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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
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Just to remind you that back in March, in this thread, I said-

"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."

So, the 25 FR novels are done (but they took me 5 months), and so now I'm off the leash- I said back then I would take a month off, well- I'm welching on that bet, I've decided I'm going to read 25 other (non-FR) novels or books, and only then will I be coming back to read some more FR.

It'll take me longer than a month of course, although I only finished #175 (above) on the 8th, and I'm just getting towards the end of my third novel read since then, so I'm flying- and what a blast it is to not be reading FR fantasy fiction.

But, like the big feller wearing sunglasses on the bike said- I'll be back.

Stay safe and well you lovely people, and oppose tyranny where and when you can.

Cheers goonalan
 

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Goonalan

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#176 The Sapphire Crescent by Thomas M Reid (Scions of Arrabar 1)
Read 15/1/22 to 20/1/22


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First one back after a lay off- and I wanted to like it.

Wanted to.

Although for the first 100 or so pages I was as keen as mustard to get on and into it, then, well... it's hardly pacey, and it seems to delight in telling the reader things, y'know- rather than just showing them.

But, from the beginning-

Vambran, when he was a kid accidently shot and killed another fellow- the other fellow being a relative of one of the important merchant houses that run Arrabar. Note, Vambran's a member of house Matrell, they too are a merchant family of good standing in Arrabar. Anyway, Aunt Xaphira decides (heroically) to take the wrap for Vambran, she gives up her life to go on the run- getting shot in the process of escaping Arrabar. Meantime Uncle Dregaul takes every moment he can to berate Vambran- we're ruined, and you are to blame, etc.

Skip forward in time and Dregaul is the big cheese in the Matrell merchant household, and Vambran is a lieutenant in the Sapphire Crescent, a state sponsored mercenary army that protects Arrabar's trade interests, and when called upon gets up to other less than savory operations- like invading neighboring city states.

Anyway, Vambran's home and en route to the family manse when he witnesses a state sponsored (perhaps) murder. This gets his back up, and he's motivated to do something to help the unfortunate victims.

Hang on, what's Vambran been doing for the last decade or so- working as a mercenary in a state sponsored army that has no qualms about menacing its trading partners. Bit rich from the posh kid to start moralizing.

But, get it done early and the hope is the reader will forget this hiccup in the plot.

There's a great fight in a warehouse with a Leachwalker, a shambling mound only made of leaches. I was so hopeful.

But it circles, endlessly- it's slow and we get to see every side (almost) of the story so we kinda know what's going to happen to Vambran and the others on his team before it happens. Which at times seems self-defeating.

Likewise our hero, in every fight, has to be rescued by a woman in red- I wonder who that could be (Aunt X, of course), or else his two faithful sergeants show up just in time to save him. All the while Uncle D continues to rage at him. Oh, Uncle D is the bad guy- or at least one of them- but that's been on the cards since we first met him.

There's a bit at the end where it looks like Em, Vambran's sixteen year old sister is going to get raped- and there's some tension here, but only briefly because the villain talks himself out of the horror, which again seems to take the edge off things.

It's like the author is trying to replicate the merchant household in the Sembian series, but is much less accomplished, or else has just decided to drift rather than race. Even when the clock is ticking here it never seems that way.

Which makes it doubly odd that the auther, in the first hundred or so pages, tell us about the type, style and contents of all of the various planters (they contain plants) that we encounter during our ventures in Arrabar.

Vambran doesn't get much better, he's plodding, he even says something like- "If I hadn't defeated X then...", when the truth is in the fight against X he had surrendered his weapons and was 90% beaten until Aunt X and the Sgts turned up to save his backside once more. He's just a lot meh, and not even interesting with it, his new found morality seems to be all about him- the accident with the crossbow re-played.

When we meet the poor folk they are earnest, worthy and without deceit, that's nice.

Most of the posh folk and the higher ups are morally ambivalent- save that they should have/get the best of everything and screw the others.

It's a bit black and white.

That said the end is moderately interesting- Denrick Pharaboldis is written as a late teenage wannabe mustachioed tie-the-damsel-to-the-railway-track kinda guy, from the first moment we meet him. He may as well be carrying a sign that says 'villain', or better still- 'scoundrel'. But Evester, that reveal I liked, and the truth about our inciting incident. That's just (only just) enough to propel me into the next book in this series.

Oh, and I really enjoyed the Enthrall spell, that reminded me of good times gaming back in the day.

It's good to be back.

Just for info I will be reading all the books in a series (three in this one) and then will take a similar number of books off (so, three). Then onto the next series.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers Paul
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Oh, and I really enjoyed the Enthrall spell, that reminded me of good times gaming back in the day.
I never read this one, but I did once have a low-level cleric (terrible ability scores, since I insisted on rolling them instead of point-buying them) cast enthrall on a small gnoll village where some hostages were being held. We all cheered when the gnolls failed their saving throw, allowing the rest of the party to free the prisoners. Good times.
It's good to be back.

Just for info I will be reading all the books in a series (three in this one) and then will take a similar number of books off (so, three). Then onto the next series.
Looking forward to it. It's nice to see this project moving forward again! :)
 


Goonalan

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#177 The Ruby Guardian by Thomas M Reid (Scions of Arrabar 2)
Read 21/1/23 to 22/1/23


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That hit the spot.

I was feeling a bit guilty about beating up the last one, and I remember that Thomas M Reid did a good job in the last drow series, so the first one of this series must have been an aberration. Therefore I picked this one up when I'd done my jobs yesterday and decided to give it an hour, which turned into two. Two hours as it turned out was nearly enough to get me to the end.

It's a cracker, and I don't mean to say it's in the top ten of anything here, but... it does exactly what it says on the tin. Every chapter ending is a cliff-hanger, and unlike the first one I now give a stuff about Vambran, Em, Xaphira & Uncle Kovrim; and Hetta- well, she's a matron mother alright but coming at things from the other side (the side of wisdom and good).

There's a lot to like here and the threat is apparent from the get-go, I seem to remember the first kick-ass moment started with two brigand/pirate ships chasing Vambran and his crew, then another three pirate ships, and then another four (that makes nine) pirate ships. The threat-inflation-o-mometer has been thrown overboard.

Nine pirate ships!

Not enough I say.

Good man, because here's the Kraken.

The Kraken actually arrives just after the multiple Lightning Bolts and Fireballs hit.

The last novel of this series I described as drifting from place to place, pretty early here the action drifts off a cliff. It's clutch- as the yoof probably stopped saying a few years back.

And this one has lots of other stuff to recommend it including a proper set of scenery chewing villains, the bad guys have upped the ante and are terrible to behold.

Roundface and the fat money-grabbing priest are acting suitably diabolical.

Y'see, that's all it takes- a character or two to root for, some good action, a pantomime villain- or three, expendable bad guys aplenty, a wise woman... actually it's a longer list than I first thought (see old Joe Campbell), but it's all here.

I was also very impressed with the romantic interlude (for Vambran) the chief lady druid wants wood! Vambran would be a fool to deny her, and he's nobodies fool in this one.

And the Zombie disease, obvious- a bit trad, but... a nice reveal and a lovely ending with the last paragraph of the book.

"The zombie shuffled closer, reaching for him, plainly visible in the light of the fire behind Vambran. Its eyes were lifeless, its skin pale and tinged, and it came closer, a low growl issuing from its throat.
It was Uncle Kovrim."

So, that also needs resolving.

And so, it's all action, you care more for the good guys- because the threat is heavy and they're the best they can be, the villains are hench (I'm so down with the kids) and it keeps on bubbling. It's a winner, you should probably read this one.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers Paul
 

Goonalan

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#178 The Emerald Scepter by Thomas M Reid (Scions of Arrabar 3)
Read 23/1/23 to 27/1/23


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Well, more of the same please... and it gets there, to the twin finales as Vam and Em battle their various insidious demons, or else the pantomime villains that stand in their stead.

But, as Chinua Achebe was fond of saying- things fall apart.

The empire of evil is crumbling, it's the nature of evil (certainly as portrayed in fantasy fiction) to be imploding as much as it is exploding. The various significant villains have all got their itches that need scratching, and so... they are as liable to F each over as they are the heroes giving chase. And that comes to pass... big style.

Villains, tsk!

Arch or otherwise they never seem to stick to the big plan, there's always someone willing to throw a spanner in the works- in this case the plague in Reth suddenly gets real, there's no cure, and now all the villainous main players are as screwed as the rest of us. It just takes one bad apple to spoil the fun of all the other (playing nicely) bad apples.

Things fall apart.

And worse still now the heroes, wherever they go have friends aplenty. Em has a new merchant house of Arrabar to play with, and also a groovy new love interest, Pilos- he's as honest as the day is long. Meantime Vambran turns out to be sex on a stick, even the sea elves can't stop pawing our guy. More to the point/plot the aforementioned aquatic folk are happy to help the cause because... it is the prophecy, Vambran will come... I mean, well- you get my drift.

So, the Emerald Scepter is recovered, and now to make the problem in Reth go away.

There's a wonky looking druid for that.

Oh, and Vambran has another love interest in Reth, you see the problem is he goes from bumbling fool trying to assuage his conscience (or chase away the bad dreams) in book one, to erudite urbane and as smooth as jazz in book three. Well, something like that- I figure I've been sold a pup.

There's lots of action, and the cliff-hangers keep on hanging.

There's lots of cool places to go and see, and likewise strange folk to talk to, and that's all good.

The issue is from about fifty or so pages in- as I'm watching the bad guys bicker and botch, while the heroes gather and grow their stock exponentially... well, the end is already in sight, for the villains.

By the end the heroes have everyone they need on their side- and right, and truth, and blah blah blah. The villains meanwhile are mostly left standing in puddles of their own pee, clutching only a handful of (very) short straws.

Save for the few that are going on to the next trilogy, at least that's what I'm thinking- some of the evil dudes get to slink away.

To recap, it's a good read- ties up all the loose ends, but... it's pretty obvious very early in that bad guys are on a losing streak, and of course the reader knows this already its just that the rush to the finale here is a series of victories for our heroes while we watch the villains hop from foot to foot and angrily gesticulate in the background.

Still good, but not great.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers Paul.

And now three books for myself,
 

Goonalan

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#179 Master of Chains by Jess Lebow (Fighters 1)
Read 6/2/23 to 11/2/23


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Well, it's a rum 'un, and apologies only posting now but I've been without the electronic internet for the best part of a week, and amidst the gloom (and to make matters worse) I've had a touch of surgery on my leg- this is the first time I've been able to get my foot/leg under my desk.

So, the Master of Chains- starts strong, although Liam seems to have dipped out in the naming stakes, his brother Ryder has the way cooler moniker. They're both members of the Crimson Awl, fighting for what's right and all that against the evil machinations of the Lord's men (actually elite Lord's men, for some reason the word 'elite' gets in there every time)- but then... it's a trap.

Ryder is dead, he died saving Liam's life.

Oh, woe.

Only we know that Ryder isn't dead, he's captured, and then tortured, and then sold into slavery- subject to the whims of the Taskmaster, who's real name turns out to be something like Mr Cobblepot.

It's a strange book, or else at some points the author wants us to be gripped by the high tension and yet in the next minute... Mr Cobblepot.

Odd.

It's as if two stories have been randomly sliced and then shuffled together, and that sometimes works.

So, Ryder is off to find a new lady in his life- a magical bandit queen that rescues and then falls in love with him almost immediately, I mean... why wouldn't you- he's called Ryder, and he's the Master of Chains.

Actually the Master of Chains bit is okay, there's all the symbolism of the broken chains etc. but here's the thing, Ryder's okay- he's no great shakes, as a hero however he's only second rate, and second draw to his younger brother Liam.

So, what about Liam?

Well, as it turns out the local Lord (Purdun) is not a bad sort at all... but hang on, weren't the Crimson Awl fighting this fellow for their freedom?

Things swiftly change and the new look Crimson Awl have a new leader and they're quickly (it takes maybe two pages) in thrall to a bunch of Vampires (or at least a bunch of Spawn).

The Vampire mistress- Shyressa comes along later.

Oh, but while Ryder has been dead/away Liam has taken up with his brother's wife, joined the ELITE Lord's men, and has been spending his days spying on the now evil Crimson Awl.

Again, it's an odd book.

The author seems to delight in telling/showing us one thing about an individual or organisation and then flipping it all on it's head fifty to hundred pages later.

Which isn't a bad device to use in moderation.

Moderation.

The Crimson Awl are renegade common folk fighting for their rights, then they're a bunch of Vampire spawn infiltrated evil dudes.

Lord Purdun and his elite guard are out to keep the common folk down, and then they're not... they're out to defend the common folk from the depredations, etc. Although, they still tortured Ryder, so...

Ryder while he's on the way to slavery and then on the run afterwards with the bandits has a best mate called... Naseem? I'm guessing, he's a very nice guy, at least until we get to the end when he sells Ryder and the bandits out, big time.

There's a lot of this, and the reader notices it- because it happens so often. So, when you are reading about character X, or organisation Y, your thinking, really... are they really the good/bad guys.

Which again, when done well, is probably a good device to use.

It's also a little odd in that the story just does pretty much everything that you would expect of it, there are no real surprises, maybe the fact that Ryder gets killed in the end, that's perhaps the only surprise. That the brothers end up on opposite sides at the finale, until- at last, they take a moment to catch each other up with what's been going on.

The villains (Shyressa, Montauk et al) are... expendable. They don't do a lot of villain-y things so, you end up just having to take the author's word for it. The plot/story seems too stuck on- Liam does this, while Ryder does that, much too often- the threat of the bad people just seems to rumble around in the background.

It's all a little underwhelming, and in places it doesn't know what it's aiming for- trying to be risible while trying to maintain/build tension and threat. It's not a bad book, just nothing to write home about.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers Paul

PS I've already read the next one- I'll catch up tomorrow possibly.
 

Goonalan

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#180 Ghostwalker by Eric Scott de Bie (Fighters 2)
Read 11/2/23 to 12/2/23


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Now that's more like it.

Erik Scott De Bie is a writer, and a bit of a magpie too- he seems to have borrowed the better side of Greenwood, the realms come alive here- the characters act and sound like they're from somewhere very different, and yet somewhere we want to visit.

The characters, and in particular the leading ladies here (for good and bad), are heroic- spirited, strong, steadfast- and capable of choosing their own path, particularly when the going gets really rough and the only choice left is how to end it all.

We have a comic turn from Bars and Derst, a weasel and a lush but both Knights in Silver; they're various skits and japes, or else gag track commentaries to the unfolding action are, well... some of them are daft, others mildly (or badly) just comic enough to leave the reader lolling.

Arya, the female lead, could have carried this story on her own- or at least is worthy of one of her own. I do so like it when folk have to struggle and strain in order to finally figure out what someone, anyone, is worth. Arya, in truth, doesn't put a foot wrong through the entire piece- just great.

But then there's the Walker, and oh my word- he's a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, wearing a spectral conundrum jumpsuit- what is he? He's great... of course, and (only) just the right side of super-powered to make him D&D enough to want to play (or steal for your campaign) and again it's not just the action hijinks, it's the fact that he has to make good his debt- to kill his killers and then pay the price. Furthermore it;s the fact that all of the time this stuff- his secret/s are tearing him apart.

Everyone has a secret here, and everyone (who matters) is secretly in agony, and so even the villains have edges- and you find yourself (at times) empathizing, or else sympathizing, with some terrible wretches here.

There's a lot of black and white- inside all of the villains and heroes alike.

It's just so well written in places, it has the human touch- and that's a stretch with some of this here fantasy fiction I've been plodding through. The language use, the slow burn... it's great, just easy to read- nicely constructed (but see later) and as dispiriting as it is uplifting.

And if we have a super-hero good guy then we're going to need some super villains, and here's the pack (or at least a few of them)-

A monstrosity, an abomination- the worst aspect of D&D, Lord Singer Dharan Greyt, a bard who just wants to be loved...

Then there's his lad- Meris, who starts out being a sexist berk but very swiftly ramps it up to full scenery chewing Ramsay Snow (nee Bolton) from GoT. He's a bad lad, a real bad bad boy.

There's an invisible wizard because, well... everything is better with an invisible wizard.

But worst of all SPOILER is Walker's mentor, who turns out to be... but read it yourself, it's a cracker

In fact, this is a film- a rip-roaring (when it gets going) blockbuster GoT/LotR meets Deadwood, and with a dead fellow playing the part of the hero alongside Brienne of Tarth.

That's part of the problem, not a great big problem you understand, but here it is- it is so twisty-turny, there are so many hidden revelations- everyone we meet (more or less) has got a story to tell and each of these new stories/revelations will ultimately change the reader's thinking. I knew who the bad people were from about page 12 (most of them) but was somehow still trying to figure my way through the maze of who did what to whom, and when, in the last fifty pages.

I was right about the bad guys, but there were so many plot points you start to think this could break one of several ways, and suddenly your unsure as to who, really, is getting shafted. Who the big bad really is- the daper aging bard, Greyt? Meris? Or someone else.

And the climaxes, if you'll forgive the expression- they just keep on coming.

Mr De Bie it seems has come up with 23 variants of the actual ending, and being so enamored with his own genius he's decided to give the reader a glimpse of the 22 runner's up before getting to the winner.

Like a film does, a great big spectacular/blockbuster film. Hit after hit, wow after wow.

Don't get me wrong, it's still great, it just flops about a bit at the end (actually crash-bang-wallop races around a bit at the end) delivering denouement after denouement, some of which are breath-taking, some of which are heart-breaking, and some of which we could have possibly done without.

It's a bobby dazzler, as they say this side of the pond.

Well worth a read.

I've read the next one already too, I'm on a week off work- I had surgery last Saturday and now I'm resting up.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers Paul
 

Goonalan

Legend
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#181 Son of Thunder by Murray JD Leeder (Fighters 3)
Read 13/2/23 to 15/2/23


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You've got to like a book about the Uthgardt, and it's a great insight to the nomadic barbarians of the Thunderbeast clan, this is how they work- the sights and sounds of Uthgardt life, and more importantly their outlook on life- they're a strange, somewhat admirable, honour-bound folk, and beyond stoic.

So, the Thunderbeast clan are shaken to their limits- it's a revolution (the new versus the old, versus the new, versus the old...), the new chief is, well... just that- new, and young. The tribe are being hunted, the Zhent are in the game, or else the Llorkhan mayor, Geildarr, and his flunkies are out to hunt the tribe to extinction, or else to find where the real Thunderbeasts are at.

Dinosaur's in Faerun? And not in Chult! Hidden in plain sight courtesy of an ancient Netherese magic item- that's the real prize (for Geildarr).

The stakes are high for the Thunderbeast- death or glory.

And then there's Kellin, anthropologist-cum-sorcerer (witch). The old versus the new, an outsider hears the call of Uthgardt and joins the cause, which doesn't much impress the old guard.

Last up is Vell, the ex-last place pick in the tribe, who latterly turns out to be the best last hope of the clan, size of a Brontosaurus! Vell, has the Thunderbeast inside of him.

That's nice.

And all of this stuff is sympathetically done, at least to the eyes of this DM, here's how to teach the Uthgardt to use magic (which is mostly taboo) and the final assault team make for a great adventuring party.

There's werebats, the Antiquarians (an smoove adventuring party), the aforementioned dinosaurs- which later on take on the city of Llorkh, hot-druid action, the Grandfather tree (it's great) and... so much more besides.

And yet, it's well-written, an exciting romp with lots to see, but... it didn't really grip me, but let me just take a moment because I'm still not sure I'm being fair to this one. There's nothing wrong with the plot, the pace or the action. I think I just spent much of my time just rubber-necking, not looking where the story was going, merely watching (and thinking about) the scenery passing by. I stopped looking at the text as a reader and wandered off into DMing land (head-space).

So, I think it's probably a lot better than I'm giving it credit, although... I've said some nice things above.

The finale is very nice, particularly when Sungar- the imprisoned/tortured Thunderbeast chief gets his mojo back, that's confidence- grinning at your torturer, issuing warnings to your captor. That's Uthgardt enough for me.

A good read.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers goonalan
 

Goonalan

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#182 Bladesinger by Keith Francis Strohm (Fighters 4)
Read 15/2/23 to 20/2/23


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It starts really well, it's intense- slow burn, and the adventuring group we are travelling, through Rashemen- always a great place to visit, are all top notch. The brooding, you read that right, halfling fighter on his war hound; the sage but slightly comic Rashemen ranger- "wodka!", and a pair of half-elf main players. Marissa, the outsider druid, and the love interest for Taen, an emotionally crippled Bladesinger.

So far and so suitably anti-hero bleak, with lashings of self doubt from our hero, he really is a mess.

And here's why- while we travel to the scene of the action with our guys the intervening chapters tell the story of Taen's darkest deed.

SPOILER- although when we get to the end Taen's fall from grace is both daft and silly, but y'know- passable.

There's lot to like here, the language is evocative and continues to make Rashemen and its strange ways a bang tidy place to visit (for a DM looking for a base of operations- are their any published adventures set here, or any other books?) And it really does go slow at the beginning, it takes a good 70-80 pages for our guys just to get from A to B. B being the actual start of the heroic quest, all before this is mood/scene/character setting, and with a nice bit of action against some Ice Trolls.

But then... well, gears get shifted and the teleport's in and the next thing you know our guys are in the thick of it, so... that too works, and again the writing is good- the action palpable, and it's great to see an adventuring party doing what they do best, and they're high-ish level folk.

The issue, maybe, that pops up early on is our Bladesinger is the loose canon- the song drifts from him in at all the wrong moments, and the next thing you know... he's making death saves.

Which I sort of liked- because it fits in with his broken self.

There are some villains of course but part of the problem here is that they don't get enough air time, the first time we get to meet the turncoat hag she's playing her part (very well) and terrorizing her minions. However, pretty much every time we see her (and her equally unfathomable- but cool half-orc priestess) after this she's either unleashing her next terror on our heroes, it's like close-captioning the plot, or else (as likely) bemoaning her lot when the previous incarnation of her terror has failed to hit the spot.

Our heroes seem to take it all in their stride.

The threat starts to look like middling- although SPOILERS nice twist in the end when the druid gets captured and eventually killed.

Also, even the Hag starts to doubt herself, at some point it very much starts looking like the Half-Orc Priestess is in line to play bad guy in a sequel, but it doesn't work out that way.

Then there's the goblin, which I like and hate at the same time, let me explain- our guys capture a random goblin, charm the fellow, and hey-presto (even with the druid gone- captured) this pre-Splug Splug is happy to show our guys the backdoor into the Hag's lair.

I guess it was an option, otherwise we'd have to sit through a lot more hack 'n' slash to get our guys to their ultimate destination, but as a device... it's a thin thread they hang from.

Then, and this is still foxing me two days later.

Then... you are never going to believe this.

Are you sat down?

Good.

The book ends.

Oh, yeah- hag and half-orc defeated, close run thing, bit of an epilogue for Taen (the Bladesinger) and we are finished.

On page 281.

Hang on, 281?

All of these books (and I've read 182 of them now) are 312 pages long.

The finale, and from a bit of a way before it, seems- peremptory.

Can you guess why?

Did someone chop 30 or so pages out just to make room for an excerpt from Ed Greenwood's latest blockbuster (as in my copy) or did the author just run short.

It left me baffled, because 312 pages (give or take) has been the rule for oh so long here.

Read.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers goonalan.

Now, four books off, then back again.
 

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