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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 doppelg√§ngers, 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.

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