I'm reading the Forgotten Realms Novels- #33 Once Around the Realms... Gah!!!!

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Excellent, and the follow up (sorry, I've started looking closely at my list/spreadsheet) is the Sage of Shadowdale series separate or still part of the same run- are they all the Elminster series or should I (can I) do them in two parts.

I've got the first five novels (listed above), or at least four of them, with the missing one on the way- so, I'm primed to add them to the running order.

Apologies again and thanks for your patience.

Cheers goonalan
I'd do Sage of Shadowdale as a separate read later in your efforts. It is all following Elminster still... ish, but it's set post-Spellplague (in 4th edition D&D) but before the Sundering (5th edition D&D).
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
#021 The Druid Queen by Douglas Niles (Druidhome 3)
Read 27/10/19 to 31/10/19


Forgotten Realms The Druid Queen (Druidhome 3) a 30.jpg

Book 3- and worse. The novel, as always, swings bye- easy to read and no heavy thinking (at all). The New/bad gods (Talos (Malar) & Helm) are out to do in the Earthmother still. The bad guys line up with the Firbolgs (with leader & shaman type), Trolls (Baatlrap- nasty leader type), Parell Hyath (high Helm Inquisitor), mad and moody (Princess) Deidre Kendrick and the best of them all- Grond Peaksmasher (the Giant- and I mean, GIANT- god). The action is okay, although some bits are just plain dumb-

King Kendrick decides on a whim (or a spell- Geas?) to go and fight the Firbolg/Troll horde on his own... the rest of his family (well, (Princess) Alicia anyway) decide to go and help him- with the usual bunch of friends tagging along.

King Kendrick mucks about a bit- still ensorcelled?

The High Inquisitor is a smarmy git throughout, and we know he's going to be a/the bad guy- samey same for (Princess) Deidre of course; so there are literary no surprises here. You kinda just know how it's all going to fold-out. The cool guy on the bad kid block of course is Grond Peaksmasher, and he only makes his appearance in the last twenty pages.

There's also the Robyn problem, The Druid Queen of the title- she does a little recon at the start of the novel, frets a bit, and then disappears for a while to commune-commune at the Moonwell, and there she stays- for most of the book. At the finale the author sorta explains this away by having Robyn share her thoughts, she's been in a trance for absolutely ages and forgot to set her alarm clock, or something very similar.

Anyway, the final confrontation after the gang traipse around Gwynneth for a while is on the island of Oman- home to the aforementioned Peaksmasher, it all goes wrong- then it all goes right, as expected. There's a nice bit in which the Druid Queen becomes one with the earth- and shrugs her shoulders a bit- EARTHQUAKE! She gets lost in the mantle- oh no, she can't escape her doom- and then she escapes. The pay off for Robyn is convincing Mr. Peaksmasher to not lay waste to her family and friends (to not harm the Earthmother). That's it.

There's a very daft bit with some Hallucinatory Terrain, which even as I'm reading it I'm seeing straight through it- the fact that an entire army, including veterans and a bunch of high level PCs (the heroes- with all of their save bonuses) can't see through the veil for a good while. I'm not convinced.

Bits of the plot are barely hanging by a thread, and all of the good (bad) guys are under-used and under-played, at least I think so.

It's a book about the Earthmother (Robyn) versus the New Gods- Talos & Helm, only this pair barely lift a finger and their working guys are either all over the shop (and not at all enthralled by their godly masters) or else go at in a half-arsed way.

I want better enemies, more conniving, cleverer... I want them to steal the scenes and to chew at the scenery. That said some nice fights and another series ticked off.

Oh, Keane (Wizard/Tutor) finally gets it on with (Princess) Alicia, and the Elf (Brigit) dies, as does Knaff (and he was my favourite ten-line NPC in the whole book).

Double Oh, and what's Tavish for (except so that the author can have someone on the spot to describe the action) the Bard follows the Firbolgs to Oman and then her best tactical choice is to run and grab the magic axe- she's knocked out of the game by a Spiritual Weapon spell. What the? What level's Tavish- 3rd?

Read! You should probably give this series a miss though.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
#022 Pool of Radiance by James M Ward & Jane Cooper Hong (Heroes of Phlan 1)
Read 31/10/19 to 3/11/19


Forgotten Realms Pool of Radiance (Heroes of Phlan 1) a 30.jpg

Well... this is a difficult one, what to say for the best... Hmm. It's a bit- Meh, actually a lot- Meh.

I kept on wanting to like it more than I did, kept reading- waiting for something cool to go down, or else the writing to explode from the page, y'see I remember way back when, possibly during the 'golden period' of my D&D playing, I DM'ed this module (at least 25 years ago- can that be right? Yes, as it turns out- I am an old git). It was fairly rubbish but we had a go- and there's always fun to be had around the table, but if I had known the word Meh back then, I would have used it.

I also get that this is/was a computer game, and I guess anything goes in them- particularly way back then, is it supposed to be written for kids?

Right then- Shal is apprentice Wizard to Ranthor, who emergency scoots over to Phlan to help his mate- Denlor (another high level Wizard) who's in trouble big, six pages later (or thereabouts) both Wizards are toast- dead. Shal gets upset, then discovers that Ranthor has left her... well, everything- Ring of Three Wishes (spoiler- she wastes two wishes in the next ten or so pages), Staff of Power, Cloth of Many Pockets, Wand of Wonder, Healing Potions and a telepathic Horse/Familiar called Cerulean.

Soon after Shal heads to Phlan, and then meets and joins forces with Tarl (Cleric of Tyr, all his mates are killed by a Vampire and his undead chums, also the artefact Tarl was carrying is stolen), and Ren (who is an 11th level Ninja (or so it seems) reduced to waiting tables after his g/friend was assassinated- the pair stole a couple of ioun stones).

The three adventurers (four if you count Cerulean, and you'd better because the Horse is the smarts for the party, and a magic detecting, trap defusing, killing machine) are put to work by a corrupt councilman to clear uncivilised Phlan (the bit with all the random monsters in). If you don't work out within six lines of meeting the corrupt councilman that he's the bad guy (or at least one of) then quite frankly you need to head back to them books with Janet & John, the pair apparently also have a dog called Spot- that's your level.

There's not so much a plot as a series of coincidences/inevitabilities, the story goes- A, then B, then C, then D- there are absolutely no surprises, everything is writ large and often- we see all sides of the intrigue, all of the time and so the only thing the reader is left wondering is- why am I reading this?

There are some (tiny) nice bits- but they're all fights, and pretty much they're quickly made a mockery of when Shal drags out the artillery (mostly her Staff of Power).

Oh and Tarl and Ren both fancy Shal, and while Shal has feelings for both of the guys, only one of the pair is her 'special' friend.

Gah!

Meh!

Gah!

Read- oh lookee, the sequel!
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I kept on wanting to like it more than I did
That about sums it up for me. There were cool ideas in there, but the execution was lacking. Also, little things kept driving me up the wall, like the vampire's weird speech impediment, or the rather ham-fisted attempt to justify why clerics don't use edged weapons (I'm glad the author at least tried to address that, but the explanation just didn't work for me). The later books were, I thought, at least somewhat better.
 

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
Ah, Phlan.... It always comes back down to Phlan (and all the flan jokes that inevitable come with it).

Yeah, Pool of Radience served to make other D&D novels look good (even the ones that weren't).
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
That about sums it up for me. There were cool ideas in there, but the execution was lacking. Also, little things kept driving me up the wall, like the vampire's weird speech impediment, or the rather ham-fisted attempt to justify why clerics don't use edged weapons (I'm glad the author at least tried to address that, but the explanation just didn't work for me). The later books were, I thought, at least somewhat better.
I started Pools of Darkness yesterday, I have a rule- 50 pages a day, or else I mentally give myself a ticking off, so today I've done my 50 pages already but I'm going back to it- that's a better sign, particularly as I've been busy today with other things.

It's still a bit odd mind, I've just read two pages of Ren recapping the backstory from the last book talking to his horse (Stolen, that's the horses name)- I mean large chunks of speech mark enclosed exposition, just odd. I don't even understand why the authors would chose to do it this way. Why not just have Ren remember back to when- without the very odd talk to the horse moments. I get that the Ranger has an affinity for the beast, and perhaps the lad is going to bump in to a fall in love with Evaine and her magical/familiar cat companion (at least Gamaliel gets a voice. Ren just sounds bonkers.

I like the bad guys, particularly the comedy Red Wizard- it seems his entire army from Pit Fiend to Skeleton General are out to get him, undermine him, ridicule him etc. There's a little more fun in this one, and not so vanilla.

We'll see...

Cheers goonalan
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
If I remember correctly, Pools of Darkness was a little better, but still had some eye-rolling moments. Like, didn't the pit fiends that were attending Bane call him "Boss"? It made them sound like flunkies from a Saturday morning cartoon. Also, that Red Wizard calling the skeletal tactician he'd retained "General Brittle" was groan-inducing.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
If I remember correctly, Pools of Darkness was a little better, but still had some eye-rolling moments. Like, didn't the pit fiends that were attending Bane call him "Boss"? It made them sound like flunkies from a Saturday morning cartoon. Also, that Red Wizard calling the skeletal tactician he'd retained "General Brittle" was groan-inducing.
Not sure about the 'Boss' but my eyes may have skipped over that bit- trying not to see it, there's a General Brittle and he's about my favourite bad guy- whenever Marcus turns up Brittle is just "Sheesh, this feller sucks the phat one." Mind you no-one has a good opinion of the Red Wizard of Thay, most times he shows up you know the Benny Hill outro tune is going to start up soon.

That said I'm enjoying the good guy's gang, and in particular Miltiades the undead skeletal Paladin- he rocks, also they've made use of the Killing Trees of Moander (and I luvs me some Moander) so that's all good with me. Certainly enjoying it a lot more than the first one.

But, yeah- clunky in places, as the reader drops right outta the story.

Is the disappearance of a clutch of cities around the Moonsea canon? I get Phlan's gone but there are rumours of other places going the same route, snatched by Bane and his bretheren... is that in the history book of the Forgotten Realms?

Cheers goonalan
 

Mirtek

Explorer
All FR novels are canon. Some love it, some hate it

Double Diamond Triangle might be the only exception (another point in favor of those saying these aren't FR novels anyway).

They may be intended as fiction from within the FR, but I don't think this was ever backed up with a hard statement from WotC
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Miltiades and Brittle are the best things to come out of the Pool of X books.
I still fondly remember Miltiades to this day.
I didn't figure they were going to fight, but looking back on it I should have worked it out- I'm in the last 15 or so pages, everything from page 250 on has been great (except for the Pit Fiend's sudden summoning- plot oops!) and in particular the fight with the Abishai… very nice.

I'll wrap this book up in the morning and if I get the chance head in to Pool of Twilight, it's ready and waiting.

Cheers goonalan
 
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tglassy

Adventurer
This is amazing. I've read all the Drizzt books, and the first of the Cleric Quintet. I just haven't been able to get in to the second one. I keep gainly getting, like, three chapters in and then losing interest.

But I've read through all the Drizzt books. I love Drizzt. I love his philosophical questioning. I get to disagreeing with him in certain places down the road on the question of morality and where it comes from, but it is still interesting.

They all go through so much. Just wait until the Spellplague, for the debut of 4e, I think. WOTC told its authors "We're fast forwarding 100 years, so you can write a trilogy that covers that." Most of Salvatore's characters were human! Or at least not a race that long lived!

I think he does a good job at the solution he found, and it actually revitalized the series for me. Before that, it was starting to get repetitive. There wasn't much growth. It was just "Here's a bad guy, he's doing things, and now Drizzt has to kill him."

Artimis Entrari and Jarlaxle are my favorite characters in the series. Just saying.

And that's all I have to say about that.

I will say that I'm getting rather tired of Menzobarrenzan. The Dark Elves are just. Always. Scheming. Oh my goodness, can you just let things die already. However, there is enough new happening down there that it does keep my interest. I just wish he wouldn't spend so much time following the scheming of bad guys in later books, and use that time to follow Drizzt instead.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
#023 Pools of Darkness by James M Ward & Anne K Brown (Heroes of Phlan 2)
Read 4/11/19 to 8/11/19


Forgotten Realms Pools of Darkness (Heroes of Phlan 2) a 30.jpg

Book 2- and praise be, it's better the first . Good, not great, but y'know- well worth the read, particularly as it went on.

The start of it all is Phlan (and a bunch of other cities around the Moonsea) are wrenched out of the ground and transferred to well, various places. Phlan's new home is in a large underground cavern beneath the abode of Marcus, the comedy central CRAY-ZEE Red Wizard of Thay, and his bad guy roster. All of this badness is down to BANE!

Anybody played Baldur's Gate Descent into Avernus yet? Just wondering- can't think why.

Shal (Wizard) & her husband, Tarl (Cleric of Tyr) are at home in Phlan for the sudden move- thereafter the pair fend off the various attacks by Marcus and his assorted naughty people, pick of the bunch for the villains is General Brittle, who is clearly unimpressed by Red Wizard- as is the Pit Fiend- Tanetal, Latenat! In truth he's not a very impressive specimen.

Meanwhile on the surface Ren wanders (for far far FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAr) too long, although he picks up a few cool cats along the way- Evaine (Ancient/young Wizard), Gamaliel (Panther-like/Barbarian familiar- hey, that's familiar), a pair of comedy Druids and best of all Miltiades, a skeletal Paladin of Tyr out to fulfil his final challenge.

The new good guys are great to watch and listen to (Shal, Tarl and Ren- less so, Ren is evening a bit boring for a while), a couple of the bad guys are likewise worth watching, the White Bard's failure just feels like a deus ex machina moment, which isn't good. But the action kicks in about page 260 with a trio of Abishai and it's rock and roll from thereon in- nice climax, liked it a lot. There's also some nice insight and intrigue in many parts but... big but, there's a fair amount of twaddle to get through until it really gets going.

Read!

Edit: Oh, and there's a pool of Darkness (and talk of others) we even get to see it at the end- it's crescent shaped!
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
#024 Pool of Twilight by James M Ward & Anne K Brown (Heroes of Phlan 3)
Read 8/11/19 to 12/11/19


Forgotten Realms Pool of Twilight (Heroes of Phlan 3) a 30.jpg

Book 3- Well... there are some (fairly) good bits and there are some (very) bad bits- some of them clunky bad. To begin with I don't really get the main villain. Sirana the Erinyes (daughter of Mad Marcus from Book 2), at the start she allows her underling to outfit her Thieves' Guild narks in armour which severely restricts their ability to be, well.. sneaky backstabbing Rogues. She infiltrates the party and then behaves like the semi-villain before finally revealing herself way too soon, and in a much (much) contrived way (we'll get back to this). She conjures Shadows and then gets upset when the sun rises and slaughters her spawn, she creates illusionary nasty dark trees- which are put out of action by... wait for it, an illusion. Which is less of a surprise when you know that one of the good guys is an illusionary Illusionist (you're going to have to read the book to find out how that works), and Sirana knows this... Everything she does turns to rude word goes here. Even down to summoning Dusk, Faerun's greatest (most kick ass) Black Dragon, she orders Dusk to fix the meddling party- SPOILER Dusk puts the 'fix' on Sirana.

Then there's the good stuff- although looking back I'm struggling to remember the good stuff- Miltiades is great as always and surprise ending (RUINED!) he gets his life back, which may in fact have shattered my love for the skeletal avenging Paladin. There's another new Paladin- Trooper, who is a much better character than the drongo Kern (son of Tarl and Shal). There are also lots of good fights back in Phlan, which is now looking like something out of a WFRP campaign, I expect the Nurgle guys to book in soon. Evaine is Evaine (and good at it), Gamaliel is Gamaliel-lite (disappointing), Ren gets killed (good), Listle is comedy gold (the illusionary Illusionist), Ren's daughter- I can't even remember her name and I only finished the book yesterday- is like Ren, and has nothing much to do with anything... there are quite a lot of good guys it seems- too many. Even Tarl, Anton and a few other Priests of Tyr get speaking parts. Oh, Shal is mostly unconscious throughout (a blessing).

So, there's a lot going on, and all of the time- the final fight is a doozy, only- the beginning of the finale is just a massive cop-out, the good guys (all 42 of them) are fighting their way to the Pool of Twilight, which at this point is Sirana's new permanent abode. Then... are you ready for it... they all fall down a hole, and land in something squidgy- everyone is unconscious for a bit. Then Kern (Paladin/Moron Hero) awakes to discover all of his friends tied up and suspended above the Pool of Twilight- he has to save them.

Hang on!

What now- they all fall down and Sirana decides to restrain all of the PCs except MC Hammer (Kern).

If she's time to tie up (magically with the Staff of Twilight) 41 of the 42 party members then why not just kill the lot, or a select few... the entire finale is fairly lush- although massively predictable, the set up (as discussed above) is laughable. You may as well have the two comedy Thompson Twin Elven Wizards stroll on with a massive Intertitle card baring the legend- "the heroes are captured... except for MC Hammer..." cut to Kern mid-Hammer time! Can't touch this!

But I bloody read it didn't I!

Let us never speak of it again.

And joy everlasting- there's another Pool to dive in to.

Cheers goonalan
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Sirana the Erinyes (daughter of Mad Marcus from Book 2)
I remember this being one of the earlier books that I nerd-raged on for game rule-related reasons. Like, Sirana isn't an erinyes; she's the daughter of the previous book's wizard villain and the erinyes he summoned. In other words half-devil (or half-baatezu, if you prefer). The problem is that there were no stats for such creatures in AD&D 2E at that time, the way there were for half-demon children (i.e. cambions and alu-fiends). It wouldn't be until the Guide to Hell came out that we got stats for those.

She conjures Shadows and then gets upset when the sun rises and slaughters her spawn
This also ticked me off. She summoned a bastellus, as I recall, which is a Ravenloft-specific monster. You don't pull creatures out of Ravenloft, doggone it!
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
Jumped in this late, but man, you're taking me back, and wow on the ambitious schedule!

I read nearly all these and have kept most on my library shelf for nostalgia. Some were so bad, so bad, that I donated them. Glad to see Homeland on your re-read list, I've enjoyed that trilogy over and over, and you're right on the Moonshae books. I was never into the heroes.

I won't ruin anything but I had fun reading the Canticle series, and the Harpers series included most of those I donated away rather than keep.
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
There's a few of those Harper series I loved and wished to see more from those heroes (Ruha, Parched Desert!) And other books have been guilty pleasures. I know Pool of Radiance isn't great, but it checked off enough boxes to keep me turning pages quickly.
 

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