Thursday, July 30, 2020

Review: The Great Hunt by Elaine Cunningham

While I am currently reading trying to finish the last books in the series' I had already started when I made a commitment to read every Forgotten Realms novel I thought I would give you this short review of a short story from Elaine Cunningham. At the time of this writing I have only read her novel EverQuest: The Blood Red Harp. Since the tale is so short my summary will have spoilers.
Cover art by Michael Sutfin

The Great Hunt is located from pages 62-68 in the April 1998 issue. It follows primarily a half-orc youth named Drom somewhere in The North. He and his two companions are Talons of Malar. These servants of the Beastlord had massacred the citizens of an elven village and are now hunting the two survivors.

We learn that these elves are actually the half-elf Arilyn Moonblade and the Moon elf Elaith Craulnober. These are both characters from Cunningham's Song & Swords series which I have not yet gotten too. Arilyn who is injured can not outrun the hunting party, and so they devise a plan to best their adversaries. The build a cairn and make it seem that Arilyn has bled out and was buried and that Elaith continued on alone.

A mysterious wolf seems to confirm this for Talons of Malar by digging into the cairn and eating something so its face comes away bloody. They are then surprised when they meat Arilyn alone in a field later on. Arilyn fights briefly with Drom's companions, Badger and Grimlish, dispatching both, with the aid of a thrown knife from Elaith who was the mysterious snowy wolf. They had buried a doe in the cairn, successfully tricking the hunters. Outsmarted, Drom is at their mercy and Elaith maims him, though Arilyn leaves a suture kit so Drom can sew himself up.

Story art by Stephen Schwartz

The story ends with Drom deciding to change, as he howls to the Snow Wolf, seemingly turning his back on Malar and returning to the spirit he worshipped since his childhood.

Since it is such a short story I am not leaving a rating, but I will say that I find fiction like this very much to my liking. I only have a few copies of Dragon magazine issues but I love finding stories from fiction and adventures in them, especially about the Forgotten Realms. For those that don't know, Ed Greenwood (the creator of the Forgotten Realms) started putting tidbits about the Forgotten Realms in Dragon back in 1979. In 1986 when TSR was looking for any setting to expand into beyond Greyhawk with Gary Gygax's departure in '85, everything about The Realms in Dragon were retroactively made canon before the release of the first official supplement, the Grey Box, in 1987. An example would be the reference to deities from the Forgotten Realms in June of '86's issue #110 adventure "The House in the Frozen Lands" by James Adams.

Have you read any good fiction or ran any adventures from the old magazines? If so let me know, I'd love to experience them for myself.

You can track my current progress here.

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