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Monday, July 31, 2023

Review: The Spine of the World by R.A. Salvatore

 The Spine of the World was released in 1999 and falls as number twelve in the ongoing Legend of Drizzt. Though it is part of the super series the main character is Wulfgar. In fact, Drizzt only appears in the narrative entries that separate the different sections of the novel. This is a sequel to The Silent Blade, as this starts with Wulfgar being a bouncer in Luskan just as he was in the previous novel.

I read this one in December 2022, right after finishing the Threat from the Sea trilogy.

The prologue shows Wulfgar at the docks with Morik, a recent friend set to watch over the barbarian by Jarlaxle. They are drinking and playing and are confronted by would-be-muggers. This interaction shows us the depressed and destitute state of Wulfgar. His lack of care may be costing The Cutlass, the tavern he works at, more money than he is now worth. 

Chapter 1 then shows the Sea Sprite, Captain Deudermonts ship, making its way into Luskan for repairs after an engagement with two pirate vessels.

Ch 2 shows us the Auck family of the village of Auckney to the Northwest of Luskan. The map at the front of the book is actually for the fiefdom of Auckney. This map puts Fireshear to the northwest when the text says it is to the south. 

The interludes are still from Drizzt and about his morals: he doesn’t like drugs for example and doesn’t think you should have sex with someone you don’t love but won’t judge if you do. 

The fighting is overdone, as always. 

The characters, especially just about all of them in Auckney are dislikable for the bad things they do, buuuuut, if you read this as Salvatore’s look at the plight of the poor, it kind of reads like Glenn Cook’s Shadows Linger. I think the expectations are wrong, and his characterization is not up to par; but it’s not terrible, though this novel is generally hated by Drizzt fans. 

Wulfgar is a thug, and a wretch; generally, what the Companions of the Hall fight. 

Does it end in tragedy? No, this is a redemption story that is actually done okay. I got quite emotional at the end even. Very unexpected. Almost Arthurian in some respects. 

Merelda is a tragic character, one the reader should pity. Jaka is my least favorite type of person in the world, the worst of toxic teenage boys. 

Most fans don’t like this novel, and since I’m not a huge fan of this series I thought maybe I would end up liking it. But no, it’s not that good. As is typical of Salvatore, I found it mediocre at best and maybe okay for tween boys.


You can track my current progress here.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Review: Only A Woman Can Take This Sort of Abuse by Ed Greenwood

 It has been a minute since reviewing a Spin a Yarn tale by Ed Greenwood. Like the previous two, this was a tale written by Ed Greenwood after attendees at Gen Con gave outlandish suggestions.

This one is divided into two parts and is quite long. They were released in December 2003 and January 2004, respectively. Read parts 1 and 2

the picture on the original article

This one starts really comical, as Manshoon, Lord of the Zhentarim, wakes up not remembering exactly what happened. He knows he was lured by the Seven Sisters and he awakes dressed as a “saucy tavern wench”. When leaving the bedroom he finds Volo dresses in a corset and proceeds to try to murder the traveling writer and wizard. 

The Seven Sisters mean to trap someone and disguise it as a revel. Volo is present because he is writing his guide to Catering. We learn this is at a cabin on the Dragon Coast. 

Aravil Kettlesworth is the cook in a less than efficient and clean kitchen. He is a dwarf and all the others are followers of Loviater, goddess of pain. Their leader seems to be a priestess named Roreldra who is literally whipping frosting onto a cake. Or welol, she is the spiritual leader; Kettlesworth Fine Feasts is of course led by the dwarf.

There is a short conversation on how to cook tarrasque so it is safe to eat. Around this comes an aged paladin of Tyr with a sapient sword capable of loving some on its own, one eager to protect supposed innocents.

The story introduces Elminster in part 2, and we get a proper explanation (or showing) of how Manshoon and Volo get where they are at the start. It’s very fun, maybe a tad long. I’d say it’s a Good one and of course free to enjoy.


You can track my current progress here.