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

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Hello - just found your thread - AMAZING! Will you be posting short reviews of all the books somewhere? Maybe noting some gems that are not part of any of the big series that are worth reading? Ty!
Hi there,

Thanks for the kind words.

I think this effort wasn't so much, at the start, about writing a review for each book, rather this was me just making it difficult for myself to back out of the project by giving it a public face. If I stopped reading the books then I would have to acknowledge that here... I am loathe to do that. This is my support group- the fine folk here keep me going.

So, I never really thought about scoring the books as I went on, or listing the best of... etc. Mainly because I read a lot (all of my life) certainly three books every two weeks, since... forever. Part of the problem of scoring books, giving them a mark out of ten, is that the process can be very subjective, and massively influenced by the reviewers mood etc. (certainly an amateur like me). Also, all of these books got published, so- someone saw their worth.

Also, now I'm thinking about it there are books I read at the start of this journey that I thought at the time were great, say a 9 out of 10, but now that I'm getting towards the 2/3rds complete stage, well- some of those 9s will have to be downgraded.

So, apologies but this is what this is, it's all it is- a list of books, a doofus reading 'em, and a lot of folk that should know better egging the doofus on.

Thank you.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan
 

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Goonalan

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Ok found all the reviews ty.

I have a different question - which of the books you have read so far have the best Romance stories? I remember reading some of the Dragonlance books when I was younger and loving some of the romantic plots or subplots, but I have no idea where to start with Forgotten realms.

Thank you for any advice.
That would require a long answer, I'd have to go through the list of the books that I have read and possibly read the reviews again to remind me, I don't have the time for that.

However, here's some of what I have observed so far, with specific regard to romance in FR.

1st up, the FR cannon loves a bro-mance, the classic for me is the odd couple- Jarlaxle & Artemis in every book they are in, but specifically (I think- this is me trying to remember here) in the Sellswords series, the pair are Stan and Ollie, they're Tango & Cash, they're them two very good looking Hollywood folks that are both assassins and are also, get this- married to each other (Brad Pitt & Angeline Jolie). You know the film- Mr & Mrs something, apologies but I don't even possess a TV. Mr & Mrs Smith, I just looked it up- it sounds a hoot. Anyway, Jarlaxle & Artemis have got it.

2nd up, there's a lot of failed romances, ones in which the same sad pattern of person A not telling beloved B a variety of things- who they really are, what they really want, or else what's really going on here. This is most often to in order to protect person B, and mostly in these novels this goes both ways. A is not telling B something big, and vice-versa, It's a little tiring, but inevitable- there are times when I have (this is genuine) found myself shouting at the book.

"Just bloody tell her, you..."

The Moonshae's (again, from memory) had a lot of this. The Wulfgar-Catty-Driz thing, which gets a little more complicated each time, with the edition of a fourth, and then a fifth person to the group. It's... well, mostly played out already. It's the least intersting thing, most of the time, in a lot of Salvatore's books. Although, Catty seems to get strong when she needs to- and that's no bad thing.

Last up, because I have to get on with life- I really do.

There are good romances, with strong male and female characters- in which it feels and sounds a lot like love, and the falling out of love, and when love turns into obligation, and... y'know grown up romance, not just the wooing but what comes after too.

A good example of this imho is... and I'm going to have to go and fetch the list and read back, my memory... the Last Mythal series, Richard Baker. I enjoyed the romance in these books, because it's believable, convoluted, has a bit of burn, and... it's got some added shimmer because these are Elves, and they all live forever- so it's kinda important- it feels important. I also like that it's the female lead that, well... leads. At least that's what I've got parceled away in my memory. Keep in mind for every Forgotten Realms novel I read I reward myself by reading a non-FR novel (to get the balance right), so... just my remembering.

Thanks for asking.

Cheers goonalan.
 

misomiso

Villager
Great thanks for your replies Goonalan. Very interesting!

Can't wait till you finish all the FR novels (in three years ?!?!) and then get on to some Dark Sun, Mystara, Spelljammer, and Birthright!

May post some more questions here as I go through some of the reviews. From waht I've read already it seems clear that the best seem to be the classic 'Dark Elf' series, some of the ones by Ed Greenwood, and then a few lesser known books that happen to be great, but will keep looking! ty dude
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Great thanks for your replies Goonalan. Very interesting!

Can't wait till you finish all the FR novels (in three years ?!?!) and then get on to some Dark Sun, Mystara, Spelljammer, and Birthright!

May post some more questions here as I go through some of the reviews. From waht I've read already it seems clear that the best seem to be the classic 'Dark Elf' series, some of the ones by Ed Greenwood, and then a few lesser known books that happen to be great, but will keep looking! ty dude
Watch out for Ed Greenwood, he doesn't do romance as you/I know it.

He prefers to have portly, hirsute, older men (wise beyond their years, avuncular) strut around with 22 year old glamour model ninja's, and then latterly, after the invention of Girl Power, have 1,000 year old goddesses (who look like 32/42 year old glamour models (see above)) take their clothes off for fencing practice with a couple of young bucks before draping themselves all over portly, hirsute, older men (wise beyond their years, avuncular).

Some of it is of it's time, and the author's time.

Cheers goonalan

Now time for chores.
 

I have a different question - which of the books you have read so far have the best Romance stories? I remember reading some of the Dragonlance books when I was younger and loving some of the romantic plots or subplots, but I have no idea where to start with Forgotten realms.
A not-insignificant amount of these books - especially earlier in TSRs publishing history - suffer somewhat from only including one major female character in any given story, and she is basically the pre-ordained love interest. The romance angle is generally not as central as it was in Dragonlance, although it's usually there. @Goonalan's point about Ed Greenwood books is very well made though. Ed .. knows what he likes, let's put it that way.

Some of the better ones from a romance point of view are Elaine Cunningham's - Elfsong, Elfshadow, Silver Shadows, Dream Spheres forming a series of mostly self-contained books that don't quite get neatly tied up because the author got crippling writers block and never finished the final one. There's also a genuinely surprising number - in a pattern I'm only just noticing - where the romance is well written but one or other of the couple dies (i won't list these off for fear of spoilers). And then there's a whole lot where the love interest is basically treated as a medal that the male main character gets for killing the bad guy.
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
#185 Scream of Stone by Philip Athans (Watercourse 3)
Read 17/3/23 to 25/3/23


IMG_4303.JPG


Don't read too much into the fact that it took me nine days to get through this book- two and a bit of those days were spent in the dark, we had a power surge and then- inevitably- a power cut, and it's less easy (I have discovered) to read by torch or candle light, and when there's no heating or hot water.

To the book, well- I'm glad it's over. In truth it's just more of the same, the same folk that we have rolled around with for the last 600+ pages, they're as likeable as they were previous, maybe Pristoleph goes up a notch or two in my estimation, at least he believes in something. Devorast and Phyrea are as broken as ever, they certainly deserve each other. Marek, well- he's a bad 'un, and towards the end the gloves are off. Willem- a happy ending, in the last fifty or so pages (which are a hoot) he gets to eat his obnoxious mother. So, that's a win. There's also some form of remembrance of the old Willem before the end, before his also inevitable slaughter.

The end is both terrifying- the action, and the viscera, are flying as Innarlith descends into chaos- the canal is gone, exploded by Devorast in a fit of pique. I understand his reasons for this move but it still makes him look like a mad bad bugger. In truth there's everything going on by the end, and with walk-ons from various Senators, the Shou, and some other names and faces from the two previous incarnations, but- it's still a bit rambling, or else it all feels like little bits. I understand that the author is trying to keep a watch over five to seven boiling pots as the intrigue bubbles over here and then there but... Towards the end I just wanted to shout at it- get on with it, stop meandering- just crash the thing, let's see where the pieces fall.

The end, well the madness of Willem's last hunt, the civil war in Innarlith, Pristoleph & Marek playing politics- smiling as they stab each other in the back, there's lots to see and admire here- and at least we get to see who some of these people truly are, the facade falls. Then, well- everything gets semi-neatly made right again, although there's a moment when you (the reader) do a double take and exclaim- that was much easier than I expected. I wanted more blood than this... Marek gets to go home, the plotting senators are exiled, it's a bit flat, a bit too happy ever after, a bit too civil. Too much like a book, not enough like life- maybe.

Individualism versus Collectivism, the Fountainhead, is this what this is all about?

I've not read any Ayn Rand, maybe I should correct this, but having read this series- maybe not.

Devorast's genius is cold, and pointy, and sure he has adherents- the new messiah, but when he destroys the canal it all just boils down to ego. I can't think my way around that. Devorast is an arse, he doesn't live in the real world (of Faerun) it all seems just so inevitable. I'm really not sure what to take from this one. I wanted more.

Again, there are bits of it that flash by, that are well written- and when all the pates are spinning it is (in places) a sight to see, but there's not enough action- not enough real, too much intrigue and plotting with no end in sight, except- as above, the inevitable.

Nice cover picture.

Read.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
You might find this ebay lot interesting? Guy made a post on 'Dragonlance Nexus' on Facebook.


I am just reading the Forgotten Realms novels, and I've got all the ones that I'll need- I think, I'm going to switch to ebooks and a reader later on in the list.

Cheers Paul
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
#186 Dragons: Worlds Afire Anthology by Various
Read 4/4/23 to 5/4/23


IMG_4307.JPG


A nice easy read, and it does exactly what it says on the tin, or else the front cover.

Four stories (novellas, let's not quibble) from the best in the division for the four variants on a theme that Wizards are peddling- the Forgotten Realms (& Salvatore), Dragonlance (Weis & Hickman), Eberron (Keith Baker) & Magic the Gathering (Scott McGough).

And all four stories about, well... dragons, obviously.

If Ever They Happened Upon My Lair- R.A. Salvatore, in which Urshula, the black wyrm of Vaasa, the Beast of the Bog, is put to good use by the Witch King , and Lich, Zhengyi, in his on-going battle against the Kingdom. It's got a twist in the tail/tale- see the title, otherwise it's just a well written story, a lesson about the long-game, and the (vision) outlook of a lich.

Here Be Dragons- Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, in truth I don't dig Dragonlance, I read it when I was a kid, and played lots of the TSR/Wotc (whichever they were) modules back in the day, and then later on I also DMed several of the re-visioned campaign books (Sovereign Stone?). They were alright, some of the players were keener to play it than me. I preferred plain old D&D, and I always think of Dragonlance as being somehow less than, and... childlike. It was cute, and a bit daft, even back then.

And so to this one-

There's this kender... nothing's changed, let's move on.

Principles of Fire- Keith Baker, is a cracker, and now I'm a little bit tempted to read some of the Eberron novels, bugger. I like the detective-thing (Inquisitor), I like the setting- although there's not much of it to see here, I like the characters. My only issue with this one was that the story is supposed to be about a dragon, and we have a dead dragon at the beginning- and that's the mystery, only a dead dragon isn't enough dragon. There has to be another one somewhere, and so I guessed who the second dragon was fairly early- it was very easy to do. Liked the story though.

Unnatural Predator- Scott McGough, I really liked the story although, and again- it's not my thing, the only card games I have in the house are... well, cards. I don't understand Magic the Gathering, I don't know what you do with your cards, your deck- I don't know anything about the setting, the contents, etc. Except what I of course read here... It's alright. I had to re-read the ending three times just to make sure I hadn't missed anything. The faerie and the dragon are both some kind of necro/undead-automaton/constructs. I guess. I'm not a fan. I don't really get it. It's for kids- right?

Read.

Oh, and for a book that is about pictures and words, well... there are remarkably few pictures. Was this just a Christmas/New Range/Re-Launch type thing?

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers goonalan
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
#187 Blackstaff by Steve E Schend (Wizards 1)
Read 16/4/23 to 21/4/23


IMG_4309.JPG


It's just not my cup of tea.

Don't get me wrong The Blackstaff is better than Elminster, but this high level magic-spin-around-the-realms is just not what I am into, particularly as it all seems just so complex, and so constructed, and... well, nothing much to do with my game. It's like when I was trying to DM high level 3e (& 3.5e) D&D, there'd always be one guy (and it was 100% of the time a guy) who would have more splatbooks than was good for any one soul, and their 14th level Wizard would be capable of a dozen devastations. I always felt, as the DM, that there was one game going on for all the other PCs, and an arms-race to oblivion with the Mage.

I don't like the tons of magic world as depicted here, there are magic items being handed around to all and sundry, and some daft names for them- the Cowards Cowl of Chirpy Chestnut, obviously I've just made that up- but it's closer to the truth than you'd think (and hope). Later a who's who of Weave-wielders are whisked in for the final finale, and... it's just name after name, and I think I'm supposed to remember some of these folk from the other books, and yet... there's Elminster (thank god, that's one name I've remembered, although there's a Harpell here also- that's two). Isn't there always Elminster though- although he's as nice as pie here, funny that.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing here that's badly written, and truth be told in the first three days I got 200+ pages into it, it's an easy story to follow (caveat- see above) and while the action count is low (at times) there's lots of nice intrigue and story, it's... just not my kind of thing. The problem being that the last 100 pages damn near killed me, that's when the roll call of famous mages really started getting going... inevitably leading to a dozen or more fraught conversations as a variety of would-be Elminsters see who can pee the highest. Which is... alright, but more likely, I suspect, surplus to requirements. The last arcane pile-on is more like a who's who, if only there was more room for- action, event, or just a bit more cliff-hanger style plot.

Oh, and in the space of this one I seem to remember the Blackstaff dying maybe a dozen times (but not dying of course) there's a moment apres the latest spell battle in which the old man is left limping around on just one leg. In a crypt somewhere, "no, don't bother with me, I'll be alright- it's just a flesh wound", he confidently states, as always.

The scene just made me laugh. I'm not sure that was the correct reaction.

I like Tsarra, and more so because she's well written, certainly she's a better person than the (present) Blackstaff, but I get it- the son of Arun has the weight of the Realms on his shoulders. Tsarra seems more emotional (and that's not a criticism) and therefore more humane (or whatever is the correct word for a multi-race/species society/world).

There's a mad lich out to do bad things to reality, a millennia old prophecy, an attack on Blackstaff's tower, the Pentad (I really like the idea of the Pentad- best thing in the book for me) and then a jumble of teleporting/reality striding journeys at the end of each either more chatter (90%) of the time or else brief spells of arcane Armageddon. Some of which is great, some of which is... this again.

If that's your bag, and there was always one Mage at my table, then this is the book for you.

Read.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers Goonalan
 

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