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General I'm reading the Forgotten Realms Novels- #107 Evermeet: Island of Elves by Elaine Cunningham


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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I hope I'm not spoiling anything here, but was this the one with the lamias, and Wonder Woman's lasso? I know that sounds crazy, but I seem to recall that somewhere around here there was an actual magic lasso that made people truthfully answer questions so long as they were caught by it.

Also, I seem to remember that Artemis calls himself "Bane of the Sword Coast" here, which is all the evidence you need that Salvatore didn't write this (besides, you know, a different author's name being right there on the cover).
 

Mirtek

Adventurer
Book 5- Belmer and the Sharkers (is that what they were called- or am I remembering this wrong)
You're remembering right. Except for one of the books which suddenly calls them "sharpers" (IIRC). So either one of the authors was not paying attention during the meeting or it's an auto-correct error that no one spotted :)
 

Wasteland Knight

Adventurer
Inspired by this thread I decided to give sone of my old FR paperbacks a reread.

I realized I’m nowhere near as dedicated as Goonalan.

I think I’ll continue to enjoy these novels (mostly) vicariously.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#099 Conspiracy by J Robert King (Double Diamond 6)
Read 11/10/20 to 12/10/20


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Book 6- and it's like some mad(-ish) concept album- there's something just a little weird about this one, not so much the action but the manner in which the story gets told.

I get the royal we of the emperor who is observing events like some omniscient narrator- seeing the story unfold from the many eyes and ears that he has at his disposal, the emperor is his own spy network- or so it seems, but some of the emperor's asides and catch-up's are still a little odd. But nothing compared to Noph's dead/not dead out of body experience (at the start but mostly at the end)- with trippy 'I love the curvy ladies' theme. As I say, just weird- and a little hard to reconcile at times, the rest of it is the good stuff with the action- fiends spewing into the city, the paladins doing there thing (but also a little weird in places) and Arty E and his less than merry Sharkers doing their bad stuff. A confrontation- natch, and then the semi-joining of the dark and light teams- against a common enemy. Got it, and the confrontation with the emperor (in his magical fish tank) is all gravy.

I think the issue is that all of the other authors pick and choose which characters to mess with along the way, and then when you read them as a whole you get to experience a myriad of slightly (and worse at times) different versions of said characters. Same for the telling of the tale, the focus drifts in and out- or else spotlights this thing, which is then duly ignored in the next book which has a different theme/focus.

It makes it a bit messy- stylistically (of course) but also there are gaps, and overlaps, and versions of the same.

It doesn't help this one that it seems to dip in and out of some epic narrative stylings, with Noph particularly at the start with his truth telling golden lariat navel gazing, the young lad seems to be seeing beyond, dude. He's got the thousand yard stare, but by the end- oh, he's back, back to being a semi-berk again, a neophyte adventurer with a soft/hard spot for curvy seductresses.

I was, in truth, sorely disappointed when I started the next one and discovered he was still alive...

What's Noph for? What does he represent- innocence, naivety, the reader? He's getting to be very unlikeable and doing it remarkably quickly.

The names of all of the chapters here begin with the letter 'C'- Conchology, Concupiscence (the author rowed a long way out to sea for this one), Conspiracy etc. Oh, except for the chapter called Divergence. It's an odd route to take- it makes me think there must be something more to it, but for the life of me- save a love of alliteration, the stand out "D" chapter, it just seems a little strained.

There's a point coming when I'm going to say "Gah!" again, and wish that I was reading something else- as the great Mr. Curtis sang "I feel it closing in". Three more to go- come on, push through- you can do it.

See, now I'm doing it.

Read.

Stay warm and toasty, and safe and well.

goonalan
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I'm reminded that, insofar as I know (though I could very well be wrong), these are the only Forgotten Realms products (novels or otherwise) that cover the "Utter East." And while I'm certainly no cartographer of Faerun, I'm still not entirely certain as to where that is, since if you go east you tend to hit places like Thay and Rasheman, and beyond those are the "Hordelands," which are the westernmost part of Kara-Tur. Even the southeast (if I recall correctly) is the northern bit of Zakhara. So where exactly is this place? The country is called something like "Donegan" or thereabouts?

Either way, I think we're now at one of the points which I do distinctly recall, which is the god-emperor of the place, who has long-since become some sort of human-kraken hybrid. Now, if I want manipulative giant squids, then I'm sorry but Slarkrethel does it better. Likewise, the whole "everyone knows who he is, but not what he is" thing makes him seem a bit like a cut-rate sorcerer-king from Dark Sun. That said, I seem to recall that this guy was basically a giant human head with lots of long tentacles from the neck down, communicating via psychic powers and running the country from inside his big glass tank, which fortunately is damn near indestructible, since the paladins are all "this guy pings on detect evil, so let's get smitin'!"

And I'd forgotten about the weird, quasi-romantic poetry whatshisname was composing in his head to Wonder Woman's lasso at the beginning of this book. It was weird, like he was writing sonnets to it or something. That whole thing is just...I don't get it.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
I'm reminded that, insofar as I know (though I could very well be wrong), these are the only Forgotten Realms products (novels or otherwise) that cover the "Utter East." And while I'm certainly no cartographer of Faerun, I'm still not entirely certain as to where that is, since if you go east you tend to hit places like Thay and Rasheman, and beyond those are the "Hordelands," which are the westernmost part of Kara-Tur. Even the southeast (if I recall correctly) is the northern bit of Zakhara. So where exactly is this place? The country is called something like "Donegan" or thereabouts?

Either way, I think we're now at one of the points which I do distinctly recall, which is the god-emperor of the place, who has long-since become some sort of human-kraken hybrid. Now, if I want manipulative giant squids, then I'm sorry but Slarkrethel does it better. Likewise, the whole "everyone knows who he is, but not what he is" thing makes him seem a bit like a cut-rate sorcerer-king from Dark Sun. That said, I seem to recall that this guy was basically a giant human head with lots of long tentacles from the neck down, communicating via psychic powers and running the country from inside his big glass tank, which fortunately is damn near indestructible, since the paladins are all "this guy pings on detect evil, so let's get smitin'!"

And I'd forgotten about the weird, quasi-romantic poetry whatshisname was composing in his head to Wonder Woman's lasso at the beginning of this book. It was weird, like he was writing sonnets to it or something. That whole thing is just...I don't get it.
Testify!
 

I'm reminded that, insofar as I know (though I could very well be wrong), these are the only Forgotten Realms products (novels or otherwise) that cover the "Utter East." And while I'm certainly no cartographer of Faerun, I'm still not entirely certain as to where that is, since if you go east you tend to hit places like Thay and Rasheman, and beyond those are the "Hordelands," which are the westernmost part of Kara-Tur. Even the southeast (if I recall correctly) is the northern bit of Zakhara. So where exactly is this place? The country is called something like "Donegan" or thereabouts?

Either way, I think we're now at one of the points which I do distinctly recall, which is the god-emperor of the place, who has long-since become some sort of human-kraken hybrid. Now, if I want manipulative giant squids, then I'm sorry but Slarkrethel does it better. Likewise, the whole "everyone knows who he is, but not what he is" thing makes him seem a bit like a cut-rate sorcerer-king from Dark Sun. That said, I seem to recall that this guy was basically a giant human head with lots of long tentacles from the neck down, communicating via psychic powers and running the country from inside his big glass tank, which fortunately is damn near indestructible, since the paladins are all "this guy pings on detect evil, so let's get smitin'!"

And I'd forgotten about the weird, quasi-romantic poetry whatshisname was composing in his head to Wonder Woman's lasso at the beginning of this book. It was weird, like he was writing sonnets to it or something. That whole thing is just...I don't get it.
The Utter East is the area between Faerûn and Zakhara, basically the coastal area southeast of Durpar and Ulgarth (which are the southeasternmost parts of Faerûn proper) and due north of Zakhara. A large mountain range seperates the area from the southwestern areas of Kara-Tur like Tabot.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
The Utter East is the area between Faerûn and Zakhara, basically the coastal area southeast of Durpar and Ulgarth (which are the southeasternmost parts of Faerûn proper) and due north of Zakhara. A large mountain range seperates the area from the southwestern areas of Kara-Tur like Tabot.
That's largely what its wiki entry states, though the "Background" section notes that this was a rather late decision:

The "Utter East" was first mentioned in the original Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987), but where it actually lay has varied over subsequent sourcebooks, with earlier lore altered to refer to different locations. On page 81 of the Cyclopaedia of the Realms, it is said that ivory from the Utter East arrives in Suzail, but the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition: A Grand Tour of the Realms (1993), page 55, changes this to the Unapproachable East. Forgotten Realms Adventures (1990) on page 105 refers to the "mysterious Utter East", but says this is Kara-Tur. Page 45 of the Campaign Set's DM's Sourcebook of the Realms mentions the Blue Diamond, a flying ship created in the Utter East, but The Shining South (1993) associates these skyships with Halruaa. The Forgotten Realms Atlas (1990) finally located the Utter East, placing it beyond the far south and east corner of Faerûn, somewhere past Ulgarth, and joining Zakhara. The Shining South followed suit (but with a reference to Horde barbarians in the plains east of Ulgarth, it may have been referring to the Hordelands and Kara-Tur). Nevertheless, Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition (2001), page 209, still describes the Golden Way as connecting Faerûn and the "Utter East"—meaning Kara-Tur.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#100 Uneasy Alliance by David Cook & Peter Archer (Double Diamond 7)
Read 13/10/20 to 14/10/20


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Book 7- and I finished reading it yesterday night and already I can barely remember it, that's not a good sign.

So, we're following Arty E and his assorted sharpers/sharkers, and a pair of paladins.

First up Noph's back in the land of the living, then... bloody hell, I just don't remember much of it.

Anyway, the rag-tag band hot foot it eventually back to the surface (or else something big explodes and the surface comes down to greet them) and meet up with Garkim, the Mar minister- so, a tripartite 'uneasy alliance', and at some point Trandor reveals himself to be a war Wizard of Cormyr. And... final rush for the Bloodforge which has been hidden by members of the Fallen Temple in a desecrated temple to Umberlee.

Then the rumble in the temple, lots of bad guys, until the emperor turns up in big-head with tentapods form, it's all... just so forgettable. Apologies, for my lack of details but there seem to be no significant moments that stand out.

Random memories of the end-

Oh, but they get the Bloodforge- or else Arty E and Shar do- but see below.

Oh, and Ingrar turns out to be an aspect of Tyr- so, that's nice- and he's got a new job, guardian of the Bloodforge (along with Trandor, I think).

Oh, and minister Garkim knows how to work the Bloodforge (after the emperor mind-melded with him, apparently) so the fiends in the capital are thwarted by the summoned forge army.

And... that's all I remember, and it was only yesterday (actually last night) that I finished it.

The issue is for me, I think, I'm looking for a standout character to hang my hope on and... they don't exist, mainly because each author/book seems to focus in on one (or more) individual, and then... those same individuals are treated with much less care and attention (or else just significantly differently) in the next book, by the next author on the rank. It's just so higgledy-piggledy.

I though Noph was going to be the hero- turns out he's a berk, with the odd cool line that cuts to the chase.

Same for Belmer- he started out being super smooth, then he turns into a petulant Arty E, who is way less cool here compared to previous incarnations in the FR novels. Although I dig his new skeletal arm.

Same Miltiades- I heart Miltiades (previously) but here- he's a bit of a shouty-shouty dick.

Sharessa is pretty cool throughout, although somehow in the end the authors of this one thought they would advance the feminist cause by having the beautiful pirate speculate as to what sort of female company minister Garkim prefers. So, good to see that (strong, cool and tough) women are still sleeping their way to the top, or else just soooooo enamoured of men with power. Gah! (there it is).

Garkim himself starts off with the rocky story, kid from the wrong side of the tracks etc. But he's just a water carrier by the time we get here.

Ingrar is possibly the best of the bunch- his eyes have been opened, but again this just feels like a device rather than some well thought out character arc, it's probably the best (character arc) of a bad bunch however.

It's reassuring perhaps that in everyone of the novels/pamphlets so far Kern is a pernickety arsehole, "but Tyr says..." he repeats endlessly in his wheedling way, at least the collective authors could agree on something.

Can't wait to get to the end of this series, as Stevie Smith wrote- not waving but drowning.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan.
 


Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Congratulations on making it through one hundred books! Here's to a hundred more! ...and a hundred after that, and after that, and after...well, eventually you'll get through them all. :p

I remembered the whole "skeletal arm" thing for Artemis, but I'd half-convinced myself that I was making that up. It just seemed like something out of a Disney cartoon.



I have one or two other thoughts on what happened here, except I'm not sure if they're from this book or the next one, so I'll hold off until after the subsequent review.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#101 Easy Betrayals by Richard Baker (Double Diamond 8)
Read 15/10/20 to 19/10/20


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Book 8- and probably the best one yet, as in the best writing- the story however smoulders (slightly) but still rumbles on in its ramshackle way, more little mini climaxes in this one. Although there's also a fair amount of catch-up here, the author takes the time (more than once) to remind us who's dead and who's alive- thanks.

We're still with Miltiades, although now Belgin seems to have landed a lead role in the piece- he's dying yer see, not a dry eye in the house, although... then he gets fixed. But I digress- the chase is on and we're back to Waterdeep (actually Skullport) via Undermountain (blink and you'll miss it) and an ancient Netherese portal complete with Lich and undead entourage (see lota little climaxes). Also there's a fair amount of treachery and betrayal- hence the title, as it turns out one of the Paladins is a Doppelganger- I didn't see that coming.

So, we finish with a semi-climax (yet another) in Skullport when the bad guys go for the assassination attempt on Miltiades (why bother? Just slow the good guys up somehow... that'd work, probs). It's a bust- the bad guys get wailed on, the cavalry arrive- Rings!

Later the Greater Doppleganger/Eidola is cornered- oh no, she pulls a Soul Gem out of her chest... dun-dun-der.

It's not much of a cliff-hanger, there better be some more to it in the next/last one.

It's a crappy series of books- it lacks meat and the characters are... well, there's this one, and this one, and this one, and this one (continues for some time- too long).

Read.

Stay safe and well.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I wasn't sure if it was in this one or the last one where the god-squid-man of Doegan gets the water in his tank purified, and he goes nuts because pure water is poison to him. Like a guy who stays in the bathtub way too long, he's happier in his own filth. That he then does a King Kong impression is crazy. "People of Doegan, behold your god!" I'm sure there's a Mr. Burns joke in there somewhere.

Beyond that, I can't recall much of the books, except for the rather lackluster way they resolve things with Artemis and that the kidnapped bride wasn't really the bride all along. We're not at book nine yet, but I don't think it's a spoiler to say that the series ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
 
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Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
I wasn't sure if it was in this one or the last one where the god-squid-man of Doegan gets the water in his tank purified, and he goes nuts because pure water is poison to him. Like a guy who stays in the bathtub way too long, he's happier in his own filth. That he then does a King Kong impression is crazy. "People of Doegan, behold your god!" I'm sure there's a Mr. Burns joke in there somewhere.

Beyond that, I can't recall much of the books, except for the rather lackluster way they resolve things with Artemis and that the kidnapped bride wasn't really the bride all along. We're not at book nine yet, but I don't think it's a spoiler to say that the series ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
Book 7 was the one when the squid-emperor goes Kong and starts throwing bits of his own palace around- this after having his bath tub scoured of all badness by Arty E.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#102 The Diamond by J Robert King & Ed Greenwood (Double Diamond 9)
Read 19/10/20 to 21/10/20

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Book 9- and a great advert for everything that is wrong with this series, save yourself the time of reading the other eight- just have a flick through this one, tut out loud every now and then, scratch your head once or twice and then get on with your day.

There's a bit of this and a bit of that here- we skip about a bit trying to tie up all of the endings, and also to get in the disney princess ending- Paladinson's first love is back from the dead. This after a trippy smash the mirror{s) (inside the soul gem?) diamond (as in the title of this series) maze in which Paladin and Hero (with CAPS) battle their way through (like a bewildered reader) back to the start of the book/series.

Hmmm, so trippy mirror sequence to explain diamond- check.
Wrap up Arty E (& Trandor's story/imprisonment/escape)- check.
Noph as the hero, sorry Hero (with nice illusion sequence)- check.
Noph as the trusting hero- watch out for the Deep Ogre and let Miltiades et al back in (to the story- very briefly)- check.
Explain a few other things- Doppelgangers, great and otherwise- check.
Disney ending- check.

There are some nice sequences in here, and even a little bit of worthy action- and I like Khelben more than I did before but the rest of 'em (even Miltiades, but only a bit) have all grown a little smaller in my estimation.

So, turn out the light and shut the door, we have achieved happy ever after, g'night.

I am oh so very glad that this series is over, there's probably an okay story in here but... it's just so bitty, and the focus shifts in and out (and all about) as the books hand over from one author to another.

Read.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I mentioned this before, but it says something (i.e. nothing good) that I can't remember anything about the last book in the series. The one exception is the scene where an unconscious Artemis is visited by Khelben, who tells the people who have him to patch him up (skeleton arm and all) and let him go. Apparently "that was the bargain: no death or permanent injury." Now, I won't say that's out of character for Waterdeep's Special K, but it still came across as a transparent "we can't let anything notable happen to one of our special guest stars" bit. We know this isn't Salvatore writing the character, so everything here has to be "no lasting effect" for when he keeps writing him.

I recall that in one of the later Drizzt novels Entreri mentions having lost the mask of disguise magic item, saying so gruffly and without explanation. My teenage self was convinced that this was a sly reference to what happened in the Double Diamond Triangle series, not actually having read these books yet. When I did, years later, it became clear that they had nothing to do with it. The reality was that the cohesiveness I'd imagined between different authors using the same character was nowhere near as tight and complementary as I'd wanted to believe.
 
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I mentioned this before, but it says something (i.e. nothing good) that I can't remember anything about the last book in the series. The one exception is the scene where a an unconscious Artemis is visited by Khelben, who tells the people who have him to patch him up (skeleton arm and all) and let him go. Apparently "that was the bargain: no death or permanent injury." Now, I won't say that's out of character for Waterdeep's Special K, but it still came across as a transparent "we can't let anything notable happen to one of our special guest stars" bit. We know this isn't Salvatore writing the character, so everything here has to be "no lasting effect" for when he keeps writing him.

I recall that in one of the later Drizzt novels Entreri mentions having lost the mask of disguise magic item, saying so gruffly and without explanation. My teenage self was convinced that this was a sly reference to what happened in the Double Diamond Triangle series, not actually having read these books yet. When I did, years later, it became clear that they had nothing to do with it. The reality was that the cohesiveness I'd imagined between different authors using the same character was nowhere near as tight and complementary as I'd wanted to believe.

If you've haven't read what Lynn Abbey wrote about the process of writing her Dark Sun novels, I strongly suggest you do. It's pretty jawdropping how disorganised and uninterested TSR were about coordinating and maintaining consistency across their various products and authors.
 

Mirtek

Adventurer
I mentioned this before, but it says something (i.e. nothing good) that I can't remember anything about the last book in the series. The one exception is the scene where a an unconscious Artemis is visited by Khelben, who tells the people who have him to patch him up (skeleton arm and all) and let him go. Apparently "that was the bargain: no death or permanent injury." Now, I won't say that's out of character for Waterdeep's Special K, but it still came across as a transparent "we can't let anything notable happen to one of our special guest stars" bit. We know this isn't Salvatore writing the character, so everything here has to be "no lasting effect" for when he keeps writing him.

I recall that in one of the later Drizzt novels Entreri mentions having lost the mask of disguise magic item, saying so gruffly and without explanation. My teenage self was convinced that this was a sly reference to what happened in the Double Diamond Triangle series, not actually having read these books yet. When I did, years later, it became clear that they had nothing to do with it. The reality was that the cohesiveness I'd imagined between different authors using the same character was nowhere near as tight and complementary as I'd wanted to believe.
Yes, there's the general lack of cohesiveness you mentioned quite apparant with many multi author characters.

Then there's this case which is very unique since none of Salvatores characters are multi-author.

There are merely three exceptions (of which only two ever made it to print) and they all date back to a time Salvatore and TSR were in a nasty fight about his contract.

TSR wanting to demonstrate strength then took his characters and gave them to other authors. Results were Arti appearing in this series, a Drizzt short story in one of the Realms of [...] anthologies and s whole Drizzt novel (Shores of Dusk?) which was written and advertised but ultimately never published.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
If you've haven't read what Lynn Abbey wrote about the process of writing her Dark Sun novels, I strongly suggest you do. It's pretty jawdropping how disorganised and uninterested TSR were about coordinating and maintaining consistency across their various products and authors.
Where can I find that? It sounds fascinating.
 

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