The EN World kitten
So, I really didn't like it- and it took me an age to get to the end, reduced to reading in 20-page bursts because I was so fed up with it. Which is odd because I read Paul Kidd way back when with Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, White Plume Mountain and Queen of the Demonweb Pits- and I seem to remember being so enthused about these locations- and the others featured in the Greyhawk series that I made it my mission to DM these books immediately. Although in truth I had DMed most of them already- remember I'm old skool. Obviously I don't remember how good Mr Kidd's novels actually were (it was all a very long time ago) but they were certainly enough to get my motor running.
Not having read this particular book, his Greyhawk trilogy (consisting of White Plume Mountain, Descent into the Depths of the Earth, and Queen of the Demonweb Pits) is where I know Paul Kidd from as well. I too found them to be very enjoyable (fun fact: there are two short stories involving those characters in Dragon magazine: "By the Job" in issue #271 is set prior to the first book, while "Keoland Blues" in issue #278 is set between the first and second books), even though they played fast and loose with a lot of the finer points of Greyhawk's history. Being the sort of person who's a stickler for setting canon, I like to think that my enjoying those books anyway is a major endorsement, because I'm humble that way.
The main reason for those books being so good (in my opinion) is that Kidd is very talented at writing characters who seem, while not what I would call well-rounded, extremely vivid in their depictions. The characters do what they do so intensely that they seem to pop off the pages when they do it. What makes this different from, say, Ed Greenwood's characters, is that Kidd's don't take this to the point of having it overshadow everyone and everything around them. When they run up against opposition, leaning into their character archetypes isn't enough to carry the day; they have to actually make an effort to win.
Of course, Kidd does have a tendency to let humor in by way of anachronism, but while I can't speak to the book under review here, in the Greyhawk books he at least kept it limited to personality quirks for a few characters. Having Escalla and Lolth (!) come across as pseudo-Valley girls was funny largely because he didn't take it too far. For this book, it sounds like he abandoned all sense of restraint. The result, according to some other reviews that I glanced at on this book's Amazon page, makes it sound like this is a decent fantasy novel, but not a very good Forgotten Realms novel.