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General I'm reading the Forgotten Realms Novels- #092 Death of the Dragon by Ed Greenwood & Troy Denning (Cormyr 3).


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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I hate to use the term "Mary Sue," simply because its use so often descends into fan-wankery, as everyone begins arguing about what the actual definition of the term is and whether or not particular characters technically meet it or not. Having said all that, Storm comes across as a Mary Sue here. It's not that she's more powerful than everyone else, but rather than she exists as a sort of moral center that everyone else is defined by. How do you know if a character is a bad guy? They dislike/feel threatened by her. How do you know if someone is a good guy? They're awed by her and want to help her. The book's idea of a sudden twist (as I recall) is having a bad guy who can pretend to be good in this way.

Storm herself comes across as unlikable, at least to me, for how condescending she is. Now, it's entirely possible to have a protagonist who looks down their nose at other people; you simply need to construct this as a heroic flaw that they're working against. But Storm's exasperation with everyone around her is presented as something we're supposed to be sympathetic to, rather than being a foible. I seem to recall one of the exchanges in the book as being such (paraphrasing from memory):

"If I may ask, Lady Silverhand," began one of the mages at the banquet, "why is it that, although you're not a mage, Mystra has made you one of her Chosen?"

Storm sighed. "That is indeed an interesting question," she replied, her voice belaying her words. "Why don't you pray to the goddess I presume we both worship for answers, and see if she feels like enlightening you."
Now, it's entirely possible that the scene in question was more slanted against the questioner than I recall, but this illustrates the point. Storm spends most of the novel feeling exasperated by the idiots she's surrounded with, and the book goes out of its way to suggest that she's right to do so. Worse, it extends this presumption to suggest that it's no great loss when most of these people die; Storm, as the book's moral center, has already served to showcase that none of them are worth saving.

Even her reaction to the villain (who got a cool tidbit dropped about their background, in what was perhaps the only redeeming feature of the book) seems to be more irritation than anything. Again, I'm viewing this through the lens of quite a few years and a haze of dislike, but even when Storm's losing, her disposition is more akin to someone being handed an unpleasant job rather than the fate of the world, or at least a few people's lives, being on the line. Storm really seems like an office worker who's been called in over the weekend and has to deal with some irritating colleagues she'd rather never see again.

Also, why in the heck is Sylune alive in this? We know it takes place after the Time of Troubles, so Sylune should be a ghost, but I seem to recall she's here in the literal flesh. What the heck?
 
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humble minion

Adventurer
Oh wow, this thread punches me right in the nostalgia.

FR novels were my gateway into fantasy/sci-fi and into rpgs. It's no exaggeration to say that picking up The Crystal Shard at a local library at age 13 changed my life.

I've binge-read this thread in a day and it's funny how much I agree with the prevailing wisdom. I was profoundly obsessed with the Drizzt books as a young teenager, though I had a re-read maybe 10 years ago and the writing style was very hard to take. There's only so many times arrows can be described as 'silver-streaking' or scimitars as 'whirring' before you wonder if the guy is phoning it in. I don't think I'll ever re-read them, cos I prefer my enormously fond memories untainted by my grumpy older self's nitpicking and judgement. They work better when you look at them as young adult fiction anyway. I donated them all to a charity shop a long time ago - I hope some kid found them and got as much enjoyment out of them as I did.

Salvatore and Cunningham were the two authors whose work I looked forward to most keenly. Cunningham's character motivations really elevated her above the mass of FR work that was coming out at the time, though I never quite thought she nailed a climactic battle scene like Salvatore did. I loved the initial Alias trilogy. Azure Bonds should be adapted for the first real D&D movie I've always thought. It's so weird and high-fantasy and has something of everything. And even as a 14yo the rambly and sleazy tone of Greenwood's stuff really turned me off.

Heartily agree about Soldiers of Ice - it's such a shining little gem in a Harpers series that could be a bit paint-by-numbers at times, and I was always sad we never got more of the adventures of Martine and Krote. I think it was the scale - FR stories always worked better the smaller and more local they were, I think. The trials of Drizzt et al, Danilo and Arilyn, and Alias's search for identity always struck me as more relatable and involving than the sort of book that had gods and avatars and artifacts all over the place. Personal preference, of course...


Also, why in the heck is Sylune alive in this? We know it takes place after the Time of Troubles, so Sylune should be a ghost, but I seem to recall she's here in the literal flesh. What the heck?
I'm pretty sure she (spoiler alert!) gets resurrected in a book we haven't gotten up to yet, though I forget which one. Reading sequence isn't quite synchronous with FR chronology, I think.
 


humble minion

Adventurer
You may be right, but that'd be quite a thing for her wiki page to miss.
Huh, yeah. I SWEAR i remember reading it at some point. I recall it as basically a throwaway scene in an epilogue, she wasn't the main character in the book or anything, it was just basically 'poof, she's alive again as a side-effect to whatever the arbitrary magic resolution to the main plot was', and conveniently now the author can have her fall into bed with some character who's been doing the impossible tragic romantic pining thing all book.

Though I guess it might be just my mind playing tricks on me - I'm sure the FR wiki people have gone through the canon much more comprehensively than me.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#065 Finder's Bane by Kate Novak & Jeff Grubb (Harpers 15 + Lost Gods 1)
Read 6/4/20 to 8/4/20


Forgotten Realms Finder's Bane (Harpers 15) a.JPG

Book 15- and I quite liked this one, which makes a change I suppose- certainly I got through it quickly which is usually a good sign.

Joel (Bard & neophyte Priest of Finder) is on a pilgrimage, next thing you know he meets the Zhent and soon after Holly, Paladin of Lathander. Then a slow accumulation of enemies and friends stop by as the quest develops legs. Even Joel's mentor turns up, the aged Jedidiah- obviously also a Priest of Finder. The bad guys, as it turns out, are looking to resurrect the dead god Bane, Walinda the Priestess is a nasty piece of work right up to the very end (nearly).

Then the story gets legs, there's a Spelljammer ship formerly owned by Jas, a Harpy- and then Jedidiah loses half of Finder's power- clumsy. So, the Bane-folk deal with Finder-folk, recover the Hand of Bane and they can have the other half of Finder's power back. Then the story stretches out its ambition again, and from the secret vale of the Saurials we head off to find a lost Netheril Portal to off-world.

We visit the Celestial Bureaucracy (briefly, nice), and after a journey through the realm of the Illithid god (nice earworm), our guys get to Sigil, and the story inevitably, and with a myriad false-dawns, twists and turns, reaches its conclusion soon after- which is pretty much things returned to mostly where-they-were (as usual).

Oh, and along the way we discover that Jedidiah is actually, shhh… Finder, although that secret may have been obvious from pretty early on in the piece.

There's a lot to like- Joel, certainly- he's thoughtful and yet action-orientated, he's a bit of a sap (Wilanda) but he's learning- he's also, as it turns out, the one and only Priest of Finder. I like that idea a lot, you're god kicking about with you- any questions, what do you think about... I may just steal this idea for one of my games.

Some of the other characters are suitably interesting (a bit), however a lot of the places visited are definitely what I want to read about (I've bought the Spelljammer series of books already, to read after I get done with the Realms). I loved the getting about places in the Astral Plane, and the massive stone statues of the dead gods, same with all of the off-world action. Oddly, I've been DMing D&D for 38 years, I've not been off-world much at all, maybe a short sojourn for the climax of an adventure in an Elemental Plane, or some such- but no Sigil, and no other off-world civilisations.

So, that was nice.

Don't get me wrong, there are sections that just make you sigh- why are you believing Wilanda again (usually), why doesn't someone just punch Holly/Jas out. Why stick half of your godhood power in a stone, and then stuff it in your pocket and get robbed less than a minute later, because you just gave up half your power and now (seemingly) can no longer spot Priestesses of Bane pickpocketing you- a convoluted way of getting to the next bit. There are other equally daft moments, but nothing that kills the ride... I raced to the end, nice climax.

Read.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I really enjoyed Finder's Bane. The book is a lot of fun, both in terms of its characters and its plot progression. It also helps that it's a crossover between the Forgotten Realms and Planescape, with a bit of Spelljammer thrown in too. That sort of cross-setting fun is like catnip to me. The sequel is even more fun in that regard.

(The second book in the Lost Gods trilogy is a Dragonlance book that has a different tone, but is also one that I found myself liking quite a bit.)

I suspect most people know this, but this book serves as a semi-sequel (epilogue?) to the Spelljammer series of comics published by DC back in the day. That's where the character of Jas, with her transforming wings, comes from. While I can't remember if this book was written before or after Powers & Pantheons, the two take each other into account, as Finder's entry in that book references that Joel is Finder's only specialty priest (as opposed to a cleric, which is Copperbloom the saurial). It likewise plays with the idea from Faiths & Avatars that there are several baneliches out there who received Bane's power after he died, allowing them to grant spells to cultists.

On that note, props to Bane for having had the foresight to create an artifact to facilitate his resurrection. I seem to recall that the opening to the novel Pool of Twilight touched on this idea, saying that Bane had received a potion from Shar that let him foresee his own death. Maybe this was in reference to that? Probably not, but it's interesting to consider. Also, this book had some interesting instances of wiggle room with regard to the whole "no gods in Sigil" rule, as Finder manages to squeak around that by putting all of his (remaining) divinity in his other half of the Finder's stone, but notes (when they're leaving Sigil) that he can tell that the city "wants him gone," and that they're leaving just in time. Little things like that are intriguing, particularly compared to other instances throughout the Planescape line of how gods try (with varying degrees of success) to get around that rule.

Also, I'll likewise note that it's nice to get to see some of the Celestial Bureaucracy here. I think the closest we ever come to seeing this elsewhere (keeping in mind that I haven't read all of the books) is an extended stay in Sung Chiang's realm in, what, the second book of the Blood Wars trilogy? Of course, "generic" pantheons don't get used very much, since the campaign worlds have their own gods that they tend to focus on, so Planescape is really the only place where they get any love. Another reason to like this novel.

On that note, I went looking and I couldn't find any references to Bane's religion having a "no girls allowed" rule before (or after) this, the sequel novel notwithstanding. Did no one want to tell Scyllua Darkhope about that particular tenet?

And just for fun: thinking about Joel, Walinda, Finder, and a Banelich all going to another plane of existence together makes me think that this was D&D's version of Isekai Quartet.
 
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Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#066 Tymora's Luck by Kate Novak & Jeff Grubb (Lost Gods 2)
Read 8/4/20 to 9/4/20


Forgotten Realms Tymora's Luck (Lost Gods) a.JPG

Book 2 (Lost Gods)- and more of the same really, although there are some nice new-ish places to visit, mostly in the Lower Planes, which are less than welcoming. The story is someone or something is draining the godly powers of Tymora and her unfortunate sister, Besheba- the pair were once two halves of a whole- the goddess Tyche, who embodied luck- good and bad.

And so it goes again, with Joel (and Finder), and Jas, and Holly and a few others we know so well, like Wilanda- from the previous Last Gods novel. The new kid on the block here is the Kender, Emilo Haversack, and just to say from the beginning, the little guy is by far the best character in the book.

So, there's lots of action here- Jas feels oh so guilty as it's during her magical operation (to remove her Slayer-curse) that Tymora succumbs, her godly powers draining away. From this moment the hunt is on- first port of call Beshaba's residence (after a bit of back and forth), then on to Iyachtu Zvim's fortress, and finally... well, we get to go lots of places (real and imagined), like I said at the start. There are also deities aplenty here, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, the (BIG) clue is in the title of this series of novels.

There's good stuff to be had (from a DMs perspective)- particularly during our visits to the Lower Planes, and specifically in the various locales/Bond villain-style lairs of the bad-to-the-bone deities. There are likewise some excellent moments with a variety of the aforementioned deities, again something for me to keep in mind for my game.

But... it's not as good as the first one, in part- but not as a whole, the plot is easy on the brain- I'd got it something like 25 pages in, or else very quickly. The thing is mapped out (sorta) like an opera- with scene titles to fit, and quotes from the great and the good regarding the art, but... again, it's not much of an opera, more a pantomime (but not for kids).

He's behind you (Holly).

There's some nice stuff in Sigil (again), and with the meetings of the Sensate, counterbalanced by the oddness of Lord Sirrion (and his partner in crime, let's just call him- Dawn). The omelette toting Tinker Gnomes, and... well, lots of bits that just feel like, well... the next bit that needs to unfold to make it all hang together, and some of it feels stretched very tight in order to cover the distance.

This, plus that, equals... it seems a bit mechanical in places, don't get me wrong I raced through it but that was mostly me with my head out of the window admiring the places that we were visiting, the plot- and how it would eventually unfold was locked in from very early in the mission.

I'd worked out who the real bad guy was, how he had done it, and why, and where- and how it had to end, particularly early in the piece. That took the edge off.

Well written, lots of it just races by, and the action's good, but it just gets there in the end.

Read.


Stay safe and well.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I found this one to be almost as much fun as the previous book, to the point where I'm honestly not sure which one I like better.

Part of it is that I love crossovers in general (so long as they aren't dumpster fires), and this one had the same mixture of the Forgotten Realms and Planescape, a tiny pinch of Spelljammer (albeit slightly less now), along with a whole new helping of Dragonlance. Seriously, when's the last time we saw anything to do with a Dragonlance deity who wasn't one of the big three (Paladine, Takhisis, and Gilean) or their gods of magic (Solinari, Lunitari, and Nuitari)? I know that Zeboim and Chemosh got spotlighted in the "Amber" trilogy, and Sargonnas comes up whenever they reference the minotaurs, but that's still just over a third of the pantheon. So I found this somewhat refreshing.

The bit with Tyche was also a nice Planescape reference, since On Hallowed Ground had talked about how Tyche's realm was empty now, explicitly connecting her "demise" story - which created Tymora and Beshaba in the Faerunian pantheon - was acknowledged among the wider D&D multiverse. Though I'll note that this novel doesn't play into the fact that Tyche was part of the Greek pantheon, at least one of the gods of which was supposed to be investigating her loss. Likewise, the reference to "power keys" that connected priests to their gods on the planes was another nice nod to how things worked out there.

Emilo Haversack is a fun character, and Lost Gods book two ("Fistandantilus Reborn") is actually his story. I'd recommend it. It's a shame we don't get to see him in the Realms, because that has quite a bit of potential to be...interesting.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
I found this one to be almost as much fun as the previous book, to the point where I'm honestly not sure which one I like better.

Part of it is that I love crossovers in general (so long as they aren't dumpster fires), and this one had the same mixture of the Forgotten Realms and Planescape, a tiny pinch of Spelljammer (albeit slightly less now), along with a whole new helping of Dragonlance. Seriously, when's the last time we saw anything to do with a Dragonlance deity who wasn't one of the big three (Paladine, Takhisis, and Gilean) or their gods of magic (Solinari, Lunitari, and Nuitari)? I know that Zeboim and Chemosh got spotlighted in the "Amber" trilogy, and Sargonnas comes up whenever they reference the minotaurs, but that's still just over a third of the pantheon. So I found this somewhat refreshing.

The bit with Tyche was also a nice Planescape reference, since On Hallowed Ground had talked about how Tyche's realm was empty now, explicitly connecting her "demise" story - which created Tymora and Beshaba in the Faerunian pantheon - was acknowledged among the wider D&D multiverse. Though I'll note that this novel doesn't play into the fact that Tyche was part of the Greek pantheon, at least one of the gods of which was supposed to be investigating her loss. Likewise, the reference to "power keys" that connected priests to their gods on the planes was another nice nod to how things worked out there.

Emilo Haversack is a fun character, and Lost Gods book two ("Fistandantilus Reborn") is actually his story. I'd recommend it. It's a shame we don't get to see him in the Realms, because that has quite a bit of potential to be...interesting.
Alas, I've never read anything Dragonlance, and have only a cursory knowledge of the subject (I've no idea about Krynn et al)- I remember a few articles back in the day, the odd book/module passed around, one of my Players kept calling his PCs Raistlin (but he almost always played Fighters, so- go figure) but I never made the jump/connection.

I think I'd like to read Fistandantilus Reborn some day, but the Realms is my subject of study, atm.

Thanks as always.

Stay safe and well.

Goonalan
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#### Rise of the Blade by Charles Alexander Moffatt (Harpers 15a) REJECTED

Simple as, I spent a couple of days reading this novel (or rather PDF novel I found on the web) before I came to the conclusion that it was not worth my effort. I mean no offence to the author but this is a long way from being a publishable text (it's a draft, after all), and in desperate need of a good (line) editor.

I got a third of the way through it, and there's a problem with either syntax, grammar, or spelling on almost every other page (and I'm being polite here).

Also, as the author states in his intro he struggled to get to grips with D&D/FR milieu, the names of people, places and things are off, and therefore verisimilitude is lacking.

Not READ.
 


Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Elaine Cunningham mentions over here that she's skeptical that TSR/WotC ever intended to publish that particular story.
Nice catch, have you had a look it it, read it?

I stopped reading it primarily because I wasn't looking forward to the prospect of writing a review (such as they are) for it. If you get me.

Cheers goonalan
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Nice catch, have you had a look it it, read it?

I stopped reading it primarily because I wasn't looking forward to the prospect of writing a review (such as they are) for it. If you get me.

Cheers goonalan
In truth, I hadn't heard of the book before now; I found that quote from Elaine Cunningham as part of some searching I did about how this one had escaped my notice. Based on what you've written here, I'm half-tempted to take a look at it simply to see how bad it apparently is.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#067 Thornhold by Elaine Cunningham (Harpers 16 + Songs & Swords 4)
Read 12/4/20 to 23/4/20


Forgotten Realms Thornhold (Harpers 16) a.JPG

To begin with a confession, I've been bad- I've been seeing (and reading) other books, y'know- proper books. So, it didn't take me twelve days to read this novel, it took four. I picked it up- started it, and then on page 10 or so just said to myself, I need to read something else. Just to say when I got back to the novel, well- it just flew by.

I feel better for having told you this, confession is good for the soul.

Book 16- and we're mostly in Waterdeep for the intrigue, and a few other places for the action- the bad guys here are as much the rigid Knights of Samular as the despicable Zhentarim. The main players however are Bronwyn, our gal; Dag Zoreth (actually Bron's long lost bro', real name Bran) for the Zhent; Ebenezer- for the Dwarves, and lastly the earnest goon-Paladin (who I really liked) Algorind.

The book is about corruption and rot in high places, and it's well written- and a joy to read, easy on the eye and it all makes sense. There is however lots to see and do here, and once or twice I found myself wishing- let's just keep with the (low level) good guys and skip the high-ups swanning around telling lies to each other.

That's the thing, this is the best Elaine Cunningham novel I've read so far, and just to say again- they're all very well written, it's just that some part of me is left wanting more. There are simpler and more direct offerings in the crowded FR canon, that do much better with much less. In the Harper series The Ring of Winter (James Lowder) but particularly standout is Soldiers of Ice (David Cook).

Possibly the above is just me, I'm not enamoured with a lot of the Greenwood books (but again, that doesn't make them bad) but they're packed with new info, and ways of doing and saying that will inform my game. Likewise many of the other books have some great (dynamic) fight scenes, and maybe a twisty-turny piece of plot. But here's the thing- Cunningham, so far imho, has produced great books that do some or all of the above, but not enough to make me want to rave about them.

Back to the novel, and we've three rings, and three descendants of Samular, so the endgame is to get the rings and siblings (sorta) together, and to make the magic happen. What magic you ask? Fenrisbane, which now I've seen it (albeit briefly) I'm a little disappointed with. It's not the Ring of Winter, it's not Arilyn Moonblade's well... Moonblade, it's just a great big... but, I'll leave it to you to read the book and find out (or Google).

It's okay (Fenrisbane) not exactly a Swiss army knife, it has one purpose and fortunately it is exactly what is needed at that exact moment in time (again)- so, it works.

Same ways the final resolution- you, go stand in the corner (Dag); we'll get on with our new life (Bronwyn (+ Cara) & Ebenezer), while you- you silly Paladin, go and think about what you've done, and be prepared to do it all again.

It goes a long way to get to where we were, but again- that's nothing new; and still the high-ups whisper half-truths to each other (politics, huh!).

So, enjoyable, right until the end- which was a bit of a let down, I wish there was more dash and action, some great fights- rather than scrambling mauls. I want more viscera, greater immediate and in-your-face threat, perhaps I'm just not seeing it.

Read.
 

humble minion

Adventurer
I loved most of this one, but I really felt like the paladins were unfairly handed the idiot/villain ball at times - some of the 'kill people as option #1 when even mildly inconvenienced' stuff they got up to was just ridiculous, especially for worshippers of Tyr who is supposed to be the god of fair and impartial justice. Agree that the Fenrisbane and the ending were underwhelming. I really enjoyed the history and Snowcloak, and I actually liked the glimpse of the machination at higher levels - it gave a bit of context and worldbuilding depth to the whole thing. It did leave a lot unfinished though - I believe this was intended to be the first in a series about Bronwyn/Ebenezer/Cara, but that the later books were never commissioned. Shame.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
I loved most of this one, but I really felt like the paladins were unfairly handed the idiot/villain ball at times - some of the 'kill people as option #1 when even mildly inconvenienced' stuff they got up to was just ridiculous, especially for worshippers of Tyr who is supposed to be the god of fair and impartial justice. Agree that the Fenrisbane and the ending were underwhelming. I really enjoyed the history and Snowcloak, and I actually liked the glimpse of the machination at higher levels - it gave a bit of context and worldbuilding depth to the whole thing. It did leave a lot unfinished though - I believe this was intended to be the first in a series about Bronwyn/Ebenezer/Cara, but that the later books were never commissioned. Shame.
Ah, so there were more of these three to come... that makes sense, they were the three in the book with legs, particularly Bronwyn.

I get the high level machinations but it didn't seem to be for any other purpose than to connect Danilo & Khelben et al to the story, nice insights- particularly to the Church/Paladins of Tyr, who come out looking like they have a stick up their backside, or else are self-serving traitorous wretches, or else (last option) hit the kill button far too often. Like you say, it didn't seem like justice was being served at times.

Again, nothing terrible or bad about any of it really, the political intrigue just deflected slightly from the main story/action, and was self-serving, let's face it the novel could have played out without any of them getting involved really. Looking back I mostly like the FR novels that do a bit of picture painting- region, politics, language et al; but then dive right into the action.

Cheers Paul
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#068 The Dream Spheres by Elaine Cunningham (Songs & Swords 5)
Read 25/4/20 to 30/4/20


Forgotten Realms The Dream Spheres (Songs & Swords 5) a.JPG

Book 5 (of Songs & Swords)- and I still don't know what it is about Elaine Cunningham's novels that I just don't get, or else appreciate enough. At the start of my venture into this one I was thinking- this is the best yet, well-written- nice plot, I like the Dream Spheres, and a cast of thousands- with lots of the usual cool cats, by which I mean ostensibly- Danilo, Arilyn and the dark on the inside Elaith.

Lots to like and the novel is swinging by, really easy to read and I'm back into reading fantasy fiction again, after my brief (all too brief) hiatus (see the one above). But then, then... it just sorta drifted, we're running around Waterdeep- meeting new people and going to new places, and there's plenty to admire (from a GMs perspective) with the nuts and bolts of the City of Splendours exposed to the light. Elaine Cunningham's show and tell of the city and its environs is as good, if not better, than Ed Greenwood. But like Greenwood's novels, imho it just doesn't hit the spot- for me.

The danger, much talked about, is less apparent- the action is good (by which I mean the fighting and other similarly life-threatening encounters) but there's not a great deal of it. Lots of folk (mostly the three mentioned above) do lots of things- we watch them, and keep in mind the bad guys and their go-betweens also have to do things to move the plot along. So, lots of watching, lots of waiting. Okay, but actual flash points, mini-climaxes- nah, not really.

A few, but y'know... just not enough.

Also, and this is probably just me but- the Tren? WTF are the Tren? Highly trained Troglodyte Assassins?

What gives? Why not use an existing D&D monster? I'm not even sure why the Tren were invented (unless they're de rigueur in Ed Greenwood's campaign (or Elaine Cunningham's).

In short I don't like the Tren, they could be replaced (fairly easily) with some other creature that serves the same purpose, and that already exists in a monster manual or supplement somewhere. Please keep in mind I have deliberately not Googled the Tren, so I'm bound to be wrong about this.

But I like the tie-ins to the game that I am playing/DMing. I like it when I see monsters and enemies (and places, and people etc.) in-game that I know that I'm going to get a chance to DM soon- I get a few insights, a better appreciation of how the creature/race whatever functions, their motivations et al.

So, why the Tren?

But back to the novel, the two or three (if you include Elaith, and I do) good guys chase around after their tails (and tales) trying to make sense of the Dream Spheres and whoever is controlling them. The missing big bad guy is (alas) very easy to put a name too. Clue- he even gives you a hand (with a ring on it).

Then we do politics, and sneaky-sneaky, and basically go detective for a couple of hundred pages- there's even a walk-on from Bronwyn (and a few others), everyone gets involved- lots of chatter, lots of discovery. But, again, less actual threat, confrontation, and/or action.

Until finally, finally- and this is what was curbing my enthusiasm, we get to the end- the grand reveal, as it turns out all of the bad people I thought were bad people turn out to be- the bad people. The one that is offered up by the author (sorta) as the villain (Elaith) isn't- but if you're reading the book (and you've read some or all of the others) then you know this already.

It's just not going to be Elaith, because the (dark-inside) Elf has got legs, he'll be back- I hope.

I'd pay money for a novel just about the bad things that Elaith Craulnober gets up to, but (alas) I keep thinking (with each passing novel) that I am watching Elaith's redemption here- I don't want that.

Perhaps that's it- Danilo is a posh kid with every advantage, the fact that he gets the Moonblade Elf, has a sensible head on his shoulders and appreciates the plight of the common folk doesn't make me like him any more. Arilyn, well similar, her doubt such as it is buried deep beneath her tough exterior- she's dogmatic, she wants to put all of her chips on the table, to give her life for the greater good/the cause.

Too clean cut, perhaps, too willing, too right, too... good.

Fetch me an anti-hero, with nothing (at all) or else everything to lose, Elaith is better because he wants to stay alive, and have/grab more, and he's broken inside... I think he's the first Elf (not Drow) that I've really liked.

I'm a Dwarf man.

We all are- dig deep, you too can find your inner Dwarf to.

So, well written- nice plot- lots of characters good and bad to keep track of, some really good fights (but not enough), and it unravels, and unravels, and... but you get it.

Read.

Stay safe and well.
 

humble minion

Adventurer
I was neck-deep in FR novel fandom at the time this came out, and even I'D never heard of Tren at the time. I think Cunningham needed a race of cunning assassin critters who ate their kills and pulled them out of a relatively obscure 2e monstrous compendium supplement.

This one ... lost me a little. It's still well-written and I do enjoy Cunningham's writing style, it just seemed a little unfocused and some of the resolutions too pat. The powers of the kiira seemed a bit of a grab bag of plot requirements rather than being themed consistently in any way ('It makes magic misbehave nearby, it makes its bearer obsessive and evil, it absorbs spells cast at it, it creates dream spheres!'). And I was getting a bit over Elaith at this point, to be honest. Well, maybe not over him as a character, but over being told how redeemable and honourable he was while he was still running around murdering people and supervising a vicious crime ring. I'd love to know what criteria the moonblades were judging his worthiness on, seriously. He's a well-written and interesting character, but he's undeniably a bastard, and it was a bit much being continually told how deep-down honourable he was. I did like some of the portrayal of Danilo's mother and the contrast drawn between Danilo's personal magical power and her social position and power and the strengths and weaknesses of both - it's not an angle that's often explored in D&D fiction.

There was another plot feature that annoyed me as well, but that's a spoiler for a later novel (I think the reading order is a bit wonky) so I'll leave it for discussion then.

And now if I'm reading your list right, you've got 6 or 7 consecutive Ed Greenwood Elminster novels coming up! Good luck...
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
I was neck-deep in FR novel fandom at the time this came out, and even I'D never heard of Tren at the time. I think Cunningham needed a race of cunning assassin critters who ate their kills and pulled them out of a relatively obscure 2e monstrous compendium supplement.

This one ... lost me a little. It's still well-written and I do enjoy Cunningham's writing style, it just seemed a little unfocused and some of the resolutions too pat. The powers of the kiira seemed a bit of a grab bag of plot requirements rather than being themed consistently in any way ('It makes magic misbehave nearby, it makes its bearer obsessive and evil, it absorbs spells cast at it, it creates dream spheres!'). And I was getting a bit over Elaith at this point, to be honest. Well, maybe not over him as a character, but over being told how redeemable and honourable he was while he was still running around murdering people and supervising a vicious crime ring. I'd love to know what criteria the moonblades were judging his worthiness on, seriously. He's a well-written and interesting character, but he's undeniably a bastard, and it was a bit much being continually told how deep-down honourable he was. I did like some of the portrayal of Danilo's mother and the contrast drawn between Danilo's personal magical power and her social position and power and the strengths and weaknesses of both - it's not an angle that's often explored in D&D fiction.

There was another plot feature that annoyed me as well, but that's a spoiler for a later novel (I think the reading order is a bit wonky) so I'll leave it for discussion then.

And now if I'm reading your list right, you've got 6 or 7 consecutive Ed Greenwood Elminster novels coming up! Good luck...
Don't think that last fact has escaped me...

Cheers goonalan
 

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