As with most anthologies, there are mixed levels of quality and enjoyment to be gotten from these short stories. This anthology's particular theme cauAs with most anthologies, there are mixed levels of quality and enjoyment to be gotten from these short stories. This anthology's particular theme caught my attention, having started reading Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos.
I must say that the first story, by Ian Watson, gave the wrong impression of the rest of the book. I found Ian's story to be the best of the bunch, having succinctly caught the feeling of dread, despair, and horror. The majority of the other stories didn't really manage to hit the right notes. Most were well-written enough, if looked at from a horror point of view. But that Lovecraftian feeling of dread is missing from a few of them.
Granted, I suppose the primary draw of the Cthulhu mythos lies in the horrible unknown. Once exposed, it sort of loses a bit of that which made it alluring. Another short story I found myself particularly liking was the one by Brian Stableford. It was sufficiently weird enough to be quite interesting.
Here's how I found each of the short stories, your mileage may vary of course:
The Walker in the Cemetery - Ian Watson - 4/5 Sanctuary - Don Webb - 2/5 Her Acres of Pastoral Playground - Mike Allen - 3/5 Spherical Trigonometry - Ken Asamatsu - 2/5 What Brings the Void - Will Murray - 3/5 The New Pauline Corpus - Matt Cardin - 1/5 Ghost Dancing - Darrell Schweitzer - 3/5 This is How the World Ends - John R. Fultz - 3/5 The Shallows - John Langan - 3/5 Such Bright and Risen Madness in Our Names - Jay Lake - 3/5 The Seals of New R'lyeh - Gregory Frost - 3/5 The Holocaust of Ecstasy - Brian Stableford - 4/5 Vastation - Laird Baird - 1/5 Nothing Personal - Richard A. Lupoff - 2/5 Remnants - Fred Chappell - 3/5...more
Very much recommended for Salvatore fans, especially fans of Drizzt and the Companions of the Hall. Each story is prefaced with comments and notes froVery much recommended for Salvatore fans, especially fans of Drizzt and the Companions of the Hall. Each story is prefaced with comments and notes from the author himself, and they proved interesting reading in themselves.
I've already read a couple of these stories when they were originally published in other anthologies; I've enjoyed them then, and still enjoy them now. There are several new ones I haven't read before, and the overall theme of all of it is to provide more background stories, character insights, and closures.
The stories are not all focused around Drizzt. In fact, stories with Drizzt in it are a minority. Bruenor, Wulfgar, Guenhywar, Catti-brie, Innovindil, Jarlaxle, Artermis, Pwent, Zhengyi, and even Regis are all featured in one way or another.
Being an anthology that explores back story and to provide insights is bound to contain spoilers even if you haven't read the appropriate trilogy, so be forewarned. I haven't read the Neverwinter trilogy, but went ahead and finished their related stories anyway, despite a warning from the author. Didn't really want to leave some stories off until later. ...more
Definitely mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, this book is less serious and less real compared to Ghosts of Ascalon. On the other hand,Definitely mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, this book is less serious and less real compared to Ghosts of Ascalon. On the other hand, this book is more fun and definitely adds to the anticipation for the release of Guild Wars 2.
If you're a GW player, you'll find loads to love in this book. Lots of hints of what's to come. The whole thing reads like a GW play session, going out with regular guildies and taken on quests and missions.
If you're not, I suspect you'll find lots in this book that feels corny and eye-brow-raising. It almost feels cartoony. I think J. Robert King did that deliberately.
The banter and interaction between the party of heroes range from ridiculous to somewhat-inspiring. Ridiculous in a corny sense. There's actually very few lengthy narratives; all the major fights tend to get wrapped up pretty quickly - somewhat belief-defying considering how their foes are supposed to be really powerful. But then again, stretching out those "missions" would thicken the book considerably. Still, the finale fight was quite satisfying and nicely sets up the background on why the Edge of Destiny split up.
Overall, it was a really fun read. Can't wait for Guild Wars 2....more
A very satisfactory ending to a trilogy that didn't start off so well for me. Book 3 begins about a century after the events of book 2... a century?!A very satisfactory ending to a trilogy that didn't start off so well for me. Book 3 begins about a century after the events of book 2... a century?! Yes, apparently, this is the start of 4th Edition D&D. I was initially starting to doubt my enjoyment of this book but it slowly unfolds with perfectly valid reasons for the timeline.
The main thing I found really good was character development. You would expect characters that started off in book 1 would be more or less fully developed already, but this book puts our protagonists of Aoth, Bareris, and Mirror through new challenges and new self-realisations. While I started off not quite liking them, at the end, I was turned around. And not just on them - plenty of development and focus on the zulkirs, Malark, Szass Tam, and even Aoth's lieutenants.
I loved the solid pacing of this book - it's never a slow pace - it just builds up towards the finale conflicts. And speaking of that, the finale was superbly done - switching between different view points and two separate conflicts smoothly. If I have to complain, I suppose the battle scenes towards the end was getting a bit too unrealistic, just by logically thinking about the number of casualties there must've been. But it doesn't detract from the action at all.
A great ending to a devious plot, and a great beginning to 4th Edition (for me anyway)....more
The first book of a trilogy on Thay and its Red Wizards, and of Szass Tam and his grab for more power. It's a decent read, but slow at times. I'm ambiThe first book of a trilogy on Thay and its Red Wizards, and of Szass Tam and his grab for more power. It's a decent read, but slow at times. I'm ambivalent about the book. The highlights would be the political manoeuvrings and character interactions; really well done.
It's a great overarching plot that the book kicks off, filled with assassinations, manipulations, espionage, backstabbing, blackmailing and even a war with the undead. I can't wait to see how this turns off. What I didn't like, is also because of this overarching plot and how it meshes with sub-plots.
I think the story tried to kick too many things off simultaneously. For the first half, I'm given a platter with a whole bunch of characters and not quite sure who the protagonists are. That would come in another quarter of the book, towards the end. It's not bad, it's just feels a little unfocused I suppose.
But I did enjoy reading it. The characters were excellent, even the minor ones, which was why I had trouble figuring them out. Book one most definitely isn't meant to stand on its own. It's just setting things up for the next book, and from the set up, it should be a really interesting one....more
Well now, I guess all the personalities and separate plot lines came together to bear fruit in book 2. I actually didn't realise that this book crosseWell now, I guess all the personalities and separate plot lines came together to bear fruit in book 2. I actually didn't realise that this book crosses the Year of the Blue Fire - the Realms-wide Spellplague event.
The conflict that started in book 1 was now 10 years ago, and Thay is a nation torn apart by civil war. You are still following the same characters and you see through their eyes, actions, and reflections on how the war has changed them and the land around them.
I'd say this was portrayed very well, and you start getting attached to these characters - even the zulkirs and their quirks. By far, Malark and Aoth got a lot more interesting, while Bareris got better (didn't quite like him in book 1) - although that bit with Tammith felt a bit odd and forced.
The descriptions of the war and the action was done well, and I found the pacing to be good.
Lore-wise, it was pretty good - portraying the after effects of the death of the goddess Mystra in a deadly, mysterious, and very much land-altering event.
Book 2 is definitely an intermediate book, as it's not enough to stand on its own. Definitely looking forward to book 3....more