I'm reading the Forgotten Realms Novels- #34 The Giant Among Us (Twilight Giants 2)

Goonalan

Adventurer
#016 Homeland by RA Salvatore (Dark Elf Trilogy Book 1)
Read 14/10/19 to 16/10/19


Forgotten Realms Homeland (Dark Elf 1) a 30.jpg

It had to happen, well.. this is by far the best novel that I have read so far during this endeavour. It was all the things I suspected it to be and a bit more besides- Menzoberranzan now exists as a place for me, the Drow a race- sure, I'd read bits and pieces here and there. I grew up DMing the GDQ series- we never got as far as Q, I think the various PCs in-game died so many times during the course of the D series that the players just kinda gave up. I think we switched to recording ourselves playing Bloodbowl for the rest of the summer- it was less violent. So, I've DMed Drow… but now I know how to do it better.

I'm not going to tell you what's in this book, you're going to have to read it- it's well worth the effort, read the series. If you want to play a Drow… then do it, if you're a DM and your #1 villain is a Drow then read the first two books. Matron Malice has got your back.

Every character my friend Stu plays on an interminable number of online computer RPGs is Drizzt, I bumped in to Stu about six weeks ago- his brother (one of my first DMs) is a massive LARPing guy. Stu had just been to a LARP-fair, he proudly told me that he had bought himself a cloak, sorry- Piwafwi. He's 45 years of age- married, and does something with computers (ain't it always the way), and he still thinks his Drizzt.

Drizzt is his hero.

Incidentally Stu also has a garage full of bottled water and tinned food, y'know for the forth coming apocalypse- he got me a bottle of Potassium Iodide tablets for Christmas a few years back (for the fallout), so... don't take everything he says as gospel.

But it's that kind of book, that kind of series- particularly books 1 & 2, you could go looking for a cracking adventure and by mistake bump in to a hero. Don't get me wrong. I'm a DM- not a player, but if I played again... he's an interesting feller that Drizzt.

Drow Ranger you say, twin scimitars, inner turmoil and a magic cat. I'm sold.

Read!

And don't try to stop me- when I'm done with this list I'm going to go back and read this series again.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Homeland is one of those books that every D&D player should read. It's a genuinely good fantasy book. It also converted me from a lifelong Drow-hater to a Drow-lover. That's how good it is.
 

jayoungr

Adventurer
Homeland is, to date, the only Forgotten Realms novel I've read. I'm not opposed to reading more, just have had too much else on my reading list. I definitely enjoyed it, though. Hoping this thread can give me recommendations on which of the other novels are worthwhile.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
I'd definitely recommend finishing the series- Homeland, Exile & Sojourn. Exile is as good as Homeland, while Sojourn is a different thing- lack of underdark and Menzo, but equally worthy- if only to finish the story (the blind Ranger is way too cool). Exile brought a tear to my eye, and none of the other novels on this list have managed that so far.

Cheers goonalan
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
#017 Exile by RA Salvatore (Dark Elf Trilogy Book 2)
Read 17/10/19 to 18/10/19


Forgotten Realms Exile (Dark Elf 2) a 30.jpg

Book 2- "Zin-Carla!" Bloody hell they don't mess about these Drow- Drizzt has done a runner what shall we do? I know let's dig up his dead Sword Master Dad and send him after the lad. As I say- bloody hell, of course it ends badly for Matron Malice but the flavour of treachery I'll leave for you to discover. Murder- keep it in the family, that's the Drow way.

So, Drizzt in the Underdark trying to survive, to find a place and a way of living- someone to accept him for who he is rather than the way he looks (a familiar tale some would say- particularly in these most modern of times). Then we get to Blingdenstone, and I'll admit it (I'm a big lad) but even get choked up once or twice as I'm reading the novel, Belwar Dissengulp- you are a giant amongst Deep Gnomes. I think it's because while Drizzt has kept on going- no matter what flavour of terror besets him, you just want the poor lad to catch a break. Belwar is the break, a break from the terror but better still... someone to trust, and without the complications imposed by Drow society. Belwar gets closer to being a father figure (perhaps) to Drizzt than Zaknafein ever could (again, mainly due to the Drow way of doing things- living the lie).

Magga cammara! The two broken loners find a way to fix each other- a fair swap.

Then of course dead-Zak catches up with Drizzt (and Belwar) and thereafter full-speed ahead, the pair get the hell out of dodge (Blingdenstone) and the chase is on. There follows some daft bits- Clacker and the Wizard, some crazy (good) bits- the Dire Corbies, and most especially the Mind Flayers (they sit in comfortable armchairs, I love that- I'm now picturing an Illithid version of my Nan- with a used tissue hanging out of her sleeve and knitting with her face-tentacles). Then there's pretty much just the finale to work through, and then the consequences of Malice's defeat. It's all gone Pete Tong (wrong) for House Do'Urden.

Bivrip! Read!

You should too, it's as good as Homeland.
 
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Blackrat

He Who Lurks Beyond The Veil
If memory serves, Homeland was the first FR book that I ever read, shortly after I started playing D&D, and I was hooked on Drizzt immediately. Man, if only I had the time. I still have those books...
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
#018 Sojourn by RA Salvatore (Dark Elf Trilogy Book 3)
Read 18/10/19 to 21/10/19


Forgotten Realms Sojourn (Dark Elf 3) a 30.jpg

Book 3- and I don't want to start by saying it's not as good as the first two, but... it's not, it's still great- and in the top five I've read so far in this list (although I'm only up to 18 so far). Drizzt hits the surface, and of course he doesn't know his place, or how to find a place for himself (no matter how small) in society. So, he survives, and that's enough for a while- then after watching a farming family, and all the while wanting to do the right thing, to say something... well, something bad happens. Something bad involving a pair of Barghest whelps, a handful of Gnolls, a Hill Giant, a pesky Quickling and a nasty human hunter, which is plenty of bad things to be going on with. Of course it all goes very wrong, and the Drow is to blame... Drizzt flees the scene.

Then, at last, the good guy- Montolio (the blind-ninja-Ranger), although the watching Elves are pretty up there too, and Drizzt does something more than survive for a while- he finds a place for himself, a role. He can't see too far in to the future, which is odd- because his new found boon companion the aged and blind Montolio can. We get some nice Orc, Worg and Stone Giant action- and still the nasty bastard human hunter in the background, stirring the pot. Eventually, Drizzt (once again) has to move on...

The last section of the novel, with Drizzt on the road again, bodyguard (sorta) for some crazy self-harming Monks. I kept thinking of the Monty Python Monks that smash themselves in the face with great tomes as they walk and chant. This bit is not the best bit- the Drow is more than a little fortunate in the ancient Red Dragon encounter, and some of it kinda bursts the bubble (for me).

Part of the problem is I am so connected to the D&D world that when I'm reading these books I'm thinking of them in game terms. Wrong thing to do, I know- but D&D is my bridge to the fantasy fiction Forgotten Realms mythos, so I tend to judge the books not just as stories but as potential gameplay. Please keep in mind before I set out to read these novels I had read very little Forgotten Realms fiction (and none of the novels). I had only read what I needed to know, mostly in the sidebars and the text of various modules and supplements. This really is my first look at the Realms.

Back to Sojourn- some of it I just don't buy, the recurring villain is a bastard but stupid, and angry all the time, and ultimately weak. There's less threat, the action is much better earlier in the piece. I want the good Ranger to hunt Drizzt, to finally figure out the Drow is the good guy (or at least no threat) at the end. The two need to go head-to-head time and again, until finally Drizzt has to come clean, start talking- explain his quandary and then, finally, be accepted- or else prove himself somehow.

I'm Drizzt, I'm a Drow, but I'm okay.

Read!
 

jeremypowell

Explorer
Part of the problem is I am so connected to the D&D world that when I'm reading these books I'm thinking of them in game terms. Wrong thing to do, I know-
Not necessarily!

Back in the 2e-4e days it TSR/WotC occasionally would publish (usually in Dragon Magazine) stat blocks for characters in the novels. And of course there are the Heroes Lorebook, Villains Lorebook, etc. sourcebooks that do the same.

And Elaine Cunningham has said that when Jeff Grubb was overseeing things in the late '80s through mid-'90s, it was routine to check the events of the novels against what a PC or NPC with that class, level, items etc. would be capable of! Writers could, essentially, fudge the rolls for characters, but they couldn't have characters accomplish things they wouldn't be capable of in a game session.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Not necessarily!

Back in the 2e-4e days it TSR/WotC occasionally would publish (usually in Dragon Magazine) stat blocks for characters in the novels. And of course there are the Heroes Lorebook, Villains Lorebook, etc. sourcebooks that do the same.

And Elaine Cunningham has said that when Jeff Grubb was overseeing things in the late '80s through mid-'90s, it was routine to check the events of the novels against what a PC or NPC with that class, level, items etc. would be capable of! Writers could, essentially, fudge the rolls for characters, but they couldn't have characters accomplish things they wouldn't be capable of in a game session.
Oh yeah! I remember the stat blocks in Dragon, and both of the supplements (although never owned either). I subscribed to Dragon for maybe a decade, and Dungeon from the start to the end.

As to playing out some of the fights- I'd like to see the stats for Moander versus Alias and the crowd from Books 1 & 3 of the Finder's Stone Trilogy. Apologies, still sore that Moander took a beating (twice), I really liked that guy.

Although now I start to think about the fight at the end of Book 1- Azure Bonds- the PCs must have been very high level.

Thanks for sharing, I feel slightly validated.

Cheers goonalan
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
#019 Prophet of Moonshae by Douglas Niles (Druidhome Trilogy Book 1)
Read 21/10/19 to 24/10/19


Forgotten Realms Prophet of Moonshae (Druidhome 1) a 30.jpg

So, the test begins- this is a bit of a stinker, don't get me wrong there's some nice action here and there but... meh. The Moonshae isles are beset by storms (Talos the Destroyer is out to get 'em) and so the kingdoms need gold to keep the Ffolk fed- King Kendrick is reliant on Earl Blackstone's gold mines, and to keep digging Blackstone needs to destroy a Moonwell. Got that- we move on, (very) swiftly mind you- Kendrick gets on a boat bound for the Sword Coast, Queen Robyn (Super-Druid) gets visited by the Nameless Priest (aka Malawar (Malware?) = Sinioth), the Priest of Talos slips Robyn some super-strength cocoa (or similar) and the Queen slumbers (more-or-less) for the rest of the novel.

So, Princess Alicia (beautiful, strong and fierce- every leading male in the story falls for her) is sent to deal with Earl Blackstone, along for the ride is Tavish (the Bard from the previous trilogy) and Keane her tutor (and as it turns out a very high level Wizard, and in love with Alicia- told you). The Moonwell is a mess, as is the land surrounding- Earl Blackstone is a bore (at best) and a pantomime villain at worst. Oh, and the Earl keeps getting visit by a spectral Doomsayer the Prophet (from the title), the last time the fellow rocked up one of his sons took his own life.

Princess Alicia decides that the Moonwell is for keeping, so the Nameless Priest (Sinioth) meets with Blackstone and sends an Iron Golem out to get the Princess. Keane casts Rock to Mud (and then back again- foolish) and sinks the monster, the Golem briefly escapes but soon after is properly sunk- and the Moonwell comes alive, the earthmother goddess is coming back.

Congrats, you made it this far- great, we're about 25 pages in... not really but you get my drift, there are tons more characters to get going on-

Deidre- Princess Alicia's moody goth (initially) sister who later sleeps with the Nameless Priest (who begins the evening looking like Justin Bieber and ends it looking like Montgomery Burns). Deidre, after reading a few books (from the library?) and fingers-crossed pledging herself to Talos becomes a high level Sorcerer (in maybe a tenday or so).

There's also Blackstone's two sons- Gwyeth (son and heir) and Hanrald (outsider hero- in love with Alicia natch). Gwyeth has inherited his father's pantomime villain traits- later he dies, no-one mourns him- oddly not even his dad who makes it clear earlier that Gwyeth is his great hope. Hanrald charges about a bit on a horse, being brave.

Blackstone also states earlier in the piece that his kingdom (being on the border) will suffer if the Northmen and Fflok go to war, then he and the Nameless Priest do all they can to get the two kingdoms to go to war. There's a lot of saying (or thinking) one thing briefly and then doing the exact opposite.

There's also Gotha, a badass Dracolich- not nice but in the end he's nullified in seconds by the good guys- mostly Newt, so not that badass after all. There are a bunch of Northmen, led by Prince Brandon (in love with Alicia), Yak the Firbolg is back (with friends- they don't last long), Newt the faerie dragon gives the good guys a hoard of artefacts to play with (and holds the Dracolich off while the artefacts power up). Oh, and the artefacts are so overpowered you figure that any of the main PCs could be replaced by a couple of farmers armed with spades, and the good guys would still stand a chance against the forces of Talos.

The threat throughout is less than- the writing's nice but pretty much the good guys have most stuff under control, or else some twist of fate always thwarts the bad folk- man, if the Nameless Priest could just catch-a-break. Also why are the bad guys just mostly idiots, the Nameless Priest takes years to make his Iron Golem, Keane sinks it under thirty seconds. The Nameless Priest choses idiots to do his bidding- Blackstone (and family) and then spends all his time converting Deidre (the goth princess) to the dark side only to have her smack him in the chops and disrupt his big showdown at the Moonwell.

So, don't read this one- I've done it for you, go and do something much more interesting instead- maybe, cut your toe-nails, or do the ironing.

Oh and the dogs are back- Canthus' brood maybe.

Oh and the Sahuagin are back too.

Oh and at the end King Kendrick's ship has gone missing/sunk- last page, here comes the sequel.

Read!

Only two more in the trilogy to go. Yay!
 
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Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
#019 Prophet of Moonshae by Douglas Niles (Druidhome Trilogy Book 1)
Read 21/10/19 to 24/10/19


View attachment 115167

So, the test begins- this is a bit of a stinker, don't get me wrong there's some nice action here and there but... meh. The Moonshae isles are beset by storms (Talos the Destroyer is out to get 'em) and so the kingdoms need gold to keep the Ffolk fed- King Kendrick is reliant on Earl Blackstone's gold mines, and to keep digging Blackstone needs to destroy a Moonwell. Got that- we move on, (very) swiftly mind you- Kendrick gets on a boat bound for the Sword Coast, Queen Robyn (Super-Druid) gets visited by the Nameless Priest (aka Malawar (Malware?) = Sinioth), the Priest of Talos slips Robyn some super-strength cocoa (or similar) and the Queen slumbers (more-or-less) for the rest of the novel.

So, Princess Alicia (beautiful, strong and fierce- every leading male in the story falls for her) is sent to deal with Earl Blackstone, along for the ride is Tavish (the Bard from the previous trilogy) and Keane her tutor (and as it turns out a very high level Wizard, and in love with Alicia- told you). The Moonwell is a mess, as is the land surrounding- Earl Blackstone is a bore (at best) and a pantomime villain at worst. Oh, and the Earl keeps getting visit by a spectral Doomsayer the Prophet (from the title), the last time the fellow rocked up one of his sons took his own life.

Princess Alicia decides that the Moonwell is for keeping, so the Nameless Priest (Sinioth) meets with Blackstone and sends an Iron Golem out to get the Princess. Keane casts Rock to Mud (and then back again- foolish) and sinks the monster, the Golem briefly escapes but soon after is properly sunk- and the Moonwell comes alive, the earthmother goddess is coming back.

Congrats, you made it this far- great, we're about 25 pages in... not really but you get my drift, there are tons more characters to get going on-

Deidre- Princess Alicia's moody goth (initially) sister who later sleeps with the Nameless Priest (who begins the evening looking like Justin Bieber and ends it looking like Montgomery Burns). Deidre, after reading a few books (from the library?) and fingers-crossed pledging herself to Talos becomes a high level Sorcerer (in maybe a tenday or so).

There's also Blackstone's two sons- Gwyeth (son and heir) and Hanrald (outsider hero- in love with Alicia natch). Gwyeth has inherited his father's pantomime villain traits- later he dies, no-one mourns him- oddly not even his dad who makes it clear earlier that Gwyeth is his great hope. Hanrald charges about a bit on a horse, being brave.

Blackstone also states earlier in the piece that his kingdom (being on the border) will suffer if the Northmen and Fflok go to war, then he and the Nameless Priest do all they can to get the two kingdoms to go to war. There's a lot of saying (or thinking) one thing briefly and then doing the exact opposite.

There's also Gotha, a badass Dracolich- not nice but in the end he's nullified in seconds by the good guys- mostly Newt, so not that badass after all. There are a bunch of Northmen, led by Prince Brandon (in love with Alicia), Yak the Firbolg is back (with friends- they don't last long), Newt the faerie dragon gives the good guys a hoard of artefacts to play with (and holds the Dracolich off while the artefacts power up). Oh, and the artefacts are so overpowered you figure that any of the main PCs could be replaced by a couple of farmers armed with spades, and the good guys would still stand a chance against the forces of Talos.

The threat throughout is less than- the writing's nice but pretty much the good guys have most stuff under control, or else some twist of fate always thwarts the bad folk- man, if the Nameless Priest could just catch-a-break. Also why are the bad guys just mostly idiots, the Nameless Priest takes years to make his Iron Golem, Keane sinks it under thirty seconds. The Nameless Priest choses idiots to do his bidding- Blackstone (and family) and then spends all his time converting Deidre (the goth princess) to the dark side only to have her smack him in the chops and disrupt his big showdown at the Moonwell.

So, don't read this one- I've done it for you, go and do something much more interesting instead- maybe, cut your toe-nails, or do the ironing.

Oh and the dogs are back- Canthus' brood maybe.

Oh and the Sahuagin are back too.

Oh and at the end King Kendrick's ship has gone missing/sunk- last page, here comes the sequel.

Read!

Only two more in the trilogy to go. Yay!
I have great love for the Moonshae's, but yeah. These books aren't that great ;)
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
#020 The Coral Kingdom by Douglas Niles (Druidhome Trilogy Book 2)
Read 25/10/19 to 27/10/19


Forgotten Realms The Coral Kingdom (Druidhome 2) a 30.jpg

Book 2- and it's a lot better than the first one, I raced through it- although I was stuck on a train for three hours so that accounted for over half of the novel getting read. Don't get me wrong, it's not a great novel but it stays the course. It helps that there's pretty much one journey style quest that runs throughout, and we're along for the ride. The King (Tristan) has been captured, and is imprisoned beneath the sea in the entitled Coral Kingdom, home to the aquatic nasty bastards the Sahuagin. So, (Princess) Alicia, her three puppy dog lovers/followers- (Earl) Hanrald, (Prince) Brandon & (Teacher/Wizard) Keane in tow- along with the usual crew (Robyn, Pawldo etc.) head out to adventure.

Talos the Destroyer has hired in some help from Malar the Beastlord- who unleashes the Ityak-Ortheel (known as the Elf-Eater to his friends) a massive Otyugh-style monster that true to its name- eats Elves (if there was a film it would be played by Ray Winstone), it knocks them down and then hoovers 'em up with its mouth/proboscis (good eating). The fight to ward off this beast takes up fifty plus pages of the text, the thing is damn near unkillable.

The Nameless Priest is also back although he's now known as Coss-Axell-Sinioth (CAS), which I presume is an anagram for something (or possibly just the author reminding the reader of his previous incarnations). CAS now takes the form of a giant squid, which is possibly a promotion. There's also a Sahuagin King/Baron, and a Scrag of similar rank, and obviously a horde of other underling nasties. In the background King Tristan's moody daughter Deidre watches the action through her scrying mirror, the reader is often left wondering which side of the fight she's going to jump in on- although when CAS starts showing up more you know Deidre's going to nail him at some point.

And on it goes- as I said at the start it fair rips along, and we get to go and see Evermeet, the mortal kingdom of the Elves, which is great- exactly as you expected it to be, but great nevertheless. That's it really- King Tristan escapes the clutches of the Sahuagin/Scrags, and the forces of good win the day. There's a nice bit when the Elves magic up the longboat so that it now functions as a submarine (for a bit), a great undersea battle, and eventually a nasty incident with Deidre and the magical scrying mirror- but that's for next time.

Read!
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Hi there,

I've just updated the proposed list/order for reading these books- found here. If you get the chance can you go back and have a look, see if I've messed up anywhere.

Do I have to read the Dragonlance novel Fistandantilus Reborn to get the full effect of the Lost Gods series? Because if I don't have to... well, I'm not going to- it's a Dragonlance novel, not my bag at all.

Also check out the Harpers list, is the order okay- with the unpublished but available on the web Rise of the Blade by Charles Alexander Moffatt in there, anyone know different?

Cheers goonalan
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Do I have to read the Dragonlance novel Fistandantilus Reborn to get the full effect of the Lost Gods series? Because if I don't have to... well, I'm not going to- it's a Dragonlance novel, not my bag at all.
If I remember right, Fistandantilus Reborn, though "Lost Gods #2" is set entirely on Krynn. All it does is get one Kender character into the path of book #3's Main character for that story.

I'll have to check the Harpers list, but it's probably right :)
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Also a follow up question, the Elminster series-

1) Elminster: The Making of a Mage
2) Elminster in Myth Drannor
3) The Temptation of Elminster
4) Elminster in Hell
5) Elminster's Daughter

The other two-
The Annotated Elminster, &
Elminster Ascending
are just anthologies (sorta) of 1-5 with a few extra notes, is that correct?

Apologies, just trying to do the job properly.

And very much appreciating the help.

Cheers goonalan
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Also a follow up question, the Elminster series-

1) Elminster: The Making of a Mage
2) Elminster in Myth Drannor
3) The Temptation of Elminster
4) Elminster in Hell
5) Elminster's Daughter

The other two-
The Annotated Elminster, &
Elminster Ascending
are just anthologies (sorta) of 1-5 with a few extra notes, is that correct?

Apologies, just trying to do the job properly.

And very much appreciating the help.

Cheers goonalan
Annotated Elminster and Elminster Ascending are just the first three books collected into an omnibus. Annotated is... well, annotated. You can skip both those if you're already reading the 5 separately
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
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
 

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