#174 Realms of the Elves Ed Philip Athans (Last Mythal 3)
Read 27/8/22 to 30/8/22
Apologies, I've had a month off, I got so far with this one- and it wasn't as if it was bad, it was just that I'd had enough of reading these books for a while. It didn't help that I'd just bought a bunch of WFRP 4e books and was about to DM some nice folk, and so I spent a month reading WFRP books. Oh so relaxing.
But back to this one, as anthologies goes it's a good one. The seven stories, that's right- just seven of them, are meatier. Fifty or so pages each, and so we get to spend a bit of time with the characters, and almost all of them (I'm guessing) are minor celebs (or better) of this world, even Elminster gets a walk on (gah!).
Traitors by Richard Lee Byers-
takes us all the way back in time (Circa -25,090 DR) to a very strange Faerun, nothing like the present day. Dragons rule the roost, and the significant opposition are the elves (the people) but they don't look to be doing so well. This story is an addendum to the Rogue Dragons series, and we get to see (sort of) how it all got started. Although the explanation delivered here is more motive than detail, for the detail we need to read the rest of Rogue Dragons series.
That's a common theme with these stories, all of them (perhaps) are just inserts/adverts for forthcoming (or already released, and read) trilogies, but that's okay- I don't mind that.
The Staff of Valmaxian by Philip Athans-
I'm guessing that Valmaxian will be making an appearance in a future trilogy, I don't know this of course, I don't look ahead- I just pick up the next book and read on (well, most of the time, I've just had a month off for no good reason). Valmaxian does a deal with a devil, later he learns that doing deals with devils is a bad thing. The lesson- don't take short cuts, do the right thing. It works, but not my favourite here.
Necessary Sacrifices by Lisa Smedman-
it's twee, and sentimental and marvellously manipulative of the reader. I loved it, I even had a little cry at the end- I'm only human after all. I like Sorrell and loved the idea of the vengeance seeking Shevarash elves, heading down into the dark to slaughter the cruel drow. Again, the end- much too easy, heart strings are tugged (yanked?), and then the author leaves us alone, well not quite alone- there's a small hand in our hand.
The Greater Treasure by Erik Scott de Bie-
is beautifully written and at the same time a little odd, the elf that has to make the choice- between his sister's fall from grace and straight into the arms of Grazz't or... the sexy come-to-bed-eyes/thighs of Twilight. It's good that sex is a thing now in these novels, it exists. It's good that Twilight is the (very mild) sexual predator- Girl Power! But it still seems a bit odd, or else sex and sexuality always seems to be a theme that is treated as taboo, or else treated in a child-like way. I guess it's an audience thing, teenage boys (for the most part? or older?) like their fantasy fiction (female- 99.9% of the time) pin-ups to be... Vallejo? But spicy with it, and in this one- in control. But the elf doing the choosing is a dolt, which makes me wonder, of course, about Twilight's choices. It's a good story but... and that's the problem.
Comrades at Odds by RA Salvatore-
gets us from the last Drizzt story to the next one, I'm guessing. It does exactly what it says on the tin, sets up a few things, does a bit of bonding between Drizzt and his latest Pegasus riding squeeze. Although squeeze is the wrong word, Drizzt is the one that's learning lessons here, and Innovindil has all of the best lines. It also sets up some future encounter between Drizzt and the young pretender, maybe, Tos'un Armgo- and he has Cati's terrible killer sword. That's it, but it's great.
Tears So White by Ed Greenwood-
well, what to say about it? Then a further consideration- what to say about it that's nice? I love a lot of Greenwood's writing, the realms sounds different- quite simply they talk funny, but it's so... authentique. I love it. Then there's the action- the Knights of Myth Drannor can kiss my hairy backside, it's hardly D&D- it's a comedy skit (at times) in the middle of a fight. Did I say fight- I meant to say epic end of world battle royale. Liches arrives at the fracas a dozen at a time.
I'll write that again- Liches arrive at the fracas a dozen at a time.
Part of the problem with this is when the fight gets going the three Knight of MD are barely holding their own against one or two liches, so when another dozen pop up, and then another dozen, and then... I kid you not, at one point I tried counting them- over a hundred liches in the fight.
Silly doesn't cover it.
Particularly when the Knights spent three pages fretting over fighting three liches, when there's 50+ of them on the board you start to wonder what's going on. Couldn't the bad guys start with 50 liches on the board from the beginning, but then where would the author go? A thousand liches. I wouldn't put it past him.
The Liches can't use magic in this strange place but... then why use liches?
Greenwood chose liches because they're tough bastards- everyone knows this. Lich = real bad. Then he hamstrings them = no magic. Then, having made liches a push-over he has to start sending them into battle a dozen (later a score) at a time.
Thanks Ed, that's liches broken.
But it's not of course, it is however a very silly story.
The entire schtick is the Knights have to figure out what they are doing in the strange world/space that they find themselves. The story would, of course, be... well, nothing- if Elminster had taken an extra thirty seconds to a minute to tell the guys what's going down. It's just so tenuous.
And very silly.
The Bladesinger's Lesson by Richard Baker-
is a cracker, and we're back to the present trilogy- the Last Mythal, and it's just background stuff but the characters come alive. The ninja Bladesinger learns his lesson and... it's hard won, but well won, and the reader feels glad to be alive. Just a very nice short story, and well told. Loved it.
That's your cracker for a bit.
Stay safe and well you lovely people.