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Monday, November 6, 2023

Review: The Parched Sea by Troy Denning

In 1991 Troy Denning introduced the monstrous series of The Harpers. They're largely standalone or have internal arcs, so you have no need to read 1-16 like it is The Wheel of Time. The first of these is The Parched Sea which introduces Ruha, whom Denning would use in more of his Forgotten Realms novels, including The Parched Sea's sequel, The Veiled Dragon, book five of the Avatar series, Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad, as well as in The Return of the Archwizards trilogy. You can listen to my thoughts here.

Ruha is newly married and is adjusting to her life with a new tribe, the Qahtan of the Bedine in Anauroch desert. She keeps secret her portentous visions so the Qahtan will not think she is a witch. In reality she does know some magic which she learned from a witch who raised her for some of her childhood. 

Her call to adventure comes when her new husband, Ajaman, is given night guard duty. Disaster strikes the Qahtan, and Ruha finds her life upheaved. 

Lander, a Harper from Sembia, is in Anauroch to follow the moves of the Zhentarim. He will become important to this stage of Ruha's life. The year is 1360 DR, a couple years after the Time of Troubles. Cyric is presently God of three domains, and his Bedine aspect is Naser. 

The novel itself is pretty predictable. The Bedines are obviously inspired by the Bedouins. They don’t like magic since greedy magic users are what made the desert in the first place, at least in part (see the history of Netheril). The big theme is prejudice and finding belonging while fighting foreign interlopers. 

The desert setting is cool, I don’t read too many in such a biome. I wish Ruha was more of the main character over Lander, she was much more interesting, and Lander takes some of the attention away from her.

There is some romance here and is not the worst thing I have read by Denning. If I were you, I might skip this novel since there are better ones worth reading unless something here makes you think you would enjoy it or you are a completionist like I am. Regardless, my next review will be for the sequel, The Veiled Dragon.


You can track my current progress here.

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