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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
293 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2018 :  22:21:47  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Venom's Taste the other night. I was reluctant to start this trilogy due to the bad taste in my mouth from the author's portrayal of Eilistrae in the WOTSQ series. I'm happy to say my fears were unfounded, this was a really interesting book. Set in Hlondeth on the Vilhon Reach, this is a place I've always been keen on exploring more deeply into - I have to admit, a kingdom dominated by yuan-ti is really intriguing. With all the vast and overwhelming number of species in D&D in general, it's nice to see a city that is not completely humanocentric. And yuan-ti are just so iconically D&D for me; like beholders and mind flayers, that this city scratched an itch I wasn't even aware I had.

I really liked how Lisa Smedman portrayed psionics in this book. I enjoy watching how different authors try to explain it - she used what read to me as some kind of yoga background to explain the poses and whatnot used to rejuvenate their mental strength each day and also hone their concentration. When it came to psion v psion combat, she utilized the old school 5 attack and defense patterns I grew up with back in the '80s. Loved it. It's especially interesting to start this book at this particular time, being there was another scroll going with some pretty good debate on psionic flavor in general called Vilhon Reach and psionic development: http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=22032

I liked the main character (Arvin) and his magical gadgets. He's a clever guy that isn't going to win many toe-to-toe confrontations, but utilizes his wits to get by. I'm interested to see how far he can push his latent psionic talent, I'm hoping by the 3rd book we get to see something like the confident, bad-ass Luke going to Jabba's palace and making demands. The villains are interesting, as is the plotline, it's just a really solid book all around.

About the only thing I had some issue with is at one point it is mentioned that Zelia (a yuan-ti) likes to keep her psionic abilities secret because, and I'm paraphrasing here, "psionic talent is so rare among the yuan-ti." I think that was a big miss by Smedman. As far as I know, yuan-ti have always been strongly associated with psionics in the earlier editions (I haven't played past 3.0), maybe not to the point of illithids or anything, but it's been a large part of their lore. I just looked up the race on Wikipedia and the fourth sentence in states: "They have formidable psychic abilities." That small nitpick aside, this was a great start to a trilogy and I'm excited to dive into book 2: Viper's Kiss
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fwah
Acolyte

1 Posts

Posted - 06 Jan 2018 :  04:53:09  Show Profile Send fwah a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've been stalking this thread for a while but wanted to give you a big THANKS for doing this and posting your thoughts.

Edited by - fwah on 06 Jan 2018 04:54:18
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
293 Posts

Posted - 09 Jan 2018 :  00:01:37  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You're welcome Fwah, it's been quite a bit of fun.

Yesterday I finished Viper's Kiss. I'm really enjoying this trilogy so far. There's a fairly complex plot going that runs several layers deeper than I initially thought. I did get a tad confused at one point with some of the minor characters, but overall there's a nice level of intrigue. I think the main protagonist is a fairly inventive character, he doesn't read like a rehash of themes I've seen a thousand times. About the only thing I'm iffy about are his "secondary manifestations" when he fires up a psionic power - something we were talking about over in that other thread about the Vilhon Reach. I favor psionics to go off with little or no fanfare, they don't need to be full of flash and bang like wizardly or clerical spells. But that's an argument for a different time.

Marilith tanar'ri have always been among my favorite demonic type, so I was delighted to see one towards the end of this book. Also, that type just fit so perfectly with everything else going on in this story. I'm surprised (pleasantly so) how risqué Smedman is at times in this story, it's a tad more mature than standard FR fare, and that's what I tend to prefer. Good book overall, and good trilogy so far, let's see if she can bring it all together in the finale, which I started today: Vanity's Brood.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 09 Jan 2018 00:04:07
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VikingLegion
Learned Scribe

USA
293 Posts

Posted - 13 Jan 2018 :  02:39:03  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Vanity's Brood today. I very much enjoyed this trilogy. The psion's "secondary displays" annoyed me more and more as the story went on, but that is an almost inconsequential element of the books, and one I more or less /handwaved away. There were times in this book when the plot became a bit convoluted, with so many mind readers all dominating/controlling multiple pawns, getting into each other's heads, creating mind-seeds, altering each other's memories, and so on. Also the end conflict felt a little... I don't know, anticlimactic to me? But overall it was a very good trilogy when viewed as a whole. I especially liked how Arvin was a very clever and capable protagonist, yet he got his butt handed to him on several occasions. I never had that feeling that he's always going to win, which can get boring after awhile. I would recommend this trilogy to anyone with some interest in the Vilhon Reach, yuan-ti, or psionics. I found it to be a fun and engaging changeup from standard archwizard and highpriests archetypes.

Up next: I'm tempted to start Richard Baker's Last Mythal trilogy. But instead I think I want to knock out one more of the Priest standalone stories before I delve into another multi-book series. So that'll be Gross and Basingthwaite's Mistress of the Night.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 13 Jan 2018 02:42:26
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