Search The Forgotten Realms Lyceum

Monday, December 26, 2022

Light In Dark Times: New Forgotten Realms Novels That Aren't Drizzt!

Oloré! A few months ago we received some of the most exciting news for fans of Forgotten Realms novels in several years. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a film set to release in March of 2023, and along with its release there will be accompanying media. The big two, maybe three, things that means for fans of the old novel line is this: there are two new novels coming!

Drizzt has still been getting regular installments the last several years, but 2016 marked the last year other authors had books published in the Forgotten Realms. Timeless in 2018 saw the first outside publishing, and 2022 saw the first Dragonlance novel in several years, but the thing that is in common with that release and Drizzt is that the publication is not done in-house. Hence why only the biggest names are getting published. It's quite a mess and leaves many fans of the old novel lines bemoaning the fate. 

We still had Dragon+ for the very rare fiction piece set in the Realms, but that was shut down in November, leaving the last short story being Ice Out from late 2020. Things look grim, but there is some light ahead.

Honor Among Thieves: The Druid's Call and Honor Among Thieves: The Road to Neverwinter are both prequel novels to the upcoming movie. The first is by Realms newcomer, E.K. Johnston, while the latter is from the seasoned Jaleigh Johnson (I've previously read Mistshore by her). Both are to be published by a third party and are accompanied with a movie novelization for younger audiences in February. Johnston's novel is blurbed as being "young adult" but there is no blurb describing Johnson's novel as such.

A webinar from Hasbro in early December mentioned Dungeons & Dragons being under-monetized, and Realms legend, Elaine Cunningham, suggested on Twitter that novels may be viable. I agree with her, maybe the readers' voice will be heard and more novels will come.

Amarast, reader.

Hemvar Crostiful

25 Nightal

Year of the Scroll


You can track my current progress here.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Genesis: The First Stories of the Forgotten Realms

Hail, and well met! Many know that Ed Greenwood created the Forgotten Realms several years before the creation of Dungeons & Dragons. It would become the premier setting for the game in 1987, but was introduced to readers of Dragon Magazine in the early 80s. We have previously reviewed the first D&D novel in Quag Keep, but we have not talked about the beginnings of the Forgotten Realms. 

According to Greenwood, by 1974 the Forgotten Realms already had sixteen published stories and a gazetteer, and that number was at twenty-two in 1975.

The first story ever penned by Greenwood was "One Comes, Unheralded, To Zirta", written in fragements in 1965 and finished in 1966, at the ripe young age of six. I made a whole video about this story on my YouTube channel, but to help you out here. It's a sword & sorcery tale about meetings of many famous Realms characters in a tavern in Zirta, south of Scornubel. Character's such as Mirt, Durnan, Alustriel and Storm, Elminster, and Filfaeril Obarskyr meet and make their first appearances. It's a really short yarn, one I heard about from the Jeff Grubb's foreword to Realms of Valor (1993). I later discovered it was later found and published in The Best of the Realms II: The Stories of Ed Greenwood (2005).

Recently, Greenwood listed some of these stories. Of the sixteen published before D&D's conception, he lists twelve, and ten of those have Mirt as the main character:

These were published in small magazines or chapbooks. I do not know the names of these small publications, but Greenwood did assure me there are copies still out there. Someday, I would deeply like to read them. The genesis of the Forgotten Realms is very important, as Greenwood took his influences, such as Sword & Sorcery fiction, and took part in mythopoeia to create one of fantasy's most lasting worlds.

Greenwood's List (Just in case Twitter explodes sometime in the future):
The Box of Dreams (1966)
Vultus Triumphant (1966)
Too Old a Wolf (1967)
The Bringer of Doom (1967)
Hazanth’s Trifling Error (1967) 
The Sword That Sang (1967) *
How Silent the Spectre (1968) *
How Vrackmulkyn Learned The Truth (1968) 
Mirt and the Dragon Inexorable (1969) 
Too Many Ghostly Knights (1969) 
The Last Mistake of Voroon Ouz (1969) 
Nine Swords Unaccounted For (1969) 

*Not a Mirt story

Hemvar Crostiful
18 Nightal
Year of the Scroll

You can track my current progress here.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Review: Elminster in Myth Drannor by Ed Greenwood

This is book two of the open-ended Elminster series by Ed Greenwood, published in 1997. The first book was Elminster: The Making of a Mage, you can read my review for that here.

Part 1, Human, it is the Year of the Chosen, 240 DR, when we meet young Elminster again. This is the same year the first book ended. He is waylaid by brigands on the Skuldask Road, so he is nearest Berdusk and a little farther from Elturel. At the time, the road cut through forest land. 

He needs to get to Cormanthor but he has to survive the way first. He is pursued by an unknown enemy with capable magic at his disposal. He does find a way that may make. Easier to enter the city, but it may just assure his death. Equipped with a an elven lore gem, a kiira, young El makes his way through the forest

A little slow it parts, it’s still a nice introduction but at the end of part one I was almost completely clueless on where the story would go next. Elminster shows his charm to the elves of Cormanthor, which helps him survive and in some ways thrive. The Srinshee is a character that appears at the end, and she was a little more eccentric than I was expecting. But this is Greenwood, I shouldn’t be so surprised. 

Part 2, Armathor, an elven word that refers to knighthood I believe. 

You may have realized I kept on referring to the city as Cormanthor, which was its name before the mythal was raised, and it became Myth Drannor. The history of this event had already been well established when this book released and the back of the book even mentions it. We get to experience the history first hand in the story.

Mythanthar, an elf who thinks he can emulate magical barriers elves have around their persons to cover the whole city is ridiculed by most at court. Mythal’s have existed before this one and I believe the elves of Cormanthor at this time mostly think them fanciful. 

There are epigraphs from two in world books:  The High History of Faerûnian Archmages Mighty,  written by Antarn the Sage and published in 1366 DR and Silver Blades and Summer Nights: An Informal but true History of Cormanthor, written by Shalheira Talandren, High Elven bard of Summerstar and published in the Year of the Harp (I couldn’t find what year that was in Dalereckoning)

In Greenwood Forgotten Realms fashion many people don’t have a care for their state of undress. You’ll also see plenty of mage battles and even learn how to sexually please an elf; yep.

Elves are just as, or maybe more stubborn and arrogant than humans, but it’s nice seeing them so upset about the elves leaving their Spring in Faerun. 

The way elven undead work is always fun. Baelnorn’s are a type of lich but good and generally acting as guardians of something. 

If you want references to things mentioned nowhere else, Greenwood is great for that and this book is no different.

House Dlardrageth is mentioned here, I believe they are a main focus of the Last Mythal series. And apparently Drannor was the name of a Cormanthyrn elf who married a dwarf. 

Anyway the story takes turns I wasn’t expecting. Elminster doesn’t always come out on top, and as expected he doesn’t have it easy regardless.

The Masked, Nacacia and the Lady Herald along with Eltagrim, Mythanthar, and the Srinshee were all interesting and fun characters that I’d even consider putting into my own dungeons and dragons games.

The story ends in 261 DR, 20 years after it begins. There are a few time jumps at the end that bring us to that time by the conclusion. I know the next Elminster book takes place centuries later. 


You can track my current progress here.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Review: Shadows of Doom by Ed Greenwood

Shadows of Doom is a 1995 novel and first in the Shadow of the Avatar trilogy. You can watch and listen to my video review here.

The story focuses on Elminster during the time of Troubles, particularly around the demise of Mystra. Makes more sense than Shadowdale (review here) which you can read before hand. It was meant to showcase why Elminster and some others were not around to save everyone during the Avatar Crisis, as those that normally would strive to do so I preoccupied saving themselves, well and the people of the High Dale.

Elminsters companion is Sharantyr, a Member of the Knights of Myth Drannor and one of the a Ranger three.

We also follow the Harper duo Itharr of Athkarla and Belkram of Baldur’s Gate. Harper’s are against tyranny of the Realms and go about trying to stop it wherever they can. We focus a lot on High Dale and it’s occupation by the Zhentarim which is facing being thwarted by our heroes. 

Super dramatic, endless amounts of combat it was like reading Salvatore (which I often find boring) but with Greenwood’s flair, which is to say the characters bemoan their fate of endless combat but it doesn’t change for them. It was nice seeing Elminster humbled and not be completely over powered. I felt some of the emotion he himself was feeling at such a loss of his goddess and magic with it at the start. That being said, for knowing how bad his death would be, it’s a little odd how reckless Elminster is at times, with seemingly none or little care about his fate when has very little power with him.

This was my first extensive experience with a member of the Knights of Myth Drannor, which didn’t disappoint, though I would have liked to see some character growth which is missing from just about every character as it’s only endless slaughter that faces them. Particularly, Sharantyr’s biggest trait is her hate of Zhentarim for the bad things they did to her when she was younger. I guess it fits that she is very good at killing them.

It’s not a page turner, but it was fun to listen to but our really reads like one DnD combat encounter after the other. The plot is hard to parse, and that lends to some problems. It’s not going to grip you into this grand story, it sometimes feels like it’s just trying to distract you.

I get that Greenwood is all about having his heroine’s be uncaring about their nudity, but it was a little much here at some points as besides maybe being something to mention once it’s a little excessive as it doesn’t really help the story. That being said, they do remind me some of Sword & Sorcery heroines. 

The villains are okay here, they’re not any big bads. I was hoping we would get a load of Manshoon, leader of the Zhentilar from a small excerpt at the start, but alas, it was not to be. Though he does play a bigger role for the last fifth or sixth of the nove. Stormcloak is mostly a fool, while some others are ok but nothing to write home about. IN that case it just felt like an excerpt from the wide world of the Forgotten Realms, it’s peopled with loads of kids of people and I guess this time we got some more mundane, uninteresting sort.

Also some things got through an editor such as Elminster’s archaic switching from addressing someone in the singular to the plural, at one point.

Also I read this to see how it would line up to Shadowdale and it acts as if Elminster didn’t appease in Shadowdale, though he does. I realized this was the case immediately so I just ignored it, but FYI it doesn’t line up. 

Besides that there are the occasional bites of nice lore, such as for Spellgard and Sembia since the High Dale is so close to the town of Saerb in that nation.  But overall, it’s Mediocre, but I think the audiobook may have saved this one from an even more Unforgiven rating.


You can track my current progress here.