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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
420 Posts

Posted - 13 Jul 2019 :  11:53:18  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert
I'm curious... What is that one book?




The Spectral Blaze by Richard Lee Byers. It's book 3 of the Brotherhood of the Griffon quintet. Super frustrating, as I'm supposed to be reading that series if I was sticking to my publication date reading order, but I've had to move on past it for now. Saw a copy on eBay today for about $46, that's the cheapest I've seen it in awhile. I think $25 is about the highest I'm willing to pay for it.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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USA
32219 Posts

Posted - 13 Jul 2019 :  16:19:52  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ah. I got lucky there, myself, and found someone selling the entire series for like $25 or $30, a year or two ago.

I may have two copies, but I'd have to look. My computer room has gotten rather more cluttered than I'd like.

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gylippus
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52 Posts

Posted - 15 Jul 2019 :  23:24:06  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I moved on in the Cloakmaster Cycle and finished reading The Radiant Dragon by Elaine Cunningham. A previous poster thought this was the best book in the series. Personally, I still think the previous book was the best.

The book is well written and it doesn't have any huge flaws. But I am starting to see the problem of writing a series with many different authors. If I was in charge at TSR I would have contracted for one author to write the entire series. Any series with multiple authors has too much of a chance of going off course. One big problem is that Teldin Moore, the main character, doesn't 100% feel like Teldin Moore from the previous books. Three cases in point.

1. Teldin shows up in a bar and through a series of mysterious circumstances is chased out of the bar and ends up recruiting an aperusa to his ship. Who in their right mind would do this? He is hunted by half of the forces in the Crystal Spheres, yet he is willing to allow someone on his ship who is most likely a known liar and thief? To me, that just makes Teldin Moore out to be a complete idiot.

2. Teldin agrees to take Trivit and Chirp to their ship, which turns out to be an illithid ship. That isn't the most serious problem. He ACTUALLY boards the other ship and becomes a captive instantly. Yet again, who would board another ship they know nothing about? Teldin could have easily sent a crewmember to take the dracons to that ship. He had no need to board it himself. That is just stupid. It also calls into question Teldin's mental ability yet again.

3. Teldin agrees to let Raven Stormwalker stay on his ship. Wait, this is someone who obviously lied to get on the ship and you know nothing about. Why would any competent person allow this? Yes, the book does mention dragon charm but I don't think she was able to 100% charm him. AFTER Teldin finds out she viciously killed Viper and destroyed her Reigar master he seems to have no problem with it, even though they were innocent people. The Teldin of the previous books would never sanction the death of innocents. I personally hated the entire story arc with Celestial Nightpearl. It is never made super clear to me why she would have anything to do with Teldin. Yes, I know, she fears the Spelljammer's power and wants him to be captain, and she sees some power in him that he doesn't see in himself. That is the stated reasoning, but it is hard to swallow that logic.

Okay, on to the next issue. The Scro. In the previous book the Scro commander, Vorr, is a vicious killer. There is a scene in this book when a Bionoid grabs General Grimnosh by the throat and dangles him around like a toy. I know the Bionoid are bred killers but it would be hard for me to see General Vorr treated in such a way. In my mind I see the Bionoid try to grab general Vorr and he immediately bludgeons the creature to death. Long story short, Grimnosh is not nearly as imposing as Vorr and he seems to die pretty easily.

Next issue. Suddenly everyone has cloaking helms? Wasn't cloaking helms a plot from Star Trek. I vaguely remember the Klingon coming up with one, but I am not a Trekkie. For that matter, don't the Scro seem just like Klingons? It makes me wonder of the people who invented Spelljamming were huge Trekkies. There is probably a back story to that.

It will be interesting to see how the story progresses, but I may take a break from it and go back to Tymora's Luck.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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32219 Posts

Posted - 16 Jul 2019 :  02:57:25  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Cloaking helms were from an issue of Dragon Magazine, I believe.

I'm no Trek expert, but I believe there are a couple major differences between Klingons and scro. Scro are way more militaristic than Klingons, and honor isn't really a thing for them. All scro know their place in their society, and that place is to serve their society as a whole and bring down their enemies. Pretty much everything else is secondary to them. They don't fight each other and they'll happily use dirty tactics to destroy elves and anyone else that gets in the way.

Pretty much the only similarities betwixt the two races are that both are non-human and aggressive.

There was also a disconnect of a couple of years between the two concepts. Cloaking helms came early in the Spelljammer line, as another magical item. Scro came later, as the impetus for a setting-shaking event (that never really succeeded, since they scattered it about in a lot of different places and never followed up on it afterward).

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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 16 Jul 2019 02:59:02
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gylippus
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52 Posts

Posted - 16 Jul 2019 :  11:32:06  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
I'm no Trek expert, but I believe there are a couple major differences between Klingons and scro. Scro are way more militaristic than Klingons, and honor isn't really a thing for them.



General Vorr behaved in an honorable fashion in the Maelstrom's Eye. When he was attacked by a band of humans, elves, and dwarves at the beginning of the book he respected the female human fighters ability. When she was stabbed in the back by his wizard assistant he was very upset and then he placed her sword in her dead hands.

He did a few other things that I construed as honorable. On the other hand, maybe he just liked to fight so much he wanted the fight to be fair in order to prove his ability.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 16 Jul 2019 :  15:59:05  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That's one character. It's not a societal thing.

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gylippus
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Posted - 17 Jul 2019 :  14:37:49  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Finished reading Tymora's Luck.

I enjoyed the book and I would say overall I thought it was one of the better FR books I have read so far. From my previous post I am sure everyone is aware I am a big KN/JG fan. In terms of their books I would put it on the same par as Finder's Bane, but not as enjoyable as Azure Bonds, Wyvern's Spur, or Masquerades.

I didn't think I would enjoy the book because, yet again, a kender shows up. Personally, I despise kender, however, Emilo is toned down a bit from your normal kender and I ended up liking his character quite a bit. Plus, it was nice to see Fizban pop up, if even for a second.

For some reason, the other characters have never grown on me as much as Alias and Co. but they have their good points. I was hoping to see Joel expand his powers a bit, after all, he was chosen by Finder and basically the head of Finder's church. I know Finder is a weaker god, but I would expect Joel to be decently powerful as a cleric.

A couple of parts in the book had me chuckling, especially any parts that dealt with an inordinate amount of good or bad luck. Those little vignettes in the book were clever. The scene where Volo is in a dice game with a barbarian and rolls doubles every time was hilarious. My one nitpick is that a halfling moneylender shows up and his name is "Havabuck". That seemed a little too 'wink wink' in my opinion and sort of deflated his character a bit. Plus, he ended up paying like a million gold coins or something. The fact that someone has a million gold coins sitting in a vault seemed outrageous. That brought me back to thinking about the economics of the realms.

Of course I liked seeing how the Wyvernspur children turned out. Uncle Steele is an alcoholic, go figure. Amber Wyvernspur turns into a mini wyvern, which was cool, and Uncle Drone saves the day.

One last question. How is it that Holly can sense evil on 'Sirrion' but Lathander can't? If he can fool Lathander, shouldn't he be able to fool Holly?

Edited by - gylippus on 17 Jul 2019 14:39:47
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gylippus
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52 Posts

Posted - 21 Jul 2019 :  22:44:00  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, I have noticed that I am still reading FR books from 1990 when most people have already moved on, so I must be way behind the curve, but that is fine.

I just finished reading Ironhelm, the first book in the Maztica Trilogy. I read this book a long time ago and barely remembered anything about it. I was a little hesitant to read the book because it felt like such a rip off of history, with the Aztecs and Cortes. There are plenty of great works of historical fiction out there now, so I am always a little worried when FR seems to copy and paste real life to such an extent. That being said, the book was good. I don't know if it blew me away but it was well written and the story deviated enough from Cortes and RL to make it fresh.

Halloran and Erix are the main characters but the story doesn't focus on them exclusively, which can be good and bad. I liked the fact that Halloran isn't just your normal good looking beefcake fighter. Making him dual class (at least, I think he is?) was a nice switch up. I am still trying to figure out what Erix is, in terms of class. She obviously has some power that channels through her talisman but I have no idea to the extent of that power.

Niles kills off Martine pretty quickly in order to set up Halloran's expulsion and make the Bishou utterly hate the Mazticans. Honestly, I thought Martine might live all the way up to the very last minute. When her heart was ripped out I was like, "Oh! That is interesting." Luckily, our hero Hal seems to get over the brutal sacrifice of someone he had known for weeks in a very short period of time.

Now, besides the characters and plot I found myself musing about religious issues. Okay, we all know that the Aztecs and other Native groups practiced human sacrifice. Europeans saw them as blood thirsty savages and outlawed the practice. Here is my point, would people from Toril view the Mazticans exactly the same way? There are plenty of nasty and evil gods running around Toril, who require their followers to torture, maim, kill, sacrifice, etc.. In fact, I would have thought it was decently common.

Second, I kept coming back to the idea that this Golden Legion had exactly one magic user and one cleric for 500 men. That seemed odd to me. Why wouldn't the Bishou have minor clerics to help him tend to wounds? Why wouldn't Cordell see the value of attaching at least one magic user to each company? At the very least you would expect a fighting force of that size to have at least 10 clerics and some magic users. Maybe Darien didn't want more magic users around? I have no idea.

Anyway, it was a good enough book and I do look forward to reading the sequel, as soon as I can buy it on Ebay
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Captain Grafalcon
Learned Scribe

Brazil
85 Posts

Posted - 23 Jul 2019 :  01:33:29  Show Profile Send Captain Grafalcon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Yeah, that was a tough series to acquire. I happened across a copy of The Radiant Dragon in a used bookstore and paid $2.50 for it (Wooly, does that make me one of the "Elite Eight"?) But the toughest of the bunch, by far, was The Ultimate Helm, which I couldn't find for any less than $35 for the longest time. I use a combination of eBay and a site called Abebooks to track this stuff down. Abebooks is cool because it searches a bunch of other sellers for you and you can set up "wants" with the price you are comfortable paying, and it will alert you when your target drops into that range. I set up Helm for $15 or less, and ended up getting it for $14.28. It took a lot of patience, but that's ok being that I haven't started the series yet (I may after I finish the FR run).
.

It actually wasn't that difficult for me to replace mine, though that was back in 2007 when I was replacing everything. I went onto eBay and found most of the FR books, all of the Dark Sun ones (which I didn't have before), and the Spelljammer ones, in like 2 or 3 big lots of books. I bought those to replenish the bulk of the collection, and several smaller lots and singles from eBay, and got them all back that way.

I'd had all but the newest Greyhawk books, at the time, but I didn't bother with replacing those. And rather than replace all of my Dragonlance books, I just got new copies of the ones by Weis and Hickman -- because of the Dragonlance stuff I'd read, that was the only stuff worth replacing.

I didn't bother with most of the Ravenloft stuff, either, or the Mystara books I'd had.

The Planescape novels I don't have and I've never even seen... I've not looked for them, though.




Do You recommend Dark Sun novels? It’s not a familiar setting to me!

Mod edit: Replaced a missing quote coding, so the post was more clear.

"Surely you recognize that armies carrying banners are almost always thieves—until they win."
Jarlaxle, mercenary leader of Bregan D'aerthe.

Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 23 Jul 2019 02:53:53
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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USA
32219 Posts

Posted - 23 Jul 2019 :  02:58:20  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I only read a handful of them, myself. The Prism Pentad wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. I honestly can't recall the name of the other one I read; it was a continuation of a short story that was in Dragon. I liked the story, but the novel was fairly new the last time I read it.

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gylippus
Seeker

52 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2019 :  13:13:45  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I just finished the last book in the Twilight Giants trilogy by Troy Denning. I started this trilogy over a year ago, but it took me a long time to read because I kept getting distracted and I hated the trilogy so much.

I am not going to go over every single book here, but let me sum up my feelings for this trilogy. I absolutely hated it. So far, these have been the worst FR books I have read. I couldn't stand anything about the trilogy from the setting, to the characters, to the plot. The first book is the best one by far, and then the series slowly degrades. The second book is painful, and the third book is absolutely horrific.

The first book is a basic chase plot. Tavis has to rescue Brianna from an Ogre shaman with the help of Basil, a runecaster, and Avner, his sidekick. I like Tavis as a character. Although he seems to be amazingly dense when it comes to Brianna. My biggest issue is the relationship between him and Brianna. I found Brianna's character to be extremely unlikable. Mr. Denning, are we supposed to like Brianna or hate Brianna? If we are supposed to like her, you gave me no reason to do so. Tavis saves her time and time again and by the third book she completely distrusts him and puts a guard on him. What? This guy has literally ran over the entire kingdom saving your life. He has proven time and time again he is completely loyal. And this is how he is treated? Wow.

At least the first book has a big role for Basil. He is a good character and I like his moral ambiguity about personal property. Unfortunately, his role is cut down in the second and third books. Avner, on the other hand, begins to do things that seem out of character. Tavis is basically his father. He loves Tavis unconditionally. Yet, in the third book Brianna tells Avner to kill Tavis if he tries to kill her son (which he would never do and is completely absurd). Amazingly, Avner agrees! Also, Avner is killed towards the end of the book and barely anyone seems to care. Tavis finds his body and then the chapter just ends and leaps forward in time. The last one hundred pages in the third book felt very disjointed. In fact, everything in that book felt weird. The pacing was uneven. The plot felt forced. The introduction of Sky Cleaver felt like a forced plot point.

The second book was where the series went off a cliff. I despised Arlo and Julien and the rape plot. To me, Forgotten Realms is fantasy light. If I wanted rape in my books I would read adult fantasy. There is plenty of it out there. It is one T.V. and everywhere else. It just doesn't appeal to me. Granted, Mr. Denning skirts the topic and alludes to rape without being graphic, but it just destroyed the series for me. On top of the horrible plot the second book is basically another chase sequence, again. This time I started wondering how Avner could survive these harsh conditions. The other characters are giant and giant kin. Avner should have died from hypothermia halfway through the book.

The third book was just a slog. At that point I was trying to complete the series just to check it off the list. That is never a good recipe for enjoyment. Every page felt like an eternity. The entire first 100 pages are an ambush and child birth story. The rest of the book is a chase sequence, again. Every now and then we get to see what Brianna is doing in the tower Lanaxis is carrying. Ugh. I hated every minute of it.

Not to be that guy, but what are all of these giant tribes eating? These giants are HUGE. They would have to consume a massive amount of food to stay alive, and there are tribes of them running around. For argument's sake, let's suppose a giant eats one deer a day. That is 365 deer a year. Now we have a village of 100 giants. That is 36,500 deer a year. But there aren't just 100 giants, there are thousands of giants and they probably need more than one deer a day.

Another nitpicking point. The maps. The first book has a map that has a different orientation than the third book and the scales and details are vastly different. Yes, I know the first book has a map specific to the story in the first book but it difficult to cross reference the maps.

I have now read four books by Mr. Denning (I am not counting the Dark Sun books I read) and I am starting to wonder if maybe it is just his writing style I don't like. I am going to give him a few more chances, and I sincerely hope I end up loving some of his books, but that hasn't happened so far. In my personal opinion, this series is an avoid at all costs.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
938 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2019 :  19:46:28  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I liked The Parched Sea (and grudgingly guilty pleasure enjoy The Veiled Dragon despite its many problems) but otherwise Troy's writing is awful in my opinion.

Some people like his writing, but I'm of mind that everything from Waterdeep (from the avatar series) onwards he wrote is hot garbage, except those two :)

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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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USA
32219 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2019 :  23:09:08  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Some of Denning's stuff I've really liked.

Some of it I've hated.

One of the few books I've ever wanted to throw across the room, once I was done reading it, was a book by Denning.

I read the first book of the Twilight Giants. One of the main things I recall is that it was for some reason a big deal when one character (Tavis?) missed with an arrow, because they were just so good that them missing was noteworthy.

The other thing I recall is that it was a rough read, so much so that even when I was trying to read all the Realms novels, I never bothered completing the trilogy.

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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
938 Posts

Posted - 27 Jul 2019 :  09:48:35  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gylippus

Finished reading Tymora's Luck.

I enjoyed the book and I would say overall I thought it was one of the better FR books I have read so far. From my previous post I am sure everyone is aware I am a big KN/JG fan. In terms of their books I would put it on the same par as Finder's Bane, but not as enjoyable as Azure Bonds, Wyvern's Spur, or Masquerades.

I didn't think I would enjoy the book because, yet again, a kender shows up. Personally, I despise kender, however, Emilo is toned down a bit from your normal kender and I ended up liking his character quite a bit. Plus, it was nice to see Fizban pop up, if even for a second.

For some reason, the other characters have never grown on me as much as Alias and Co. but they have their good points. I was hoping to see Joel expand his powers a bit, after all, he was chosen by Finder and basically the head of Finder's church. I know Finder is a weaker god, but I would expect Joel to be decently powerful as a cleric.

A couple of parts in the book had me chuckling, especially any parts that dealt with an inordinate amount of good or bad luck. Those little vignettes in the book were clever. The scene where Volo is in a dice game with a barbarian and rolls doubles every time was hilarious. My one nitpick is that a halfling moneylender shows up and his name is "Havabuck". That seemed a little too 'wink wink' in my opinion and sort of deflated his character a bit. Plus, he ended up paying like a million gold coins or something. The fact that someone has a million gold coins sitting in a vault seemed outrageous. That brought me back to thinking about the economics of the realms.

Of course I liked seeing how the Wyvernspur children turned out. Uncle Steele is an alcoholic, go figure. Amber Wyvernspur turns into a mini wyvern, which was cool, and Uncle Drone saves the day.

One last question. How is it that Holly can sense evil on 'Sirrion' but Lathander can't? If he can fool Lathander, shouldn't he be able to fool Holly?



I'm reading this now, and agree with what you've said but wanted to point out one aspect I thought was actually really neat. Namely:

When Beshaba is comatose and sitting in the Baneson's throne room, I love the idea that even unconscious the bad luck around her is so powerful it kills people in numerous ways (trip and fall, slip on blood, cut neck shaving, choke on apple, etc.) that she deems her enemies. THAT is clever, interesting writing of how a deity would be, even though I generally hate writing the Realms' gods as sort of bumbling idiots instead of divine powers in the novels.

Kate and Jeff are just great writers and I wish they had more novels set in the Realms.

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TBeholder
Master of Realmslore

1836 Posts

Posted - 27 Jul 2019 :  18:23:22  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gylippus


1. Teldin shows up in a bar and through a series of mysterious circumstances is chased out of the bar and ends up recruiting an aperusa to his ship. Who in their right mind would do this?
He is hunted by half of the forces in the Crystal Spheres, yet he is willing to allow someone on his ship who is most likely a known liar and thief?

Anyone in need of a specialist at not-getting-scragged. For example, someone being hunted by half the forces in the known Spheres.
Besides, why exactly not? Aperusa are known as... ah... the folk playing cards with whom is not the best idea. Well, then don't. But they get around and they know they way around both ports and ships.
quote:

2. Teldin agrees to take Trivit and Chirp to their ship, which turns out to be an illithid ship. That isn't the most serious problem. He ACTUALLY boards the other ship and becomes a captive instantly. Yet again, who would board another ship they know nothing about? Teldin could have easily sent a crewmember to take the dracons to that ship. He had no need to board it himself. That is just stupid. It also calls into question Teldin's mental ability yet again.

It depends. Not the best approach, obviously, but at this point did he look for safe options at all?
quote:

3. Teldin agrees to let Raven Stormwalker stay on his ship. Wait, this is someone who obviously lied to get on the ship and you know nothing about. Why would any competent person allow this? Yes, the book does mention dragon charm but I don't think she was able to 100% charm him. AFTER Teldin finds out she viciously killed Viper and destroyed her Reigar master he seems to have no problem with it, even though they were innocent people.

Was this before or after he found out the Reigar are not exactly harmless?
quote:
Okay, on to the next issue. The Scro. In the previous book the Scro commander, Vorr, is a vicious killer. There is a scene in this book when a Bionoid grabs General Grimnosh by the throat and dangles him around like a toy. I know the Bionoid are bred killers but it would be hard for me to see General Vorr treated in such a way.[...] Long story short, Grimnosh is not nearly as imposing as Vorr and he seems to die pretty easily.

That's kind of the whole point of making super-soldiers, no?
quote:
Next issue. Suddenly everyone has cloaking helms?

Not everyone. It's an EIN toy, so just they, those who managed to take one from them, or from those who did, etc.
quote:
Wasn't cloaking helms a plot from Star Trek. I vaguely remember the Klingon coming up with one, but I am not a Trekkie. For that matter, don't the Scro seem just like Klingons? It makes me wonder of the people who invented Spelljamming were huge Trekkies. There is probably a back story to that.

Uh... "I'm not a Trekkie, but any chest-pounding warrior people including orcs are Klingons and must have been written by Trekkies"? Because Scro are just a more organized branch of orcs.

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Scro are way more militaristic than Klingons, and honor isn't really a thing for them. All scro know their place in their society, and that place is to serve their society as a whole and bring down their enemies. Pretty much everything else is secondary to them. They don't fight each other and they'll happily use dirty tactics to destroy elves and anyone else that gets in the way.

IIRC, they are mostly about personal prowess as warriors (like with those tooth necklaces, but they trust each other to not fake those), but generally keep their word, etc, except with elves? Whose agreement capability vs. non-elves (much less goblinoids) is dubious at best, so as far as the Scro can tell, there's simply no point?

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch
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gylippus
Seeker

52 Posts

Posted - 27 Jul 2019 :  19:44:05  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin
...in the Baneson's throne room, I love the idea that even unconscious the bad luck around her is so powerful it kills people in numerous ways (trip and fall, slip on blood, cut neck shaving, choke on apple, etc.) that she deems her enemies. THAT is clever, interesting writing of how a deity would be, even though I generally hate writing the Realms' gods as sort of bumbling idiots instead of divine powers in the novels.



I also thought that part was extremely funny. Choking on an apple...what horrible luck.

I agree with you about books with gods in them. Not really my cup of tea but I still enjoyed Tymora's Luck and Finder's Bane.

On to the next book. I apologize for jumping all over the place, but I am somewhat at the mercy of the books I have on my shelf and what I feel like buying on Ebay. I just finished Horselords by David Cook and I was blown away. It is the first book I have read in FR since Wyvern's Spur that I absolutely loved.

Honestly, I avoided this series back in the 90's because I thought it was a cheap knock off of Mongolian and Chinese culture. The book obviously borrows heavily from Mongolian culture but it is so well written and the character development so good that I really didn't care. If you took out the magical elements in the book and changed some names and times it could probably be a really good historical fiction novel, which is a complement.

I found David Cook's writing really good. He slowly develops the relationship between Koja and Yamun and he leaves a lot open to interpretation. For instance, some may say Yamun is evil. Did he kill his step brother? Is he an evil tyrant? Or is he no worse or better than just about any other ruler in the realms? Koja is obviously good, but you have the moral ambiguity of him befriending Yamun and helping him conquer other people.

David Cook also spends a lot of time developing the 'villains' in the book. We have a good understanding of why the Khadun hates Yamun. In some ways she is in the right. We also see why Chanar feels slighted and eventually betrays Yamun. You actually feel for Chanar in some scenes. He helps Yamun his entire life, shelters him, conquers for him, but never feels entirely appreciated.

I liked the way David Cook handled magic in the book. You never get the idea he is consulting a TSR magic manual while he is writing. He subtly works in magic and makes it a seamless part of the story.

I read some other reviews and people mentioned it lacked in action or felt more like a game supplement in novel form. Whether you like the book or not depends on personal preference. I prefer books with less action and more plot and character development, so it works great for me.

If I had to compare this book to the Maztica book I just read I would say this book is far superior. They both borrow heavily from RL history, but I think Cook handles it in a much better way.

After I finished I immediately went to Ebay to buy the sequel and let out a scream of fear and dread. The sequel is written by Troy Denning. Nooooooooo! And the third book is written by James Lowder, the same author as Ring of Winter, which I didn't enjoy. I hate it when TSR has multiple authors of the same series. I don't think it ever works out well in terms of character continuity. I sincerely hope these two books are as good as the first but I have my doubts. Can anyone tell me why TSR did this? Is it strictly for monetary reasons, in order to publish books faster?

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 27 Jul 2019 :  22:57:43  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gylippus



After I finished I immediately went to Ebay to buy the sequel and let out a scream of fear and dread. The sequel is written by Troy Denning. Nooooooooo! And the third book is written by James Lowder, the same author as Ring of Winter, which I didn't enjoy. I hate it when TSR has multiple authors of the same series. I don't think it ever works out well in terms of character continuity. I sincerely hope these two books are as good as the first but I have my doubts. Can anyone tell me why TSR did this? Is it strictly for monetary reasons, in order to publish books faster?





I couldn't tell you why they did the thing of using different authors.

But... I've commented before about how some Troy Denning books I've quite enjoyed, while others I've disliked immensely (to the point of wanting to chuck one book across the room in rage). Dragonwall is one of the ones I enjoyed.

I also really liked Crusade. I'm fairly confident that even if you disliked Ring of Winter that you'll still like Crusade.

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Seravin
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Posted - 28 Jul 2019 :  08:17:10  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I absolutely HATED Dragonwall, and loved Horselords for the same reason.

Let's just say that to me, Troy Denning took the characters that were established in Horselords, particularly Yamun Khan, and wrote whatever the hell he wanted about the character. The book makes no sense, and is a plot hole filled MESS.

This is one of the few times I've ever disagreed with Wooly on a book though (I generally love what he loves!) so take it with a grain of salt. Troy's writing outside of his Ruha books all suck to me.
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 28 Jul 2019 :  15:32:54  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin


Let's just say that to me, Troy Denning took the characters that were established in Horselords, particularly Yamun Khan, and wrote whatever the hell he wanted about the character. The book makes no sense, and is a plot hole filled MESS.


Denning does have a tendency (at least in the Realms; I've not read any of his non-FR stuff) to take established characters and make them act in ways no other author does. It's part of why I dismiss the entire Return of the Archwizards trilogy: the only white hats that did anything intelligent were Denning's own characters, while long-established white hats generally blundered about, ignored sound advice from informed sources, acted in uncharacteristically unintelligent manners, and generally just acted as an additional impediment to Denning's characters.

That said, while it's been a long time since I read Dragonwall, I don't recall him doing much with the characters from the prior book. The focus was very much on Batu Min Ho, his wife, and a few figures in the Shou hierarchy.

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

This is one of the few times I've ever disagreed with Wooly on a book though (I generally love what he loves!) so take it with a grain of salt. Troy's writing outside of his Ruha books all suck to me.



I liked his Ruha books, but I really wish he'd stop going back to that particular well. He reuses those characters so much it's almost a surprise they didn't somehow pop up in this one!

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gylippus
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Posted - 29 Jul 2019 :  13:09:04  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I just finished reading 1 - 4 of the Cleric Quintet, by RAS.

To be honest, I don't know what all the hoopla is about RAS. Personally, I find his writing to be somewhat amateurish. It isn't horrible, like some FR books, but it doesn't blow me away like other books. In general, I find his character development to be very thin and his plots basic.

My first issue with all of these books is that the overarching plot doesn't make much sense. Yes, I know Aballister wants to take over the region using Castle Trinity's forces. But why doesn't he attack one target with everything at his disposal? Any competent commander would say to hit the enemy with everything you have. RAS goes into some detail about why Barjin is sent to the library by himself and acts by himself. It all seems very contrived in order to give Cadderly a fighting chance.

Even so, the first book has some quirkiness about it that makes it interesting, such as Cadderly's inventions and the Bouldershoulder brothers. On the other hand, it seems that RAS really loves to write about overpowered characters. Cadderly is a wunderkind and Danica is already the most powerful monk in almost all of Faerun, and they are in their twenties.

I found the second book to be really annoying. This is when RAS starts to write really long fight sequences, some lasting over twenty pages. The entire book is basically a fight sequence and the fighting is injected with campy humor and stupidity. The Bouldershoulders and Danica cut down scores of enemies almost never suffering wounds while Cadderly broods and whines about killing in general. All of the elves are cardboard cutouts with no personality. Yet again, castle Trinity splits its forces, for no apparent reason other than to prolong the book series.

The third book was a bit of a bounce back. Caradoon was a better setting than Shilmista, but I felt like Ghost and the Night Masks had more than enough opportunities to kill Cadderly and they didn't simply to make the book longer.

The fourth book felt like mostly filler. The last 100 pages are a fight sequence again. I find RAS fight sequences to be extremely repetitive. Parts of the book felt like the movie trilogy the Hobbit. If you have watched them you will remember Legolas doing crazy things like jumping on boulders falling through midair and hitting every single target in the eye without fail. RAS is the written equivalent of those movies. It is over the top to the point of absurdity. Ivan manages to ride a Chimera through the air. The Bouldershoulders continue to fall on one another a lot and make weird sounds. In the castle they must kill at least 100 enemies. Vander and Shayleigh are inserted into the group simply to kill more enemies. We never get to know them any better or really care if they live or die. But of course they won't die because RAS won't kill a main character, ever...

It was during the fourth book that I noticed RAS uses a lot of parentheses and exclamation points. Seriously, go back and read the book and look for those writing conventions. Once you notice them they are all over the place. He also starts to use the phrase 'love' or 'her love' a lot when Danica refers to Cadderly.

I feel like this entire series could have been a trilogy. Cut out the filler, edit the plot, cut down the battle scenes, and you might have a decent trilogy.
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Captain Grafalcon
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Posted - 29 Jul 2019 :  16:03:08  Show Profile Send Captain Grafalcon a Private Message  Reply with Quote

I respect your opinion, but to understand an overall picture of an author's work, we need to know many factors. I may be mistaken, but I think this work was at the beginning of his career. We can see several errors in the early works of great authors, even Dostoievsky. I don't know how contracts for novels work, but maybe he got paid for 5 books. I realize that debates involving the work of RAS are common, but it's the price we pay for having such a long series,and tolerance for it varies from person to person (I'm absolutely ok with that). Opinions involving action narratives also are variable, but RAS is known for developing good combat narratives even for readers not interested in fantasy.

"Surely you recognize that armies carrying banners are almost always thieves—until they win."
Jarlaxle, mercenary leader of Bregan D'aerthe.
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Seravin
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Canada
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Posted - 29 Jul 2019 :  17:19:04  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Clerical Quintet - I hear you. I actually like Canticle because it is a low level Cadderly and you almost understand Barjin's complete arrogance in saying he can take the whole library by himself (and I think if he had just stormed the library he may have done that with his mummy, the priests who run it seem incompetent compared to the dwarf cooks and Danica the miracle monk). Also - evil does turn on itself and not trust itself, so I can kind of see how Castle Trinity was doomed and not a cohesive force. That is a common trope of evil being too treacherous to work together and they do say the factions hate each other.

Cadderly's "hero" journey is a bit abrupt - he goes from quite inexperienced and weak in book 1 and 2 where he interestingly relies on his smarts and inventions to get by (his whiny no kill attitude is ridiculous given the world he lives in and the war surrounding him) - to a CHOSEN OF DENIER OMNIPOTENT BEING in book 3 able to basically take out an entire army/castle with a thought by book 4. I absolutely hated book 5.

For book 4, Fallen Fortress...I kind of like the rip roaring adventure aspect and Cadderly mind-effing the ridiculously stupid "Head Master" who shouldn't be given any spells by any god because he's inept and pretty much evil. I don't understand why Deneir would allow the library to be like it is given how involved he is with Cadderly and Penelope - like...I don't get deities in the FR. Sometimes they are so involved and talk to mortals and look out for random people who call to them and directly intervene--- and in other novels they are enigmatic forces that don't intervene or do anything even when HORRIBLE terrible things happen to their chosen and major centres of worship. Even when rival evil deities are attacking in force (why I hated Evermeet the novel.)

I digress, Book 2 and 5 were the weakest for me, I usually skip when I re-read this series. You're not wrong in that Danica is a Mary Sue character with no faults or flaws other than being into her studies and dedicated and she can magically overcome through sheer will power the chaos curse at age 20 but extremely high level experienced priests that run the church/library cannot. It shows that Bob absolutely loves Monks and wanted to write a monk trilogy but couldn't and had to do a priest one about Cadderly who doesn't cast any priest magic in the first book at all, and is basically just a tinker until he becomes a chosen who can do anything.

My fave RAS books are Servant of the Shard and Crystal Shard, for very different reasons.


Edited by - Seravin on 29 Jul 2019 17:20:38
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12swords
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Posted - 29 Jul 2019 :  18:12:00  Show Profile Send 12swords a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've only read the first couple chapters of Cleric Quintet although the characters appeared in some of the Drizzt novels so I've heard of them before. I've heard some people say it's some of RAS's better books so it is on my to-read list. Way down the list, to be sure, so who knows when or even if I'll ever get to it, but it's there.
Is this the common weakness to most shared-world books, that there's a distinct lack of intricate plotting? Seravin thinks the 5-book CQ series could have been done in 3 books. It does seem to me that most FR novels, Bob's included, suffer from simplistic plots. It's always some variation of: "Get the McGuffin" or "Fight and Kill these guys" or "Travel to this location", without much world-building or character development in between. Like the games that they're based on, the novels have very linear plotting and obstacles, and few even seem very imaginative or inventive.
But this could also probably be a function of the deadline these writers are under. Aren't most of these novels written in 3 months or less? I know Bob back in 2014-16 would put out a new Drizzt book every 6 months. If you count his other novels, he's probably averaging almost 2 books a year.
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gylippus
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Posted - 29 Jul 2019 :  20:04:32  Show Profile Send gylippus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Captain Grafalcon


I respect your opinion, but to understand an overall picture of an author's work, we need to know many factors. I may be mistaken, but I think this work was at the beginning of his career. We can see several errors in the early works of great authors, even Dostoievsky. I don't know how contracts for novels work, but maybe he got paid for 5 books.



I agree with your overall point. Authors will get better over time, there is no doubt about that. And yes, this was at the beginning of his career so I am willing to read more of his work and see where it goes. On the other hand, some authors write good books right out of the gate. There are plenty of examples of fantasy trilogies written by first time authors that are clever, inventive, and well written.
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CorellonsDevout
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Posted - 30 Jul 2019 :  02:37:59  Show Profile  Send CorellonsDevout an AOL message Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 12swords

I've only read the first couple chapters of Cleric Quintet although the characters appeared in some of the Drizzt novels so I've heard of them before. I've heard some people say it's some of RAS's better books so it is on my to-read list. Way down the list, to be sure, so who knows when or even if I'll ever get to it, but it's there.
Is this the common weakness to most shared-world books, that there's a distinct lack of intricate plotting? Seravin thinks the 5-book CQ series could have been done in 3 books. It does seem to me that most FR novels, Bob's included, suffer from simplistic plots. It's always some variation of: "Get the McGuffin" or "Fight and Kill these guys" or "Travel to this location", without much world-building or character development in between. Like the games that they're based on, the novels have very linear plotting and obstacles, and few even seem very imaginative or inventive.
But this could also probably be a function of the deadline these writers are under. Aren't most of these novels written in 3 months or less? I know Bob back in 2014-16 would put out a new Drizzt book every 6 months. If you count his other novels, he's probably averaging almost 2 books a year.




I think game setting novels can suffer from this, though some more than others. I think a lot of the "classic" FR novels have a bit more of a linear plot than the later ones. Of course, this doesn't mean they were all bad. There were some great "linear" stories. Some FR books have excellent world-building, even if the plot is "get X". Imho, Salvatore isn't always the best for showcasing the Realms or providing lore information. The Realms became more fleshed out for me once I branched out from Drizzt. Love Drizzt though I do, he is one part of a bigger, richer story. I get the gist of what you are saying though, and the Drizzt books aren't alone in those plots. That said, the CQ took me longer to get through. I felt it lagged in many places. Not his best.

Some of the later FR books don't suffer from this as much, but I think it is, one, deadlines, like you said, and conforming to the story WotC wants them to tell. Novels like FR have to showcase events going on in the world (though granted, some are more self-contained stories that don't really have an impact, and in turn aren't impacted). This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it can still allow for rich stories, and I personally read far more than I play, so I expect to see the story told through the novels.

And it does vary from novel to novel (or at least series to series). Some are more complicated and fleshed out than others, regardless of plot. For instance, it has been a while since I read an FR novel (though I am always reading something, usually in the fantasy genre), and I decided to finally read the Nethril trilogy, one of said "classics" I hadn't read yet for some reason. I think because I already knew about Karsus, and I thought the trilogy was about him. I thought maybe he started out as a Cyric figure (likeable at first, then goes insane). Based on what I knew of Nethril and Karsus, I expected it to be this amazing, epic story. Nope. At least, not to me. Mediocre characters and storytelling (particularly the first one). The villains were very foolish and easily tricked, and the protagonist was subpar. Karsus was only a secondary character, and he was only in the second book.

Elaine Cunningham, on the other hand, wrote amazing FR stories. Yes, some issues arose, but I loved the lore and characters. She really fleshed out the stories. They didn't feel simple to me.

So...I guess it depends lol. Game setting novels may suffer from this more than other fantasy novels, for reasons already given, but sometimes it works. Other times, you notice it heh.

Sweet water and light laughter

Edited by - CorellonsDevout on 30 Jul 2019 04:18:18
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