I very much wanted to like this book. The pacing is pretty good so it reads well. There were a couple of editing errors though - the most glaring of wI very much wanted to like this book. The pacing is pretty good so it reads well. There were a couple of editing errors though - the most glaring of which there was actually mention of "French" in the epilogue.
What I did like is the rather well-done manner in which the protagonist, Ythnel, was portrayed. Worshippers of Loviatar are typically evil in alignment, but the plot managed to provide a more neutral approach to that faith, painting it in shades of grey.
Too bad that didn't quite extend beyond the surface treatment, especially not for the other characters. The focus of the plot is always on the events happening around the characters, or the actions that the characters undertake. I guess this was perhaps influenced by actual gaming sessions. The book would really have benefited from more introspection and a show of growth for the characters, to read about them rationalising things, facing doubts, self-realisation, etc. rather than just telling the reader what happened and glossing over what should've been rather emotional milestones. So, empathy was a bit lacking for the protagonist and entirely lacking for the supporting characters.
The overall plot and consistency was all right. The first few chapters were a bit awkward and stumbled as it focused on several characters who turned out to be entirely inconsequential. Such as (view spoiler)[Aznar Thrul, a Thayan zulkir. Not sure whether this was a publisher requirement or something, but it was pretty much entirely pointless, since there doesn't appear to be any sequel or prequel to this book to provide an expansion to what appears to be an attempt at providing an overarching plot (hide spoiler)]. But I don't really have any problems with the plot itself.
The problems I had were in the details. There were some power level issues where the characters were using powerful spells in one scene, weak spells the next, and then taking on powerful enemies. It's like the author isn't quite sure what level those characters supposed to be - in either case, Ythnel was way too powerful and way too worldly for a young acolyte who grew up mostly secluded in a manor.
Other problems include the poor use of lycanthropes, mostly in their placement and motivation, a rather unrealistic and implausible sequence of events in the concluding chapters, silly/illogical uses of magic, an unsolved plotline involving the (view spoiler)[traitor/spy (hide spoiler)], and an unsatisfying conclusion that wrapped things up too hurriedly.
It a quick and easy read, but there's nothing much to recommend about it, except if you're interested in a story set in Chessenta (city of Luthcheq and the Karanoks), or in Loviatar. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
First things first - this book is badly named. Lady of Poison? I expected to read large sections from the perspectives of a faitOne star for the plot.
First things first - this book is badly named. Lady of Poison? I expected to read large sections from the perspectives of a faithful of Talona, but instead I read from the perspective a dungeon master watching his players play through an adventure against the Chosen of Talona. Almost felt like observing an RPG session, the way the situations and fights flow. There's interesting bits of realms lore thrown in, but it felt like reading from an RPG sourcebook.
The 4 main characters had potential, but are marred by poor exposition, inconsistent behaviour, and downright unrealistic and corny dialogue. Marrec had a great backstory - but it felt forced and little came out of it. Priestly perspective? Mostly whining about his lost connection to his goddess - the way he regained it was too convenient. His mysterious pal from the far south? Yeah, that's about it. The shallow elf that's very unlike an elf. The wizard with a bitterness issue seemingly for the sake of it. Very one-dimensional characters that suddenly go out of character just to force a situation.
The villains were impressed upon the reader as being extremely dangerous - yet they were dispatched easily. You just can't empathise with the tribulations of the protagonists when their foes seem so weak.
And don't get me started on the dialogue. Every few paragraphs, one of them will say something that totally throws out what little immersion that I get. And as seen in my other reviews, I get irritated at bad editing and proofreading - and there's plenty here.
To be fair, the overarching plot is actually interesting. But I just can't help feeling that it was roundly wasted by shallow and inconsistent characters, poor interaction, convenient situations, and bad proofreading. I was thinking 2 stars, but I couldn't quite bring myself to label it as "It was ok". Hope the other 3 in the series are better. ...more
This is a reprint of the original publication, of which the first two books I own came from. The first and second actually contained good endings in aThis is a reprint of the original publication, of which the first two books I own came from. The first and second actually contained good endings in and of themselves, if you discount the little plot hook epilogue (that I remember).
I don't remember much of the first two series, except bits and pieces here and there. I guess they weren't memorable enough to stick. Granted, it was years ago, but great books tend to stick around in my head. I think this series should've been a duology instead of a trilogy. I do remember liking the final war in the second book.
The closing of this trilogy was somewhat... dull. The whole thing feels stretched to its limits in plot content and character development. Characters die before I've had a chance to recall who they were, repetitive guilt trips and "reflections" that tended to invoke annoyance than empathy, poor encounter management, and little character development.
It felt like I was watching a roleplaying session. There are several D&D books that feel this way and each one of them was boring. Encounter one, overcome it. Encounter two, overcome it. It feels very planned out and rigid. The whole plot felt almost like a rehash of the formula in book 2, except the characters and the details have changed. At least, it managed to answer my question on who was the Earthmother from the first two books and why she wasn't listed in the Forgotten Realms source books that I have.
Still, the pacing of the book was all right, a little meandering near the start, faster towards the end. The way faith and Bhaal was handled felt like it was breaking some 2nd edition rules, but I'm not so familiar with them anymore to comment specifics.
It was an ok read, nothing spectacular, but it's not exactly boring either; just somewhat predictable and repetitive....more
Book 3, the final book of the Empyrean Odyssey starts off right after the end of book 2, where we saw the fall of Mystra unleash the Spellplague - a cBook 3, the final book of the Empyrean Odyssey starts off right after the end of book 2, where we saw the fall of Mystra unleash the Spellplague - a catastrophic event that affected the very fabric of magic and reality.
The pacing of the story is on the fast side, as we follow the protagonists in their attempts to survive the aftermath, and unpredictable effects, of the Spellplague. Along the way, we see a lot of character development, especially for Aliisza and Kael. For Aliisza, this is the final leg of her journey through redemption that started in book 1. I thought that it was very well done; it didn't feel contrived or forced, but very naturally so.
The author also uses the viewpoints of the other supporting characters to good effect, such as Eirwyn and Garin, to showcase things from perspectives different from those of the protagonists. There's even a nice surprise appearance of another character from an older series that I really enjoyed.
And since this series is set within a period of great upheaval, there's nothing like betrayals, demonic invasions, and changes in the ranks of the divinity to spice it up. The author very happily names the types of angelic beings that he brings onto the scene (archons, solars, planetars, etc.) but there appears to be a reluctance to liberally name the demonic counterparts. I couldn't quite recall the demon types although I do recognise some of the descriptions. But that's just nitpicking, since the flow is entirely unaffected.
I found the ending to be rather symbolic of a new beginning, probably to coincide with the dawn of the 4th Edition of D&D. I had expected a slightly lengthier ending, to dwell on reflections and closures, but it wasn't quite there. But still, the ending was touching and, as mentioned, symbolic. It was a satisfactory end to the series....more
The second book in the rogue series, which i'm reading out of order, is a pleasant and relatively quick read. As with the series, the protagonist is aThe second book in the rogue series, which i'm reading out of order, is a pleasant and relatively quick read. As with the series, the protagonist is a rogue, and he gets involved in something that puts him neck deep in trouble. It was kind of a mixed bag though.
The characters were interesting enough, although i can't help feeling they were a little underdeveloped and cliched. Aeron, the protagonist, was all right, trusting more in his brains than his brawn, but a not very deep character. Miri, a wilderness ranger, who is out of her element feels a little stuck up, and similarly felt could've been more. One of the villains, Sefris, was the best of the lot. A rather believeable take on a worshipper of a dark goddess. The other villain, a tanarruk, also felt wasted. His fiendish nature wasn't really taken advantaged and you could replace him with a human or orc brute and it would make little difference.
The setting itself felt generic. The city of Oeble in the Border Kingdoms; not a region i'm familiar with but i'm not so sure about a Faerunian surface city with goblinkind being part of the open population. But then again, they're not particularly noteworthy. You could replace them with humans with little effect.
It was kind of odd that the titular black bouquet is neither a dangerous relic from the past nor a powerfl magic item capable of affecting tremendous change. It's kind of refreshing that it's not, but also kind of disappointing on its mundaneness. The plot itself was fine, with the somewhat predictable twists here and there, but appropriate enough given the theme of the series.
On the whole, a likeable story, and an appropriate ending, where our protagonist turns a not quite a new leaf, as you might have expected....more
This is another time when I wish Goodreads had a rating system out of 10 instead of 5. I'm really torn between 3 or 4 stars, and 3.5 would've been jusThis is another time when I wish Goodreads had a rating system out of 10 instead of 5. I'm really torn between 3 or 4 stars, and 3.5 would've been just right. In the end, seeing as how this is the first novel for the author, I gave it 4.
Firstly, I'd like to say that the setting and tone of the entire story was very good - it was dark and bleak. You could almost feel the aura of doom descending. Tension exists, but unfortunately it got stretched by slow pacing. Parts of the story in the middle were slow to read, with a lot of repetitive descriptions regarding both the protagonist and villain. The plot itself has moments of horror (the beginning was especially good), lots of action, questions of faith, and even some romance thrown in.
The main protagonist is the classic good-guy-doing-bad-things - i.e. the good-aligned killer (D&D 3.5E) - in this case, a ghostwalker (prestige class). He's a reluctant hero with a strong personality, dealing with his own internal conflict of light and dark.
The villain, despite wielding the rarely mentioned (rare in novels) blood magic, was a little one-dimensional in her evil. She's just... evil. Her background and dominating personality was superbly crafted, how it led to her current state. Too bad her motivations were left a little weak; she could've been even more interesting.
Overall, this is a good read; a story about prophecies and the reluctant pieces that got tied up into it....more
I'd give it 2.5 stars, since I'm not really at "I liked it", but since it was a fresh approach, I'd up it 0.5 stars I guess.
As mentioned, the approachI'd give it 2.5 stars, since I'm not really at "I liked it", but since it was a fresh approach, I'd up it 0.5 stars I guess.
As mentioned, the approach was interesting, going back and forth between two timelines and two groups of protagonists. It didn't start off well with me as I got kind of annoyed by the protagonists; I just don't relate well. They do get fleshed out quite a bit, but I just didn't like them. The book becomes a better read towards the end, as the pace picks up a bit and more interesting things happen. It's a nice ending, if a bit too convenient, but at least it's a nice one.
This being a "Lost Empires" book, I can't say much about he lore part, since I'm not familiar enough with Calimshan. But there's enough bits of lore here to satisfy fans I suppose. Although I'm thinking it's probably not that accurate, considering how Selune and Shar seem to be portrayed much differently than what I'd expect (as one example of several).
Still, overlooking the nitpicking, and the somewhat uninteresting start, it's a pleasant enough and easy enough read....more
This book is set in the Utter East region of Faerun. It stars "Quasimodo" and his bodyguard, and along the way picks up a greedy rogue and a pacifistThis book is set in the Utter East region of Faerun. It stars "Quasimodo" and his bodyguard, and along the way picks up a greedy rogue and a pacifist healer. It has all the ingredients for a great adventure - a goddess-given quest, a legendary location, and odd companions. Too bad it seems to fall short.
The plot and the writing isn't bad at all; it's just not very exciting for me. The protagonist is hard to relate to; he's torn between being selfish and being noble. But kiddos to Troy Denning to actually being able to work in combat scenes with a pacifist along....more