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General I'm reading the Forgotten Realms Novels- #079 The Council of Blades by Paul Kidd (Nobles 5)

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Another day, another Harper book that I read once and then never came back to. Which seems appropriate, as a lot of these featured characters who, after they rode off into the sunset, were never seen again (save for perhaps in the Heroes Lorebook supplement).

Honestly, the character that sticks out in my mind from this book best is Krote, and that's largely because it's extremely rare to see a gnoll hero in any of these books. The only other one that comes to mind is Orvago, from The Silver Stair, and that's a Dragonlance novel (which is also rather dubious, since I'm not sure that gnolls are supposed to exist on Krynn, the same way that orcs don't). Of course, it's also notable that Krote worships Gorellik, the actual gnoll deity who's largely been displaced by the demon lord Yeenoghu among gnolls, so good on the author for doing his homework there.

Beyond that, I seem to recall that Vreesar was actually a gelugon (i.e. an ice devil, as in a devil from the Nine Hells, and a high-ranking one at that), which makes his threat level a little more credible than being just some ice paraelemental. Even so, this was the sort of issue that made the Realms feel a bit overpowered compared to a lot of other settings; "there's a planar rift opening, and hostile creatures are coming through. Let's send a mid-ranking character or two to deal with it." Clearly, Harper command has more important stuff to focus on, right?
 

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Goonalan

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#058 Elfsong by Elaine Cunningham (Harpers 8 + Songs & Swords 2)
Read 9/3/20 to 14/3/20


Forgotten Realms Elfsong (Harpers 8) a.JPG

Book 8- and... it's very worthy- well written and all that, and I'm still liking Danilo Thann a lot, sure he's a self-deprecating (more-so in this one) smart arse who can do anything (anything at all) really well- and for all of this he remains very likeable. Elaith Craulnober is just the dog's doo-dahs (still). Yet, for all that... I wasn't that bothered about this one really, truth be told- I know I oughta be, but... nah.

The chase was okay, the threat slightly less so, but we'll get to that- I enjoyed Vartain the Riddlemaster, and the associated Bards that are also on the journey- special thanks go to Morgalla for being the best female Dwarven PC I've met so far in these books (from memory), even the Serpent's mercenary chief falls for her.

The rum point seemed to be the central plot in its entirety, Bards gone bad- Elfsong needs to be put on a pedestal, or else... well, what exactly- Magic needed putting in its place. It was all a little bit unconvincing- kinda, that's the plot- are you sure. Nutty Half-Elven Elfsinger/Sorcerer grabs magic harp and makes up some choons to mock/bad mouth the Harpers, and Khelben Arunsun etc. It's a way to go to arrive at the plot presented here as the solution to anything much. Same with the co-opted other bad folk- Hhune seemed to be a giggle (and suitably nasty with it) but we didn't get to see enough of him, and Lady Thione is a liability from the get-go. The bad guys seem to be not up to the job, and they make mistakes aplenty, although Garnet packs a punch.

Then there's the ending, which is over in a flash- although maybe not a flash, there's fifty or so pages of wonderless wanderings before a hop... skip... and a jump, we're at the end- just like that, and the Green deus ex-machina (maybe/maybe not- you decide) figures out that s/he's been duped... and game over.

Too much chatter, too much twisty-turny plot, these books are almost universally 312 pages long each- there are two to three dozen characters with something more than a walk-on in this, and everyone has a story to tell. Again, no problems with the writing, only the meh plot and the fact that the villains (save Garnet- maybe) are really not up to much. It just feels like a much longer book (with too little action) that has been squeezed to fit the contract.

Elaith Craulnober is the nastiest person in the book by a country mile, and he turns out to be looking out for his infant daughter in the end, and prepared to give his life.

Read.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
#058 Elfsong by Elaine Cunningham (Harpers 8 + Songs & Swords 2)
Read 9/3/20 to 14/3/20


View attachment 119927

Book 8- and... it's very worthy- well written and all that, and I'm still liking Danilo Thann a lot, sure he's a self-deprecating (more-so in this one) smart arse who can do anything (anything at all) really well- and for all of this he remains very likeable. Elaith Craulnober is just the dog's doo-dahs (still). Yet, for all that... I wasn't that bothered about this one really, truth be told- I know I oughta be, but... nah.

The chase was okay, the threat slightly less so, but we'll get to that- I enjoyed Vartain the Riddlemaster, and the associated Bards that are also on the journey- special thanks go to Morgalla for being the best female Dwarven PC I've met so far in these books (from memory), even the Serpent's mercenary chief falls for her.

The rum point seemed to be the central plot in its entirety, Bards gone bad- Elfsong needs to be put on a pedestal, or else... well, what exactly- Magic needed putting in its place. It was all a little bit unconvincing- kinda, that's the plot- are you sure. Nutty Half-Elven Elfsinger/Sorcerer grabs magic harp and makes up some choons to mock/bad mouth the Harpers, and Khelben Arunsun etc. It's a way to go to arrive at the plot presented here as the solution to anything much. Same with the co-opted other bad folk- Hhune seemed to be a giggle (and suitably nasty with it) but we didn't get to see enough of him, and Lady Thione is a liability from the get-go. The bad guys seem to be not up to the job, and they make mistakes aplenty, although Garnet packs a punch.

Then there's the ending, which is over in a flash- although maybe not a flash, there's fifty or so pages of wonderless wanderings before a hop... skip... and a jump, we're at the end- just like that, and the Green deus ex-machina (maybe/maybe not- you decide) figures out that s/he's been duped... and game over.

Too much chatter, too much twisty-turny plot, these books are almost universally 312 pages long each- there are two to three dozen characters with something more than a walk-on in this, and everyone has a story to tell. Again, no problems with the writing, only the meh plot and the fact that the villains (save Garnet- maybe) are really not up to much. It just feels like a much longer book (with too little action) that has been squeezed to fit the contract.

Elaith Craulnober is the nastiest person in the book by a country mile, and he turns out to be looking out for his infant daughter in the end, and prepared to give his life.

Read.
There's one more Silver Shadows.

Elaine was one of the better FR authors.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I know I keep saying this, but this was yet another book that I read once and then just sort of shrugged and walked away, and that my perceptions of it are therefore colored by something like twenty-plus years of neglect.

There's a section in this book where Vartain (a riddlemaster) unravels some long, overly-complicated riddle, only to be flummoxed when he gets the old "why did they bury the king in a copper coffin?" conundrum wrong. That really summarizes this entire book; it seems overly complicated (to the point of flirting with pretentiousness) for what it wants to do. Garnet is some old elven lady who's changed her identity and wants revenge on the Harpers for...some reason, and so she decides to go on a negative ad blitz against them and Khelben in Waterdeep. I suppose there was more to it than that, something about that green dragon (who eventually just seems to get fed up with the whole thing and goes back to the forest near the end of the book), but really that's all it seemed like.

Really, the entire book is about campaigning. I don't mean like a D&D campaign, but rather the campaigning that politicians do. Garnet is out to make Khelben and the Harpers look bad. Danilo and Arilyn and company are trying to counter the public's negative mindset. Morgalla has god-tier political cartooning skills. Vartain is the consultant who knows everything about his narrow field of expertise and nothing outside of it. And of course, like all such campaigns, it seems dramatic if you're invested in it and ridiculously overwrought if you're not.

Reading this was like watching characters play an elaborate chess game, when all someone needed to do to win was just upend the board.
 



Goonalan

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#059 Crown of Fire by Ed Greenwood (Harpers 9 + Shandrill's Saga 2)
Read 14/3/20 to 16/3/20


Forgotten Realms Crown of Fire (Harpers 9) a.JPG

Book 9- and sorry, but I liked this one as well, I get that it's Ed Greenwood, and sometimes his books are a sprawling whatever but, on the whole, I heartily recommend a little more Shandril in your life. Like the first book in the series (Spellfire) there's an excess of bad/good guys, and things (many many things) going on (all of the time), and walk-on parts for another dozen or more peek-a-boo characters. It's a rambling, shambling adventure story about the time Shandril turned the tables on the Zhent and took a trip (actually several trips) to their backyard- and started taking names and kicking ass.

I'll admit it, I'm not ashamed- I like me a bit of hot Zhent action (hot courtesy of the Spellfire). There's even a turn or two (but not much more) of Torm and Rathan- and I love those two guys. The star of the show however is, of course, Mirt the Moneylender- the guy knows everybody, and all about whatever it is your asking after. He somehow manages however to be all knowing without sounding like a creepy ass like Elminster. I've a predilection for heroes that are middle-aged, paunchy and that are au fait with the better things in life- good company, good cheer etc.

Oh, and this one sprawled and rambled over 370 pages, and I prefer that too; and better still there's a beautiful colour map in the edition I read, and that's mighty fine also. I like keeping up with events and following the heroes trail on the map.

The bad guys were great, of course, Manshoon, and Fzoul, and the myriad other (from mageling to archmagi) lackeys that are also chewed up and spat out burnt down by Shandril and her flaming madness. The body count here is like something from a late 80s action movie, they die in droves- the Zhent.

There are, of course, the usual issues- this time its Narm (Mr. Shandril) that's not quite cut-out for the action (actually, I quite like that also- the heroine is in change, while her Wizard husband needs to be protected- and constantly reminded that he's playing in the big league now). Elminster does his thing, goes off for a bit, comes back for a bit, does his thing again, and... yeah, that kind of stuff. Even in a novel that's not much to do with Elminster (really) the still slightly creepy big E has got to play a part. It's as if Ed Greenwood is contractually obliged, or else at the time he had other books to sell. There's the bit where Delg (the Dwarf) patiently explains the uses and functions of a magic item to Narm, and it feels like a clunky exposition run delivered by the wrong guy, but all that was available at the time.

So, there's the usual stuff to gripe about, but... overall, another one I quite enjoyed.

Read.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
#060 Masquerades by Kate Novak & Jeff Grubb (Harpers 10)
Read 17/3/20 to 19/3/20


Forgotten Realms Masquerades (Harpers 10) a.JPG

Book 10- and yet another one I enjoyed (mostly) and the Novak & Grubb gang (from the Azure Bonds/Finder's Stone trilogy) are back together- Alias the swordswoman, Dragonbait (the coolest Saurial Paladin on all of Toril), and Olive Ruskettle (superior Halfling Bard (= Thief)).

The city of Westgate is in trouble, birth place (sorta not) of Alias, the Night Masks lead by the Faceless are seeking to become masters of the trade capital, and supplant the great families. There's even a wonderful map inside the front cover of the book I read- dividing Westgate up in to the various territories of the terror gang. The Faceless runs the Night Masks like a tyrannical CEO, the nuts and bolts of their operation is exposed here and is going to get replicated in one my future games, promise.

There are a bunch of new characters to meet and greet, the oddest of them all is Jamal- not for anything she does but for the fact that in the last ten pages of the book she turns out to be the hidden Harper in the pack, yeah... no Harper's mentioned throughout, ten pages to go- here she is. Odd.

The sage Mintassan assumes the semi-Elminster role, only he's younger and slightly cooler, but as it turns out just as multifunctional.

So, the book and story flies bye- plenty of action (Alias et al vs the Night Masks), plenty of detective work, and plenty of smooth talking (in a very down-to-earth sorta way) from Victor Dhostar, son of Westgate's governing family- the next in line, waiting (im)patiently for his turn at the helm.

Therein lies the real problem- the Faceless is, well... faceless- or else his identity is obscured, who could he be? The red herring in this is Victor's dad- Luer Dhostar, alas lots of the suspicious info discovered about Luer is supplied (or made sense of) by his son... Victor.

Victor's also too good to be true from very early in the piece, for a while I didn't spot it- what's this I thought, there's a love story front and centre of the novel, that's nice- sorta, Alias is going to find her life-partner. But it can't be true, and... lots of other folk aren't as impressed with the pretender to the throne (in-waiting). So, the suspicion hits you pretty early, and there's nothing (at all) that happens afterwards that will throw the reader off the scent.

Then there's the story not-told (except in the SPOILERS epilogue). There's a big fight- Alias, Dragonbait & Mintassan the Sage are suddenly gone- presumed dead, Ruskettle and Jamal are left to make sense of it. Luer's dead, the Night Masks defeated (sorta, maybe) and the remaining great families quickly shuffle Victor to the top of the pack. By this time we know, of course, that Victor is the villain, secure in his new position and surrounded by his pandering hench-people. Which the author has really started to really focus upon.

Turns out... well, I'll not spoil the surprise, except to say- Alias et al are not dead- what's that, I hear you cry in shock, they're hiding in plain sight, ready to pounce.Wwhich they inevitably do, in a great/fight scene set (eventually) in an angry gold-paved treasure house demi-plane in which the good guys (and bad guy) have to overcome about a million gaseous form (to begin with) Dretch. It's a corker.

Then comes the epilogue, to explain how we got from D to E, which is a bit... well, I guess if you have to.

There's some great action, lots of great characters- Dragonbait for the win, the setting is well explored, as are the politics et al of the various factions and organisations- there's lot to like, and it swings by, it's just the plot that needs to be forgiven (a little). Otherwise, I raced through it.

Read.

Stay safe and well you lovely people- these are strange days.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
#061 Curse of the Shadowmage by Mark Anthony (Harpers 11)
Read 19/3/20 to 21/3/20


Forgotten Realms Curse of the Shadowmage (Harpers 11) a.JPG

Book 11- and we're back with Caledan Caldorien and friends in Iriaebor, the City of a Thousand Spires- this then is the sequel to the previous Harper/Mark Anthony book- Crypt of the Shadowking, with a lot of the same faces, plus a few new guys. There's a lot to like here... the story is (SPOILERS) Caledan's time is now- he's the natural heir to the throne- a new Shadowking is in the process of being born/made, the Harper hero (while ripping apart his relationship) is fighting it, but... he's being drawn to the finale (in Ebenfar).

Everyone else (aka the good guys) are for a while trying to figure out what's going, and then soon after trying to figure out where Caledan's gone... and then they're in semi-hot pursuit. Obviously their trials and tribulations along the way are manifold, and some of them right nasty. The Shadevar (think Ring Wraiths) are also on the trail, and this time there are three of the hard to kill buggers- and with mounts.

So, the story's good, the plot- similar, but y'know- like a lot (all) of the others- so, nothing much to write home about- although the action is good and the quest/journey interesting- it's another that would make a great scenario to DM.

The best bit (imho) are the characters, the good guys- and the pretend bad. Morhion the Wizard is back (with Serafi his vampiric buddy?), and he's possibly the true hero of the piece, although there are plenty of others that throw their hat in to the ring for this gig. Mari's also in the mix (Caledan's partner/Harper from the previous novel), as is Kellen (Caledan's otherworldly son) of course- the pair go above and beyond. There's also a pair of Guildmaster level thieves along for the journey- Cormik and Jewel are the comedy couple for this novel, and nicely done. Jewel, as it turns out, is Ferret's grandmother- and I loved Ferret the Thief in the last novel, so that's great... better still, he's back- Ferret is Stiletto, but you'll get there. Perhaps the best of the (bad) bunch character-wise is K'shar the Hunter, who is basically a Harper employed Terminator, and its inevitable from the get-go that he comes good in the end.

There's some more shadow style magic to be had here, a few more clue delivering Ghosts, a nice puzzle or two, an ancient Druid awaiting the prophet (Kellen), a bit of Bard-work, a further dig (or three) at the general inability of the Harpers (mostly the management), and a great finale- worthy of one of the 'S' series modules (maybe).

So, good- I liked it.

Read.

Stay healthy and well you lovely people.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
This one was pretty much where I stopped reading the Harpers novels. That wasn't any sort of planned departure on my part, but rather at this point they started transitioning into being novels that were built on other novels, some of which I still haven't read (i.e. the Alias books) and others I'm not interested in (i.e. the Danilo and Arilyn books).

Of course, there are exceptions to that, but I'll mention them when we get there.

I honestly missed Ravendas in this book, mostly because I found her to be a more compelling villain than the bad guys here, none of whom I even remember. Serafi is the exception, and he deserved a much better send-off than the perfunctory way he was dispatched at the end of the book. I also remember Kellen as being unpalatable, though in this case that's because I've always been suspicious of how children would gain great power under the game rules; when you're that young, you can't possibly have that many character levels. D&D simply doesn't lend itself very well to "destined child" archetypes.
 



Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
#062 The Veiled Dragon by Troy Denning (Harpers 12)
Read 22/3/20 to 26/3/20


Forgotten Realms The Veiled Dragon (Harpers 12)  a.JPG

Book 12- and we're in the Elversult region, and I'll be honest I don't remember having read anything about this area of the Forgotten Realms, inevitably I'll be mistaken and someone will point out that one of the other novels I have already read (here) was set in this region.

I've just looked it up- Eversult is down the road from Westgate, so I was wrong- we've been close to here previously.

So, we're doing Shou, Harpers and the Cult of the Dragon- and believe me the Harpers are less a secret organisation here, more an uppity bunch of bandits and outlaws (but y'know, in a good way- think the Alliance) that are out to keep the region free of tyrants, and in particular free from the Dragon Cultists.

I'm not sure how or why the Shou are here, did I miss it? Is it in the text and I skipped it- a trade mission, best guess/most likely. Anyway, our gal on the spot is Ruha the Bedine Witch/Wu-Jen and Harper extraordinaire- the deal is Lady Yanseldara has been poisoned and the local Harpers (lead by crazy warrior Vaerana) have called for a specialist- Ruha, to break in to the Shou compound and recover Lady Y's magical staff, which will somehow fix things. Ultimately she must find the poison and the poisoner that has incapacitated Lady Y.

The Shou are represented mostly by the arrogant Prince Tang (eventually he learns), a crazy chop-socky Princess (Abazm), a high level government minister (Hsieh) who is also chop-socky enabled and v. smart, and last but by no-means least Lady Feng (Tang's mother) who is a Wu-Jen of great power and being held prisoner by the Dracolich (see below).

In the opposition corner is Cypress, which is an odd name (I think) for a Dracolich that just wont die- of course, there's also a metric ton on off-screen (mostly) Dragon Cultists who spend a majority of their time sticking back together Cypress' repeatedly broken body.

So, political intrigue, a barking mad Harper that doesn't dig Ruha at all, a wandering Half-Orc, ship's Captain Fowler who is left sans ship, and an undercover mission which is twisty-turny as we go around the houses to get to the answer.

There's some great bits- I really enjoyed Prince Tang's expedition to Cypress' lair- that went well, SPOILER- Tang is the only one to survive, and he doesn't travel light. Lady Feng has got lots of nice lines, and is more than happy to backchat a Dracolich. But... it didn't set my world on fire- all good, nothing to complain about, but not a rip-roaring adventure (although in places).

Ruha, I also liked- she seems to me to be the voice of reason (backed by the author's desire to fill the role), the outsider looking in to this crazy state of affairs, seeing the third way- which doesn't involve one side massacring the other. Same goes for Minister Hsieh, the bottom line = money and position, is for him- the bottom line, if they can get there without killing everyone/risking all, then so much the better.

On reflection Ruha (like Danilo) seems to embody the Harper doctrine better then many of the other members of the secret organisation depicted in this series. She works with people, and with words, rather than just relying on her powers to vanquish all before her, I enjoyed that.

Read.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
In contrast to what I said before, my not having read this particular novel has less to do with not being too interested in the characters (though Ruha has never grabbed me; in contrast to how she's described as not just trying to vanquish all before her here, I found her to be unpleasantly aggressive in her self-righteousness in Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad), than it does with simply never having gotten around to this one. I will point out that we actually do see Prince Tang again, in the aforementioned novel Crucible, though I'm honestly not certain if that takes place before or after this.
 


Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
Is the list on the first post comprehensive? Because it's missing a number of Salvatore's Drizzt novels.
Nope, it's just where I have got up to in my buying schedule... there's plenty more to be added to it. I have a spreadsheet I work from and just add a chunk more as and when.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan
 

Mirtek

Adventurer
Here's a complete(*) list: FR Novels

(*)actually excluding the last two Drizzt novels that have been released outside of the discontinued FR novel line. These two are "Timeless" and "Boundless", a third one "Relentless" will be released in July.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
Here's a complete(*) list: FR Novels

(*)actually excluding the last two Drizzt novels that have been released outside of the discontinued FR novel line. These two are "Timeless" and "Boundless", a third one "Relentless" will be released in July.
Got it- Thank You.

Stay safe and well.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
#063 Silver Shadows by Elaine Cunningham (Harpers 13 + Songs & Swords 3)
Read 27/3/20 to 2/4/20


Forgotten Realms Silver Shadows  (Harpers 13) a.JPG

Book 13- and we're in to high level Elf politics (again) Arilyn Moonblade (the (only) Half-Elf wielder of a Moonblade) is out to save the Elves (and other Fey folk) who live in Tethyr Forest from the rapacious machinations of Bunlap the mercenary captain and his (seemingly) inexhaustible supply of sellswords. This, of course, is just what's going on at the time- we'll call it the story. Front and centre however is Arilyn's continued battle with her (much) enchanted & enhanced blade- and the Elfshadow(s) that dwells within the artefact.

So, there's plenty of action, and a lot of good insights in to the ways of the (Forest/Wood) Elves et al, and plenty of good guys to root for and bad guys to dislike. Likewise the many and varied powers of Arilyn's Moonblade are explained- a wonderful template of sorts for a DM to make use of in his or her game. Basically, each new wielder of the blade adds another power (and their spirit/soul- eventually) to the already terrifyingly overpowered (in game terms, but you be the judge) blade.

Circling above the main show there's a bit more semi-evil political machinations of Prince Hasheth (also a semi-Harper, of sorts) who is playing every side for and against each other. But the scion of the Pasha of Zazesspur's efforts are naught in comparison to those of his boss- Lord Huhne (who states, at the end) that he has everything under control.

It's well written, and a good story- not great, or else imho it didn't grip me in the way previous novels have, I liked it but it took a while for me to get happy with it, and get 'into' it. Still, this is the middle book of the Songs & Swords series, and so not the climactic conclusion- more a travelling book, to get us from point A to point B- plot-wise.

Last thought, the book was difficult to concentrate on not because of any failing, but rather because of the terrible story that is playing out in the real world at the moment.

Stay safe and well you lovely people- stay in, read books, take care of those around you, and remember in your thoughts and prayers all of the good folk that are helping to feed us and keep us safe from harm in these difficult times.

Read.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
#064 Stormlight by Ed Greenwood (Harpers 14)
Read 3/4/20 to 6/4/20


Forgotten Realms Stormlight (Harpers 14) a.JPG

Book 14- and Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgghhhh!

I didn't like it, not one bit.

So, Storm Silverhand semi-naked Bard/Fighter/Wizard- Chosen of Mystra heads off to Firefall Keep, home of the Summerstar's (haughty and arrogant nobles- at least at first) to solve the mystery- who or what is killing folk. Vangey the Cormyr Archmage has also sent a batch of War Wizards to go and find out what's going on.

After a bit of nudie aerobics Storm arrives.

Everyone (the Summerstar's/Wizards) hates/dislikes/seeks to embarrass her- save a few of the more 'common' folk.

More deaths follow.

Storm et al discover that the killer is a shapeshifter (Malaugrym)- actually, much later on we discover the killer is and yet isn't a Malaugrym, I'll leave that surprise for you to discover- I dare you.

Storm puts up a barrier around the Keep- the Malaugrym cannot be allowed to escape, it will destroy all the Realms... a bit dramatic, but whatever.

There follows 150+ pages of too and fro, the bad guy haunting the halls and delivering tubs full of destruction, or else invading the mind and controlling Shayna Summerstar (the belle of the Summerstar ball). Shayna attempts to 'nail' every Wizard that walks her way- sexuality, as always, is a big deal here.

Particularly young beautiful ladies seeking to clamber on top of aged (powerful) Wizards- funny that.

While this is going on Storm and friends tell each other (and us) stories, stalk the halls seeking their foe, and die- they die in great numbers, Shayna kills (with a little help from the Hungry Man) twenty Purple Dragons in an afternoon.

Then... we finally get to the end of it.

Everyone except Storm and maybe a handful of others (all either Nobles or Wizards) are dead. Oh, and the head War Wizard gets the girl- Shayna.

So, here's the thing-

1) Why some of the nakedness, what does it enhance- I mean, if it were a film I'd forgive it more- because it'd be a way to sell it to a sexist world, but as it is... I don't get it. It just seems to be semi-exploitative (and very sexist), here you go teenage boy, your high level PC should wear something see-through, or else nothing at all. Oh, and by the way women get what they want not by being smart (et al) but by being good to look at.

2) WTF? Everyone below the rank of Summerstar/Wizard is infinitely expendable- they die in their droves. Didn't the Harpers/Nobles/Wizards/anyone think to clear the common folk out- before Storm puts the barrier down. Or else, after- just to save lives. Likewise scores of Purple Dragons meet their maker (Torm) and yet time and time again they prove ineffective against the enemy.

Why do so many common folk have to die or suffer (needlessly) so that a few nobles can finally learn to behave like grown ups (actually not even- they don't get that far).

3) 99% of the fighting/hunting of the big bad guy is done in the dark- five War Wizards and Storm and no-one has got, or else thinks to fill the castle with LIGHT spells (or similar). This place (Firefall Keep) has hidden panels concealing priceless treasures and magical artefacts (well, at least one- see the Red Dragon's arrival), but no-one can cast LIGHT (or similar).

4) The final shoot out is just a hoot (as in not good). X dies- but they're not dead, they just 'fall'. Then they get up again. Then they're knocked unconscious, or else the 'darkness takes them', or some such. Then they get back up again. Then they fall... Then they get back up again.

If you're a red shirt in this one (and 99% of the castle population have got their red shirts on) then you're a goner, if you're wearing some other colour shirt then you can get knocked down and out twenty times over but I guarantee you'll make it to the epilogue.

JUST GAH!

From page 247, a Purple Dragon talking about Storm-

"Aye," another agreed from beside him. "What odds that if she falls, Mystra reclaims her, and sets her back alive again to wiggle her hips at poor fools in some other realm? Mystra wont come down to succor the likes of us!"

This guy is the smartest person in the book.

How is Storm a hero of the people?

How are the Harpers defending the Realms against tyrants (et al)? This is just Wrestlemania (with, like spells, and that) and screw everybody else- their role is to die.

Once the barrier is up around the Keep, and the bad guy can't get out... well, leave the bastard there and call the Vangey-police, or Big E, or anybody else that specialises in this kind of nonsense.

In the epilogue various high level everythings- Big E, Storm and sisters including Sylune sit around and have scones- WTF? Is there no-way of getting the scone-eaters into the action earlier? Or else demonstrating to the reader that Storm is concerned with the fate of people (any and all people) rather than suffer her hubris.

I hated this one- it's trash. Sorry, that was strong- but there are just lots of odds and ends- the Red Dragon's arrival et al, Princesses love Wizards, Storm just stomping about doing... nothing much while lots of other folk die, everybody (EVERYBODY) learning to love and lust after the semi-naked Storm.

Read.

I lost a bit of hope here, and I'm really not looking forward to the Elminster books.
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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