Obsidian Ridge (The Citadels #2) (Forgotten Realms)

cover This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com by express permission of this reviewer

Title: Obsidian Ridge

Series: The Citadels #2, Forgotten Realms

Author: Jess LeBow

Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 339

 

Synopsis:

A King is trying to keep his realm together while merchants are pushing a new drug. The king’s enforcer, The Claw, happens to be in love with the Princess.

Drugs, Enforcer, King and Merchants, all mixed together.

Throw in a rogue Magician who wants the Princess as his next bride, a magician powerful enough to use a flying castle, and you have a Forgotten Realms adventure.

 

My Thoughts:

I actually enjoyed this novel more than the first Citadels novel, but I had to rate it less because it was just so “pedestrian”.  I’m tired of giving “ordinary” a higher rating just because there is so much utter and abysmal trash out there. I am tired of the fact that there IS so much trash out there.

The magician was a complete idiot and for someone who has supposedly lived as long as he has, well, he certainly didn’t spend the time improving his mind. He was a 2 bit villain with a 5bit castle.

Sadly, this is the quality that people think of AND expect when they hear the words “Forgotten Realms”.  The Citadels are just in the title unfortunately. It would be nice if they actually played a bigger part of the story.

Neversfall (The Citadels #1) (Forgotten Realms)

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Title: Neversfall

Series: The Citadels #1

Author: Ed Gentry

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 274

 

Synopsis:

An Elite Military Force and a Mercenary Company investigate why a Fortress in the south has gone silent.

What ensues is a story of greed, betrayal and megalomania.

 

My Thoughts:

This “series” is linked only by an idea, much like the Rogue series I am also reading in the Forgotten Realms. Standalone novels really, but to be honest, I need that sometimes.

However, this is your atypical “write to pay the electric bill” kind of book. The 2 “main” characters [one from the Elites, one from the Mercenaries] are dumb as dirt, nearly spineless and shrug off near fatal wounds like they are paper cuts. I realize there is magical healing in the FR books, but you do NOT get shot in the thigh with a crossbow bolt and then just go tearing around the top of a fortress running down all the badguys.

I really liked the Fortress itself. Sadly, it falls to the writers ineptness and does not live up to its name of Neversfall. As far as I can tell, it falls to various factions at least 4-5 times.

A lot of complaining; but competently written in the grammar department and with all the indie crap floating in the Literary Toilet these days, that in and of itself sets it high enough. The general bar has been lowered sadly.

Blackstaff (Forgotten Realms: The Wizards #1) ★★★☆☆

blackstaff (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Blackstaff
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Wizards #1
Author: Steven Schend
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Khelben Arunsun, better known as the wizard Blackstaff and chosen of Mystra, “began a great work” and now he will be “certain to complete it”. With the help of an apprentice, a dead apprentice, a former apprentice who is now an evil lich, a rogue and a host of veritable potentates in the magic community, Blackstaff will unleash The Killer Storm that could wipe out all of Faerun and channel it in such a way as to bring back an ancient city that has been buried for 12 Millennia.

Of course, Blackstaff has to manipulate almost everyone, find out that he’s the expectant father of twins and then sacrifice himself “because of reasons” to complete the city raising ritual.

Nothing makes one’s life more complete than dying for “reasons”.

 

My Thoughts:

While Khelben is the ostensible main character, as he’s the titular Blackstaff, it turns out that some nobody apprentice named Tsarra Chaadren is actually the main character. She gets part of her friend’s soul when a magical test goes wrong because of an attack and then at the end she has to take on Blackstaff’s memories and become the new Blackstaff. No pressure. I didn’t like or dislike Tsarra because she was such a nobody. She might have been an up and coming nobody, but she was still a nobody.

In the same vein, the rogue Raegar Stoneblade [oh my bloody phrackingness, WHO comes up with these names?!?!] is as bleh as she is. Him and Tsarra falling in love was predictable as was his “you killed my friend so I’m going to get you” schtick against the villain.

Which brings us to the Lich. Priamon “Frostrune” Rakesk. At least Frostrune is a cool name. He does a good bit of manipulating of the others and things seem to be going his way. Of course, he’s putty in the hands of Blackstaff, so his eventual eternal torment [because you can’t die if you’re already dead] in the hands of an evil underlord came as no surprise.

Storywise, this was one of the more decent ones that I’ve read recently. It gives me hope for the next 3 books in the The Wizards tetralogy. It was also nice to just read a standalone story. These “vaguely related by one idea” kind of books in the Forgotten Realms [The Citadels, The Cities or The Rogues

for example] are so hit and miss that it is a real crapshoot if you are going to get a decent one or a stinker. Thankfully, this was one of the more decent ones.

I think it helped that I had read The Archwizards Trilogy relatively recently and while not really liking it, it did introduce me to Blackstaff, the Phaerim and other such characters so that I didn’t go into this blind. Also, Arilyn Moonblade and Danilow Thann are mentioned, who I met in the second The Harpers book. It is tying little pieces like that together that help in my enjoyment of the overall Forgotten Realms books.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

The City of Ravens (The Cities #1) (Forgotten Realms)

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Title: The City of Ravens
Series: The Cities
Author: Richard Baker
Rating: 3 of 5 Battle Axes
Genre: SFF
Pages: 324
Format: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:
Jack Ravenwild is a dandy, a thief, a magician and an utterly pompous kind of guy. So it isn’t a surprise when he gets 3 different commissions from 3 different beautiful women. But since they all tie together in the end, it makes for a very light and fun adventure.

 

My Thoughts:
This was so deliberately over the top that I was rolling my eyes the entire time. Thankfully, Baker had enough skill and deftness of touch that I was also laughing while rolling my eyes.

Jack was an irrepressible character and had a flair for the fanciful. While most Forgotten Realms’ books go for the faux-epic feel, or the dark and gritty, this was unabashed mockery of that. Either that or Baker is such a bad writer that he’s a genius.
I wouldn’t be able to take a steady diet of this, but every once in a while something silly is needed to counteract all the ridiculous authors who are miserable and take it out on us the readers.

After the bad experience I had with The Citadels series, I am encouraged that this started out so lightly.

The Crimson Gold (The Rogues #3) (Forgotten Realms)

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Title: The Crimson Gold

Series: The Rogues, Forgotten Realms

Author: Voronica Whitney-Robinson

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 237

 

Synopsis:

Thazienne Uskevren, from the Sembia & Eravis Cale series, is the middle of Thay, recovering some Crimson Gold so she can pay tribute to her recently deceased father.

Unfortunately for Tazi, she is caught in the middle of a Red Wizard’s spat and even worse, in the potential destruction of Thay, as a demon is about to break loose from its entrapment hundreds of years earlier.

 

My Thoughts:

The main saving grace of this book was Tazi and her association from previous books. The idea of a Red Wizards spat involving a chained super-demon is pretty good. Unfortunately, little side story about treasure hunting and the duegar hunting for more of his kind, was pretty weak.

I enjoyed this up until the main battle between the Red Wizards, the demon and Tazi. Up to that point Tazi was a good thief, a good Rogue, but when she was cast as a general for the Red Wizards’ forces, it just didn’t fit. And the whole strategy of throwing one monster army at the other to literally create a barricade of bodies, well, it smacked of ignorance, just like me trying to write a contemporary romance wouldn’t go so well.

Thankfully, this Rogues series has been ok and as there is only 1 book left, I’ll be finishing this series, unlike the Citadels series, which was just poor crap.