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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
443 Posts

Posted - 16 Nov 2019 :  12:38:04  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Not to derail or anything, everyone feel free to continue the wonderful conversation going on in the last page. But in the meantime I've finished The Adversary.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Erin Evans is one of the best character builders around (with a nod to Elaine, the ultimate in that respect). I swear, if I didn't know better I'd say she was tricking me into reading (and enjoying!) a cheesy teen romance novel - like some kind of guilty pleasure I don't want to admit to. Her depiction of the sisters is so spot on, I feel like I've known them for years. Their fears and insecurities are so well-developed. Lorcan's ability to prey upon and manipulate them is scary good - to the point where I hope Erin never notices me and decides to psychologically destroy me. Seriously, I often think about that when I read things like Game of Thrones, or watch a movie like Silence of the Lambs. For the author to be able to conceive of such darkness and deviousness, do they have to have a little bit of it in them? Erin, if you ever read this, I'M JUST KIDDING, PLEASE DO NOT CONDEMN MY SOUL TO THE NINE HELLS.

Speaking of, her depiction of the Hells, all the fiendish plotting, back door deals, and overall hierarchy is amazing. It's funny, the actual story itself - a concentration camp filled with Chosen being harvested in some Shar plotline (you know, that Sundering thing) takes a backseat, at least in my mind, to the development of the tiefling sisters, Farideh's relationship with Lorcan, and the Hellish machinations.

Very good book, I can't wait to see the next step in this story. But up next is book 3 [edit, book 4] of the Sundering: The Reaver.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 23 Nov 2019 17:02:39
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
976 Posts

Posted - 17 Nov 2019 :  10:05:52  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I really like Erin in interviews and I see the appeal of her books but for some reason I couldn't force myself to finish the 2nd book in the Brimstone Angels saga...I guess I need to power through and try again because people I trust have raved about them and I'm sure I'll enjoy them in the end.

Sorry for the de-rails Viking, the community needs a place to vent the death of the FR novels I suppose!
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
443 Posts

Posted - 19 Nov 2019 :  21:24:22  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Reaver. I can't say I cared for it much, at least early on. I tend to dislike books where the main characters are scum. In Byers' Brotherhood of the Griffon quintet the main group were mercenaries - who by definition are killers for money - but they had some dim spark of honor or scruples in their own way. Now Byers has gone even farther along the evil spectrum and casted a bloodthirsty, completely immoral pirate as the main character. Accompanying him is a self-serving Red Wizardess, and lastly a boy Chosen of Lathander (it's a weird group that got thrown together by fate). Several of the early alliances really strained credulity - you just had to /handwave a bit and let it happen.

The young boy, Stedd, seems to exude goodness and innocence - so much so that the pirate and Red Wizard start behaving in ways that seemed very out of character. It was hard to tell how much of this was him simply growing on them (unlikely, WAY too much of an alignment change) or if he was sending out a supernatural aura that was slowly and subtly shifting them along towards some semblance of goodness. I don't know... I'm all for a good redemption arc, but when it's forced like that simply by being in the presence of a Chosen and not because it's what the characters would've chosen for themselves, it seems so much less authentic.

Priests were able to cure spellplague effects in this one, I'm not sure I've seen that allowed anywhere else? Did Byers go off the reservation on that one?

There was a cool region called Gulthandor with a Narnia-like talking godking lion. I'd look into the area further but I don't know if it's all going to go away post-Sundering.

The ritual towards the end wherein the Emerald Enclave link the power of Silvanus to that of a newly risen Lathander (see what I did there?) in order to combat the nigh-eternal storms of Umberlee was really cool. All the various sylvan creatures of the area showed up to link their own power to the ritual, and the way Byers wrote it was so awesome to visualize. Easily my favorite aspect of this book.

Overall it was ok, some hits, some misses, but generally the weakest of the Sundering series thus far. Up next is Troy Denning's The Sentinel.
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Madpig
Learned Scribe

Finland
148 Posts

Posted - 21 Nov 2019 :  13:53:18  Show Profile Send Madpig a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Not to derail or anything, everyone feel free to continue the wonderful conversation going on in the last page. But in the meantime I've finished The Adversary.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Erin Evans is one of the best character builders around (with a nod to Elaine, the ultimate in that respect). I swear, if I didn't know better I'd say she was tricking me into reading (and enjoying!) a cheesy teen romance novel - like some kind of guilty pleasure I don't want to admit to. Her depiction of the sisters is so spot on, I feel like I've known them for years. Their fears and insecurities are so well-developed. Lorcan's ability to prey upon and manipulate them is scary good - to the point where I hope Erin never notices me and decides to psychologically destroy me. Seriously, I often think about that when I read things like Game of Thrones, or watch a movie like Silence of the Lambs. For the author to be able to conceive of such darkness and deviousness, do they have to have a little bit of it in them? Erin, if you ever read this, I'M JUST KIDDING, PLEASE DO NOT CONDEMN MY SOUL TO THE NINE HELLS.

Speaking of, her depiction of the Hells, all the fiendish plotting, back door deals, and overall hierarchy is amazing. It's funny, the actual story itself - a concentration camp filled with Chosen being harvested in some Shar plotline (you know, that Sundering thing) takes a backseat, at least in my mind, to the development of the tiefling sisters, Farideh's relationship with Lorcan, and the Hellish machinations.

Very good book, I can't wait to see the next step in this story. But up next is book 3 of the Sundering: The Reaver.



I think everyone has their pet dislike. Like Woolys war of the spiderqueen series. Mine is Evan's books. I like her writing style and character building etc, but big BUT is that I get kind of Twilight vibe from her books. And I really tried to like them.
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
443 Posts

Posted - 23 Nov 2019 :  17:23:36  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished The Sentinel today. Right off the bat I read the main character is named Kleef. Oh boy... Kleef. I think I probably harp on names more than anyone (although Wooly comes close). I just find it hard to believe an author would spend weeks, months, (longer?) to sketch out an initial concept for a story, build it, refine it, keep submitting drafts and tinkering around - but yet doesn't take just a few minutes to think about one of the most important details possible.

I see Malik makes another appearance - Denning's old pre-Spellplague pawn of Cyric and vaguely stereotypical Arabic conman. He was just as wheedling and annoying as I remembered him, but for some reason I found him to be mildly entertaining this time around. Not sure why.

There has been just a tiny bit of overlap in these Sundering novels - like the boy Stedd from the previous book, The Reaver, mentioned breaking out of the concentration camp featured in The Adversary. In this current book we see the captain of the ship they used being the same as the one from a previous one. It's a nice touch, having some interlocking pieces. But honestly it's so little it barely makes a dent, and this series seems like it didn't have much in the way of overall concept design other than to say Shar is up to something and it involves Chosen - and then letting the 6 authors all go their own ways.

This story involved a group of various Chosen - one each of Helm, Siomorphe (the deity I despise above all others), Sune, and Myrkul (but really Cyric) trying to transport an artifact to a specific destination in order to prevent an earth primordial from abandoning Toril, which in turn would somehow strengthen Shar in some vague way that I kinda, sorta understand. It didn't feel like the most inspired of efforts, but it wasn't a bad book. The characters had an interesting dynamic, lots of intrigue, plots within plots, and so on. An ok book, but nothing necessary unless you are a completionist.

Up next, naturally is the final book of the series, The Herald.
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Renin
Learned Scribe

USA
214 Posts

Posted - 24 Nov 2019 :  20:35:07  Show Profile Send Renin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The biggest part I liked of The Reaver was when I went 'Oh! This is one way they are fixing up the Spellplague nonsense! Good job, you!"
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Mirtek
Senior Scribe

550 Posts

Posted - 28 Nov 2019 :  23:57:06  Show Profile Send Mirtek a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

There was a cool region called Gulthandor with a Narnia-like talking godking lion. I'd look into the area further but I don't know if it's all going to go away post-Sundering
The lion was Nobanion, some lion demigod who really hasn't been that important in published realms. IIRC he was reduced to the weakened corrupted state he's encountered in the novel after losing to Malar shortly after or during the spell plague
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
443 Posts

Posted - 30 Nov 2019 :  11:45:41  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mirtek

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

There was a cool region called Gulthandor with a Narnia-like talking godking lion. I'd look into the area further but I don't know if it's all going to go away post-Sundering
The lion was Nobanion, some lion demigod who really hasn't been that important in published realms. IIRC he was reduced to the weakened corrupted state he's encountered in the novel after losing to Malar shortly after or during the spell plague



Yeah when they first saw him he was covered in blue flame and driven to a mad, feral, aggressive state. Once they purged that plague-fire from him he regained his normal mind and became a pretty important ally for a short while. It was an interesting chapter, I had not previously heard anything about this character or entire region.
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
443 Posts

Posted - 30 Nov 2019 :  12:30:27  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm about 30 pages from finishing The Herald, but not sure when I'll have time for a writeup, so I'm just going to do this one now. If anything earth-shattering happens in the last chapter or two, I'll come back and amend this.

I liked the initial premise: Elminster, Storm, and Amarune are traveling across Faerun to locations of magical significance, trying to repair "Weave anchors" to stabilize magic. This small but steady approach was keeping them occupied for a bit, until the major events forced them to abandon it and go after the two biggest stationary wards in the Realms - Candlekeep and Myth Drannor.

Speaking of Candlekeep, I really liked how Ed described the place, from its architecture, to the magical shielding in place, to the overall mood - you can tell he has a great reverence for places of learning and preserved knowledge. The Prefects were especially cool once they were roused to defend the keep. I really enjoyed these segments until all hell broke loose. It was silly how many monks had been covertly slain and replaced by various agents. The Shadovar had several plants there, but so too did the Moonstars, Elminster, Larloch, towards the end it felt like there might be more imposters than actual monks. It was very Greenwood in its utter lack of subtlety and "MORE is better" approach. When contemplating who else might be after the mighty magics stored in Candlekeep, Telamont Tanthul muses how "thousands of archmages are ready to pounce." I've always felt the term archmage should refer to the undisputed masters of wizardry, and there would rarely be more than a handful extant at any one time. But I have to remind myself, this is Ed's Realms and numbers don't ever matter.

Lady Alustriel and Laeral also appear, answering a question I had as to what they've been up to for the last 100 years. Apparently posing as monks. For a century. I have a weird question about them and Storm... In the past I've seen all their hair being described as free flowing and lively, as though constantly stirred by a non-existent breeze. Or they can change the styling on a whim with concentration alone and no manual manipulation required. But in this book their hair now functions as some kind of additional appendage(s), fully prehensile and capable of wielding multiple weapons at once, picking up and throwing man-sized opponents, grasping walls and/or tree limbs to steady them, etc. Has it always been this way and I just somehow missed it? Or is this a post-Spellplague augmentation?

I had a strange thought regarding Shar while reading this book. The entire Sundering series sees Shar's hand in several simultaneous schemes to seize power:
1. The abduction (and draining) of Chosen in a massive concentration camp.
2. The attempt to drive an earth primordial away so she can claim dominion over the Underdark caverns and strengthen the link between the Shadowfell and Toril.
3. The opening of her "eye" and the all-consuming Maelstrom in Sembia as part of The Night Cycle.
4. Seizing on the power of the wards in MD and CK to warp the Weave forever into her Shadow Weave, claiming dominion over magic for all time.
5. Etc.

Isn't all this ambition, this striving for victory, antithetical to her portfolio of despair, hopelessness, ennui? I feel like Shar is a fundamental contradiction at her core. As are her followers: they profess to worship a deity that considers hope to be anathema, but then they all have their own various plots and schemes to gain power. They all hope to rise to greatness within her church... shouldn't that make them the very worst and most faithless worshippers?

Ed's baelnorn are incorporeal spirits? I always considered them as being good-aligned elven liches - and therefore possessing physical, tangible bodies. I guess they're more like ghosts than liches, that surprised me.

Towards the end, as Myth Drannor is on the brink of being overwhelmed, Elminster comes up with a rather interesting solution to distract the thousands of mercenaries assailing the city. He has "collected" several powerful enemies over the years, plunging them into a magical stasis to keep them sealed away from the Realms. I'm not sure why that would be preferable to outright destroying them, but I'll just go with it. He, along with the Srinshee, Laeral, and Alustriel, teleport several of them into the midst of the mercenary camps, releasing them from stasis at the same time. The beasts - a black dragon, a dracolich, two beholders, and an illithid - are a bit confused at the abrupt awakening, and naturally lash out with maximum violence. I thought this was a really cool and creative idea. But at the same time, isn't it a little too convenient? El mentions that this is a great last resort weapon, because "If I fall in battle they'll all be released anyway." But where was this concern or issue in previous Elminster books? Like when he was disintegrated and sent to Hell. Wouldn't that condition be enough to release all these baddies long before now? I'll try not to think about it too much, because this was a fun chapter.

Ok, that's what I have for now. About 30-40 pages left in this one and things aren't looking great. Larloch is super-charged up from the magical strength of Candlekeep. Telamont is zeroing in on the utter annihilation of Myth Drannor, his sons are slaying every baelnorn in sight and plundering crypt after crypt after crypt. The heroes are down to just a handful of pocket resistance, it feels like the reborn glory of Myth Drannor is going to be short-lived in the grand scheme of things.
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