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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
Hello, and then goodbye for a bit.

For Christmas Santa, and the Mrs, bought me lots of books, including five hefty WotC or Goodman Games hardbacks- Icewind Dale, Witchlight, the new Ravenloft one, B4 The Lost City- the new 5e conversion & the similar T1-4 Elemental Evil.

The Mrs also bought me 24 novels, 20 by the same author Val McDermid, so...

I said that I was going to take ten years to do this (get all of the Realms novels read), I'm not- I'm aiming to get them all done in seven years, quicker if I can.

I've read 149 novels in just short of two-and-a-half years so far, if my maths is correct. I've got approx. 160 novels left to do (including the Spelljammer ones).

So, I'm a little ahead of the pace, and I need a break, therefore I think I'm due a little time off for good behaviour.

So, I'll be back when I have read the five hardbacks cover-to-cover (finished Icewind Dale already), and there's four of the 24 novels that I really want to read.

So, a month off- maybe three, or else somewhere in-between.

Until then, have a cracking New Year, take care of yourself and everyone else.

Back in a bit you lovely people.

Cheers goonalan.
 

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Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
#150 The Thousand Orcs by RA Salvatore (Hunter's Blade 1)
Read 26/3/22 to 27/3/22


IMG_3211.JPG


Well, I picked the right one to head back into it, it's a very easy (and pleasant) read and it just flies by. Also, after spending the last three months reading 'proper' books (kidding) then there's a real appreciation for this kind of fiction. I've been used to 400+ page novels that have got at most about four star characters that want to get a spin at telling the reader their story, and so this one.

Well, if I tried to list the grade A material characters in this 350 page novel, well, it'd be quicker for you just to read it. Which, of course, just makes me want more- Drizzt barely gets a look in here, there are the usual (by now)three page brooding Ranger vignettes, how our drow hero sees the world, and wants to live in the now- very zen. They're back, cataloguing Drizzt's trail to goodness, and the will they wont they thing with Catti. But the rest... that's all dwarves, and Obould, and a scheming Frost Giant queen, and some drow, and... but you get it. Even the Bouldershoulders turn up to do their thing, and Pikel has gone up a gear, he's the clever one now.

Then there's Pwent and his mob, and Wolfie has learned to live with himself (thanks to Colson and Delly), and Bruenor doesn't really want to sit on the throne- one last throw of the dice (what happened to the search for Gauntylgrym, is that coming later, is it an advert for a future Salvatore novel?), and Regis gets to play the hero. But the point I keep making is this- there are lots of red hot favourite characters, and for once (I'm looking at you Wolfie) they're all playing nicely. It's all... just, great.

Great action, great characters, a great enemy, and... that's it.

Obould needs a lot more page-time, sure. As do the drow- the enemies, even though there are lots and lots of them, well... they're pesky rather than terrifying. Salvatore tries- there's some bloody scenes (the massacre of the patrol) but... they're just Orcs. The Frost Giants sound terrifying, I think if they had just stomped into the Shallows then it'd be game over pretty darn quickly. That's poor DMing right there.

Then there's elves on pegasi from the Moonwood, and in-depth look at the politics of Mirabar (it's a mess) and... a new hero emerges. A Bruenor for our modern times- Torgar, a dwarf with a credo/conscience, and the ability to follow up thought with action.

It's ram-jam full of this stuff, and the action is great.

And I keep on wanting to write and yet...

So.

And yet, because there's so much stuff here; and this is the first book of three and so the job of the author is to set up lots of stuff, well... it's very light, easy (and exciting), but... the Shallows is about right. Salvatore rarely has the time to have a character lift his head up to take a look around. That's no bad thing, it's never dull- all action, all emotion, all... great.

Not as good as a lot of the other Salvatore novels however, hopefully (fingers-crossed) it gets deeper, and darker, and nastier, and maybe we could concentrate the action a bit more on the fab five- Drizzt, Catti, Wolfie, Regis & Bruenor. Just a thought.

It's good to be back.

Stay safe and well you lovely people as it continues to be a strange and oft cruel world.

Cheers goonalan
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
So, just to say, I'm back.

The story is either three months of just reading Forgotten Realms novels (and nothing else), or else I get the following read-

#151 The Lone Drow by RA Salvatore (Hunter's Blade 2)
#152 The Two Swords by RA Salvatore (Hunter's Blade 3)
#153 Twilight Falling by Paul S Kemp (Erevis Cale 1)
#154 Dawn of Night by Paul S Kemp (Erevis Cale 2)
#155 Midnight's Mask by Paul S Kemp (Erevis Cale 3)
#156 The Alabaster Staff by Edward Bolme (Rogues 1)
#157 The Black Bouquet by Richard Lee Byers (Rogues 2)
#158 The Crimson Gold by Voronica Whitney-Robinson (Rogues 3)
#159 The Yellow Silk by Don Bassingthwaite (Rogues 4)
#160 Venom's Taste by Lisa Smedman (Serpents 1)
#161 Viper's Kiss by Lisa Smedman (Serpents 2)
#162 Vanity's Brood by Lisa Smedman (Serpents 3)
#163 The Rage by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 1)
#164 Realms of the Dragons Ed. Philip Athans (Rogue Dragons 2)
#165 The Rite by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 3)
#166 Realms of the Dragons II Ed. Philip Athans (Rogue Dragons 4)
#167 The Ruin by Richard Lee Byers (Rogue Dragons 5)
#168 Lady of Poison by Bruce R Cordell (Priests 1)
#169 Mistress of the Night by Dave Gross & Don Bassingthwaite (Priests 2)
#170 Maiden of Pain by Kameron M Franklin (Priests 3)
#171 Queen of the Depths by Richard Lee Byers (Priests 4)
#172 Forsaken House by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 1)
#173 Farthest Reach by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 2)
#174 Realms of the Elves Ed Philip Athans (Last Mythal 3)
#175 Final Gate by Richard Baker (Last Mythal 4)

Whichever takes the longest- three months, or twenty five novels; then- I'll take a month off to catch up on my real world reading, and then get back to this again.

That's about all from me.

Stay safe.

Love you lots.

Goonalan.
 



Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
#151 The Lone Drow by RA Salvatore (Hunter's Blade 2)
Read 28/3/22 to 29/3/22


IMG_3213.JPG


It's a ripsnorter, a barnstormer, it's... well, it's a lot like a bunch of the other very good RA Salvatore Drizzt-shaped novels. It's written for Peter Jackson to direct, and wouldn't that be something?

I got what I asked for, at the end of the last one- I whole big bunch more Drizzt and his tangled musings, same for the fab five- more of them, particularly Regis who takes command, and what a Steward he proves to be. The Catti & Wolfie dynamic is likewise well worked out, just enough to convince the reader that they're nothing but the best of friends while at the same time making it clear that if it went beyond friendship again, well... don't be surprised. The return of Bruenor (SPOILERS) for the finale, and the Ur-Dwarf's climactic battle- and then interview with the priests- "I'm not going back!" Just fantastic.

And the bad guys- at last Obould comes alive, as do the pesky (previous) Drow who start to make sense, and take an interest in the goings on here (and Drizzt) it's gone beyond a game. The ceremony in which Obould gets the godhead (maybe) is likewise glorious, and the action- by the end a paragraph (let's call it what it is- a scene) is just 3-5 lines long. Jump cut follows jump cut as we flash moment to cause and effect climaxes. It's made for the movies, and as always Salvatore takes us on the journey.

So, that was a lot of praise, now a couple of caveats.

When you are going to mess with your audience then do it early, very early, and then hope by the end of the book/film/play/whatever that your audience has forgotten (or else forgiven) you for messing with them.

And so, this entire novel runs on the warped logic that Drizzt has just seen Bruenor die (it was Dagnabbit wearing Bruenor's famous one-horned helm) and so therefore must surely conclude that all of his friends are dead.

What now?

No, don't check it out Drizzt, just presume...

Stoopid.

But, by the end, well... I'd mostly forgiven the scimitar wielding Hunter (capital H).

Next caveat- it's still spread a bit thin, there are just lots and lots of things going on, and lots of heroes (and a fair amount of enemies) and everyone is going to get a go- Nanfoodle and Shoudra for instance, and the Bouldershoulders, and... well, see the last one. There's a lot more of the fab five, but still- not enough for my liking. I would genuinely applaud Salvatore if he just went tonto and handed in a 450 page book with an extra 100 pages of, well... more Drizzt (and the major players). That's not much of a criticism, I'll admit.

Next- the Hunter-thing, I don't see it, or rather I do- but just a bit. Drizzt, having lost everything and everyone (he hasn't, and hasn't got around to checking yet) goes a little dark-side, he lets the anger and hatred in (hang on, this sounds like...). He becomes the... [DRUM ROLL] HUNTER!

Well, for about a week or so (probs much less than that) although perhaps this is a new facet to the ranger's meter, maybe now he can dial up and down the fury. But, the Hunter thing, I mean- I get it, it'll do. But it's hardly the deep dark despair that Wolfie endured (and milked, a bit), it's more of a summer cold, and very handily the cure is already to head. Clue, she's got a lovely Pegasus.

So, the Hunter bit seemed more than a little contrived.

It's a great book, and a great 2/3rds of the trilogy so far, can't wait for the next; but it's still not as good as some of the others that have come before.

Loved the biggest Fireball, Elminster at the Mage Fayre, shout out.

Here's an oddity, what's with the cover of the novel (see above)- a snow strewn landscape, mid-blizzard, I didn't get that. I mean, I get that it's the north, but I'm from the north (of England) and I didn't get from the text that the terrain/environment looked like the front cover.

Stay frosty you lovely people, and feel free to drop in to say 'hi' here. It's a funny old world and I need all the hi's I can get (as do we all).

Cheers goonalan.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Well, I picked the right one to head back into it, it's a very easy (and pleasant) read and it just flies by. Also, after spending the last three months reading 'proper' books (kidding) then there's a real appreciation for this kind of fiction. I've been used to 400+ page novels that have got at most about four star characters that want to get a spin at telling the reader their story, and so this one.
I missed this when it came up earlier; threads always seem to scroll off the front page so fast unless they're being repeatedly commented on, darn it.

Personally, I can say that this was the one that did it. This was the Drizzt book that broke me...or at least, I think it was The Thousand Orcs; judging by the synopsis of The Lone Drow, it might have been that one. Either way, I've mentioned it several times leading up to this that somewhere in this trilogy was where I threw my hands up and said I couldn't take it anymore. I have yet to read any subsequent Drizzt books, and even years later it's not a decision I've ever felt the urge to go back on.

Part of it was the idea that we were retreading the same ground all over again. I mean, I was glad that this novel (as I remember it) put Drizzt's pathos into the backseat, because it was beginning to feel like he was simply stuck in a rut where his being endlessly disheartened at how his being a good-aligned drow isolated him was exasperating more than engaging, but somehow the redirected focus on combat just didn't do it for me either. It wasn't so much the plot-necessitated immortality, but that the book has to oh-so-carefully balance how Drizzt is unbeatable in a fight with creating a believable level of tension (which it does by alluding to "yes, he can't be defeated in individual combat, but no one person can fight off an army head-on").

Obviously, the book wasn't that straightforward about his combat skills being unparalleled, but by this point it's pretty well understood.

Likewise, Salvatore's reluctance to kill off his characters is on full display here also. That's understandable, since conventional wisdom is that killing off supporting characters to whom the readers presumably feel connected is something that should only be done in service to the larger plot (plus that whole "living in a world with resurrection magic" bit), but at this point I feel like it would have served the plot to do so. At least, in a way other than a soap-opera style "they actually survived, and now they're back!"

I mean, Regis bringing Bruenor back from his edge-of-death coma by pulling his eyelids open and waving the ruby pendant in front of him while saying "come back"? There's a difference between unconventional uses of gear and simply making stuff up, and that falls squarely into the latter for me. For that matter, so does the idea of two fighters having a nighttime duel, one of whom has a sword wreathed in magical flames, and who then gains an advantage by snuffing those flames and then strikes when his opponent's eyes take time to adjust. That's at least somewhat more plausible, but this is a D&D novel, damn it; what are the game stats for that supposed to be?

To that end, I simply couldn't get excited about the new villains. I liked the idea of Obould being an orc who was transcending his limitations (e.g. suddenly becoming both smarter and wiser, abandoning his hurt pride and old grudges to build a kingdom that would actually last), and Gerti seemed compelling in her up-and-coming role as a new leader among the frost giants, but their defeat seemed like it was already foretold. Drizzt has setbacks; he doesn't lose, and that means that his villains either end up being slain or becoming supporting cast members with their own drawn-out redemption arcs.

Been there, done that.

I know I'm being uncharitable here, but at this point the formula was simply played out, and I couldn't get invested in retreading old ground again. There's value in going back over what's been established, but only in the pursuit of establishing something new; this seemed like it has simply become more Drizzt for the sake of more Drizzt.
 
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I missed this when it came up earlier; threads always seem to scroll of the front page so fast unless they're being repeatedly commented on, darn it.

Personally, I can say that this was the one that did it. This was the Drizzt book that broke me...or at least, I think it was The Thousand Orcs; judging by the synopsis of The Lone Drow, it might have been that one. Either way, I've mentioned it several times leading up to this that somewhere in this trilogy was where I threw my hands up and said I couldn't take it anymore. I have yet to read any subsequent Drizzt books, and even years later it's not a decision I've ever felt the urge to go back on.

Part of it was the idea that we were retreading the same ground all over again. I mean, I was glad that this novel (as I remember it) put Drizzt's pathos into the backseat, because it was beginning to feel like he was simply stuck in a rut where his being endlessly disheartened at how his being a good-aligned drow isolated him was exasperating more than engaging, but somehow the redirected focus on combat just didn't do it for me either. It wasn't so much the plot-necessitated immortality, but that the book has to oh-so-carefully balance how Drizzt is unbeatable in a fight with creating a believable level of tension (which it does by alluding to "yes, he can't be defeated in individual combat, but no one person can fight off an army head-on").

Obviously, the book wasn't that straightforward about his combat skills being unparalleled, but by this point it's pretty well understood.

Likewise, Salvatore's reluctance to kill off his characters is on full display here also. That's understandable, since conventional wisdom is that killing off supporting characters to whom the readers presumably feel connected is something that should only be done in service to the larger plot (plus that whole "living in a world with resurrection magic" bit), but at this point I feel like it would have served the plot to do so. At least, in a way other than a soap-opera style "they actually survived, and now they're back!"

I mean, Regis bringing Bruenor back from his edge-of-death coma by pulling his eyelids open and waving the ruby pendant in front of him while saying "come back"? There's a difference between unconventional uses of gear and simply making stuff up, and that falls squarely into the latter for me. For that matter, so does the idea of two fighters having a nighttime duel, one of whom has a sword wreathed in magical flames, and who then gains an advantage by snuffing those flames and then strikes when his opponent's eyes take time to adjust. That's at least somewhat more plausible, but this is a D&D novel, damn it; what are the game stats for that supposed to be?

To that end, I simply couldn't get excited about the new villains. I liked the idea of Obould being an orc who was transcending his limitations (e.g. suddenly becoming both smarter and wiser, abandoning his hurt pride and old grudges to build a kingdom that would actually last), and Gerti seemed compelling in her up-and-coming role as a new leader among the frost giants, but their defeat seemed like it was already foretold. Drizzt has setbacks; he doesn't lose, and that means that his villains either end up being slain or becoming supporting cast members with their own drawn-out redemption arcs.

Been there, done that.

I know I'm being uncharitable here, but at this point the formula was simply played out, and I couldn't get invested in retreading old ground again. There's value in going back over what's been established, but only in the pursuit of establishing something new; this seemed like it has simply become more Drizzt for the sake of more Drizzt.
This is kind of hilarious given the next book

Obould kicks Drizzt's ass twice the next book, and utterly wins setting up his Kingdom.
 

delericho

Legend
Personally, I can say that this was the one that did it. This was the Drizzt book that broke me...or at least, I think it was The Thousand Orcs; judging by the synopsis of The Lone Drow, it might have been that one.
My experience was similar - this wasn't the end for me (I got as far as "Ghost King"), but it was very much the beginning of the end, and for much the same reasons as you mentioned.
 

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