David Sarkies's Reviews > Tantras

Tantras by Scott Ciencin
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Aug 10, 15

bookshelves: fantasy
Recommended to David by: A friend from the State Library
Recommended for: Nobody
Read from April 03 to 08, 1990, read count: 1

A filler for the trilogy
24 March 2012

Well, the second instalment in the Avatar Trilogy, a series designed to explain the changes between the First and Second Edition Dungeon & Dragons rules. It seems, after a quick look at the blurb, that the heroes have been framed for the murder of Elminster (though I would be making them heroes rather than putting them on trial). However, as soon as I saw 'Bane: God of Murder' you sort of quickly realise who is behind it. It is also set in the city of Tantras, a city in the Realms that pretty much had nothing mentioned about it (except for a dot on the map) until we get to this book.

As I have studied world history, in particular ancient societies, I have come to understand how disappointing the gods of the Forgotten Realms really are. In the real world there generally was no accepted pantheon of gods, at least until the arrival of the Roman Empire, and even then it was only within the empire, and within the specific Greco-Roman culture, that these gods are recognised. Once one stepped outside of the borders, or even travelled to outlying parts of the empire, such as Egypt the generally accepted gods, and pantheons, would change. Now, the Romans were an accomodating people when it came to religion, as long as one acknowledged piety where it was due (which was why Christians got into so much trouble). The Greeks were much the same, as can be seen when Socrates was executed for not acknowledging the gods.

The Greco-Roman gods did not operate like the Realms God's either. It was as if they were a society and culture unto themselves, more like superpowerful entities that, if they felt like it, would help, or hinder, human affairs. They were a fickle lot who seemed to care little about the actions of humanity, though did appreciate their worship. However, in the Forgotten Realms, we see a religion that seems to be accepted across the entire realm (with the occasional nations that have their own specific pantheon). While things on Earth have changed since the Roman Times, the method that Greenwood used simply does not seem to be all that realistic to me.

In the Realms the Gods either help humanity or seek to destroy it. The gods are not fickle, but rather follow their own moral code. We have god's like Tyr, who is an honourable and noble knight, while we have others like Bane and Bhaal, who are the traditional bad boys on the block. I suspect that it is our Judeo-Christian heritage that has allowed this to seep into our literature. In Greco-Roman times Gods were not good or evil, they just had their own jobs to do, however in our modern world we have a very good vs evil mentality, reflective of God and Satan (though this concept of equal and opposite dates back to Persia).

It was rather dull and boring to always be directed back to the three bad guys of the realms (Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul), however in this story Bhaal is killed (and I think the others land up dead sometime in the series as well). It really feels like a simple free for all against the gods. It was rather dry and disappointing, and I also noted that despite getting rid of these three gods, they simply replaced them with a single god (Cyric) who then went around doing all the bad things that the others did.
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