Forgotten Realms - the classics

Obryn

Hero
As I mentioned in another thread, I'm currently re-reading the 4e Realms Campaign Setting (and the Player's Guide at times, too.) It's a much, much different read than it was the first time I poked into it. Now that I'm over the "WTF?" stage, I'm finding more stuff I didn't necessarily expect.

(1) I have a much better feeling about the 4e Realms now than I did. Note that I wasn't negative about it to begin with, but it's better than I remember. At the moment, I'd rather run 4e Realms than 4e Eberron, having looked through both recently. (The 4e Realms map still sucks, though.)

(2) There are a lot of little things tossed around here and there which I remember from the 1e/2e Realms. I think an expert in Realms canon could actually put that knowledge to some good use for a similarly-interested group. It's got some good post-apocalyptic feel to it.

(3) Reading the 4e Realms has encouraged me to pull my 1e and Early 2e Forgotten Realms stuff out of the closet. I was a heck of a Realms collector back when the canon was fairly manageable. :) And damn - these had some insanely good maps. I ran out of floor space trying to put them together, and it's probably a good thing; my cat was trying to dive under them to figure out what's underneath.


Anyway, among the things I pulled out of storage was the fabulous Atlas of the Forgotten Realms by Karen Wynn Fonstad (who apparently passed away a few years back...) At any rate, it has a lot of maps in it from the classic Forgotten Realms novels - the original Crystal Shard series, at least the first Azure Bonds book, Spellfire, and so on. Heck, looking through those maps made me interested in re-reading those novels (or novel series). But, it's been a while, and I've gotten picky in my old age. :) So, I'll finally get to my point.

Has anyone read these classic Forgotten Realms novels recently?

How have they held up? Are they actually worth my reading time if I've grown picky about my fantasy novels? :) Any recent experiences would rock.

Thanks!

-O
 

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Jack99

Adventurer
Anyway, among the things I pulled out of storage was the fabulous Atlas of the Forgotten Realms by Karen Wynn Fonstad (who apparently passed away a few years back...) At any rate, it has a lot of maps in it from the classic Forgotten Realms novels - the original Crystal Shard series, at least the first Azure Bonds book, Spellfire, and so on. Heck, looking through those maps made me interested in re-reading those novels (or novel series). But, it's been a while, and I've gotten picky in my old age. :) So, I'll finally get to my point.

Has anyone read these classic Forgotten Realms novels recently?

How have they held up? Are they actually worth my reading time if I've grown picky about my fantasy novels? :) Any recent experiences would rock.

Thanks!

-O

They were a huge letdown for me, when I pulled them out of storage, 15 years after I read them the first time.
 

kitsune9

Adventurer
The last WotC pdf was FR 1e because I was thinking about going back and doing a retro campaign with Pathfinder rules, but using the setting at that timeline. I haven't gotten into the pdf recently, but I also planned on picking up the supplements too.
 

S'mon

Legend
When I sold off my FR novels, the one I kept was The Crystal Shard. It predates the TSR Ethics Code and has a much more adult tone than the later RAS books.
 

Votan

Explorer
They were a huge letdown for me, when I pulled them out of storage, 15 years after I read them the first time.

They seem to vary in quality. Some were quite poor (Cleric Quintet) and others hold up okay. But I did not read anything that really jumped out at me as great when I did a much later reread of a number of them (RAS Drizzt novels and spellfire did seem very contrived although I liked the Drow society part of the RAS canon a lot).

I am kind of starting to like Rich Baker's more recent novels; does that count?
 

Obryn

Hero
Thanks, folks! That was more or less exactly what I thought might be the case.

Outstanding maps have a way of sucking me into a story, or thinking it's better than it is. Ah well!

Instead of re-reading those, I might just drag out Fonstad's Atlas of Middle Earth and finally get around to re-reading the Silmarillion. That's one book where a separate book of maps really adds to it.

-O
 

maransreth

Explorer
Curse of the Azure Bonds trilogy by Grubb and Novak definitely a must and drawing a blank on some others.

After children iin bed shall relook over and give some tips.
 

Derulbaskul

Adventurer
@OP: I originally hated FR4E but subsequently became a convert and am really enjoying it... but I still hate the map. There is simply no excuse for how bad that map is.

I tried re-reading some of the older novels and I just couldn't do it. I gave almost all of them away. Elaine Cunningham is an exception and it almost always good.

Salvatore has become worse. IMO, Crystal Shard was his best work by a large margin. His later stuff, particular in the past few years, has become shark-jumpingly self-indulgent. He reminds me of George Lucas: he gets some success and then introduces ewoks, gungans and forces a relatively competently actor to completely suck as Anakin. Salvatore's stuff includes horrible names and verbal tics that really are Lucas-level self-indulgence. Even the fight scenes that he was previously rightly commended for bringing to life now seem to be self-indulgent (perhaps I am overusing that phrase but it just seems to sum up his work) filler to cover for the bad dialogue and plot.

Of the newer stuff I think most of the authors on the roster now are rather good but I strongly recommend avoiding Bruce Cordell. In the Plague of Spells, for example, he has this awakened golem-thingie leave a "touching" farewell note. I don't think that was his largest "author crime" that he committed but it was one of the few pieces that I haven't erased from my memory... yet.

Rich Baker, however, is good. Coincidentally he seems to be the only WotC designer still capable of writing a good adventure, again IMO (obviously).

I'm drawing a blank on the name of the author of the Erevis/Sembia novels so will edit it in later. He is a really good writer and definitely destined for something better than churning out shared world fiction (however, he does that very well). And, again, I think most of the other writers on the roster at present are really good. WotC seem to have almost got their act together with their FR author roster, although I am amazed that Bruce Cordell continues to write (how I wish he would go back to writing good adventures; it's been a long time since The Gates of Firestorm Peak, Return to the Tomb of Horrors and The Shattered Circle!).
 

Primal

First Post
My own all-time favorites among the FR novels are 'Cormyr: A Novel' by Ed Greenwood and 'Elfshadow' by Elaine Cunningham -- I think both capture the essence and feel of the Realms extremely well; add in the well-written dialogue, characters and plot, and I find myself re-reading these books time after time again (plus passages from Cormyr also serve as great material for historic hand-outs! :)).
 

JoeGKushner

First Post
Wow. Someone else who thinks Bruce is a better gamer than writer. He, Monte, Ed, and Gygax all did some fantastic game work and at best medicore fiction.

And yes, the Cale series, some odd seven books, one single from the Corymyr line, initial Mask trilogy, and second Sembia trilogy setting up the Shades for 4e, is pretty good. I want to say... Paul Kemp?
 

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