat me to it. The chunk of Selune's Tear broke up in Toril's atmosphere and burned away. Which would've happened regardless of Cale's intervention, albeit a few hours later instead of when it did. So - going back to the Raiders of the Lost Ark thing - Cale, Riven, Jak, Magadon, et al accomplished next to nothing in this trilogy, other than whatever satisfaction Erevis may have derived from killing Vhostym up close instead of just waiting a few more hours when it would've happened naturally. They would've been better off if they just stayed home and did nothing, well... Jak certainly would've been better off at any rate. Again, I'm not saying this to critique the work, as Firestorm mentioned, it was utterly refreshing to see such pointless destruction, as opposed to the typical supervillain and his plan to dominate the world, Bwahahhaahaha!!!!

Moving on, I finished The Sapphire Crescent a couple days ago. It took me quite awhile to get through this one. It wasn't bad or poorly written, I simply never warmed up to it. It probably didn't help that I know very little of the region of Chondath generally or Arrabar specifically. I like that the plot is looking to be a localized issue and not something that will effect an entire continent, or the world, or the way magic works, etc. It's good to have a non-RSE to cool things off a bit. That being said, this is a trilogy, not a stand-alone story, so I'm not sure if the plot is ambitious enough to span 900+ pages (just to contradict myself a bit there). I guess I'll have to wait and see what parts 2 and 3 bring to the table.

I'm going to guess that not many have read this series, so I may be talking into the void here, but here goes: For plot holes, there were a couple that nagged at me. A large part of the storyline involves an accident that occurred when one of the main characters was a boy. He accidentally shot another man with the crossbow his uncle gave him as a birthday gift, which ends up changing the entire course of the family's destiny and strains many relationships. Fast forward about 10 years and I found it hard to believe that the younger sister of that boy receives a crossbow, and from the same uncle, no less! Another odd event was when Xaphira had to "disappear" for 12 years. She dressed up as an assassin and escaped the city under pursuit to take the attention away from her nephew, getting shot in the leg by a town guard in the process. She made good on her escape, with nobody seeing her identity under the cowl, so why did she have to stay in exile for over a decade? With a little access to magical healing, she could've come back in a week and made up some story as to why she had to leave town unexpectedly.

Those aside, it was a decent story. There was a few tantalizing tidbits of regional history (something called The Rotting War I'd like to know more about) and a decent amount of intrigue. I like a few of the characters well enough where I might be drawn in more in book 2. Speaking of which, that's what I plan to read next: The Ruby Guardian.
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 04 Sep 2017 :  18:03:33  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I found something interesting today, so I'm going back several pages to an older book to grab a quote of myself from Lords of Stormweather:

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I actually finished Lords of Stormweather several nights ago, but had a crazy schedule this week and couldn't find much time to post. This was a strange book. I really like Dave Gross's previous work, so this one was a bit of a letdown for me.

Let me state first as a disclaimer that I read this book while on the graveyard shift at work, so maybe I was too tired to fully understand what was going on. Did the magic painting suck the Uskevrens and Cale into some kind of alternate prime world, or was that place wholly a construct of Tamlin's childhood imagination gone bad? I know in this long thread other posters have used the phrase "didn't feel like a Realms book to me" on a few occasions - once for Night Parade, again for that bizarre story set in the Blade Kingdoms, and even for the Finder's Bane stories where it is mostly planar - but I'm going to go ahead and cash in that card for this one. Here we had this strange, Beyond the Looking Glass world with bombardier gas-mining dwarves, elves that live on the backs of giant floating jelly-fish creatures, all manner of strange flora and fauna... It just wasn't what I expected or wanted out of this book. It wasn't a bad story, and the quality of the writing was high, I just didn't care for the direction of it, I guess.

I'm not sure how many more Uskevren/Sembia books there are, but this one had some pretty big ramifications for the family. Thamalon "The Old Owl" is now either dead or some kind of presence that is stuck in the alternate world, and Tamlin is a badarse wizard. I guess he had the power all along, it was just being suppressed. Many of the details of this story went right over my head - I just couldn't get that into it, and therefore I was very sloppy and noncommittal in my reading of it. It sounds like I'm trashing it, but it really was not a bad book, but rather something I wasn't ready for.


I think I may have mentioned many posts ago that I took a trip to Scotland and fell in love with the history and culture. That has somewhat extended to the folklore and mythology. Today I stumbled upon The Ballad of Tam Lin. Here's a brief snippet from the Wikipedia entry:

"Tam (or Tamas) Lin (also called Tamlane, Tamlin, Tomlin, Tam Lien, Tam-a-Line, Tam Lyn, or Tam Lane) is a character in a legendary ballad originating from Norfolk (Child 39, Roud 35). It is also associated with a reel of the same name, also known as the Glasgow Reel. The story revolves around the rescue of Tam Lin by his true love from the Queen of the Fairies. The motif of capturing a person by holding him through all forms of transformation is found throughout Europe in folktales.[1]:336-7 The story has been adapted into various stories, songs and films."

So Tamlin getting sucked into the magical painting and confronting the sorcerer king Tam Lin is assuredly inspired, at least partially, by this folk tale. It had to have been planned from the very beginning, obviously, for them to get the name right. But as Seravin deftly pointed out, Talbot was named as an homage to a classic werewolf movie, so it looks like the conception team behind the Uskevren family/series enjoyed sneaking some easter eggs in there. I wonder if there are more?....

Edited by - VikingLegion on 04 Sep 2017 18:06:37
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 11 Sep 2017 :  03:06:25  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Ruby Guardian, book 2 of the Scions of Arrabar trilogy, a few nights ago. Since the first one didn't draw any discussion, I'm guessing neither will this one. It's not a bad story at all, I just think that because it's set in a less popular locale, only the very rabid FR readers probably picked it up. So, due to my suspicion there will be no responses, I'll be brief:

THE GOOD: Emriana is blossoming as a character, going from an annoying kid sister into a courageous and occasionally useful person. The Emerald Enclave has gotten involved in the mix, yay!

THE BAD: I still don't feel very invested in the region. Some more detail about the peoples, culture, customs and such would help. There's just a touch of the local history, and some holidays that get a bit of screen time, which was nice, but it still feels a touch generic.

THE UGLY: One of the main bad guys goes by the alias of Junce Roundface....


Up next is the 3rd book in the series (sorry guys): The Emerald Scepter. I'm looking to finish it up by the end of the week and then we'll see what's next on the docket.
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Iahn Qoyllor
Seeker

United Kingdom
39 Posts

Posted - 11 Sep 2017 :  09:46:02  Show Profile Send Iahn Qoyllor a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I read these recently and enjoyed them, not overly much but they were well written and the third one was certainly my favourite.
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Hyperion
Seeker

18 Posts

Posted - 11 Sep 2017 :  13:52:27  Show Profile Send Hyperion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Read too but indeed the books were not bad, still what's the point of setting a trilogy in a particular nation of the Realms if the author does not highlight what's different there from any other Realms location?
I think this is a problem of many Realms books and trilogies with a few exceptions...
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
272 Posts

Posted - 19 Sep 2017 :  21:49:21  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, he did include some of the local customs: the three forehead dots, the inherent distrust of magic; some history: The Rotting War; as well as a few celebrations: Sammardach, Spheres, and the third one I can't remember (apparently they party a lot in Arrabar). So there was a game effort at exploring the region, but at the same time it felt like just a light bit of dressing on a story that could've been placed in a variety of locales.

So now that I've finished The Emerald Enclave and concluded this series, I'd say it was an adequate trilogy. Nothing that's going to really stand out to me years from now, but certainly not bad by any means. I got a bit of a wry chuckle towards the end when the 3 women Vambran slept with, having absolutely zero common strings between them, all happened to converge in the same area and were just standing around chatting each other up. I felt that was probably the strongest moment of mortal danger he got himself in.

I ended up liking Emrianna for her toughness, Xaphira for her badassery (though I still don't know how she became a cleric/kung-fu master), and Hetta for reminding me a ton of Olenna Tyrell. In fact, quite a few times while reading this book I was forcibly reminded of GoT, mostly in the naming of several characters. There were the Mattrells instead of the Martells, there was a boy named Obiron, and I think two or three more instances that elude me at the moment.

Up next I will finish off the 4-part Rogues series with The Yellow Silk.


Edited by - VikingLegion on 19 Sep 2017 21:50:09
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Taleras
Seeker

35 Posts

Posted - 20 Sep 2017 :  03:26:23  Show Profile Send Taleras a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Is The Emerald Enclave the series or a novel? I can't find the novel anywhere...
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