#092 Death of the Dragon by Ed Greenwood & Troy Denning (Cormyr 3)
Read 19/9/20 to 22/9/20
Book 3- and the conclusion of course, this is 300+ pages of titanic, sprawling, epic battles (or similar). Goblins and orcs by the thousands, the Ghazneths doing their magic eating thing while the great dragon chomps and blasts entire armies.
It's an epic action movie.
In truth I'm not sure what to think about this one and the series, I liked the timeline- Cormyr from its inception to this the fiery end, not the end of Cormyr you understand- but the end of the dragon, and the Ghazneths (save one) and of swathes of the aforementioned orcs and goblins. Oh, and the end of Azoun and Tanalasta.
What to say- there's too much fighting, it just goes on and on- and I get that we're ratcheting up the tension, but there are so many last rolls of the dice that... well, the action loses impetus- throw another squad of Purple Dragons on the bar-b.
Azoun is great to the end, above it all- able to sacrifice it all, including himself in the hope that Cormyr and his people/family will survive. Tanalasta likewise makes the ultimate sacrifice, and it's gruesome, bloody and brave- with plenty of help along the way she has taken on the ruler's mantle. Alusair and Vengerdahast likewise prove themselves to be epic heroes- struggling to the end, although that's pretty much all as expected.
The plot- the ancient prophecy of Alaundo snakes its way out, as it turns out its all an act of revenge- a lover killed, a burning brooding hatred, and the ultimate revenge- to kill a family (the Obarskyr's) and end a kingdom.
There are bits of this I quite liked, intrigues and events which I will endeavour to adapt to my present campaign. There are parts of Faerun that now have a richer history for having read this but... it's alright, not as titanic and/or epic as all that because it just seems be a rinse and repeat thing. I guess if you set up all of the enemies than you are going to have to take the time to knock them all down- it's like one of those modern 'spectacle' action movies in which the climax starts (seemingly) about half-way through the picture and just keeps on rolling on. Those kind of movies of course rely on special effects set pieces, tacked together by dramatic speeches and darkly delivered exposition, before diving back into the next mini-max climax. There's a lot of this kind of thing here- and it, well... goes on a bit.
Oddly I liked some of the vignettes towards the end, the times when the authors plucked a knight or noble from relative obscurity and allowed us to see the terrifying unfolding from their perspective, to feel their terror and to be aware of their constant gnawing fear of failure, to not live up to their family/status/position, to just become another one of the countless dead and dying- sprawled on the battlefield.
Perhaps if the story had been told by someone with a less elevated position, maybe... maybe then it would be a little more interesting. Or else there was some other (more mundane- less royal/epic) central character that could serve as our witness to some of these events, but no...
The survival of the realm is at stake, and so the action is as epic and unrelenting as it should be, and yet I found myself less than bothered about who dies- who survives. I like the Obarskyr's (Azoun, best of all) but I'm not that concerned about how many of them are put in the ground at the end of it all.
I don't like them enough to root for any one of them to survive- except maybe Azoun, he seemed to be the least complex and therefore easiest to understand/like of his family.
I'm beginning to doubt my conviction a little, I get that the realms is as much about empires as it is about adventurers, but I miss the much simpler stories- even the complex ones that start with charismatic/enigmatic heroes that set out at the bottom of the ladder and rise up by being expert at their tasks, or else just surviving and persevering.
This all seems like very high level play (epic) and therefore out of my reach (as a DM), if it wasn't for some of the vignettes (as described above) then this one would have been a much harder row to hoe. I think what I am saying is I favour adventurers over royal families, the dark of the dungeon or the eerie woods and other fell places- stalking enemies and slithering abominations, rather than magic-eating demons (sorta), sprawling humanoid armies and ancient red dragons. I like a smaller picture, a story which shows how circumstances and the central character's endeavour shape the final outcome. I don't like epic- I like low level play.
Apologies if this was a bit negative, I'm sure that some folk thought this series climactic, pulsating and... insert your own adjective here. I get that the trials and tribulations of kings and rulers make for dramatic backdrops, but... they're less my thing. The Obarskyr's beginning was much more interesting, their final hurrah (for some of 'em) was much less appealing.
Stay safe and well.