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D&D General I'm reading the Forgotten Realms Novels- #202 The Howling Delve by Jaleigh Johnson (Dungeons 2)

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
#080 The Simbul's Gift by Lynn Abbey (Nobles 6)
Read 29/6/20 to 7/7/20


Forgotten Realms The Simbul's Gift (Nobles 6) VGOOD.JPG

Book 6- and the best one by far, possibly... don't get fooled with me taking nine days to read this, I've been busy- oh so busy, I promise you. Work, actually jobs to do around the house, but also- some would say more importantly (that someone would be me) a crisis of confidence with regard my lockdown D&D VTT game. So, while I've been spending my days making fences, painting fences, digging and weeding, and... well, lots more bloody painting- I've also been spending my downtime reading through a variety of D&D modules trying to decide the scope and scape of my present campaign. Very important stuff, I assure you.

So, my fifty pages a day minimum hasn't gone out of the window, it's just that I've been reading D&D stuff- apologies, but it's been great.

Back to the book, this is one of the best written FR books that I have read so far, by which I mean the style, use of language, structure and the story-telling skills employed. Don't get me wrong- there's nothing astounding to be had here- save for the Red Wizard who loves his daughter (maybe) but it's just very well put together, and the story well-told. It treats the reader as an intelligent confident/e and tells us all we need to know- drip, drip, drip; and it just works.

All of the characters are well done, there's no-one here that has a voice who's thoughts aren't made all the more complicated by love, life, and/or lust. The situations and persons depicted are all well conceived, and offer amazing insights into the ways and means of those depicted- particularly the Red Wizards, and the Simbul (of course).

There isn't a character in the piece that the reader isn't left feeling something for- mostly sympathy, in contrast to many of the other novels its not simple, its not childish, its not whizz-bang... or indeed, very exciting. It's a great book, and a great author- and an incredibly interesting story (that mostly goes to all the usual places- only, mostly- there are a few welcome diversions) but its not gripping, it unfurls and unfolds- makes you smirk as you read it, every now and then.

You also get the feeling that Lynn Abbey has read Greenwood (and many others) and decided she'd like some of that- so there are all the authentic names of people, places, and events et al that jigsaw into the Realms canon, but she's much better than Greenwood- she's a great writer, if this is a fair example of her oeuvre.

It's so different from many of the other novels that have passed this way as to make me think that this one somehow doesn't fit, I'd like to see Lynn Abbey do some fantasy sequence action events et al, to get deep into the mythos and magic- can she write a really great fantasy novel, some of you must know, you've read ahead- can she do it? Does she have a great novel in here somewhere? If so, what's it called so that I can look forward to reading it?

Oh, but what's this one about- something's going on in Yuirwood (new/old gods arising), Ebroin of the Cha'Tel'Quessir is trying to decide who or what he is- and how he should live his life, and also if his father is his father- because he should be dead, but he isn't, is he? He knows that his mother is dead- he watched it happen, he knows that the Simbul is the cause of all of his trouble, and... he's discovering that the things that he thinks he knows are, well... he's questioning everything.

The Simbul is also having to do some heavy thinking, about some similar topics.

The Red Wizard Lauzoril is also finding out what's important in life.

There's a lot of hope here, again it's a great novel, but of a kind.

Great, well-written, and clever book- Read.
 

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Lynn Abbey wrote a Dark Sun trilogy which is some of the best writing that's ever been done for D&D. I think she did a standalone Ravenloft novel too. I wish she'd written more for TST/WotC, to be honest, she is really good.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Lynn Abbey wrote a Dark Sun trilogy which is some of the best writing that's ever been done for D&D. I think she did a standalone Ravenloft novel too. I wish she'd written more for TST/WotC, to be honest, she is really good.

A minor correction: from what I've been able to find, Lynn Abbey never wrote a Ravenloft novel. I even pulled my copy of the Tales of Ravenloft anthology off the shelf to check the list of short stories, and she's not one of the authors listed there.

Having said that, the only Dark Sun novel of hers that I read was The Rise and Fall of a Dragon King, and I agree that she's an exceptionally talented writer. Her plot progression was solid, and her characters were exceptionally vivid. But what drove me up the wall at the time was that she got certain aspects of the setting wrong. It was never anything major...except for a few things where it was (i.e. large-scale spellcasting does not accelerate a sorcerer-king's dragon transformation).

That bothered me a lot when I was younger, though I've mellowed out on it somewhat since then (or rather, become mildly embittered by successive edition changes that have continually retconned things). Even so, I do still consider that to be a problem. The particular how's and why's of a given fantasy setting are important, at least to my mind, because they not only form the underpinnings of what makes that particular setting distinctive (alongside the characters and narrative sequences themselves), but also because they lay the foundations for the world's internal logic and self-consistency. You can get those things wrong and still make entertaining stories, to be certain, but be prepared for those stories to be difficult to reconcile with the larger setting.

Now, to be fair, this is hardly something specific to Lynn Abbey. Paul Kidd's Greyhawk books gleefully butcher the setting's canon and are still a lot of fun to read. Laurel K. Hamilton's Ravenloft book, Death of a Darklord, not so much. But Abbey's Dark Sun novels (or at least the one I read) manage to do pretty well regardless of the non-canon aspects. I just wish she'd adhered closer to the game rules when writing the books, so that they could be enjoyed for what they said about the setting as well as the characters.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Lynn Abbey wrote a Dark Sun trilogy which is some of the best writing that's ever been done for D&D. I think she did a standalone Ravenloft novel too. I wish she'd written more for TST/WotC, to be honest, she is really good.

This she is one of the most underated D&D authors. She's also the best or second best IMHO out of all the authors.
 



Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
#081 Daughter of the Drow by Elaine Cunningham (Starlight & Shadows 1)
Read 8/7/20 to 15/7/20


Forgotten Realms HB Daughter of the Drow (Star & Shadow 1) VGOODa.JPG

Well... I liked it a lot, although- I went back and forth with this one, starting with are all Drow (& Drow societies) just cool, or else the coolest thing to write about- nice detail, nice characters, nice scheming, but... Liriel is a brat, and with everything she could want or desire (except for, y'know- the stuff like freedom, choices, love, care- the little things). And Fydor, the Rashemen Berserker, well... I'm tired of that, and... but, he's not just John Rambo (although he tries) and he's a heart of gold, and smarts, and honour- that's not a badge.

So, I kept reading, and I kept with it- and the story too is great, although- again, Liriel at times is a little grating- her fall on her feet ability, and her unplumbed depths of magic reserve, her seeming mastery of anything she cares to pick up and polish... it's a little much at times. A little like the player that multi-classes half-a-dozen times and then later on declares themselves to be the master of everything, only for Liriel it seems to be the case. I wanted her to fall, and fail- to get a big kick in the rear and have to figure out that just being herself all of the time wouldn't cut it.

But, she didn't much, and yet still she grew- it became obvious that Liriel wasn't oblivious to her surroundings, and the new world at her fingertips, and all that she had been told about the surface and its inhabitants... well, that's a lie, so she's making her own way to a new/better understanding of how things work, but slowly (relatively, to this reader). Not too much you understand, it still feels like (when I'm reading Liriel) that she's as much in it for the shits and giggles, as she is some karmic rebalancing of her tawdry Drow spirit- her quest for power is far from over, I presume. I've only just started the next one (Tangled Webs) but I'm of the opinion that Liriel would still dance with the devil to get what she needs to.

There are also lots of other nice faces in here, particularly (as usual) the Drow- Triel & Shakti (and the rest of the bat-naughty word crazy Matron gang, isn't Triel's sister called something like- "soup spoon"*, I must be misremembering that), Gromph, Nisstyre (for some reason I like the idea of ginger Drow).

The writing's good, although you can't help but do the comparison to Drizzt's agent (Bob Salvatore), so there's less focus on an individual here, it's not as deep- but as of yet Liriel, while hardly a puddle, is not that deep here either- scheming, conniving, seeking of the way to the next things she needs- check, got that. But she's getting her feet wet and by the end... well, she's making more sense of things. The big difference, which for me marks it down, is this one seems a little anime/cartoon style. The action sequences seem less (fewer) and also less well choreographed, it all seems to happen quickly, and... for the win. Some of the other authors here (Greenwood, at times- included) can turn a great fight/conflict into a glorious (chuckling while you're reading) montage of deadly kick-ass, sometime with heaps enough threat to think that someone may actually suffer. Not here, or much less so- not bad you understand, but not really (it seems to me- imho) what the author is after. Okay, but I'd like more- fingers-crossed for the next one, which I am going to dive into (I can feel it in my water).

This then is good, a little more/better action, and possibly a little more doubt and introspection (apres failure, possibly) and Liriel could be the shazam-Drizzt, and that might make this series great (imho).

The deep dragon is stupid, but y'know- just within parameters.

The start of this one with the chase for the amulet- chicken legs versus Red Wizards versus Drow plus (somehow) Fydor = raspberry noise, and flashing sign saying "Silly Encounter", but it was right at the start, so I soon forgot all about it. Also, it made me chuckle.

Oh and Fydor needs to have more of a word with Liriel (rights and wrongs, you're a spoiled princess) or else he's got to fall out with her- big time, and that way he/she/we can find out what they mean to each other.

Read- very nice, eventually.

*Sos'Umptu, I don't know what I was thinking. We've met her before (and Triel, and many of the others in Menzo) haven't we.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
#081 Daughter of the Drow by Elaine Cunningham (Starlight & Shadows 1)
Read 8/7/20 to 15/7/20


View attachment 123830

Well... I liked it a lot, although- I went back and forth with this one, starting with are all Drow (& Drow societies) just cool, or else the coolest thing to write about- nice detail, nice characters, nice scheming, but... Liriel is a brat, and with everything she could want or desire (except for, y'know- the stuff like freedom, choices, love, care- the little things). And Fydor, the Rashemen Berserker, well... I'm tired of that, and... but, he's not just John Rambo (although he tries) and he's a heart of gold, and smarts, and honour- that's not a badge.

So, I kept reading, and I kept with it- and the story too is great, although- again, Liriel at times is a little grating- her fall on her feet ability, and her unplumbed depths of magic reserve, her seeming mastery of anything she cares to pick up and polish... it's a little much at times. A little like the player that multi-classes half-a-dozen times and then later on declares themselves to be the master of everything, only for Liriel it seems to be the case. I wanted her to fall, and fail- to get a big kick in the rear and have to figure out that just being herself all of the time wouldn't cut it.

But, she didn't much, and yet still she grew- it became obvious that Liriel wasn't oblivious to her surroundings, and the new world at her fingertips, and all that she had been told about the surface and its inhabitants... well, that's a lie, so she's making her own way to a new/better understanding of how things work, but slowly (relatively, to this reader). Not too much you understand, it still feels like (when I'm reading Liriel) that she's as much in it for the shits and giggles, as she is some karmic rebalancing of her tawdry Drow spirit- her quest for power is far from over, I presume. I've only just started the next one (Tangled Webs) but I'm of the opinion that Liriel would still dance with the devil to get what she needs to.

There are also lots of other nice faces in here, particularly (as usual) the Drow- Triel & Shakti (and the rest of the bat-naughty word crazy Matron gang, isn't Triel's sister called something like- "soup spoon"*, I must be misremembering that), Gromph, Nisstyre (for some reason I like the idea of ginger Drow).

The writing's good, although you can't help but do the comparison to Drizzt's agent (Bob Salvatore), so there's less focus on an individual here, it's not as deep- but as of yet Liriel, while hardly a puddle, is not that deep here either- scheming, conniving, seeking of the way to the next things she needs- check, got that. But she's getting her feet wet and by the end... well, she's making more sense of things. The big difference, which for me marks it down, is this one seems a little anime/cartoon style. The action sequences seem less (fewer) and also less well choreographed, it all seems to happen quickly, and... for the win. Some of the other authors here (Greenwood, at times- included) can turn a great fight/conflict into a glorious (chuckling while you're reading) montage of deadly kick-ass, sometime with heaps enough threat to think that someone may actually suffer. Not here, or much less so- not bad you understand, but not really (it seems to me- imho) what the author is after. Okay, but I'd like more- fingers-crossed for the next one, which I am going to dive into (I can feel it in my water).

This then is good, a little more/better action, and possibly a little more doubt and introspection (apres failure, possibly) and Liriel could be the shazam-Drizzt, and that might make this series great (imho).

The deep dragon is stupid, but y'know- just within parameters.

The start of this one with the chase for the amulet- chicken legs versus Red Wizards versus Drow plus (somehow) Fydor = raspberry noise, and flashing sign saying "Silly Encounter", but it was right at the start, so I soon forgot all about it. Also, it made me chuckle.

Oh and Fydor needs to have more of a word with Liriel (rights and wrongs, you're a spoiled princess) or else he's got to fall out with her- big time, and that way he/she/we can find out what they mean to each other.

Read- very nice, eventually.

*Sos'Umptu, I don't know what I was thinking. We've met her before (and Triel, and many of the others in Menzo) haven't we.

DotD is also one of the better D&D novels IMHO.
 


Blackrat

He Who Lurks Beyond The Veil
Your review is pretty much spot on for what I remember of the book. I wonder if I can find it as an audiobook so I’d have the time to go through the series again...

EDIT: Oh yeah, Audible seems to have it 👍
 
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