What might have been a good read is ruined by the Wizards of the Coast gaming company change of the DnD rules from 3rd to 4th eddition, and in particu...moreWhat might have been a good read is ruined by the Wizards of the Coast gaming company change of the DnD rules from 3rd to 4th eddition, and in particular they've decided to make this transition in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting by assigning this duty to some writers and game designers. Bruce R. Cordell's Abolethic Sovereignty trilogy is such a transitionary work, adapting elements from the new eddition of the game and make them as part of the story.
The story of the book begins with the main character, a traveling monk, belonging to an ancient order whose purpose is the hunting and extinction of aberrations, as he returns home after ten years of eterminating abominations to see his adopted daughter. Right after he returns tragedy strucks and the world is covered in magical blue fire. This is the Spellplague, an event that triggers the change from 3rd to 4th eddition in the Forgotten Realms and is happening because the godess of magic is murdered, and magic itself is malfuntioning (good hint of what i 've mentioned in the first paragraph). We then have a magical 10 year time skip, where Raidon (the monk) wakes up in a much changed world from what he remembers and seeing that his amulet, a family heirloom, has been fused into his flesh as a magical tatoo called a spellscar. After Raidon searches for his lost child and finding out tha she has perished he becomes overcome with grief.
At this point other characters and story elements are introduced, such as a kuo-toa priestess (a kind of fish people) whose race hunts her for preaching against their deity, after she finds a very ancient artifact which bestows upon her many powers and thus branding her as heretic. The final part of the story is the remaining characters forming a group together, in a ship, to meet this kuo-toa priestess called Nogah and learn what she has to offer, at the behest of a corrupt noble, named Behroun Marhana, who wishes to attain some sort of leverage that could grant him control of his city's council which his family already belongs to.
As usual in such a story the characters are worth about half the story. That is not the case here with Raidon Kane, the main protagonist, who's a recurring character from the novel Stardeep, having nothing of worth to mention. His main desire is revenge for his lost daughter and he seems to work only for that in the whole series, while having a sentient magical construct ally, who is so powerfull he can teleport Raidon from place to place. The intelligent construct, Cynosure, takes the role of mentor in order to drive Raidon away from the despair he's sunk and give him a new purpose in this new world, all the while making him search for information and tools to fight a new mysterious threat, as it's slowly revealling a bit of cryptic information at a time.
The new characters are more interesting than that with Japheth, a warlock, whose addiction to a kind of drug that enhances his senses but will eventually cost him his life forces him to make a pact with a mysterious fey entity known as the Lord of Bats, granting him many dark secrets and supernatural abillities. Anusha, a noble girl and half sister to the heir of the Marhana family, who finds herself touched by the blue fire and slowly developing the abillity to create a "dream form" while sleeping and walk away from her living body, as well as, creating things from her mind in that form. Having a crush on Japheth she follows him, secretly, after Japheth is employed by her brother as his personal agent and stowing herself in his cabin.
The secondary characters are the best, as they all hide something but are very enjoyable. Thoster, the captain of the ship in which part of the story transpires, has a secret lineage and goals he refuses to share whith the others of his team, as well as Serren, the ship's sorceress, who hides something from her past, but whose sardonic nature is evident to all. Both characters' scenes are great and it's a shame they didn't have more. Even the antagonist Malyanna, some kind of ancient elf, is very interesting in the way you don't know what what are her goals and where she comes from.
The pacing varies, from very slow in the Raidon scenes, to just slow until the final part and fight scene of the book. The best trait aside from the character is, in addition to the fight scenes, the elements of horror theme, remindingme of H.P. Lovecraft. However as much as i appreciate his attempt to create an appropriate atmosphere Cordell is not Lovecraft. Trying to introduce the horror genre in the FR is a valiant effort, and he makes a good job at times with the characters being "lost" and confused about what they're supposed to do, or what they're looking for in a world that's further changing. The descriptions lack the proper material to reach the "terrifying" impression Lovecraft creates and end up as more big scary monsters.
All in all i'd say Cordell is a big fan of the horror theme and sci-fi and though he aspires to create it he fails because, in the end, the novel is a game's mechanics promotion. A shame really.(less)
This is another novel in the Forgotten Realms universe based upon the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game, written by Richard Lee Byers.
The plot is...moreThis is another novel in the Forgotten Realms universe based upon the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game, written by Richard Lee Byers.
The plot is not overly original as it's another attempt by an overlord to seize ultimate power, though it's not too diasapointing in it's twists and side stories. An evil wizard whos hasn't been content in co-ruling the country with other members of the council he's part of, finaly starts making moves that would grant him control over his peers, all the while having several dark secrets. Another main character who has been away from his country and his betrothed for years, returns to find his land in a state of upheaval and his woman gone, so he seeks her out, trying to find out what's happened. A soldier and warmage tries to defend his homenland from within, while not sure who and what he's fighting, or which side he should choose. Many more secondary characters are revealing more of the story on their own views of what's transpiring, in a politically complex game of wizards and undead.
Most of the character are well developed and likeable, in my opinion. The main antagonist Szass Tam is one of my favourite villains in the way of being mysterious, not very expressive, and having enough personal and pollitical power that he's consedered a major threat and not trustworthy by almost everyone in the novel, while he's smart, politacally savvy enough, and charismatic, to accomplish his goals. The main character Bareris might not appear interesting at first, but as the story proceeds, he slowly changes and becomes more groundable and likeable, given the situation he's found himself in. Aoth the warmage captain is also intriguing, if only not so much as the others, given his background of being born half a race of humans that's loathed and mocked in Thay. He is still loyal enough to defend his homeland from within, but in a country where everyone is unethical and against everybody, what's the best side to choose? Finally the monk character Mallack belongs to an order dedicated to Death and the demise of everything there is in the world. A nihillist who's himself immortal due to a potion he drank centuries ago and he's fighting on the behalf of some Red Wizard in a land that hates itself!
The best trait of the book is definetely the atmosphere it creates! Myself, being a big fan of dark and horror novels, i'm dissapointed by the lack of this in the Forgotten Realms, but Byers, a known writer of such stories, makes a very fine job to adapt this trait to a place like Thay whose history and culture, as well as, it's evil customs and people makes it an excellent place for such a thing. The mood gets darker and darker as the story goes on and the descriptions of the undead and other dark creatures, the places, people and situations dercibed within, fit the dark fantasy gene very well, in my opinion.
The only negative thing that i disliked is the lack of action by some characters in times where it's needed. This becomes more obvious in the following novels, as the results of the above mentioned actions, or lack thereoff, is seen. (less)
This is a classic novel by R.A. Salvatore in the Forgotten Realms universe, based on the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game. Storywise it is befor...moreThis is a classic novel by R.A. Salvatore in the Forgotten Realms universe, based on the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game. Storywise it is before the events that transpired in the Icewind Dale series, which comes after though it was printed first. Even after more than 20 years that's been written it remains a classic, among fans of the gene.
The story follows the main protagonist, Drizzt, who is raised in that society of evil and chaos and who is trying to cope being born male and as such servant to the whims of the females and the clergy of Lolth. At the same time ame time a power play that's always brewing in Menzoberranzan, starts to turn against the protagonist's House and he's trying to find out not only what is going on and still be true to his duties, but also strugling to resist the evil influences of his people and make his own decisions.
I'd say the characters vary from dissapointing, to average and very intriguing. The main protagonist Drizzt is the main problem in that regard, although he's not as annoying and dissapointing here as he's in following books. From the moment he's introduced as an infant the reader automatically assumes he'll become either Good in a society of Evil, or that he's "destined for great things", given his lavender eyes in costrast with the red ones drow normaly have. The stereotype starts, and builds further to the point when Drizzt is a teenager and it's time to be decided if he'll become either a warrior or a mage. The test he's subjected to is rediculous, for he manages to catch all ten coins thrown in the air with his fingertips (with the first try!) and as such dubbing him "ambidexterous". Even after graduating from fighter's school the only explanation for his attitude and "overwhelming fighting skill" is that he's the son of the city's greatest warrior.
What's beyond me is how a "boy" by his race's standards manages to accomplish all this things in such short time, without any help, and discovering human traits such as compassion, mercy and regrets, while most of his people simply don't seem to care and no one taught him. He even manages to win the affections of the magical panther, later known as his companion, while in the possesion of an enemy mage and still ignoring it's master's orders to kill Drizzt, instead it allies with him despite the magical contract with it's master, and making Drizzt able to ignore the fundamental laws of magic.
Drizzt's father, Zak, is far more interesting and likeable and that's cause his background is more believable and groundable. Unlike his son he had centuries to grow, learn and adapt in a city like Menzoberranzan, developing morals similar to Drizzt, but much more realistic. Some matron mothers hold some interest in theis secretive and manipulative ways.
The wizards even more so, with the deformed wizard survival of another house that house Do'Urden raided years ago, being the "antagonist", he's among the most well written characters in this book and deserved more "screen time" in my opinion with all his scheming and planning and well thought plans, only not to perish at Drizzt's hands in the end, but to meet his end by his own magical pet.
Finally the mercenary leader character Jarlaxle is introduced in this book and you see that he's special, when in a society that appearance is everything and the drow status is displayed on the length and hairstyle each drow sports, he keeps his hair shaved and his overall appearance is considered eccentric, marking him for the vagabond he is. Despite that he has managed to win great profits for himself, through his agents and company, to the point that matron mothers show him almost respect for a male, even the ruler of the first House seems to care for his opinion.
Overall i'd say that the story is among Salavatore's best(who is not even close among my favourite story tellers) and stands out, mainly due to the development of the drow society. As such the atmosphere is pretty good, but could be way better and darker, a trait that Salvatore's stories lack. The pace is of milding quallity as it is in some points very slow and in others fast and confusing. In conclusion, i believe the story's greatest asset is Salvatore's battle and city descriptions, even if he could lay low in some aspect and give grater emphasis in some others. (less)
This is the first book of the Twilight War trilogy by Paul Kemp. It's also the continuation of the characters first presented in the Sembia series and...moreThis is the first book of the Twilight War trilogy by Paul Kemp. It's also the continuation of the characters first presented in the Sembia series and the Erevis Cale Trilogy right after that. People who want to read this book should first check the other books beforehand if the want to understand the characters and events described within the novel, or they could simply start with this one but they might have some trouble underastanding who is who and what happened in the past.
The plot is quite interesting, being comprised of the goals the three main characters have. The first is the protagonist trying to keep a promise he made to a dead friend of his, to help others while at the same time trying to come to grips with his new role and trying to please his god, an entity of darkness. The second plot consists of a high priest's plan, devoted to the godess of darkness, secrets and loss to conquer through manipulation, backstabing and open warfare a country of decadent merchants (whose main desire is attaining more wealth). The third plot is made by another character descendant of an archdevil, who is trying to fight off his personal demons, while trying to elude his father and his evil influence, who seemingly has some hidden agenta with him in mind.
Erevis Cale's scenes and interractions with other characters are scene stealing right from the start. His character has the most character development as not only does he tries to keep a promise he made to his dead friend, that he'll try to become a hero, something that's against his nature and who he is, oddly enough keeping him human. The relationship with his god Mask also serves as a plot point and as character development as in the beginning of the story his faith is strained and he's lost the trust to his god, but as the story progresses he has to keep serving a god whose goals are unclear but he has to keep serving in order to save others. The interactions with Riven and their brotherlike relationship are wondefully done and even his scenes with Rivalen, who is his antithesis, are great.
Drasek Riven the second Chosen of Mask and assassin, once Cale's enemy and rival finaly seems to treat Cale with respect and speaks to him as an equal. Riven is Cale's mirror meaning he is what Cale would become without the moral support of his friend Jak, although Riven has a soft spot for his dogs. After realising how much alike he and Cale are, he appears to wonder why Cale has such a hard time accepting who he is and why Cale's relationship with Mask is so strained, while Riven accepts his god and faith. It's great to see the brotherlike realationship these two characters are starting to have, such as Riven accepting Cale's decision not to kill unless nessecary even though he doesn't agree with it.
Magadon's role from the previous novel has been expanded, as he's become addicted to the psionic artifact known as the Source whose usage gives great powers to those with mental powers like Magadon. While he's fighting his urges he is influenced by his heritage and by the nightmares sent to him by his father Mephistopheles. His scenes are very memorable as this is an almost realistic description of an ex addict who's trying to overcome his addiction, by doing things to occupy himself and with help from the memories of his friends.
The junkie priestess of Shar who is betraying her country and people, at the behest of the Nightseer her church superior, and who's hallucinations from the drugs and faith is memorable. Abelar the paladin of a god of Light trying to preach his faiths' beliefs to people whose main goal is making profit and no one cares about the coming age of darkness.
The pacing is a bit chaotic with scenes changing in and between chapters with all the characters making the story proceed at what seems to be "their own pace". However the story with all it's intrigues, plots and subplots continues captivating you and making you want to read more all until the end of the novel and making you to continue the read in the next novels. (less)