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Monday, February 26, 2024

Review: Baldur's Gate by Philip Athans

 Not the only novel to align with a video game, this one has a rather poor reception compared to the likes of Azure Bonds. Released half a year after the game of the same name, Baldur's Gate by Philip Athans follows the adventures of Abdel Adrian.

Released in 1999 the story echoes the game, set in 1368 DR. Abdel is a sellsword as the story starts, he is with his father as they are ambushed by other sellswords, ones he recognizes. Gorion receives a fatal wound but Abdel continues to the Friendly Arm Inn on the road between Beregost and Baldur's Gate. They came from the direction of Candlekeep and were set to meet Jaheira and Khalid at the inn.

In the game, Sarevok Anchev slays Gorion personally, so that is the first change. Sarevok is a Bhaalspawn from Ordulin, Sembia. He is with his lover, Tamoko when we meet him. He is trying to kill his brother and to cause war between Baldur's Gate and Amn. Abdel opposes this.

Abdel himself was raised by a monk, a former Harper, after his mother died in a raid executed by the Harpers. He has venerated Torm over the other gods but has certain murderous tendencies. After finding a note from his father referring to the Avatar Crisis, he gains the companions of the halfling Montaron and the human Xzar. They seem tied up with Nashkel, Sarevok, and the Zhentarim.

Overall, the book incorporates Forgotten Realms lore well, we even get Iron Throne and Pacys the Bard mentioned (from the Threat from the Sea Trilogy). There are ghouls and doppelgängers, kobolds and spiders. There is a plethora of action, and it is a bit tedious (akin to a Drizzt novel). Bhaal is also a god that gets much attention, his emblem graces the cover after all. Another character I liked was Yeslick of clan Orothiar, dwarves from Cloak Wood in Sembia. Elfsong Tavern also makes an appearance. 

One of the silliest scenes I've ever read in a Realms novel is present as well. This is around the time the novels seem to be a bit more openly sexual and featuring nudity. A certain scene with Jaheira and a spider made me laugh it was so absurd. Also, the story has a terminal climax, simply reaching its peak and finishing without a denouement. Overall, it is an Acceptable novel. It is very short.


You can track my current progress here.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Review: King Pinch by David "Zeb" Cook

 No one is beyond gold’s reach.

King Pinch a 1995 novel and is the first book in The Nobles, a series of books focusing on a noble from various locations around the Realms. It's not a true series, just like Lost Empires, and I read the fifth book first, The Simbul's Gift. This one is by David Cook, known more for his game material rather than fiction. 

Ankhapur is on the Lake of Steam and at the mouth of the Thornwash River. This is the home of Pinch, whose guardian is the late Manferic III who once ruled the city. The year is 1366 DR. 

The prologue introduces a funeral precession for a person of great import, the king has died. Pinch, whose true name is Janol Famisso is a potential heir. At the start of the story though he is a thief and crime lord working in Elturel. His partner is the halfling Sprite Heels. 

I really dig the Gord the Rogue and Lankhmar vibes. It’s also a sort of rags to riches but really dishonest to honest, or maybe not, depending on how you view kingship it could be the opposite. 

We get to see Hellriders; a temple of Lathander; military excursions, a good amount of deities mentioned like Cyric, Mask, Kelemvor, Loviator; halflings have furred feet; there is much politicking; scary dwarves; a lich, and more. 

A little darker than many of the FR novels I’ve read, not in much in tone as Erevis Cale, but the battles and aftermath are sometimes rather grim and the thief being the main character has its perks. 

The basic plot is interesting enough but some interesting fantastic (as in fantasy) twists make it more exciting. Much is not as it seems.

Cleedis and Lissa are some side characters of import. The first is an old soldier loyal to the old king. The latter is a priestess of Lathander sent from Elturel to recover the stolen items from the temple there. Of course, the most fleshed-out character is Pinch. 

Overall it is a Good read for Realms' fans. Pinch only appeared in one other fiction piece, the short story “Gallow’s Day” in the Realms of Infamy anthology. 


You can track my current progress here.