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Monday, September 4, 2023

Review: Realms of the Deep

Realms of the Deep is the accompanying anthology to the Threat from the Sea trilogy by Mel Odom. It was only the fourth anthology I have read on my quest so far, the others being The Halls of Stormweather, Realms of War, and The Best of the Realms II. This concludes the fiction content for the Realms event, the only other piece being the short story not included here: "Dark Legacy".

Released in 2000 and edited by Philip Athans, the anthology contains twelve stories about the Twelfth Seros War that went from the Sea of Swords to the Sea of Fallen Stars.

"Our Choices" by Lynn Abbey takes place on the 19th of Ches in the Year of the Gauntlet. The story is about sea elves who are new refugees in service to a Triton king. A beacon has just been destroyed by the Sahuagin. Turns out one of these sea elves is a malenti, a Sahuagin that looks like a sea elf, just like Laaqueel in the trilogy. This is a story of fate, similar to something like "Before the Firing Squad" by John Chioles. It is a rare Lynn Abbey Realms story that you should appreciate while it lasts.

"Fire is Fire" is by Elaine Cunningham and takes place on the 30th of Ches of the same year. A wizard associated with Khelben Blackstaff is the main character and his parts are told in first person. This is a young and arrogant wizard tutored by the Archmage. He seeks glory in the attack on Waterdeep by the Sahuagin, the battle that commenced in the first story. There is also another character. A first-person account of a Sahuagin. It was odd switching to another POV in the first person in the same story. The idea of fire is fire brings about respect and a great comparison to the Sahuagin mantra of “meat is meat” we hear often in the trilogy. Cunningham definitely has talent.

"Messenger to Seros" by Peter Archer takes place on the 10th of Tarsahk; once again in the same year. Thraksos needs to find a way to Seros to warn the good sea peoples in the Inner Sea of the battle at Waterdeep. Not much to comment on here.

"The Place Where Guards Sleep at their Post" by Ed Greenwood takes place on the 9th of Kythorn. This is a cheeky story set around Mintarn. We have bits from Brandor, a black buckle apprentice mage. This is a fantastic ending involving burning oysters in the barrel. This one also appears in The Best of the Realms II

"Lost Cause" by Richard Lee Byers is set on the 17th of Kythorn. Told in the first-person, our main character is ex-military. His name is Sergeant Kendrack. This is a battle sequence that is really immersive, with great imagery, unique voices for the soldiers and raw human emotion. It has redemption and pride. Hylas and Aquinder with Kendrack make a great cast. This takes place at Port Llast and the foes are actually crabmen allied with the Sahuagin, which is also a nice change of pace. 

"Forged in Fire" by Clayton Emery takes place on the 22nd of Kythorn. This is a story about pirates, it starts in medias res as pirates are boarding a merchant vessel. This seems to be set in the sea near Calimshan. This time we need enemies to work together, and Emery makes sure we know there are plenty of female pirates. 

"One Who Swims with Sekolah" by Mel Odom is set on the 4th of Flamerule. This seems to be the longest in the anthology, and it being from the man largely behind the Threat From the Sea or Twelfth Seros War, it makes sense. This describes the breaking of the Sharksbane Wall that occurs later in the trilogy. It follows Laaqueel in her service to Iakhovas so those who have read the trilogy will probably like this addition even if they don’t want to read the rest of the stories. 

"The Crystal Reef" by Troy Denning is set on the 8th of Flamerule. On a small island west of Tharsult there lies a crystal wreath protected by a couple giants on a small island. The story is kicked into motion because a fleet of ships is suddenly anchored off the reef. This is a story of sacrifice, and it is a little sad. 

"The Patrol" by Larry Hobbs takes place on the 10th of Flamerule. A watchman in the port city of Cimbar is our protagonist. He is the third son of a noble known as a hero. He is in a scuffle in the streets and ends up getting berated by his superior. It is fine but I feel I’ve read it before.

"The Star of Tethyr" by Thomas M. Reid is next. This one is about the new flagship of the Tethyr fleet, though it doesn’t take place on it said ship. Our main character is a young sailor and it’s about his chance to aid the ship when the Sahuagin attack.

"Persana’s Blade" by Steven E. Schend is the penultimate story.  A young triton is involved in a morkoth attack and must protect his little sister. 

"And the Dark Tide Rises" by Keith Francis Strohm takes place in Mourktar with an outsider youth being our protagonist. I found it a little tedious since it was the fourth story in a row about a young man. It’s not bad though, it’s an enchanting tale of the sea and belonging. 

This was my first time reading by Archer, Hobbs and Strohm. The rest are all veterans of the Realms I’ve read in novels or short stories. Overall, I enjoyed my time and I look forward to getting into more of the "Realms of" anthologies. This is a Good one.


You can track my current progress here.

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