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D&D General I'm reading the Forgotten Realms Novels- #132 Heirs of Prophecy by Lisa Smedman (Sembia 5)

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
#053 Red Magic by Jean Rabe (Harpers 3)
Read 22/2/20 to 26/2/20


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I didn't like it.

Searched this thread for this book since aside from the Drizzt books and the Time of Troubles trilogy this was the only FR book I remember reading - not even sure how it came into my hands or if I read it when it came out or years later. . . (In many ways the 90s are a blur). But just wanted to say, it may not have been a very good book, but I stole liberally from it for my own campaign at the time - including the dwarven slaves who could not speak common, were chained together, and assumed the PCs who bought them (to eventually set them free) were slavers themselves and did everything they could to interfere with whatever the PCs tried to do in their presence.
 

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Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#111 The Spine of the World by RA Salvatore (Paths Darkness 2)
Read 8/1/21 to 10/1/21


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Well, I mean... that's odd. I guess.

So, and keep in mind I don't read the blurb on the back of the book I just dive right in- I'm reading all of these, so the blurb isn't going to sell me anything that I've not already bought. So, two stories-

#1 Poor Wulfgar beset (tortured) by dark memories of Errtu, the barbarian haqving wandered off from his friends ends up getting a job as a bouncer in the less salubrious part of Luskan. meantime he crawls into a bottle, makes a few friends and many more enemies and generally feels sorry for himself a lot of the while.

That's not to say that the hunk of tough's story isn't sympathetic- but, it meanders for a good while, and some of this is great because we also get to meet Morik the Rogue, and explore Luskan, and much later get into the Prisoners' Carnival, which Cannibal Holocaust style nasty.

So, loved Luskan as a destination, but grew bored with Wulfgar failing to engage in the real and repeatedly burning all his bridges. But I get it, but sympathy at times is elusive.

Particularly as lots of other good people are trying to pick Wulfgar up, and make him see that there's more ahead of him. Even Morik turns a corner (I think) by the end of the novel. Wulfgar is certainly lovable, as anti-heroes go, but he's also a lunk (with good reason) but it goes on. I guess you have to get real low before you can crawl back up from the floor.

Meantime, story #2- Meralda the beautiful peasant espied by the local Lord, she has to reconcile her love for another with the fact that he family need her to marry the toff, her mother's dying and only with money for an expensive priest can they save> Lots of nice characters to meet, back at the farm and in the Lord's castle, all with their foibles and ways and means but, it's exciting but hardly fantasy fiction swords and sandals. Its also a bit pedestrian.

Obviously at the back end these two worlds collide, and Wulfgar gets his mojo back- didn't see that coming, but- it drags, or else it meanders and I get that goes all of the places it does but- Wulfgar is part annoying, part intrigue and action (and lots of good background info for Luskan). While Meralda is much more worthy, and heroic in a different way but, the link is tenuous, and the telling of Meralda's story (in its entirety) seems a little indulgent.

The over-arching Drizzt chapter/book voice overs seem to compound the misery a little, again it sounds a lot like Kung Fu (the TV series) with short philosophical precis of what follows or has come to pass. It's a bit constructed, doesn't seem natural.

It's a story about Wulfgar, with not enough content to make a book- and so, enter Meralda.

Don't get me wrong- I am sympathetic to Meralda's plight but it feels like a different (short) story that has been levered in because the rinse and repeat bad-Wulfgar action would be tireless without it. There's only so many times you can scream at Wulfgar- "Just work it out you big bloody Jessie!"

I wanted more Drizzt, and Bruenor, and Catti, and... but no- this is Wulfgar's story, and there's not enough of it to fill a book (or so it seems).

Just to caveat all of the above, I read the book in 2-3 days- so, can't have been all that bad. My objection is not with the writing, but the content- and only on reflection, I quite liked reading Meralda's story, in many ways it was better than Wulfie's, but not really what I was expecting/hoping for. I guess.

Oh, and a last thought- why call it The Spine of the World, it seems so tenuous, sure there's a bit of action in the region, and we're located thereabouts for a while but... it sounds all action-Jackson and then disappoints. I get that at the end Wulfie seems to think that north of the Spine is home and hearth, while south of it is only trouble but... surely, that's not enough. Did I miss something?

Read.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers Goonalan.
 

jeremypowell

Adventurer
This is an odd one indeed. I have fond memories of it, though.

By this point in the Drizzt series a formula has definitely been established, for better or for worse (for example the previous novel sticks to the formula and is nonetheless really great; but some of them are very predictable and boring). The Spine of the World is the first book in the series that strongly diverges from the formula. While it's not a superlative achievement, nonetheless in my opinion it's an example of trying something new and half-succeeding, which is admirable.

I think of it along the lines of "that episode" of a great, long-running TV show where instead of giving you what you've gotten used to, the showrunners experiment and do something weird, or at least unexpected for that show, and it kind of works even though you never would have grown to care about the show in the first place if they were all like this. But it's not bad, and when you look back on the season that's the only episode you can correctly identify.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
#111 The Spine of the World by RA Salvatore (Paths Darkness 2)
Read 8/1/21 to 10/1/21


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Well, I mean... that's odd. I guess.
That really sums it up for me. I couldn't agree more with regards to this one.

To be fair, I get why Salvatore had this go the way he did. Wulfgar was in a very bad place, which means you can't really gloss that over without inadvertently making light of it. "He was so traumatized by what happened, it took him an entire ten pages to deal with it!" is the sort of thing people make fun of. But going the other way is just...a lot.

Similarly, having him eventually come out of it by stepping up and helping someone who needed it requires that you build something up with regard to who it is he's helping and why they require his help. The same way Wulfgar can't just shrug his problem off, it can't be that he just adopts a puppy or purchases a local orphan either. We, the audience, need to be invested in the characters he's helping. But that requires that we then get a lot of material on who these otherwise-unimportant people are and the problems they're having...and it felt that way.

Salvatore ultimately leaned toward treating the entire subject of Wulfgar's rehabilitation too heavy, rather than too light. And while I can understand why he did that, and recognize that he did a good job of it, I'd have preferred that he struck more of a balance rather than going toward the less-bad extreme.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#112 Servant of the Shard by RA Salvatore (Paths Dark 3 + Sellswords 1)
Read 18/1/21 to 23/1/21


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Well, I kinda went back and forth with this one- when I first picked up it up I went racing into it, thinking I was not going to be able to put it down, and then something happened, or else... the grip just loosened. Don't get me wrong there's loads to love here, and remember I'm coming at this from the POV of a Faerun outsider (or else I was) and a DM. I want to find out stuff that I didn't know, and can then use in my game to make me sound even more omniscient, it's all about the ego. Kidding.

So, loved Calimport, and Tiggerwillies is a hoot, the master assassin's halfling confident; and I realise we've been here before in the earlier Drizzt novels, but it felt like more in this one- and better laid out. This is how this works, and this... lots for me to file away. Same again with regard the high level players- and they're all here- Entreri, Jarlaxle, Rai-guy, Kimmuriel, another Baenre prodigy, an Illithid (with moxy), later an ancient red dragon, oh... and Cadderly, and Danica, and the Bouldershoulder brothers (was that their name?) Pikel and the other one (Ivan?).

And I love cosying up with these guys, to see what they do and how they do it- the spells, the psionics etc.

Oh, and of course, then there's the Crystal Shard.

Loved it.

But at times the action seemed a little more about the endless- we're all evil and so therefore out to do each other over, all of the time- and I get that the Crystal Shard has everyone's ear, whispering its hate, and dreams of power.

But, if this is the evil team- made heroes, which it is (I figure), then these poor buggers are going to have to really go some to get through each and every day- when everyone's your enemy then, even the folk you sometimes reckon are your best friends... well, it must be tiring. I'd be knackered all of the time. It's no wonder major-villains seem so overpowered, so evolved, its very much survival of the fittest.

But (again), that just makes me think that evil is bound to fail, it lacks cohesion- ultimately is selfish, and therefore- well, as long as the good guys are committed to dying for each other then... it's a win.

Or something like that.

Also, it dragged a bit, and the final stealing of the Crystal Shard by Entreri was... easy, simple, over too quick. Not a lot of jeopardy- not compared to the trials and tribulations of everyday staying alive amongst your so-called friends.

Likewise the dragon run at the end with Cadderly was a little, I don't know- tacked on.

Again, that's not to say that I didn't think this one was great (for the reasons already given) but the story just left me thinking less of some of the villains, and more about what bits I would steal for my game, rather than how great it was.

You might as well have thrown a magic ring into a mountain filled with liquid fire.

Read.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Once again, I'm struggling to distinguish this one from the books that followed it. As I recall, however, this was a welcome change from the previous book, to the point where it seemed like the ice cream you get when you finish all of your broccoli. That might be overstating it, mostly because I recall already having grown tired of the Cleric Quintet crew horning in on the action; by contrast, I agree that newcomer Dwahvel Tiggerwillies is a lot of fun.

This is where we got the start of the Artemis and Jarlaxle "buddy cop" vibe, which would continue for a while and which I thoroughly enjoyed. Largely that's because of what I mentioned before, about those characters (particularly Entreri) still having a plausible path for character growth ahead of them, whereas Drizzt and crew seemed like they'd reached the apex of their moral development. Villains are always more interesting, amirite?

I'll spoiler this next bit for anyone who hasn't read the book yet and wants to:

What's up with Salvatore's consistent use of the breath weapon from an ancient red dragon being a force so potent that it can destroy artifacts? It's the second time we've seen him use that particular trope (the first being the ghearufu from the Cleric Quintent), with an artifact that has no special relationship to dragons or fire, and it makes me think that he's bringing some personal interpretation of the potency of ancient dragons to the proverbial table.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#113 Sea of Swords by RA Salvatore (Paths Darkness 4)
Read 27/1/21 to 30/1/21


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So, here we go again, and... it's like the first one of this series, the best of the Companions of the Hall, and with added pirates- Yaaaaar!

What's not to like, and discount the fact that it took me four days to read this, I've been busy- it doesn't happen often, if I could have got a run at it I would have devoured this one in a day.

I'll not repeat the semi-praise I heaped on the first book of the series here, except to say it applies to this one- they're very similar. You get the feeling that Salvatore had the start and the finish fleshed out and then needing/wanting to get the four book deal in- well, took a snaking meander through episodes 2 & 3.

Here's the new thing which I have observed, when you go somewhere with Salvatore then the place, it's more than just a backdrop- it has character, and edges. I'm a 100+ books in to this epic journey and yet the places (as a GM) I'd love to go (and take my players) well, most of 'em are Salvatore inspired FTW. Menzo, Luskan, Mithril Hall, Ten Towns, Calimport, etc. they all come alive in these novels.

To be clear, when I'm GMing and my players are taking their first strides into city X on the Sword Coast- then I've got a map, and a web page up in front of me, and perhaps I've done a bit a background reading- just so I can sound more knowledgeable than I actually am. But having visited and stayed in places courtesy of Salvatore, I feel like I've got a lot more mood for the environ, certainly a bit more of an appreciation of the underbelly for each location- basically the semi-naughty places the PCs always want to go.

The PCs in my present campaign will no doubt be heading to Luskan some time in the future, well they'll be drinking in The Cutlass, and will definitely be around to see the Prisoners' Carnival, same-ways when they get their own boat then one of the folk that they're going to come across is Deudermont.

Even the ancillary characters are worth remembering, their as flavour-packed (at times) as the heroes of the feast. As are the enemies- some lovely hot Ogre action in this one, although- in truth, the pirate ending wasn't as fun-packed as I quite hoped, still good. Sheila's gang could perhaps have had a little more air time, and fingers-crossed she's coming back (I hope she didn't die in the icy water).

The thing is, it seems to me, for the most part the Salvatore novels are just feasts of fun- the reader is royally entertained by the heroes, the villains, the plot (such as it is), the secondary characters, the places, the travel, and... what I'm saying is there's always a lot to like. Some of the other authors here seem to serve thinner slices, and are more likely to present characters (or action) that just doesn't seem in keeping with what I have already learned, or know, about Faerun. Some of the others seem a little more lightweight, or else silly in comparison.

I'm heading for the Sellswords novels next, so- no worries, more of the same please mister, here's hoping.

Read.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers Goonalan
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
This book was pretty well where Drizzt's ride ended for me. I say "pretty well" because I did read a few more books in the series ("what wacky adventures will Entreri and Jarlaxle have now?"), but while I did make myself read Drizzt's next outing in The Thousand Orcs, this book was what convinced me he had no real growth left as a character.

To be fair, that's not exactly unexpected. By this point he'd had over a dozen novels where he'd grappled with his personal demons, sometimes taking a beating while doing so but never being truly defeated by them. Overcoming the pathos of a painful past, and relentless prejudice, makes it hard to keep creating internal conflict for the character (even if external conflict comes easy; this is D&D, after all). While I know later books try to dredge up such problems in the form of more personal issues (i.e. family), this book's attempt to renew Drizzt's self-doubt by having a specter of his past come back to haunt him just seemed...not so much hollow, but rather artificial, to me.

The need for the author to keep poking Drizzt in the soul was simply too transparent here, in other words. It's like seeing Batman continually brood over the death of his parents. At some point you just want to scream "get over it, already!" But that's simply not possible; suffering - or in Drizzt's case, stoicism in the face of hardship - has become an integral part of the character. They'd stop being who we know if they were ever to actually move on.
 
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jeremypowell

Adventurer
Hot tip: before you start on Promise of the Witch-king, read “Wickless in the Nether,” Salvatore’s short story found in Realms of the Dragons vol. 1. It sets up elements of the situation in that novel. Actually, even if you already started Promise, it might be worth pausing long enough to read the short story, assuming you have a copy of RotD handy.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Hot tip: before you start on Promise of the Witch-king, read “Wickless in the Nether,” Salvatore’s short story found in Realms of the Dragons vol. 1. It sets up elements of the situation in that novel. Actually, even if you already started Promise, it might be worth pausing long enough to read the short story, assuming you have a copy of RotD handy.

RotD has proved to be one of the hardest books to get hold of so far, and it's on its way from the states right now- message to say they posted it yesterday- the books usually take a couple of weeks to make it across the pond.

Also remember I am reading a 'normal' book between each new FR novel, so I'll not start #114 Promise of the Witch King until a week from now, or thereabouts.

Keep in mind I'm also trying to do this without breaking the bank, if you head back to the first page you can see the route I am taking through these books, reproduced below, if they're crossed through then I have yet to get my hands on them-

#114 Promise of the Witch King by RA Salvatore (Sellswords 2)
#115 Road of the Patriach by RA Salvatore (Sellswords 3)

#116 Rising Tide by Mel Odom (Threat Sea 1)
#117 Under Fallen Stars by Mel Odom (Threat Sea 2)

#118 Realms of the Deep Anthology Ed. Philip Athans (Threat Sea 3)

#119 The Sea Devil's Eye by Mel Odom (Threat Sea 4)

#120 The Glass Prison by Monte Cook

#121 Baldur's Gate by Philip Athans (Baldur's Gate 1)
#122 Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn by Philip Athans (Baldur's Gate 2)
#123 Baldur's Gate II: The Throne of Bhaal by Drew Karpyshyn (Baldur's Gate 3)

#124 Silverfall: Stories of the Seven Sisters by Ed Greenwood

#125 The Magehound by Elaine Cunningham (Counselors & Kings 1)
#126 The Floodgate by Elaine Cunningham (Counselors & Kings 2)
#127 The Wizardwar by Elaine Cunningham (Counselors & Kings 3)

#128 The Halls of Stormweather Ed. Philip Athans (Sembia 1)
#129 Shadow's Witness by Paul S Kemp (Sembia 2)
#130 The Shattered Mask by Richard Lee Byers (Sembia 3)
#131 Black Wolf by Dave Gross (Sembia 4)
#132 Heirs of Prophecy by Lisa Smedman (Sembia 5)
#133 Sands of the Soul by Voronica Whitney-Robinson (Sembia 6)
#134 Lord of Stormweather by Dave Gross (Sembia 7)

#135 The City of Ravens by Richard Baker (Cities 1)
#136 Temple Hill by Drew Karpyshyn (Cities 2)
#137 The Jewel of Turmish by Mel Odom (Cities 3)
#138 The City of Splendors: A Waterdeep Novel by Ed Greenwood & Elaine Cunningham (Cities 4)

#139 The Summoning by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 1)
#140 The Siege by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 2)
#141 The Sorcerer by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 3)

#142 Realms of Shadow Anthology Ed. Lizz Baldwin (Return Archwizards 4)

#143 Dissolution by Richard Lee Byers (War Spider Queen 1)
#144 Insurrection by Thomas M Reid (War Spider Queen 2)
#145 Condemnation by Richard Baker (War Spider Queen 3)
#146 Extinction by Lisa Smedman (War Spider Queen 4)
#147 Annihilation by Philip Athans (War Spider Queen 5)
#148 Resurrection by Paul S Kemp (War Spider Queen 6)

#149 The Thousand Orcs by RA Salvatore (Hunter's Blade 1)
#150 The Lone Drow by RA Salvatore (Hunter's Blade 2)
#151 The Two Swords by RA Salvatore (Hunter's Blade 3)

#152 Twilight Falling by Paul S Kemp (Erevis Cale 1)
#153 Dawn of Night by Paul S Kemp (Erevis Cale 2)
#154 Midnight's Mask by Paul S Kemp (Erevis Cale 3)

#155 The Alabaster Staff by Edward Bolme (Rogues 1)
#156 The Black Bouquet by Richard Lee Byers (Rogues 2)
#157 The Crimson Gold by Voronica Whitney-Robinson (Rogues 3)
#158 The Yellow Silk by Don Bassingthwaite (Rogues 4) E

#159 Venom's Taste by Lisa Smedman (Serpents 1)
#160 Viper's Kiss by Lisa Smedman (Serpents 2)
#161 Vanity's Brood by Lisa Smedman (Serpents 3)

#162 The Rage by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 1)

#163 Realms of the Dragons Ed. Philip Athans (Rogue Dragons 2) AE

#164 The Rite by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 3)

#165 Realms of the Dragons II Ed. Philip Athans (Rogue Dragons 4) E

#166 The Ruin by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 5)

#167 Lady of Poison by Bruce R Cordell (Priests 1) E
#168 Mistress of the Night by Dave Gross & Don Bassingthwaite (Priests 2)
#169 Maiden of Pain by Kameron M Franklin (Priests 3) E
#170 Queen of the Depths by Richard Lee Byers (Priests 4) E

#171 Forsaken House by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 1)
#172 Farthest Reach by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 2)

#173 Realms of the Elves Ed Philip Athans (Last Mythal 3) AE

#174 Final Gate by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 4)

#175 The Sapphire Crescent by Thomas M Reid (Scions of Arrabar 1)
#176 The Ruby Guardian by Thomas M Reid (Scions of Arrabar 2) E
#177 The Emerald Sceptre by Thomas M Reid (Scions of Arrabar 3) E

#178 Master of Chains by Jess Lebow (Fighters 1)
#179 Ghostwalker by Eric Scott de Bie (Fighters 2) E
#180 Son of Thunder by Murray JD Leeder (Fighters 3)
#181 Bladesinger by Keith Francis Strohm (Fighters 4)

#182 Whisper of Waves by Philip Athans (Watercourse 1) E
#183 Lies of Light by Philip Athans (Watercourse 2) E
#184 Scream of Stone by Philip Athans (Watercourse 3) E

#185 Dragons: Worlds Afire Anthology by Various

#186 Blackstaff by Steve E Schend (Wizards 1)
#187 Bloodwalk by James P Davis (Wizards 2) E
#188 Darkvision by Bruce R Cordell (Wizards 3) E
#189 Frostfell by Mark Sehestedt (Wizards 4) E

#190 Swords of Eveningstar by Ed Greenwood (Knights Myth Drannor 1)
#191 Swords of Dragonfire by Ed Greenwood (Knights Myth Drannor 2) AE
#192 The Sword Never Sleeps by Ed Greenwood (Knights Myth Drannor 3) AE

#193 Shadowbred by Paul S Kemp (Twilight War 1) AE
#194 Shadowstorm by Paul S Kemp (Twilight War 2)

#195 Realms of War Ed Philip Athans (Twilight War 3) AE

#196 Shadowrealm by Paul S Kemp (Twilight War 4) E

#197 Sacrifice of the Widow by Lisa Smedman (Lady Penitent 1) E
#198 Storm of the Dead by Lisa Smedman (Lady Penitent 2) E
#199 Ascendancy of the Last by Lisa Smedman (Lady Penitent 3) E

#200 Depths of Madness by Erik Scott de Bie (Dungeons 1) E
#201 The Howling Delve by Jaleigh Johnson (Dungeons 2) E
#202 Stardeep by Bruce R Cordell (Dungeons 3) E
#203 Crypt of the Moaning Diamond by Rosemary Jones (Dungeons 4) E

#204 Unclean by Richard Lee Byers (Haunted Lands 1)
#205 Undead by Richard Lee Byers (Haunted Lands 2)
#206 Unholy by Richard Lee Byers (Haunted Lands 3)

#207 The Gossamer Plain by Thomas M Reid (Empyrean Odyssey 1)
#208 The Fractured Sky by Thomas M Reid (Empyrean Odyssey 2)
#209 The Crystal Mountain by Thomas M Reid (Empyrean Odyssey 3)


#210 The Orc King by RA Salvatore (Transitions 1)
#211 The Pirate King by RA Salvatore (Transitions 2)
#212 The Ghost King by RA Salvatore (Transitions 3)

#213 Neversfall by Ed Gentry (Citadels 1)
#214 Obsidian Ridge by Jess Lebow (Citadels 2)
#215 The Shield of Weeping Ghosts by James P Davis (Citadels 3)
#216 Sentinelspire by Mark Sehestedt (Citadels 4)

#217 The Swordmage by Richard Baker (Blades Moonsea 1)
#218 Corsair by Richard Baker (Blades Moonsea 2)
#219 Avenger by Richard Baker (Blades Moonsea 3)

#220 The Stowaway by RA & Geno Salvatore (Stone Tymora 1)
#221 The Shadowmask by RA & Geno Salvatore (Stone Tymora 2)
#222 The Sentinels by RA & Geno Salvatore (Stone Tymora 3)


#223 Blackstaff Tower by Steven E Schend (Waterdeep 1)
#224 Mistshore by Jaleigh Johnson (Waterdeep 2)
#225 Downshadow by Erik Scott de Bie (Waterdeep 3)
#226 City of the Dead by Rosemary Jones (Waterdeep 4)
#227 The God Catcher by Erin M Evans (Waterdeep 5)
#228 Circle of Skulls by James P Davis (Waterdeep 6)


Any help getting my hands on the missing novels greatfully received.

Cheers goonalan
 

Zardnaar

Legend
This book was pretty well where Drizzt's ride ended for me. I say "pretty well" because I did read a few more books in the series ("what wacky adventures will Entreri and Jarlaxle have now?"), but while I did make myself read Drizzt's next outing in The Thousand Orcs, this book was what convinced me he had no real growth left as a character.

To be fair, that's not exactly unexpected. By this point he'd had over a dozen novels where he'd grappled with his personal demons, sometimes taking a beating while doing so but never being truly defeated by them. Overcoming the pathos of a painful past, and relentless prejudice, makes it hard to keep creating internal conflict for the character (even if external conflict comes easy; this is D&D, after all). While I know later books try to dredge up such problems in the form of more personal issues (i.e. family), this book's attempt to renew Drizzt's self-doubt by having a specter of his past come back to haunt him just seemed...not so much hollow, but rather artificial, to me.

The need for the author to keep poking Drizzt in the soul was simply too transparent here, in other words. It's like seeing Batman continually brood over the death of his parents. At some point you just want to scream "get over it, already!" But that's simply not possible; suffering - or in Drizzt's case, stoicism in the face of hardship - has become an integral part of the character. They'd stop being who we know if they were ever to actually move on.

Same I think I read a few more like the Thousand Orcs and one where Pwent becomes a vampire.

Peak was somewhere around Silent Blade or just after imho.

Just milking it at that point.
 

jeremypowell

Adventurer
I wish I had extra copies of any of these lying around to send your way, Goonalan!

I just remember reading the Sellswords omnibus a year or so ago and being a little confused moving from Servant of the Shard to Promise of the Witch-king, wondering if I'd missed something, and later realizing that yes I had missed something, and it was that story from Realms of the Dragons. I don't know why they didn't reprint the story in the omnibus, as they did with the fill-in stories in the Erevis Cale trilogy omnibus, for example. But then, I don't think they reprinted Mel Odom's big story from Realms of the Deep that links books 2 and 3 of the Threat from the Sea trilogy in that series's omnibus volume either, so I guess the Cale book is the exception.

Incidentally, I'm about four years into a similar project, albeit not as thorough as yours (I've skipped a number of books)—and yet in a way, more thorough and even more massively time-consuming, since I'm also reading most of the FR game supplements in chronological order concurrently. I've been following your reviews with great interest and am still a bit ahead of you (I've read about ninety FR novels and just finished Return of the Archwizards, but I read ahead in the Drizzt series a bit, which is why I've read the Sellswords books). But you're catching up fast, and I'll be sad when you pass me up and I have to stop reading your posts in real time!
 

Richards

Legend
Goonalan,

I can help you with #220 through #222. I have a hardcover book called Stone of Tymora, which is a three-in-one volume reprint of The Stowaway, The Stonemask, and The Sentinels, that I bought at a library book sale for the whopping price of $1.00. (It still has its library info on the spine, where it's been categorized as "Science Fiction." Silly librarians!) I'd be more than happy to mail it your way, if you'd like to send me your mailing address. My email address is buntleby (at) hotmail (dot) com.

I'll warn you ahead of time I was pretty unimpressed with the book, but I know that won't be an impediment of you plowing your way through it in any case, given your impressive goal of reading through the entirety of the Forgotten Realms novels and short story collections. And the enjoyment I've been getting reading through your efforts is more than enough to cover the postage.

Johnathan
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#114 The Glass Prison by Monte Cook
Read 5/2/21 to 6/2/21


IMG_2767.JPG


Don't get fooled, I read this in just two days for a variety of reasons, it wasn't because it was a page-turning thrill ride, or anything similar- it was frustrating, in part- good in others, but mostly just very easy to read (and to predict). Although I had Vheod dying in the end, y'know the ultimate sacrifice, the author however fancied (perhaps) a bit of the bad-boy turned good and subsequent multiple book deal. Although, what do I know about it.

So Vheod the Cambion is okay, a bit of an enigma but that's no bad thing, and in turmoil within- although... I don't know, it's just not that convincing. The problem is Melann (priestess of Chauntea) and Ying to Vheod's Yang, is even less convincing with her emotional journey/rollercoaster. I get that at the beginning she doubts that she is worthy, I'll buy that but what follows is just too easy- and even when the plot is unfolding and the reader is thinking- this is all just pointing to this (obviously), then Malann still can't see it. There's too much fretting, too much turmoil, it all just seems like an unconvincing (very swift) version of events. If the love story, such as it is, was more protracted- and hard won, then... maybe, just maybe this would have been a better book.

Whitlock never really gets beyond 2D for the entirety of the book, he parrots a few stock phrases- "Demons are bad!" that kind of thing. I get that he's good at his job but wouldn't it have been better if the story (the love story) was a little more against all odds.

The rest of the plot- go wake up the (grand-daddy) Balor is okay, but again- it's much too simple (and yet made slightly more complicated by the Ravenwitch diversion). Sorry, not the Ravenwitch I mean deus ex machina, or at least one of them.

I left the novel alone at the end thinking not that I wanted to see more of Vheod particularly, he seemed to be equipped right from the get-go for all (combat) encounters. His CR seemed way too high to be the hero of the fights that he was in. If you get me. I had no love for either Malann, or clod-Whitlock; the only interesting character (to me) was the Ravenwitch.

It also didn't help that in the last fight, the climax then we (the reader ) know that Vheod is kinda immune to anything (pretty much) that the Balor dishes out. It's a bit ho-hum.

Also, the book is only 290 or so pages, they usually make it to 312+, and there was a lot of short-hand, just chunks in which character/lover A delves into their psyche to tell us exactly what they are feeling- rather than, y'know- showing it. It reminded me, a bit, of the Moonshae trilogy, right at the start of this journey, in which the lovers spent ages in their heads dissecting (more likely just moping) and bemoaning their lot. It just made me want to kick one (or both) of them- or else just give the pair a scene, a good scene in which they're together, to make it clear where they are at (almost) emotionally- touching, poignant, that kind of thing.

But no- just this, and then this, and then this.

As I say, easy to read though- nothing to think about much.

Read.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan.
 
Last edited:

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#115 Promise of the Witch King by RA Salvatore (Sellswords 2)
Read 14/2/21 to 17/2/21


IMG_2755.JPG


And I read Wickless in the Nether from Realms of the Dragons before starting this one, as instructed.

Well... I liked it, for a variety of reasons- but let me just add I'm not turning cartwheels or anything. I think the thing I liked the most was at the end the ones that were left standing were... mostly the guys that had come through the ranks, that had started at the bottom and got to their present position not because of their name, or the family they were born to. Don't get me wrong, it's not a socialist utopia, it is more of a meritocracy however, or at least a little- and plenty in comparison to the output of other authors here.

I think Salvatore just does this kind of schtick really well, your anti-heroes are suitably convoluted- capable (probably) of terrible things alongside (more often then they care to admit) acts of true kindness. Salvatore is not the best writer in this gang, but he has a turn of phrase, and clearly an ability to craft standout anti-heroes. It doesn't seem to matter which side of the law/ethical what-not/alignment they walk- they're all fairly 3D, and charismatic (in one way or another) and therefore more likely to tell you what they're thinking, and to justify it later, and often sound all the more convincing for doing so.

Suitably introverted, suitably enigmatic, suitably outside of the ordinary. Interesting, the kind of characters that players would like to be in their games. I have some experience with this- one of my present players is a dual scimitar wielding Wood Elf Rogue/Fighter with a Duergar Skeleton consort/girlfriend called Gwen.

That's legacy.

Even the two-bit punks, Bwahaha are easy to like here, I'd read another novel with the mad dwarf Athrogate in it- he can even play lead if you like. Also a town full of half-orcs, and those that are displayed for our delight are clearly unencumbered by the racial heritage, they're good folk- at least from what we see and hear.

I obviously also like the fact that lots of folk got to die here, and plenty of them had hubris on their side, and titles, and power, and hardly ever a thought of losing.

The first half of the novel- the journey to the Bloodstone Lands and the repro Castle Perilous was... okay, perhaps a little underwhelming, but obviously that was Salvatore just setting things up. I enjoyed the fact that the author had invested in a few of the characters for/with us, and then took delight in either killing them early on, or else just cutting them lose.

You try to guess, as a reader, who is wearing the red shirt- I like it that Salvatore started cutting before we even got to the castle, and that the Rover died, and Ellery, and... odd isn't it, but you root for some of these folk to get their comeuppance. Satisfying when it plays out- he's a crowd-pleaser that Mr. Salvatore.

Vaasa is not a place I/we have been before in the novels (from memory) but there wasn't an awful lot of it to see. I think the place, save for the brief glimpse at the half-orc enclave- Palischuk, was a bit underwhelming, I didn't really get a sense of it.

That said from the point the party of squabbling adventurers got to the repro Castle Perilous then we were back to the action adventure and smart arse lines from Jarlaxle (and Entreri). They truly are the married couple/full on bromance now. Don't get me wrong Entreri would still deny it, but... it just seems like Jarlaxle is trying to teach the assassin the meaning of love/trust. Kinda.

There's an action movie in almost every one of these (Salvatore novels) even/especially the ones headlined by the would-be villains here. They all have heart, but again- and louder, this one lacked place, for me.

Also the Arrayan/Tigerwillies grated a little bit, and the return of Calihye at the end a little too predictable, but that's okay- this isn't the kind of novel that goes places you hadn't already thought of. Again, that's not really Salvatore's schtick, he's just figured out that if you can invent plausible (within the mythos) (anti-)heroes, and give them a little chatter or cod-philosophy, and thus add depth, well.. you can get away with murder.

Again, and again- no doubt.

Read, easy to do so- mostly enjoyable, it's Robert Downey Jr (in bald cap with sombrero) and Jude Law (with a sneer) in Sherlock. Them two are really one, that kind of thing.

Take it easy and stay safe.

Cheers goonalan.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I really enjoyed this one; getting an entire novel of Entreri and Jarlaxle doing their thing was a lot of fun! But it was in later books where...I want to say, "they hit their stride," but that's not right. Rather, there were several things here that I felt were underutilized.

For one thing, the whole bit with the reforming Castle Perilous just seemed lacking in scope. I know that's not fair, but I still think that H4 Throne of Bloodstone was one of the most epic D&D modules ever. Anything connected to it should have evoked that same sense of powerful forces from across the planes being involved. What we got wasn't bad, but it wasn't the same as "you've slain Orcus's disciple, now it's time for Orcus himself, with a battle against Tiamat afterward."

Doubly lacking was the drow presence here. Demihuman Deities very quietly dropped some information about how drow priestesses of Kiaransalee (the drow goddess of undeath and vengeance, who killed Orcus...before he came back, I mean) were active in, around, and under Vaasa, since at this time Orcus had just begun to return and Kiaransalee was going full-on crazy with sweeping his old haunts for any sign of him. The book even says that her priestesses were the reason why nearby Damara wasn't having a problem with any of Zhengyi's old undead minions. I know that wasn't in FR9 The Bloodstone Lands, which Salvatore wrote, but the drow connection was one he could have worked with...that he didn't was a shame.

Please note my use of affiliate links in this post.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Hi there, a bunch of questions for the experts-

1) Is this the correct order to read this series-

#117 Rising Tide by Mel Odom (Threat Sea 1)
#118 Under Fallen Stars by Mel Odom (Threat Sea 2)
#119 Realms of the Deep Anthology Ed. Philip Athans (Threat Sea 3)
#120 The Sea Devil's Eye by Mel Odom (Threat Sea 4)

2) Same question-

#139 The Summoning by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 1)
#140 The Siege by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 2)
#141 The Sorcerer by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 3)
#142 Realms of Shadow Anthology Ed. Lizz Baldwin (Return Archwizards 4)

3) And again, same question-

#162 The Rage by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 1)
#163 Realms of the Dragons Ed. Philip Athans (Rogue Dragons 2)
#164 The Rite by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 3)
#165 Realms of the Dragons II Ed. Philip Athans (Rogue Dragons 4)
#166 The Ruin by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 5)

4) And again-

#171 Forsaken House by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 1)
#172 Farthest Reach by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 2)
#173 Realms of the Elves Ed Philip Athans (Last Mythal 3)
#174 Final Gate by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 4)

5) And finally, do I really need to be reading this one, it's a picture book with a few stories in isn't it-

#185 Dragons: Worlds Afire Anthology by Various

Thoughts you lovely people.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan
 

Zardnaar

Legend
#115 Promise of the Witch King by RA Salvatore (Sellswords 2)
Read 14/2/21 to 17/2/21


View attachment 132933

And I read Wickless in the Nether from Realms of the Dragons before starting this one, as instructed.

Well... I liked it, for a variety of reasons- but let me just add I'm not turning cartwheels or anything. I think the thing I liked the most was at the end the ones that were left standing were... mostly the guys that had come through the ranks, that had started at the bottom and got to their present position not because of their name, or the family they were born to. Don't get me wrong, it's not a socialist utopia, it is more of a meritocracy however, or at least a little- and plenty in comparison to the output of other authors here.

I think Salvatore just does this kind of schtick really well, your anti-heroes are suitably convoluted- capable (probably) of terrible things alongside (more often then they care to admit) acts of true kindness. Salvatore is not the best writer in this gang, but he has a turn of phrase, and clearly an ability to craft standout anti-heroes. It doesn't seem to matter which side of the law/ethical what-not/alignment they walk- they're all fairly 3D, and charismatic (in one way or another) and therefore more likely to tell you what they're thinking, and to justify it later, and often sound all the more convincing for doing so.

Suitably introverted, suitably enigmatic, suitably outside of the ordinary. Interesting, the kind of characters that players would like to be in their games. I have some experience with this- one of my present players is a dual scimitar wielding Wood Elf Rogue/Fighter with a Duergar Skeleton consort/girlfriend called Gwen.

That's legacy.

Even the two-bit punks, Bwahaha are easy to like here, I'd read another novel with the mad dwarf Athrogate in it- he can even play lead if you like. Also a town full of half-orcs, and those that are displayed for our delight are clearly unencumbered by the racial heritage, they're good folk- at least from what we see and hear.

I obviously also like the fact that lots of folk got to die here, and plenty of them had hubris on their side, and titles, and power, and hardly ever a thought of losing.

The first half of the novel- the journey to the Bloodstone Lands and the repro Castle Perilous was... okay, perhaps a little underwhelming, but obviously that was Salvatore just setting things up. I enjoyed the fact that the author had invested in a few of the characters for/with us, and then took delight in either killing them early on, or else just cutting them lose.

You try to guess, as a reader, who is wearing the red shirt- I like it that Salvatore started cutting before we even got to the castle, and that the Rover died, and Ellery, and... odd isn't it, but you root for some of these folk to get their comeuppance. Satisfying when it plays out- he's a crowd-pleaser that Mr. Salvatore.

Vaasa is not a place I/we have been before in the novels (from memory) but there wasn't an awful lot of it to see. I think the place, save for the brief glimpse at the half-orc enclave- Palischuk, was a bit underwhelming, I didn't really get a sense of it.

That said from the point the party of squabbling adventurers got to the repro Castle Perilous then we were back to the action adventure and smart arse lines from Jarlaxle (and Entreri). They truly are the married couple/full on bromance now. Don't get me wrong Entreri would still deny it, but... it just seems like Jarlaxle is trying to teach the assassin the meaning of love/trust. Kinda.

There's an action movie in almost every one of these (Salvatore novels) even/especially the ones headlined by the would-be villains here. They all have heart, but again- and louder, this one lacked place, for me.

Also the Arrayan/Tigerwillies grated a little bit, and the return of Calihye at the end a little too predictable, but that's okay- this isn't the kind of novel that goes places you hadn't already thought of. Again, that's not really Salvatore's schtick, he's just figured out that if you can invent plausible (within the mythos) (anti-)heroes, and give them a little chatter or cod-philosophy, and thus add depth, well.. you can get away with murder.

Again, and again- no doubt.

Read, easy to do so- mostly enjoyable, it's Robert Downey Jr (in bald cap with sombrero) and Jude Law (with a sneer) in Sherlock. Them two are really one, that kind of thing.

Take it easy and stay safe.

Cheers goonalan.

This one was alright that trilogy is getting near the end of the gas tank for his books.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Hi there, a bunch of questions for the experts-

1) Is this the correct order to read this series-

[...]

#139 The Summoning by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 1)
#140 The Siege by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 2)
#141 The Sorcerer by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 3)
#142 Realms of Shadow Anthology Ed. Lizz Baldwin (Return Archwizards 4)
This is the only one of the trilogies you've outlined which I've read in its entirety, but that is the proper order in which to read them. The anthology (as with so many of those anthologies) has no direct connection to the main trilogy, but it's slightly easier to understand if you read it afterward, if only because the main idea explored in the various short stories (i.e. shadow magic) gets spotlighted in the trilogy.
 

jeremypowell

Adventurer
Goonalan, my advice differs slightly from that given by Alzrius. I would say that you've got the recommended reading orders correct for everything except the Return of the Archwizards series.

Best to read that one in this order: The SummoningThe SiegeRealms of ShadowThe Sorcerer.

You certainly wouldn't want to read Realms of Shadow before The Siege. But all of the stories in that volume take place before The Sorcerer, and a couple of them help to explain various situations in that novel. They also help flesh out the concept of shadow magic, which I think would make your read of The Sorcerer more enjoyable, and by the time you've read the first two volumes it'll be a good time for the background provided by the distant-past tales near the beginning of RoS.

The two really important ones are The Threat from the Sea and The Year of Rogue Dragons. In both of those cases it's important to read them in the precise orders you've listed, because in each case the short story anthologies contain a story by the author of the main series that takes place between the main-series novel installments and bridges the gaps between the novels. (This only applies to the first Realms of the Dragons book, but best to read RotD2 in the given order anyway.) The Last Mythal is closer to Return of the Archwizards in this regard: better to read Realms of the Elves before the final volume, but not totally crucial to do so. It's crucial for Threat and Year.

Note that my recommended reading order also simply is the order of publication for these books. The orders you've already listed for the series conform to the original publication order, except Return of the Archwizards, where the original publication order is the one I've recommended.
 

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