Search The Forgotten Realms Lyceum

Monday, March 29, 2021

Review: A Ghost of a Chance by Ed Greenwood

 Like Far Too Many Thieves, A Ghost of a Chance is a cut piece from Elminster: The Making of a Mage. This one is specifically for part one of the story, "near the bottom of page 51 of the paperback edition" is where this piece fits in. It was released in July 2005 on the old Wizards website, and can now be read on the web archive for free here. This is not a direct sequel to Far Too Many Thieves, but the next two cut tales are, I will get to those shortly.

Elminster the Brigand

Elminster is a brigand, following the exiled Knight Helm Stoneblade in the kingdom of Athalantar. The year is 224 DR, and magelords rule from Athalgard in the capital of Hastarl. Elminster is on his way to the Woodsedge Inn ran by Broam north of Jander (a town no longer in existence, but one Ed says was north-northeast of present day Secomber, and long reclaimed by the trees of the High Forest); it is the middle of winter.

We see the expletive "naed" also sometimes seen as "naeth", this means "dung" for those curious. What was a quick and uneventful trip in the final book, turns out to be quite harrowing to young Elminster. An encounter with a magelord that involved cold nighttime running as fireballs rain down, and a haunted cairn make for Elminster's survival ghostly slim.

A Ghost of a Chance is a fun, mythical tale about the rightful Prince of Athalantar. I really enjoyed it overall, and it was a Good read for anyone who enjoyed the final book.


You can track my current progress here.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Review: Far Too Many Thieves by Ed Greenwood

 Far Too Many Thieves is the first of four stories cut from Elminster: The Making of a Mage, the first book of the Elminster series that you should read before this tale, which I thought was great (you can read my whole review here). Beyond the four cut stories, there is also a fifth story that takes place before the novel that can be found in The Best of the Realms II anthology. Far Too Many Thieves was released on the web in June of 2005 in celebration of the anthology's release a month later; it can be read for free here in the web archive.

Eladar the Dark

This story is set during Elminster's time as a thief on the streets of Hastarl, when his alias was Eladar the Dark, as he was attempting to hide his identity as a Prince of Athalantar from the tyrannical magelords. This story would fit late into part two of Making of a Mage, as Farl and El have already formed the Velvet Hands, a band of thieves.

The story follows a falling out that occurred during the formation of the gang, as different parties vied for leadership. It’s nice to know what ended up happening to those who walked out, as we are left hanging in the book.

Our anti-heroes have a nice brawl with the Moonclaws, with daggers and arrows missing and hitting their targets. I appreciate how often they miss, as it makes them seem fallible compared to other fantasy stories, always hitting their targets. We  learn the fate of the youth Rhegaer, who I was curious about because of his similar name to another character from another fantasy world that also has a similarly royal families symbol being a stag. 

By the end, weakened by the assault, the Velvet Hands decide to get to the bottom of who is supplying the Moonclaws. This tale is very short and more of a first part of a chapter, that will likely be continued in the next stories. As it goes, it was a pleasure to be back on the streets of Hastarl with El, Farl, and Tassabra. Fans of the book should read this, it is Good.


You can track my current progress here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Review: Elminster: The Making of a Mage by Ed Greenwood

Somewhat surprisingly this is not the first book Ed Greenwood wrote for the Forgotten Realms. Elminster has been a staple since he appeared in Dragon Magazine way back in 1981, but this book was released in 1994, after he had already written the first two books of Shandril’s Saga. As of right now, since the books in the series seem to follow standalone arcs, I will be reviewing the five books separately. 

The prelude has 14th century Lord Mourngrym of Shadowdale searching for Elminster to no avail. He is left wondering about the origins of Elminster has he searches, and swiftly comes a prologue set more than a thousand years before as a mysterious lady known as Myrjala Darkeyes traveling through the remnants of Halangorn Forest, part of the Forlorn Hills in the kingdom of Athalantar, the ancient home of young Elminster. Right off the bat, we can say this is before 304 DR, as Tavaray is still around.

Athalantar, Elminster's homeland, does not exist in the 14th and 15th centuries of Dale Reckoning. In the Delimbiyr Vale, the capital Hastarl’s ruins were built upon to make Secomber. Some of the people of the kingdom became part of the Blue Bear Tribe and Tree Ghost Tribe of the Uthgardt; others settled in the regions of Baldur’s Gate. Personally after reading this, making a member of the Trumpettower family is really enticing.

The book is divided into parts, part one being called Brigand.

“. . . gods interested in the Kingdom of the Stag seemed in short supply these days.”

By chapter one you’ll notice  epigraphs for each chapter, a very nice edition that I enjoy in just about any book. We also meet young Elminster, called El, as he watches over a flock of sheep outside of Heldon. We discover it is the Year of the Flaming Forest (probably in reference to Halangorn), which if you decide to look up, is 224 DR. Finally we learn that Elminster’s father, Elthryn, is Lord of Heldon. This truly feels like a different place from the Realms I am used to; the land is a wild petty kingdom with little order beyond whatever the most powerful person can enforce.

With so many ancient cities and nations thrown around, a map would have been helpful. There are even  short references to Tyche, so we can surmise that the Dawn Cataclysm wasn’t quite complete by this point, as she is not yet the dual goddesses Tymora and Beshaba. This book is not as all over the place like many a Greenwood works are, it’s more meticulous and a steady march. 

"Theives? Ah, such an ugly word . . . think of them instead as kings-in-training. Ye seem upset, even disputations. Well, then look upon them as the most honest sort of merchant."

The Annotated Elminster omnibus
Seeing as this is a coming-of-age tale, we jump forward in years multiple times. This first jump is four years into he future to 228 DR. Then a shorter one to 229 DR.  There is another time jump that doesn’t last too long in part three, and in part four we go forward to 233 DR, have a few more jumps and end in 240 DR, making Elminster about 28 years of age at the end of the story.

One sad thing I will mention, if you know Forgotten Realms, you know Elminster, we know he’ll be okay in this origin story because we know he becomes the Sage of Shadowdale. We also know what happens to a certain goddess in 1385 DR.

Part two was a lot more interesting than part one, and going into part three I was excited where the story would go, especially since this part was titled “Priest”, and since nothing is foreshadowed of that sort before hand, it’s not much of a spoiler. The story gets even more interesting and entertaining here.

As a lad, young Elminster takes the name Eladar to hide his identity from the forces of the magelords in Athalantar. Later he is given an even better disguise.

 “You’re not a pretty lass.”

The tone of this story was refreshing, it was not full of a party of high adventurers on an epic quest (though there is a section with this), it’s long and challenging and personal. I really liked it, especially with the odd twist and turns El’s life takes.

This story is really magical, and getting closer to the end I started getting a little sad it was going to stop. I started to relish every page. Elminster doesn’t have it easy, if he did, the story would be about one third the size, and I am pretty sure Greenwood had to shorten the tale anyhow, as there are a handful of short stories about the Young Elminster in a few places.

“He told me the One True Spell was a woman, that her name was Mystra—and that her kisses were wonderful.”

Beyond our main protagonist of Elminster, there are other good characters that have that sense of verisimilitude and flare Greenwood conjures: Helm, Myrjala, Braer, Farl, Darrigo, Dorgon Heamiiolothtar (being the Magister Elminster met) were all fun to get to know.

A Star rushes past, to crash upon the shore

But the first of many many more

Stoke the fire and stout bar the door

For this is the night mages go to war.

Even though magic is quite promulgated in Faerun, this is a good example of wanton, arrogant power and distrust not making a sturdy ruling foundation. My love of the character of Elminster grew tenfold during this book. He’s so human, he fails, and has humor. The book wasn’t perfect, the first part especially was a tad dry, but at the end I had chills and, oddly, even some tears in my eye for such a good wrap up to the beginnings of the most legendary of mages in Faerun: Elminster Aumar, Prince of Athalantar, Wizard, Chosen of Mystra, and so much more. Elminster is on the level of Gandalf, Dumbledore, Rincewind and Merlin (his foibles making him the most similar) in my mind. Elmisnter: The Making of a Mage is Exceptional. I need to get my hands on The Annotated Elminster, or at least Elminster Ascending.

“. . . even gods grow lonely.”


You can track my current progress here.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms by Ed Greenwood

 Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms is a series of comics with five issues written by Ed Greenwood. The story is described as political intrigue in the city of Waterdeep. The series was released from May to November 2012 by IDW Publishing, with the interior art being done by Lee Ferguson, while there are two cover options: A done by Tyler Walpole, or B done by Steve Ellis. 

Just like my previous comic-book review, I bought all of these issues from There is also a trade paperback omnibus, as well as a hardcover version.

B covers

Also like my previous comic review, this will contain spoilers so I will not be extremely limited on my thoughts, and I will also not be leaving a rating since I am mostly unfamiliar with comics.

Issue #1 starts with two roguish fellows, Torn Telmantle and Randral Daunter, in the Dock Ward of the City of Splendors. They are racing to meet with Skorlus, who they discover has been brutally murdered. They learn of a scheme to kidnap Talandra Roaringhorn, so when we switch to the Lord and lady Roaringhorn we discover that she has gone missing, presumably at the hand of the next people were are introduced to; Blaeyz Glasgerd and Imbrar Salkyn.

House Roaringhorn is a noble family with branches in both Waterdeep and Cormyr, some of the Cormyrean branch appear in the Cormyr Saga. These are likely distantly related, as these comics were released during the Fourth Edition era, and though it is not stated, the story is likely set in 1479 DR like most other 4e things (though nothing tips us off on a specific year beyond this).

A prank by the lady Talandra takes a dire turn, and the rogues Torn and Randral are implored to help when they are cursed by a dying cleric of Tempus, the war god. They then, somewhat aimlessly, attempt to find Talandra as they are pursued by the watch.

At the end of this issue, I was interested in how it would turn out. I was not a huge fan of the style, but Greenwood's stories are all over the place, and I felt this kind of worked here. The cover was a bit misleading, as Torn and Randral are the characters with the most attention at this point while Talandra is indisposed, but will likely get a larger role as a character once rescued.

Trade Paperback omnibus cover
Issue #2 starts off the chase once more, but our anti-heroes quickly unite with Talandra who joins in the escapade of running around the rooftops and streets of Waterdeep. The chance takes them into the sewers of the city, where eventually they find a secret escape, leading into unknown territory. 

Issue #3 the party is in some sort of ruin, as other groups attempt to rescue them, and others attempt to murder. There are a plethora of words (mostly curses) from the Common tongue used, which most authors in the Realms do not utilize, but Greenwood of course does since he invented most of them. There are trolls, a displacer beast, a rage drake, and some tentacled foe in this issue, plus more!

Having read Greenwood's work, he likes to jump to a different set of characters often. Since we have pictures, almost all the prose here is dialogue. This does not flow very well as it jumps scene very often, and seems sporadic.

Right near the end we discover the portal has brought everyone halfway across Faerûn to Battledale. With some of the twist, this issue increased my interest in the story.

Onto Issue #4 we have drow! Not too surprising, since there is one on the cover. This puts our trio in dire straits until a dwarf named Markell comes to the rescue (he can be seen on the A cover for this issue). They are then corralled by a direhelm to confront the King of Ghosts who wants to make a deal with them. We end with a confrontation with a yuan-ti mercenary.

Issue #5 continues and concludes the chase as our anti-heroes and the Lady Talandra arrive in the Border Kingdoms, which was not what I was expecting. 

Overall, I feel this would work better for me as a short story, or even expanded as a novella or full novel. I was not much of a fan of the art style, and the jumping around was too much. I also don't really like comics much, but I am glad I read this as I now know about the Ghost Holds, as well as have three NPCs to utilize if I ever run a session in the Border Kingdoms. These may be the comic books for you, and I will surely be reading more adventures, in comic format, in the Realms.


You can track my current progress here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Review: Haunted: A Tale of Sembia by Dave Gross

 Haunted: A Tale of Sembia is a short story by Dave Gross that can be found in Dragon Magazine issue 304, published February 2003. The story is on pages 68-77. This is the last Sembia tie-in short story, both to be read by me and it is also the last published, as this was a month before the release of  The Lord of Stormweather. You can check out my thoughts on other tie-in stories to Sembia through these links: And All the Sinners, Saints, Memories, Shamur's Wager, Another Name for Dawn, and Garden of Souls

The story takes place mostly over a two day period in the month of Flamerule 1374 DR, The Year of Wild Magic. There is also flashbacks to Flamerule and Uktar in the Year of the Crown, 1351 DR. This story is a good story to read if you are a fan of the hideous aquatic vampire, Stannis Malveen, and his formidable brother, Radu, from Gross's Sembian novel, Black Wolf

story art by Marc Sasso

The tale starts in Selgaunt, unsurprisingly, but our characters are not on the bustling streets or in an opulent manse, but instead are in the fetid sewers beneath the port city. The characters, the shade Chaney and cursed Radu soon come across  "Nightcarter[s]", another term for dungsweepers. I forgot how much I enjoyed their odd companionship.

There are a few flashbacks in this story, bringing up to Radu's youth when his mother was accused of piracy and the family stripped of holdings by the high probiter and held with extreme prejudice by the Old Chauncel. This story is the origin of the odd relationship that Radu has with his aquatic vampire elder brother: seeing the story art really shows just how hideous of a mephitic, nocturnal creature these are. 

This story is Exceptional, and largely because the contrast between Radu and Stannis. Radu is human, though maybe a little tainted at this point, but is largely a monster with how terrible he acts and murders. Stannis is somewhat of a fop, and seems more human than his younger brother even though on the outside he is a grotesque creature with a monstrous appetite for feeding on living beings. Package this with the comedic relief of the shade of the Dandy Chaney Foxmantle, and we have a fun story on our hands.


You can track my current progress here.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Thorass' Missing Dental Fricative Character

The most common alphabet in the Forgotten Realms once had a letter for "th"; now it doesn't, what happened to it? Alae, and well met! This is the Forgotten Realms Lyceum where we study all things Toril and Faerûn.

First Edition scripts, including the missing "th"

English uses an alphabet that manages to represent all the sounds of the language, while not having a letter for each sound. For example, English uses the digraph "th" to make the voiceless fricative (θ, as in thorn), voiced fricative (ð, as in father), and sometimes --"foll[ies] without warrant"-- just "t" (though actually sometimes for etymological reasons, such as the name Thomas). During the Old English period, English had a separate letter to represent where we now use the diprah "th". There were actually two, and they both could represent either the voiced or voiceless dental fricative; they were eth and thorn, written as ð and þ (both are still used in Icelandic).

In the Forgotten Realms, Thorass is a langauge, a langauge family, and an alphabet. The language, Thorass, was also known as Old/Auld Common, and is the pidgin common tongue's direct ancestor. It was a mix of Alzhedo and the ancient tongue of Jhaamdath. The language family therefore included Thorass, Common, as-well as Chondathan. 

Fifth Edition

The Thorass script is analogous to the Latin/English, as there are only twenty six letters like the modern English alphabet. While in Faerûn, Thorass was the common script for most human tongues, including Turmic, Chessentan, Illuskan, Durpari, etc. The script itself was derived from the Untheric runic syllabary, which we do not have any examples of.

"Hwæt, we Gar-Dena in gear-dagum,

þeod-cyninga þrym gefrunon,

hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon." (Beowulf lines 1-3)

Third Edition
In reality there are twenty six letters now in the current Fifth Edition Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. In the First Edition campaign setting "Grey Box", there were in fact twenty seven. These twenty seven are also present in the Second Edition box sets. It is when we get to Third Edition that the letter representing "th" was dropped. There are other things, mostly forgotten with time, since back in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragon days only a handful of languages were written, and most were just spoken languages.

A piece I made for fun, which utilizes the old "th" character,
 transliterate as you wil

Espruar (the elven script) and Thorass were also changed drastically in Third Edition, and with the returning to roots of Fifth Edition, Thorass and Espruar went back to their AD&D versions minus, the "th" letter for Thorass. Sadly this will likely not return, as it is harder for English speakers to recognize and understand. Welladay, as a student of language, I appreciate the original work put into making a script that was not a complete copy of the English. Vlandranna, someday we will get the missing character back.


You can track my current progress here.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Review: Ladies Night at the Yawning Portal by Ed Greenwood

This is the Spin a Yarn 2002. Like the first one, Never a Warpig Born, this was written by Ed greenwood after suggestions were thrown around to include in a story at a panel at Gen Con. You can read the archived story here

We are introduced to a night of revelry at the Yawning Portal in Waterdeep, where only woman are allowed, and they all come dressed in costume as to disguise their identities. This is likely sometime before 1314 DR, as Piergeiron is not described as Open Lord, but is definitely before 1374 DR as the Blackstaff is still alive. Throughout the story our character's are generally described along the lines as women dressed as Halaster Blackcloak, Piergeiron, or an animated skeleton; keeping their identities secret

There are magical rings, a flesh golem, a Red Wizard, illithids, some members of the Knights of Myth Drannor, and fun times to be had. While the story surely is silly, that's the point, it is not quite as absurd as the first Spin a Yarn, and neither was it as enjoyable or cohesive. It was a little too confusing, and while unsurprisingly entertaining it suffered from so much happening. Ladies Night at the Yawning Portal is Acceptable, and a fond foray of a Realms tale, just one slightly bogged down by so much ridiculous things happening in a such a short span.


You can track my current progress here.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Review: The Herald by Ed Greenwood

While before I said I had reviewed everything I had started before beginning the challenge of reading all Forgotten Realms’ novels, I knew I would not get to all The Sundering books for a long time, because of how some of the books fall late into other series I have only just started. I changed my mine with The Sentinel, and I already reviewed The Adversary as part of the Brimstone Angels series. Well the other book I’ve read is book six of The Sundering, The Herald by Ed Greenwood. I will start this by all the books I should have read before I read this book. For plot, read The Return of the Archwizards trilogy by Troy Denning, and The Last Mythal trilogy by Richard Baker. If you want to understand the characters I would read all the Elminster books that take place before this one, which would be all of them with the exception of Spellstorm and Death Masks, particularly The Elminster series, and the Sage of Shadowdale trilogy.

    Now sadly this review will not be as detailed since I read The Herald back in 2018. The story follows Elminster and his great, great granddaughter, Amarune. They are facing the Shadovar of Thultanthar, returned Netheril. Most of this book takes place in the repopulated Myth Drannor, the greatest of the elven cities that has been in ruins for centuries, though was resettled after the Spellplague.

    We follow a couple Princes of Shade as they go about destroying baelnorns, a type of guardian-elf-lich. We also see some of the Seven Sisters who help Elminster in defending the city as the elves flee to safety. Larloch is in this tale, along with The Shrinshee as well; over all, there are lots of powerful mages.

    If I am remembering correctly, there were some odd scenes with Manshoon in Suzail that were completely lost on me. If I had read the previous books I likely would have understand the purpose these scenes were suppose to serve. I also was not use to Greenwood's writing style and though now I am a fan it definitely takes some getting used to.

    For it's spot in The Sundering, it has the most resolution for the events as a whole, hence why it is the last in the series. While my experience at the time was not the most enjoyable, it was not bad, and knowing what I know now, I look back on the book with more fondness. So don't start here, but when you get here, I think you'll be with me in finding the book Good.


You can track my current progress here.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Review: Memories: The Year of the Wave by Lisa Smedman

Memories: The Year of the Wave is a Sembia tie-in short story by Lisa Smedman about Larajin, half-elf maid in service to House Uskevren of Selgaunt. The story can be found in Dragon magazine issue #299 from September 2002, pages 84-94. It takes place in , the Year of the Wave, 1364 DR, eight years before the events of Heirs of Prophecy, which means Larajin is seventeen years old.

We find Larajin going about her daily duties and being a klutz during those duties. She encounters Talbot and Brocklin, a stable boy she fancies, sparring. From there, it seems that there is a potent and maybe magical liqueur, magic moss, and memory lost all around a sacred Revel to Sune, goddess of love and beauty.

This is a fun story, one to decipher. The story seems to be going one direction before swiftly changing to another. It shows Larajin become friends with the dwarf, Kemlar. We alos see the start of her relationship with Sune, which is a nice glimpse. I would recommend reading this after Heirs of Prophecy, but it would not hurt too bad to read it before. It was great seeing Larajin again, as she was one of my favorite characters from Sembia.

Larajin by Jeff Laubenstein

This story is swift and not a pain in the slightest to read. It's about a good character that is already established in the books in a similarly established place. Lisa Smedman keeps on showing that her works are nothing if not Exceptional.


You can track my current progress here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Completed Series: The Cleric Quintet by R.A. Salvatore

An aptly named quintet, five books about a cleric of Deneir, the god of knowledge. The Cleric Quintet has some characters that can be found in book ten of The Legend of Drizzt, Passage to Dawn. For that reason you may want to read these if you want to know these characters, and if you particularly enjoy Salvatore's writing. The entire series takes place in and on both sides of the Snowflake Mountains, on the border of Tethyr and Erlkazar.

I read these five books from the beginning of December to the end of February. I still am not a huge fan of Salvatore's writing, and so I needed space between the books. I hope my dislike of the author doesn't show too much, but I promise these views are straight from my heart.

the original covers

Canticle (1991) - Good
In Sylvan Shadows (1992) - Acceptable

Night Masks (1992) - Mediocre

The Fallen Fortress (1993) - Mediocre

The Chaos Curse (1994) - Ugly


We are first introduced to an evil mage who is a worshipper of Talona. He is getting the last ingredient for a potent elixir. The story takes place 1361 DR, a few years after the Time of Troubles. 

After a short prologue we meet our protagonist, Cadderly. The cover shows Cadderly, priest of Deneir, as blonde though on page 7, our first description of him says he has “curly brown locks” but only a few paragraphs later we read that he is “blonde-haired”; this is confusing.

Cadderly seems to have a perfect memory of sorts, reminds me of Icelin Tearn from Mistshore, though as the series goes on we see this is not really the case, he is just exceptionally bright, though this is told more than shown.

Also as an acolyte of Deneir, he shows tendencies more behavioral of a that of Gondish priest.

At this point, Cadderly has never had any adventures; he is young and carefree. We soon find that the monk Danica and him are about to embark on life changing events. In this book Danica and Cadderly have a juvenile relationship, you could call it silly.

The main villain of this book is seen quite often, which is nice, though he is not very bright. For example, I don’t see why the dweomer for innocence was attached to the chaos curse, and is Cadderly truly innocent? This is also completely absent in book five.

Takes a little while for the ball to get rolling but it’s engrossing when it does. I actually stayed up to finish this one. For the most part we get steortypical characters that are borderline absurd. My favorite character by far was the druid Newander, sadly this is the only book the druids are so important.

In Sylvan Shadows

Five weeks after the first book, Cadderly must Journey to Shilmista, an elven Forest on the north face of the Snowflake Mountains.

Chapter 1 we are introduced to multiple elves with silly names, most of Salvatore’s names are juvenile. I was reminded that Salvatore has as odd view of females that comes out when he writes of them, it reminds me of Dracula and how each guy fawns over the amazing, beautiful, maiden. It’s sort of gross.

We get some phrases in this book that break the immersion of a fantasy world. We also get some elvish words, though Salvatore is no linguist, it was fun to break apart for meanings. I like the ancient forest filled with Sylvan elves theme, this made up for the slow story.

Leave it to Salvatore, where elvish has cryshal for crystal and trea for trees, how elementary. 

One great plus is just how human Cadderly is in this book, as he struggles with the reality of the wider world beyond the walls of the Edificant Library.

Night Masks

Yet again introduced to another villain just like the previous prologues. Sadly, Ghost comes off as comical though his power is supposed to be feared, but I can’t take his amazing power seriously when I know clueless Cadderly will defeat him in the end.

Cadderly begins thinking about how he doesn’t have a home, though how the Edificant Library isn’t his home doesn’t quite sit well with me, I think Salvatore is pushing for emotional sympathy to our protagonist but he’s just not a good enough writer to actually make me care about Cadderly‘a inner turmoil.

At this point I was no longer confusing Aballister with alabaster.

In reality the story is going a nicer direction, but its bogged down by juvenility, such as the Salvatore’s inability to write good romance that is only bad because he incessantly tries to shoehorn it in. Anyway, we are shortly introduced to the Night Masks out of Westgate, sent for by Bogo Rath, the youngest and least powerful wizard in service to Talona. Somehow he avoided death when he left, something which is mentioned. This is two years after Erevis Cale’s escape from the group that is told in Another Name for Dawn, so likely these characters were contemporary, but of course Cale’s character wasn’t created by Kemp until later in the decade.

It’s interesting to see a firbolg so different from its fifth edition incarnation. We also finally get a good glimpse of the Tome of Universal Harmony, the sacred text of Deneir. 

In a story and world where gods very obviously and evidently exist it’s silly to have to read about a characters inner turmoil involving atheism or agnosticism. I feel this is Salvatore’s personal thoughts bleeding into his work, but our world is not The Realms and it detracts from the story. I found similar thoughts occur in Drizzt books.

Salvatore never learned what a synonym is since Rufo is called the “angular man” probably hundreds of times, it’s inane. The timeline of this book is a little confusing, but just don't think about it.

Another plus, it is refreshing to see the struggle and turmoil that can come about from taking another human life, something that is too often brushed over by fantasy authors.

Another minus, after using the most basic clerical spell during In Sylvan Shadows (admittedly to profound effect), the rapid pace at which very high level spells are gained in Night Masks is laughable. Unlike the first two books, I slowly started to care less and less, and found it hard to pick this book back up when I put it down.

The conclusion was quite good, and at this point I think Rufo is a very interesting character, he is so torn because of his weak resolve in a dangerous world. Sadly his arc goes downhill, even though the fall is a bit delayed.

The Fallen Fortress

I decided I would change things up and do this one in audiobook format. Though I get through books a lot slower this way, I thought it might help my enjoyment go up since I was having a problem with Salvatore’s writing. This helped me to take a sort of backseat, and while I was less engrossed I did enjoy my time a little more. I also learned how to say some of the names properly doing this. 

Omnibus of the series

At this point Cadderly is a caster with no limits on spells he can cast in both number and power. He had a whole book of spells that became usable almost all at once. 

Overly competent heroes, but woefully under competent villains that are suppose to be powerful and intelligent makes this a circus of a read.

Knowing my opinions of the last few books, at this point it was hard to care for the characters and their story. I feel my opinion and rating is marked by this bias, but I still want to accomplish my goal of reading all the novels in the Realms. I feel like this is unfair and I want to make that clear. Plenty of people will enjoy this series. Remember that my ratings are to have some sense of my thoughts condensed into a single word, and it’s all my opinion.

There is a dragon in this book, as the omnibus shows. Fyren’s relationship with the party is somewhat akin to Mist in Azure Bonds, though Fyren seems inordinately of low intelligence. Do not expect a Smaug/Bilbo dynamic, though the the conclusion is a lot more unique than any other confrontation with dragons I’ve ever experienced. 

Tons of fighting near the end, in Salvatore fashion Where you don’t fear for the characters and know the hordes they go against will perish almost with no sweat.

I liked the clever healing at the end, and it seemed most arcs could have been tied up, but alas, maybe five sounds better than four and so there is a fifth book...

The Chaos Curse
To tie into the events of the first book. The large arc has been accomplished, but it seems Salvatore wants to tie up all the threads. This probably should have been a standalone novel. Cadderly is not a wimp anymore and now has full faith with his god.

Since the series could have ended I hoped for some twist to be revealed at the start, and we got it. I was both intrigued that we actually got something, and disappointed. Rufo was the most dynamic character, though Salvatore loves his absolutes. Evil is evil and for some reason, Rufo, who simply had personality unlike the robotlike other characters, and a fine arc up to this point was ruined because Salvatore wanted him to be worse than he had been written to be. He constantly betrays, but never to his betterment. He has no spine but that doesn't make you evil.

When we finally get to Cadderly in chapter two we have more silly interaction. Why is his return to the Edificant Library described as his “toughest challenge yet”? Considering the arc of the series was resolved in book four, and all that is expected is Cadderly to face the consequences of how poorly he treated his superiors, this doesn't make any sense.

If you want your clerics devout, Cadderly finally is here in book five. If you liked Newander in book one, we get a little more druidic attention in this last book. If you like undead enemies, particularly vampires, this has them. But absolutely, this book should not have been part of the series, and Salvatore shows once again that he may occasionally write a good book, but that most of his works are not worth it. I could probably recommend this to 10-13 year olds, but there are better things to recommend to that age group.

With hundreds of Forgotten Realms novels not all of them will be good. Some will be mediocre, some amazing, and others terrible. I hope I shared enough objective things so you can know if you will like these books, but for me personally this series is Poor. You will probably like them if you think the Drizzt books are great, and if that’s the case; read these. I do not plan on torturing myself with another Salvatore book for half a year.


You can track my current progress here.