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D&D General I'm reading the Forgotten Realms Novels- #146 Condemnation by Richard Baker (War of the Spider Queen 3)

I was completely drow-ed out and antihero-ed out by the time these books came around, and given the ... less than stellar experience with multi-author series that was the Double Diamond books, I never bothered picking them up. Annoying to hear that I might have missed something worthwhile!
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
I was completely drow-ed out and antihero-ed out by the time these books came around, and given the ... less than stellar experience with multi-author series that was the Double Diamond books, I never bothered picking them up. Annoying to hear that I might have missed something worthwhile!

They're pretty good.
 

TheSword

Legend
I was completely drow-ed out and antihero-ed out by the time these books came around, and given the ... less than stellar experience with multi-author series that was the Double Diamond books, I never bothered picking them up. Annoying to hear that I might have missed something worthwhile!
Bonus is, it’s never too late! Just stop reading these posts for a couple of weeks!
 

Dire Bare

Legend
I was completely drow-ed out and antihero-ed out by the time these books came around, and given the ... less than stellar experience with multi-author series that was the Double Diamond books, I never bothered picking them up. Annoying to hear that I might have missed something worthwhile!
There are a lot of reasons why "The War of the Spider Queen" series should not be good, but . . . it actually is one of the better D&D novel series out there! It's not perfect, the ending has some issues for me, but overall a solid read for all six novels.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
#146 Condemnation by Richard Baker (War Spider Queen 3)
Read 27/11/21 to 30/11/21


IMG_3203.JPG


Still good.

Not as good as the first two but that's because there's plenty of diluting with this one, there are lots of pieces on the board now and so we don't spend the same amount of quality time with our antiheroes/heroes/pleasurable-villains* (* delete as appropriate).

Also, we go places with this one, and travelling is often an issue, Baker does the right thing though, early on in the piece he was skipping the action, and I was fretting- where's all the good stuff, I like a good fight. But, he was right to, there's just so much to get in this one. It's pretty marvellous so far how the different authors have managed to get everything to line up, except... but we'll get to the exception.

So, Pharaun is too cool for skool, Ryld still a killing machine with a heart of something softer (but not gold), Valas similar but less well-defined, Quenthel still a tyrannical nutter (but in a really great way), same for Halisstra and Danifae; and Jeggred of course. The issue, as stated above, is we get less time to be with these folk. There's a whole heap of Halisstra in this one, captured by elves and subject to the (good) machinations of a priestess of Eilistraee, but do not fret- it all ends very badly for the good guys.

We skip about a a bit- Anauroch, Mantol Derith, Gracklstugh (with a bit of time on the Darklake) and then, at last, into the Demonweb Pits, where it gets all Q1 (remember the module), only... and again, we're in a race to get through this stuff. Everyone shines although perhaps not as brightly as they did in the first two.

Then there's the fact that we also get to spend time with some/more of the bad guys- the tanurrak legions and their cambion boss (and Aliisza, of course), then there's Horgar and the duergar, and then... phew, there really are a lot of factions in the game. Then there are the bad guy drow, with Grandfather and the despicable Lolth hating assassins of the Jaezrad Chausslin, you've got to love these folk.

Then there's Trilel Baenre, and Menzo- and a war, and Gromph has gone, and then there's the lich house master of house Dyrr, and a half-a-dozen other drow house and their matron mothers.

And then...

And then...

Truth be told if this was a 500 page novel then I would have read it as quickly and it would have been all the better for it, maybe even a seven novel series.

The point being some of these places- Gracklstugh, the Darklake & the Demonweb Pits, I'd really would have liked to have spent longer here, to take more of it in. Obviously that's as much about me and my game, but these are places that I have read a little about in other 5e sources and, I wanna know more.

Is there a novel out there that does for the duergar what Salvatore (and co) did for the drow?

That would be something I'd look forward to reading, a lot.

So, it's just sprawling, and because of this it has to dart about a lot. That's my major complaint about the Halisstra interlude, I guess it needs to stay in because there's a pay off coming somewhere along the line. But here, when every other section is moving so quickly, it seems to stand out and not for the right reasons, it just seems like marking time.

Again, there's something coming no doubt that makes the chunk of exposition here worthwhile.

The other error-

"Save your magic," Quenthel decided. "That strand will do. Jeggred, Ryld, carry Valas and Danifae."

Jeggred?

The big lad is back guarding the physical bodies of the astral walking drow, Jeggred can't hear you Matron.

Whoops.

But that's not much to write home about.

It's another good to great novel, more of the same- too much more, as stated- I'd have turned this one into two, or else submitted a 500 page text and let the series bosses figure it all out (and would therefore never have get another writing gig again).

But you get what I'm saying.

It flies too fast at times, too much stuff- not enough time for a proper look around, but I get it- that's the load that this one has to carry.

Read.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan
 

TheSword

Legend
Your read through is making me want to go back… but I know if I do that I’m going to start writing drow campaign stuff… and I’m already part way through three other campaigns. Must focus!!

Great summary and pretty darn accurate! These are the best three books of the series without doubt.
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
This was another good one, though I seem to recall thinking that the sheer number of plot threads was starting to become...not cumbersome, per se, but rather offering more than could be adequately showcased. As you noted, this book would have felt short even if it was twice the length that it was. But while some (actually a lot) of this gets touched on later in the series, the ones that didn't felt kind of like a tease.

But I suppose that if my biggest complaint is "it left me wanting more," then I don't really have a complaint now, do I?

The ending of the book, when they finally get to the Demonweb Pits, was by far the most memorable portion of this story, at least to me. The usage of high-level magic was impressive, not simply unto itself, but because this felt like a story where we could really follow the action in terms of the D&D 3rd Edition rules. There are plenty of stories with high- and epic-level characters (Elminster and the Seven Sisters come to mind), but these usually have a "plot first, then rules" structure, where they're whipping out magic we've never heard of before, and we'll have to hope that there's a sourcebook or an article in Dragon magazine that will eventually put stats to what they're doing.

While that's a good way to generate new content, and maybe even interest in a particular novel if you read those rules first and then want to go back and see them in action, this was a nice change of pace. Gate, astral spell, blade barrier, sending, and quite a few more were on display. It's like the difference between watching the Marvel shows on Disney+ after having seen every film in the MCU versus only having seen a couple of them; those little "I know what that is!" moments are more worthwhile than you think.

Of course, occasionally that goes the other way. I can't recall if it was in this book or the previous one where Danifae reveals that she's a bard, and as such has access to the cure light wounds series of spells, since bards could do that in 3rd Edition despite being arcane spellcasters. That's never sat right with me, since healing being a hallmark of divine magic - or at least, a hallmark of the idea that your spells are given to you by some entity (which is why I have no problem with Pathfinder's witch class having access to healing spells, despite also being an arcane spellcasting class) - is a D&D staple, and there's never been an adequate (again, to me) explanation for why bards could suddenly use them despite their arcane magic. Particularly in the Realms, where divine spellcasting requires that you worship a deity or near-divine entity; none of this "cleric of a philosophy" stuff there. Plus we got a whole bunch of stuff about Danifae's bardic tradition that felt a bit too rambling in its attempt to answer the question of why drow society would even have bards.

Still, it was good stuff overall. That they actually got to the Demonweb was a bit surprising; I'd have thought they'd have dragged that out until the end. But them arriving and not getting any clear answers was a nice twist, even if it then turned into a game of "let's try it again, maybe this time it'll go differently."
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
This was another good one, though I seem to recall thinking that the sheer number of plot threads was starting to become...not cumbersome, per se, but rather offering more than could be adequately showcased. As you noted, this book would have felt short even if it was twice the length that it was. But while some (actually a lot) of this gets touched on later in the series, the ones that didn't felt kind of like a tease.

But I suppose that if my biggest complaint is "it left me wanting more," then I don't really have a complaint now, do I?

The ending of the book, when they finally get to the Demonweb Pits, was by far the most memorable portion of this story, at least to me. The usage of high-level magic was impressive, not simply unto itself, but because this felt like a story where we could really follow the action in terms of the D&D 3rd Edition rules. There are plenty of stories with high- and epic-level characters (Elminster and the Seven Sisters come to mind), but these usually have a "plot first, then rules" structure, where they're whipping out magic we've never heard of before, and we'll have to hope that there's a sourcebook or an article in Dragon magazine that will eventually put stats to what they're doing.

While that's a good way to generate new content, and maybe even interest in a particular novel if you read those rules first and then want to go back and see them in action, this was a nice change of pace. Gate, astral spell, blade barrier, sending, and quite a few more were on display. It's like the difference between watching the Marvel shows on Disney+ after having seen every film in the MCU versus only having seen a couple of them; those little "I know what that is!" moments are more worthwhile than you think.

Of course, occasionally that goes the other way. I can't recall if it was in this book or the previous one where Danifae reveals that she's a bard, and as such has access to the cure light wounds series of spells, since bards could do that in 3rd Edition despite being arcane spellcasters. That's never sat right with me, since healing being a hallmark of divine magic - or at least, a hallmark of the idea that your spells are given to you by some entity (which is why I have no problem with Pathfinder's witch class having access to healing spells, despite also being an arcane spellcasting class) - is a D&D staple, and there's never been an adequate (again, to me) explanation for why bards could suddenly use them despite their arcane magic. Particularly in the Realms, where divine spellcasting requires that you worship a deity or near-divine entity; none of this "cleric of a philosophy" stuff there. Plus we got a whole bunch of stuff about Danifae's bardic tradition that felt a bit too rambling in its attempt to answer the question of why drow society would even have bards.

Still, it was good stuff overall. That they actually got to the Demonweb was a bit surprising; I'd have thought they'd have dragged that out until the end. But them arriving and not getting any clear answers was a nice twist, even if it then turned into a game of "let's try it again, maybe this time it'll go differently."

Thinking back I should have mentioned the spell use in my little write-up and the joys of high level play, so often they sound wrong (the spells), or else... well, some other form of magic that's not D&D but something else. But this one, and particularly with the epic confrontation in the Demonweb, yeah- that'd be just about right.

A chunk of this endeavour, I guess- on reflection, is about my dislike or else failure (in previous editions) with high level play, or else the fact that it seems to me as the DM, at times, that I'm just about entertaining/humouring the players. At a certain level, and with four or five of them versus/against me, I sometimes/often come up short with the threat. I know how to kick ass as a DM to about level 12-14, but after that.

I think I can deliver plot and story until the end, but the mechanics- I think I'm at volume 11 but then the encounter begins and... I take a kicking, as always.

So, I'm fond of this bunch, and the telling of their tale, because in part I'm looking for clues as to how to make this work, and also how to describe it in game. This series has been good at that, from the Shadow Walk and beyond.

Cheers goonalan
 

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