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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Where to Start? Reading Forgotten Realms' Novels

 I often have people ask me about my goal of reading all Forgotten Realms novels, and when they discover that it’s 294 books (292 + 1 Ravenloft and 1 Spelljammer book) I want to read, they ask me where they should start if they wanted to read some. Here are some suggestions to the unsullied of Faerûn. If you would like some ideas on where to acquire any of these novels, you can read my recently posted buying guide here. As of writing this, I have read over fifty novels set in the Forgotten Realms, and I will likely update this as I read more.

a portion of my Forgotten Realms novels

Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep
is a great series of standalone novels set in the City of Splendors along the Sword Coast: Waterdeep. While these are Fourth Edition novels (known for large changes in lore), the enjoyment of this series has aged well compared to some other lore from the time. Each story tells a different tale generally focused around a certain section of the city: Blackstaff Tower being largely about the tower of the famed archmages, the Blackstaff of Waterdeep; City of the Dead being about the city's cemetery and its hauntings; and so forth. There are no recurring characters or plot-lines, making each story standalone if you decide not to read all six. You can read my full thoughts on the series here.

Sembia: Gateway to the Realms was marketed as an entry point to the Forgotten Realms novel line that has espoused hundreds of novels. It succeeds in being accessible while giving a large array of stories set mostly in and around Selgaunt, Sembia. The first book is an anthology of short stories introducing each character the books are about, which may help you decide which characters you are interested in. This has been one of my favorite series, and you can read my full thoughts here.

The Finder’s Stone trilogy is a classic adventure featuring a dinosaur-like bipedal paladin and an artificial human fighter crafted by an evil cult, a dark god, and a nameless bard. The second novel in the series is more of a murder mystery than the high adventures of the first and third novels, but they are all great fun. Read my complete thoughts here.

The Erevis Cale trilogy is great for fans of dark fantasy. Erevis Cale is a butler for a noble house in the merchant nation of Sembia. He is also a rogue who is a priest of the God of Thieves, Mask. While his origins as a priest are explored in the second book the the Sembia series, Shadow's Witness, you can easily start with the first book of the trilogy, Twilight Falling. If you enjoy it, there is even a sequel trilogy that I'm currently reading, and enjoying more than the first. Read my thoughts here.

Elminster: The Making of a Mage has an easy learning curve to follow, since you can basically ignore the vast majority of proper nouns thrown out as it takes place over a thousand years before almost every other novel. There are sequel novels I have yet to read, but this is a nice origin story to Merlin/Gandalf of the Realms, and classic by the creator of the setting himself. Read my full thoughts here.

Venom in Her Veins is easy because it is a standalone, and is kind of leaning towards being a young adult novel, as a sword & sorcery coming of age. It's a quick tarry into the Underdark, and deals with denizens of the Far Realm, a merchant house of Delzimmer, and has some good yuan-ti and dragonborn characters. Read my full thoughts here.

Where are you going to start? What novels do you recommend to beginners? What have you read that you've enjoyed?


You can track my current progress here.

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