Monday, July 12, 2021

Review: Realms of War

 Realms of War is an anthology edited by Philip Athans and released in early 2008. It accompanied the Twilight War trilogy by Paul S. Kemp that I recently finished (review here), and fell in-between the releases of the second and third books. This is only my second anthology set in the Forgotten Realms that I have read, the first being The Halls of Stormweather that introduced the Sembia series (review here). Like many "Realms of ..." anthologies, this one focuses on wars of Faerûn, spanning millennia of conflict.

"Continuum" by Paul S. Kemp

Our first story is about Rivalen Tanthul, Prince of Shade Enclave. It starts off in -365 DR, in the beautiful woods of Arnothoi, the lands that will one day become Sembia. He is in a meadow with his mother, whom he plans to murder to complete his devotion to the Goddess of Darkness, Shar. The story jumps to 1374 DR, during the events of the trilogy. We see more of Rivalen, as well as his brother Brennus. We also see some of Varra, Erevis Cale’s lover. This was a nice story that showed some things not explained beyond a sentence or two in the novels. We also get Rivalen’s thoughts on Elyril. Like most things from Kemp in the Realms, this story is Exceptional. You could read this in between Shadowstorm and Shadowrealm.

“Weasel’s Run” by Lisa Smedman

We meet Weasel, a spriggan trapped by a Ghostwise halfling cleric of Malar the Beastlord for the High Hunt. We discover he is a scout for the armies of Luiren, and we get to see some of his early days in this position in a flashback to -68 DR, while the rest of the story takes place in -65 DR. This is during the Hin Ghostwars in Lluirwood. It’s interesting as these Ghostwise halflings still speak, and it’s only after the war is over and they’ve moved to Chondalwood that they take their silent ways we know of in the modern Realms. We see some creatures I honestly haven’t ever experienced playing at the table or in my reading. This story is Exceptional.

“The Last Paladin of Ilmater” by Susan J. Morris

We find ourselves in 902 DR at the Chondalwood. Jaeriko, a druid, is our POV as she follows Maze, an assassin in service of the city-state of Reth during the Rotting War. This civil war split Chondath into loosely allied city-states and allowed their Sembian colonies, Chondathan and Chauncelgaunt, to gain independence. The duo face undead raised by the necromantic general of Arrabar, a fallen adherent of Ilmater, god of suffering. This is an interesting tale, somewhat disturbing, with an intriguing ending: overall it is Good.

“Black Arrow” by Bruce R. Cordell

Spring of 1095 DR in Sarshel, a port city of Impiltur, a kingdom of the Easting Reach. The story begins with a letter of condolences to a Madame Feor about the death of her son Jotharam. This letter is from Imphras Heltharn, who in a few short years will become the first king Impiltur has had in 100 years. We then start our story following a young Jotharam. This sense of doom hangs over you as you read of the naive young man and his dreams of grandeur as a warrior defending the walls of Sarshel. A surprise attack from a goblinoid army sends people scrambling. This was super fun for me, I’m a big fan of Triad worshipping Impiltur but had actually yet to read any fiction set there before this. I had chills and tears come to my eyes, I was honestly really surprised. This reminded me of some of the memorable prologues from Jordan’s Wheel of Time. This short tale is nothing short of Amazing

“Too Many Princes” by Ed Greenwood 

A tale of Mirt the Moneylender, during his time as mercenary when he had the moniker “the Merciless”. The year is 1333 DR, and Amn is in a war of succession. Mirt is in Ombreir, a citadel of the Araunvols. A wicked vizier means to trap Mirt and others: it was fun to read how he saves their skins, though one of the Seven Sisters does most of the work. A Good story from Mr. Greenwood, unsurprisingly.

“The Siege of Zerith Hold”  by Jess Lebow

Goblins from the High Peaks and Kuldin Peaks threaten Erlkazar. Zerith Hold in Duhlnarim (the home of Atreus from Faces of Deception) holds fast against the onslaught as the crusaders wait for help from Korox. The year is 1358 DR, the Goblin Wars rage in the newly Independent country. Our characters are Jivam Tammsel, a half-elf, half-steel dragon ranger, and Lord Pudrun who leads the efforts at Zerith. This is the same country the Cleric Quintet takes place in for the most part (though Salvatore seems to have forgotten that), if you want more stories in this country, Lebow also wrote the novel Obsidian Ridge, which takes place in Erlkazar less than a decade after these events. Valon is incorrectly refferred to as a Baron rather than Duke before coming King. Beyond this, this short tale was a nice opening course and I want more. It is Good.

“Mercy’s Reward” by Mark Sehestedt

Gethred is someone in or near Rashemen, though he is not a rashemi, he seems to be running from Tuigan. The year is 1359 DR, an these events can be further explored in the Empires Trilogy. Persistent pursuing enemies abound, shape changers face off, this is one wild ride. It’s a decent, Good tale.

“Redemption” by Elaine Cunningham 

Ferret, an elf of the Wealdath in Tethyr during the Reclamation War, puts her people first in 1368 DR. The transition from one character to the next at the beginning of this tale was so expertly done I was hooked. We see Cunningham‘a famous characters Danilo, Elaith, and Arilyn. Oddly enough there is also a lythari in this tale, just as there were in the last. We learn some of Myth Rhynn and Mallin, a lich. This is a Good story, though I still need to read the novels involving these characters.

“Changing Tides “ by Mel Odom

Rytagir Volak was an explorer on the Sea of Fallen Stars in the year 1369 DR. A lover of the sea, he is in search of the shipwreck for Peilam’s Nose. A bargain with sea elves is made, something I wasn’t quite expecting but was realistic and fun to read. A fun introduction to the Threat From the Sea series by Odom, and the Twelfth Serôs War. A Good tale in Odom fashion.

“Chase the Dark” by Jaleigh Johnson 

The year is 1370 DR and Devlin Torthil is a trickster magician in Amn during the Sythillisian Uprising. Ogres have been attacking the western cities. Dev is an interesting character, and learning his background like the character design. Overall he was a little too blustery and slightly annoying more than charming. Still a decent story, this one was Acceptable.

“Bones and Stones” by R.A. Salvatore

This tale is also set in 1370 DR, the aftermath of a battle outside Mithral Hall has left both the dwarf Thibbledorf Pwent and the orc G’nurk with the pain of loss. We also get Drizzt’s journal entries throughout, they’re not annoying this time around . This was actually really nice, I was admittedly a little scared since the last handful of books I’ve read by Salvatore haven’t been the best. This, this was nice. Though the fight did last a tad too long, it was well written as always. It’s a Good tale. I’m not actually this far in the Legend if Drizzt yet: this is somewhere around The Thousand Orcs or The Two Swords. This story was later republished in The Collected Stories: The Legend of Drizzt Anthology.

“Second Chance” by Richard Lee Byers 

The year is 1375 DR, and Kemas is in Thay. This likely corresponds with Byer’s The Haunted Lands Trilogy set in the same year in Thay. Kemas is a member of the Order of the Fire Drake in the church of Kossuth. He teams up. involuntarily, with Bareris against Szass Tam’s coup. This is a tale of a young man finding courage in the face of truly terrifying odds. It is Good.

Overall I’m happy with this anthology. I hope that future compilations of this sort as as rewarding. It was a little bit of a trudge getting through with all the notes I had to take since the characters and setting changed so often. Overall, this was a refreshing, Good exploration of many of the Forgotten Realms.


You can track my current progress here.


  1. These short stories sound interesting. Just curious, would you recommend possibly picking up an anthology or two from FR just to get a flavor of things? Or do you have any other specific standalones or series in that world you'd recommend a reader start with?

    1. Picking up an anthology or two would be wise! You can get a feel for certain authors styles (every author here has written multiple novels in the Realms with the exception of Susan J. Morris who has only done a couple short stories)and maybe you'll find a certain topic, character, or location you'd like to read more on. I also did a post about novels that are good starting places recently! You can read it here: