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

Zardnaar

Legend
This book was pretty well where Drizzt's ride ended for me. I say "pretty well" because I did read a few more books in the series ("what wacky adventures will Entreri and Jarlaxle have now?"), but while I did make myself read Drizzt's next outing in The Thousand Orcs, this book was what convinced me he had no real growth left as a character.

To be fair, that's not exactly unexpected. By this point he'd had over a dozen novels where he'd grappled with his personal demons, sometimes taking a beating while doing so but never being truly defeated by them. Overcoming the pathos of a painful past, and relentless prejudice, makes it hard to keep creating internal conflict for the character (even if external conflict comes easy; this is D&D, after all). While I know later books try to dredge up such problems in the form of more personal issues (i.e. family), this book's attempt to renew Drizzt's self-doubt by having a specter of his past come back to haunt him just seemed...not so much hollow, but rather artificial, to me.

The need for the author to keep poking Drizzt in the soul was simply too transparent here, in other words. It's like seeing Batman continually brood over the death of his parents. At some point you just want to scream "get over it, already!" But that's simply not possible; suffering - or in Drizzt's case, stoicism in the face of hardship - has become an integral part of the character. They'd stop being who we know if they were ever to actually move on.

Same I think I read a few more like the Thousand Orcs and one where Pwent becomes a vampire.

Peak was somewhere around Silent Blade or just after imho.

Just milking it at that point.
 

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I wish I had extra copies of any of these lying around to send your way, Goonalan!

I just remember reading the Sellswords omnibus a year or so ago and being a little confused moving from Servant of the Shard to Promise of the Witch-king, wondering if I'd missed something, and later realizing that yes I had missed something, and it was that story from Realms of the Dragons. I don't know why they didn't reprint the story in the omnibus, as they did with the fill-in stories in the Erevis Cale trilogy omnibus, for example. But then, I don't think they reprinted Mel Odom's big story from Realms of the Deep that links books 2 and 3 of the Threat from the Sea trilogy in that series's omnibus volume either, so I guess the Cale book is the exception.

Incidentally, I'm about four years into a similar project, albeit not as thorough as yours (I've skipped a number of books)—and yet in a way, more thorough and even more massively time-consuming, since I'm also reading most of the FR game supplements in chronological order concurrently. I've been following your reviews with great interest and am still a bit ahead of you (I've read about ninety FR novels and just finished Return of the Archwizards, but I read ahead in the Drizzt series a bit, which is why I've read the Sellswords books). But you're catching up fast, and I'll be sad when you pass me up and I have to stop reading your posts in real time!
 

Richards

Legend
Goonalan,

I can help you with #220 through #222. I have a hardcover book called Stone of Tymora, which is a three-in-one volume reprint of The Stowaway, The Stonemask, and The Sentinels, that I bought at a library book sale for the whopping price of $1.00. (It still has its library info on the spine, where it's been categorized as "Science Fiction." Silly librarians!) I'd be more than happy to mail it your way, if you'd like to send me your mailing address. My email address is buntleby (at) hotmail (dot) com.

I'll warn you ahead of time I was pretty unimpressed with the book, but I know that won't be an impediment of you plowing your way through it in any case, given your impressive goal of reading through the entirety of the Forgotten Realms novels and short story collections. And the enjoyment I've been getting reading through your efforts is more than enough to cover the postage.

Johnathan
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
#114 The Glass Prison by Monte Cook
Read 5/2/21 to 6/2/21


IMG_2767.JPG


Don't get fooled, I read this in just two days for a variety of reasons, it wasn't because it was a page-turning thrill ride, or anything similar- it was frustrating, in part- good in others, but mostly just very easy to read (and to predict). Although I had Vheod dying in the end, y'know the ultimate sacrifice, the author however fancied (perhaps) a bit of the bad-boy turned good and subsequent multiple book deal. Although, what do I know about it.

So Vheod the Cambion is okay, a bit of an enigma but that's no bad thing, and in turmoil within- although... I don't know, it's just not that convincing. The problem is Melann (priestess of Chauntea) and Ying to Vheod's Yang, is even less convincing with her emotional journey/rollercoaster. I get that at the beginning she doubts that she is worthy, I'll buy that but what follows is just too easy- and even when the plot is unfolding and the reader is thinking- this is all just pointing to this (obviously), then Malann still can't see it. There's too much fretting, too much turmoil, it all just seems like an unconvincing (very swift) version of events. If the love story, such as it is, was more protracted- and hard won, then... maybe, just maybe this would have been a better book.

Whitlock never really gets beyond 2D for the entirety of the book, he parrots a few stock phrases- "Demons are bad!" that kind of thing. I get that he's good at his job but wouldn't it have been better if the story (the love story) was a little more against all odds.

The rest of the plot- go wake up the (grand-daddy) Balor is okay, but again- it's much too simple (and yet made slightly more complicated by the Ravenwitch diversion). Sorry, not the Ravenwitch I mean deus ex machina, or at least one of them.

I left the novel alone at the end thinking not that I wanted to see more of Vheod particularly, he seemed to be equipped right from the get-go for all (combat) encounters. His CR seemed way too high to be the hero of the fights that he was in. If you get me. I had no love for either Malann, or clod-Whitlock; the only interesting character (to me) was the Ravenwitch.

It also didn't help that in the last fight, the climax then we (the reader ) know that Vheod is kinda immune to anything (pretty much) that the Balor dishes out. It's a bit ho-hum.

Also, the book is only 290 or so pages, they usually make it to 312+, and there was a lot of short-hand, just chunks in which character/lover A delves into their psyche to tell us exactly what they are feeling- rather than, y'know- showing it. It reminded me, a bit, of the Moonshae trilogy, right at the start of this journey, in which the lovers spent ages in their heads dissecting (more likely just moping) and bemoaning their lot. It just made me want to kick one (or both) of them- or else just give the pair a scene, a good scene in which they're together, to make it clear where they are at (almost) emotionally- touching, poignant, that kind of thing.

But no- just this, and then this, and then this.

As I say, easy to read though- nothing to think about much.

Read.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan.
 
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Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
#115 Promise of the Witch King by RA Salvatore (Sellswords 2)
Read 14/2/21 to 17/2/21


IMG_2755.JPG


And I read Wickless in the Nether from Realms of the Dragons before starting this one, as instructed.

Well... I liked it, for a variety of reasons- but let me just add I'm not turning cartwheels or anything. I think the thing I liked the most was at the end the ones that were left standing were... mostly the guys that had come through the ranks, that had started at the bottom and got to their present position not because of their name, or the family they were born to. Don't get me wrong, it's not a socialist utopia, it is more of a meritocracy however, or at least a little- and plenty in comparison to the output of other authors here.

I think Salvatore just does this kind of schtick really well, your anti-heroes are suitably convoluted- capable (probably) of terrible things alongside (more often then they care to admit) acts of true kindness. Salvatore is not the best writer in this gang, but he has a turn of phrase, and clearly an ability to craft standout anti-heroes. It doesn't seem to matter which side of the law/ethical what-not/alignment they walk- they're all fairly 3D, and charismatic (in one way or another) and therefore more likely to tell you what they're thinking, and to justify it later, and often sound all the more convincing for doing so.

Suitably introverted, suitably enigmatic, suitably outside of the ordinary. Interesting, the kind of characters that players would like to be in their games. I have some experience with this- one of my present players is a dual scimitar wielding Wood Elf Rogue/Fighter with a Duergar Skeleton consort/girlfriend called Gwen.

That's legacy.

Even the two-bit punks, Bwahaha are easy to like here, I'd read another novel with the mad dwarf Athrogate in it- he can even play lead if you like. Also a town full of half-orcs, and those that are displayed for our delight are clearly unencumbered by the racial heritage, they're good folk- at least from what we see and hear.

I obviously also like the fact that lots of folk got to die here, and plenty of them had hubris on their side, and titles, and power, and hardly ever a thought of losing.

The first half of the novel- the journey to the Bloodstone Lands and the repro Castle Perilous was... okay, perhaps a little underwhelming, but obviously that was Salvatore just setting things up. I enjoyed the fact that the author had invested in a few of the characters for/with us, and then took delight in either killing them early on, or else just cutting them lose.

You try to guess, as a reader, who is wearing the red shirt- I like it that Salvatore started cutting before we even got to the castle, and that the Rover died, and Ellery, and... odd isn't it, but you root for some of these folk to get their comeuppance. Satisfying when it plays out- he's a crowd-pleaser that Mr. Salvatore.

Vaasa is not a place I/we have been before in the novels (from memory) but there wasn't an awful lot of it to see. I think the place, save for the brief glimpse at the half-orc enclave- Palischuk, was a bit underwhelming, I didn't really get a sense of it.

That said from the point the party of squabbling adventurers got to the repro Castle Perilous then we were back to the action adventure and smart arse lines from Jarlaxle (and Entreri). They truly are the married couple/full on bromance now. Don't get me wrong Entreri would still deny it, but... it just seems like Jarlaxle is trying to teach the assassin the meaning of love/trust. Kinda.

There's an action movie in almost every one of these (Salvatore novels) even/especially the ones headlined by the would-be villains here. They all have heart, but again- and louder, this one lacked place, for me.

Also the Arrayan/Tigerwillies grated a little bit, and the return of Calihye at the end a little too predictable, but that's okay- this isn't the kind of novel that goes places you hadn't already thought of. Again, that's not really Salvatore's schtick, he's just figured out that if you can invent plausible (within the mythos) (anti-)heroes, and give them a little chatter or cod-philosophy, and thus add depth, well.. you can get away with murder.

Again, and again- no doubt.

Read, easy to do so- mostly enjoyable, it's Robert Downey Jr (in bald cap with sombrero) and Jude Law (with a sneer) in Sherlock. Them two are really one, that kind of thing.

Take it easy and stay safe.

Cheers goonalan.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I really enjoyed this one; getting an entire novel of Entreri and Jarlaxle doing their thing was a lot of fun! But it was in later books where...I want to say, "they hit their stride," but that's not right. Rather, there were several things here that I felt were underutilized.

For one thing, the whole bit with the reforming Castle Perilous just seemed lacking in scope. I know that's not fair, but I still think that H4 Throne of Bloodstone was one of the most epic D&D modules ever. Anything connected to it should have evoked that same sense of powerful forces from across the planes being involved. What we got wasn't bad, but it wasn't the same as "you've slain Orcus's disciple, now it's time for Orcus himself, with a battle against Tiamat afterward."

Doubly lacking was the drow presence here. Demihuman Deities very quietly dropped some information about how drow priestesses of Kiaransalee (the drow goddess of undeath and vengeance, who killed Orcus...before he came back, I mean) were active in, around, and under Vaasa, since at this time Orcus had just begun to return and Kiaransalee was going full-on crazy with sweeping his old haunts for any sign of him. The book even says that her priestesses were the reason why nearby Damara wasn't having a problem with any of Zhengyi's old undead minions. I know that wasn't in FR9 The Bloodstone Lands, which Salvatore wrote, but the drow connection was one he could have worked with...that he didn't was a shame.

Please note my use of affiliate links in this post.
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Hi there, a bunch of questions for the experts-

1) Is this the correct order to read this series-

#117 Rising Tide by Mel Odom (Threat Sea 1)
#118 Under Fallen Stars by Mel Odom (Threat Sea 2)
#119 Realms of the Deep Anthology Ed. Philip Athans (Threat Sea 3)
#120 The Sea Devil's Eye by Mel Odom (Threat Sea 4)

2) Same question-

#139 The Summoning by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 1)
#140 The Siege by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 2)
#141 The Sorcerer by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 3)
#142 Realms of Shadow Anthology Ed. Lizz Baldwin (Return Archwizards 4)

3) And again, same question-

#162 The Rage by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 1)
#163 Realms of the Dragons Ed. Philip Athans (Rogue Dragons 2)
#164 The Rite by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 3)
#165 Realms of the Dragons II Ed. Philip Athans (Rogue Dragons 4)
#166 The Ruin by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 5)

4) And again-

#171 Forsaken House by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 1)
#172 Farthest Reach by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 2)
#173 Realms of the Elves Ed Philip Athans (Last Mythal 3)
#174 Final Gate by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 4)

5) And finally, do I really need to be reading this one, it's a picture book with a few stories in isn't it-

#185 Dragons: Worlds Afire Anthology by Various

Thoughts you lovely people.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan
 

Zardnaar

Legend
#115 Promise of the Witch King by RA Salvatore (Sellswords 2)
Read 14/2/21 to 17/2/21


View attachment 132933

And I read Wickless in the Nether from Realms of the Dragons before starting this one, as instructed.

Well... I liked it, for a variety of reasons- but let me just add I'm not turning cartwheels or anything. I think the thing I liked the most was at the end the ones that were left standing were... mostly the guys that had come through the ranks, that had started at the bottom and got to their present position not because of their name, or the family they were born to. Don't get me wrong, it's not a socialist utopia, it is more of a meritocracy however, or at least a little- and plenty in comparison to the output of other authors here.

I think Salvatore just does this kind of schtick really well, your anti-heroes are suitably convoluted- capable (probably) of terrible things alongside (more often then they care to admit) acts of true kindness. Salvatore is not the best writer in this gang, but he has a turn of phrase, and clearly an ability to craft standout anti-heroes. It doesn't seem to matter which side of the law/ethical what-not/alignment they walk- they're all fairly 3D, and charismatic (in one way or another) and therefore more likely to tell you what they're thinking, and to justify it later, and often sound all the more convincing for doing so.

Suitably introverted, suitably enigmatic, suitably outside of the ordinary. Interesting, the kind of characters that players would like to be in their games. I have some experience with this- one of my present players is a dual scimitar wielding Wood Elf Rogue/Fighter with a Duergar Skeleton consort/girlfriend called Gwen.

That's legacy.

Even the two-bit punks, Bwahaha are easy to like here, I'd read another novel with the mad dwarf Athrogate in it- he can even play lead if you like. Also a town full of half-orcs, and those that are displayed for our delight are clearly unencumbered by the racial heritage, they're good folk- at least from what we see and hear.

I obviously also like the fact that lots of folk got to die here, and plenty of them had hubris on their side, and titles, and power, and hardly ever a thought of losing.

The first half of the novel- the journey to the Bloodstone Lands and the repro Castle Perilous was... okay, perhaps a little underwhelming, but obviously that was Salvatore just setting things up. I enjoyed the fact that the author had invested in a few of the characters for/with us, and then took delight in either killing them early on, or else just cutting them lose.

You try to guess, as a reader, who is wearing the red shirt- I like it that Salvatore started cutting before we even got to the castle, and that the Rover died, and Ellery, and... odd isn't it, but you root for some of these folk to get their comeuppance. Satisfying when it plays out- he's a crowd-pleaser that Mr. Salvatore.

Vaasa is not a place I/we have been before in the novels (from memory) but there wasn't an awful lot of it to see. I think the place, save for the brief glimpse at the half-orc enclave- Palischuk, was a bit underwhelming, I didn't really get a sense of it.

That said from the point the party of squabbling adventurers got to the repro Castle Perilous then we were back to the action adventure and smart arse lines from Jarlaxle (and Entreri). They truly are the married couple/full on bromance now. Don't get me wrong Entreri would still deny it, but... it just seems like Jarlaxle is trying to teach the assassin the meaning of love/trust. Kinda.

There's an action movie in almost every one of these (Salvatore novels) even/especially the ones headlined by the would-be villains here. They all have heart, but again- and louder, this one lacked place, for me.

Also the Arrayan/Tigerwillies grated a little bit, and the return of Calihye at the end a little too predictable, but that's okay- this isn't the kind of novel that goes places you hadn't already thought of. Again, that's not really Salvatore's schtick, he's just figured out that if you can invent plausible (within the mythos) (anti-)heroes, and give them a little chatter or cod-philosophy, and thus add depth, well.. you can get away with murder.

Again, and again- no doubt.

Read, easy to do so- mostly enjoyable, it's Robert Downey Jr (in bald cap with sombrero) and Jude Law (with a sneer) in Sherlock. Them two are really one, that kind of thing.

Take it easy and stay safe.

Cheers goonalan.

This one was alright that trilogy is getting near the end of the gas tank for his books.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Hi there, a bunch of questions for the experts-

1) Is this the correct order to read this series-

[...]

#139 The Summoning by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 1)
#140 The Siege by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 2)
#141 The Sorcerer by Troy Denning (Return Archwizards 3)
#142 Realms of Shadow Anthology Ed. Lizz Baldwin (Return Archwizards 4)
This is the only one of the trilogies you've outlined which I've read in its entirety, but that is the proper order in which to read them. The anthology (as with so many of those anthologies) has no direct connection to the main trilogy, but it's slightly easier to understand if you read it afterward, if only because the main idea explored in the various short stories (i.e. shadow magic) gets spotlighted in the trilogy.
 

Goonalan, my advice differs slightly from that given by Alzrius. I would say that you've got the recommended reading orders correct for everything except the Return of the Archwizards series.

Best to read that one in this order: The SummoningThe SiegeRealms of ShadowThe Sorcerer.

You certainly wouldn't want to read Realms of Shadow before The Siege. But all of the stories in that volume take place before The Sorcerer, and a couple of them help to explain various situations in that novel. They also help flesh out the concept of shadow magic, which I think would make your read of The Sorcerer more enjoyable, and by the time you've read the first two volumes it'll be a good time for the background provided by the distant-past tales near the beginning of RoS.

The two really important ones are The Threat from the Sea and The Year of Rogue Dragons. In both of those cases it's important to read them in the precise orders you've listed, because in each case the short story anthologies contain a story by the author of the main series that takes place between the main-series novel installments and bridges the gaps between the novels. (This only applies to the first Realms of the Dragons book, but best to read RotD2 in the given order anyway.) The Last Mythal is closer to Return of the Archwizards in this regard: better to read Realms of the Elves before the final volume, but not totally crucial to do so. It's crucial for Threat and Year.

Note that my recommended reading order also simply is the order of publication for these books. The orders you've already listed for the series conform to the original publication order, except Return of the Archwizards, where the original publication order is the one I've recommended.
 

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