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


#120 The Sea Devil's Eye by Mel Odom (Threat Sea 4)
Read 3/4/21 to 5/4/21


Well, it's a day later and I'm still not sure whether it was a cracker or not, don't get me wrong it's another easy read and right in my ballpark because I'm going to be venturing into the deeps with my present campaign but...

Iakhovas turns out to be, well... his villainy gets less and less as the thing goes on- and everyone is against him in the end, and he's shot to pieces, blindsided by our man Jherek, and Pacys (the taleweaver) and then there's all the other good guys that are rooting for the home team. It doesn't help that Laaqueel is also getting the whisper now- it seems the gods are keen to make new worshippers, they're door-stepping folk- one-on-one. That's the hard sell.

So, lots of action- lots of this follows lots of that, but the odd thing here is we're in the climax and it's all a rolling maul only that doesn't work with the timeline. So, there's a fight at sea versus X and Y, and then we skip forward a month or so and then something equally action-orientated happens. But hang on, what did the crew get up to in their month away from the narrative- fix the boat, have a rest- re-stock, learn new spells etc.

But the climax can't cope with that- it's got to have zowie, and pace- so you can't just stop the action for a month for a re-fit et al, so you've got to let the reader know, but... not make a big deal about it.

Because if you think about it, well- that'd be much less of a climax.

How did the end of the book go- 1) Big scrap with pirates and sahuagin- it was absolutely to the wire, I nearly died a dozen times. Followed by 2) Short rest in insertnameofport, I had a massage, we had a trip out to see some of the local sights, the food was delightful- there was this little taverna etc. Then 3) see 1). Then 4) see 2). Not very climactic if everyone gets three tendays off between scraps. But, I'm labouring it.

The final fight is a doozy, although we have to wade through the politics of the deeps and then Pacys has got to montage a load more new info just to make his phat choon right. Odd.

Then, at last, the fight- the spectacle is great but... Iakhovas versus Jeherek, no contest- particularly as our young hero is front and centre (at, bloody, last) and has admitted/accepted the fact that he's here to save the day.

The love interest thing actually works in this one, it's done well enough to make it believable. Although I'm still waiting for the time we go the other way around- with a female lead, and the guy having to stop home to do the dishes, and fret and worry.

Last bit- Jherek, at bloody last, grows a pair- goes on a long mental journey and finally sees that all the baggage he's been carrying around, well- that's a way of looking at things, and if you change the way you look at things, then... you can put all that baggage down- just park it. Tell the truth, to yourself- to your special lady, just... stop being such a bloody moody bugger and shutting everyone else out.

It's all my fault!

I mean, I get it- but it isn't Jherek's fault, and by the end I'm just fed up with folk telling him this, which is a shame- because the finale Jherek is the best thing since sliced bread. Love it.

I think you could have fixed him earlier in the trilogy Mr Odom sir, made the threat as close to home in some other way, rather than turn the hero into what my Nan would describe as a bit of a "nellie".

Read- lots of good stuff yoinked for my campaign.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan

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The Threat series is a tough one for me to evaluate overall.

I agree that the story collection is one of the best such volumes they published, because of its focus. I think WotC must have agreed, because that becomes the template for the few remaining story collections before they stopped issuing them—each of the remaining volumes is more closely tied to its associated series, though perhaps none quite so thoroughly as this one is.

And the first volume of the trilogy I found to be excellent. Then the next two were a real letdown, both quite a slog for me. They came to feel stretched thin, with quite a lot of wheel-spinning. I suppose I wish they'd simply made two novels instead of three. With FR trilogies I often (though certainly not always) find myself liking the first installment much better than the others, and I suspect this is partly down to the relatively inflexible page count requirements: the books are being written to work-for-hire specifications, and I think some of their authors just couldn't come up with enough (interesting) plot to fill the page count in the trilogies.


#121 Baldur's Gate by Philip Athans (Baldur's Gate 1)
Read 9/4/21 to 12/4/21


The first thing to say is I have never played the computer game version of this so I have nothing to go on, nothing to prejudice it as it were.

To begin with I liked the novel, it's well written and seems (at the beginning) to stick to a coherent/cohesive thread, later... it gets a bit jumpy, and in part it seems to whizz places and is therefore for me, a little less likeable. More like a series of short adventures/action sequences, perhaps kept apart by intertitles and/or cut screens. Although this may just be me seeing things that are not really there.

I liked it at the beginning (and throughout, mostly) because folk die, by which I mean the good guys die, although 'good' maybe stretching things because the heroes here all have something (bad) to hide. The half-elf Harper and unfaithful husband of Jaheira (I forget his name), the Zhent halfling, Xan- the rescued prisoner etc. They've all got secrets to keep.

I didn't at all dig the scene when Abdel gets a meeting with Eltan, big chief of Baldur's Gate, it seemed contrived- and odd. A low level hero being let in to the Lord's chamber for a chat, from nothing to advisor/confidante of the big cheese.

Likewise from this point on there seemed to me to be less of the villains, and like in all good novels you want to see what's going on with the dark side. It's also at this point that the players- Abdel & Jaheira also seem to skip about a bit, the mundane travel sequences/investigations are glossed over, and for me- in what is already a slim book, I kept feeling like things were just playing out, rather than the heroes being about their work.

Also, the pair seemed to get too tough too quickly, or at least Abdel is finding his meter, and goes from taking a beating (but winning through) when facing low level mooks, and then... suddenly, his man-o-et-man-o versus the big bad, and more than holding his own.

But again- I like Abdel and Jaheira, their love story is, of course, much less convincing but I like that they're deeply flawed and that we get to see Abdel unravel, a little, of his own story- and try to work out along the way who he is and what that means.

It's not an emotional roller-coaster, it just plays out.

The rest of it, well- sexuality is clearly a thing now- overt here, but not laboured; likewise the world presented is a lot less sweet and innocent than the Faerun presented in other novels. Baldur's Gate, and Candlekeep, are both shown as being corrupt(-ish) and grim (& perilous) worlds. I like that too.

It's also well written, and there are even a few off-hand swears, which again is to be admired, and part and parcel of that self same nasty(-ish) milieu.

Nice set up for the next novel.



The EN World kitten
Back to books that I've also read now, though as always the memories are fuzzy with patches that shine through. In this case, I mostly remember recalling how this was the "official" version of what happened in the Baldur's Gate series. Even before we got Murder in Baldur's Gate telling us that Abdel Adrian was a canon character (even if The Grand History of the Realms confirmed that first), it was widely understood - or at least I thought so - that the novelization was what "really" happened in terms of Realmslore.

One of the characters who stuck out more was Sarevok's moll, though I can't recall her name. Then again, that may be because of the scene where she has to fight a doppelganger, and its ability to fight her grows in direct proportion to how many of her memories it can read, essentially copying her ninja training. To be fair, a lot of people forget that doppelgangers can read minds in D&D (fun fact: in AD&D they could only do so with 90% accuracy, guaranteeing that there'd be minor slips here and there that would eventually give them away). At the same time, I distinctly remember shaking my head, since fighting ability doesn't work like that (at least, not under the game rules).

Beyond that there isn't a lot here that I recall. I enjoyed the third book in this particular trilogy more than the first two, which may have something to do with the fact that it was written by a different author. The first novel wasn't bad (I liked it a lot more than the second one) but was something that I otherwise didn't take much of a shine to. I've never once felt the need to go back and pull this off the shelf in order to re-read my favorite parts.

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My memory of it is clouded, probably because my brain tries to protect me.

I recall that IMHO it's one of the worst FR novels there is.

The second one is a little less bad (which is not really an avcomplishment) and the final one is the worst FR novel ever. No competition (not even the first book)

Just my 2 Cents how I experienced reading them

Dire Bare

I remember all of them being pretty bad, although I'll fully admit I was a huge fan of the games and so that may have colored my views to some degree.
All of the Baldur's Gate novelizations (there were two)? Or all of the D&D novels all together?

I'm sorry your experience was bad, but if you've been following the thread, many of us have enjoyed more than a few of the D&D novels over the years, and think that there are some gems, even if there are also some turds. Most of the D&D books fall in the middle, fun to read, but not terribly memorable.

Dire Bare

The 3 Baldur's Gate novelizations specifically, not D&D novels entirely. Sorry about not being clear.
You're right, there were three, not just two. Baldur's Gate, Shadows of Amn, and Throne of Bhaal.

I had a hard time with these three novels, as I read them after I had played the games. Abdel Adrian didn't make the same choices that I did . . . . so the incongruency made the novels difficult for me to enjoy.

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