The Rite (Forgotten Realms: The Year of Rogue Dragons #2) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@30%

rite (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: The Rite
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Year of Rogue Dragons #2
Author: Richard Lee Byers
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 352/Abandoned
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

More and more dragons go rogue and the various characters attempt to figure out what the badguy Sammaster has done by backtracking him. One group to a mystic monastery currently under siege by dragons and another group to a some wizards who are working on Sammaster’s notes.

DNF’d at 30%

 

My Thoughts:

My first DNF of the year. Man, I was bored with this story. There are several factors leading into that though.

First, I have had a string of 4star books since the beginning of the year. My standards were thus higher. Second, I was on the fence about Forgotten Realms the whole of last year and kept giving them chance after chance. This year, No More Mr Nice Guy. Third, I don’t want to keep on eating badly cooked literary mac-n-cheese where I KNOW that half the stuff is half-baked. Finally, work was physically brutal this week and I ended up taking today off because of how hard Monday-Thursday had gone. Hiking an hour using showshoes, carrying 60lbs of equipment, shovelling out traverse stations all day, breaking trail, pulling a sled filled with 200lbs of equipment during the day, then ending the day by hiking an hour out with 60lbs of equipment again.

If I had read this last year, I probably would have given it 2.5stars and struggled through the final book in the trilogy. Not this year. I am done with this book and this trilogy and the whole Forgotten Realms series. It is written for a completely different target audience than me and I need to stop trying to shoehorn myself into that demographic. Objectively, it was the same as the first book, but I just don’t have the patience to deal with it anymore.

I have enough books on my Oasis and in Calibre to last me 2 years. That’s if I don’t add a single thing. So why should I persist in adding books that have an extremely high chance of being lower than 3stars? Not worth it.

★☆☆☆☆

bookstooge

 

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The Ring of Winter (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #5) ★★☆☆½

ringofwinter (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: The Ring of Winter
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #5
Author: James Lowder
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Artus Cimber, a former harper, has been searching for the Ring of Winter for over a decade with almost no success. However, when a fellow Adventurer member comes back from an expedition in the deepest, hottest jungles where dinosaurs live and tells of a freak snowstorm that saved his life, Artus knows he’s hot on the trail.

Taking off in the middle of the night with his only friend, an older mage, so that the Harpers can’t pressure him in any way, Artus’s journey doesn’t start well. The ship they paid passage to be on forces them to be regular sailors and the captain is an insane witch woman. Artus ends up killing her. Artus and Pontifex finally make it to Dinosaur Land, only to be attacked by members of the Cult of Frost, who are led by Kaverin Ebonhand. Kaverin also desires the Ring of Winter as it supposedly endows its controller with immortal life.

Pontifex dies, Artus is on his own. Sets off into the jungles with a local guide, only to find out it is a magician in thrall to Kaveron. Artus is captured by goblins, thrown into a pit of a monster that they worship and escapes with the help of 2 talking wombats named Byrt and Lugg.

I am NOT kidding.

Kaveron gets all the goblins to unite and attack the city of Mezro which had 7 magical guardians. One of them revealed that he had had the Ring of Winter but that he couldn’t control it and so threw it into the testing chamber where new magical girls, errrr, guardians were tested and chosen. Artus goes after it, gets it and saves the city because he CAN control the Ring.

Everybody who is still alive is happy and Artus realizes that he’s still a Harper at heart and now with a super powerful artifact he can do lots and lots of good things. Yippeee!

 

My Thoughts:

This was a perfect example of an author forcing the character to act like the author wanted without regards to any past actions, feelings or explanations. Artus starts out as an impetuous, selfish idiot. He hates the Harpers, puts others in danger without regard when searching for the Ring of Winter and generally acts like an ass. The shazaaam, he gets tested by the god Ubtao and suddenly he’s the soul of wisdom, discretion and goodness.

The talking wombats? Besides getting him out of the monster pit the first time, and talking in fake british accents, dropping all their “h’s”, etc, they were pointless. Which leads into all the side characters. There were so many that none of them really got to be “real” people. Kaveron was the perfect example. He’s the leader of the Frost Cult, has stone hands due to fighting with Artus in the past, is in thrall to the mad god Cyric and can make magical icemen assassins. Yet he loses control of a small goblin tribe? He was just a name attached to a vehicle that moved the plot forward. People are introduced and in a lot of cases, die off within 10-20 pages. I gave up trying to keep track because I never knew if someone introduced was a long term character or just another meat bag for the mill.

I felt like this had too many elements contained in one story and it diluted the whole focus on the Ring of Winter. Well, I’m giving the Harpers sub-series one more book and then if that book doesn’t get a 3.5star rating I’ll be done. I’m not 12 or 14 years old.

And the Ring of Winter? It should have been a wicked super awesome cool artifact. Kind of like this M:TG card looks. But no. It is as disappointing as the rest of the book.

ringofwinter

 

★★☆☆½

bookstooge

 

The Rage (Forgotten Realms: The Year of Rogue Dragons #1) ★★★☆ ½

rage (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Rage
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Year of Rogue Dragons #1
Author: Richard Lee Byers
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 356
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Cult of Dragons is alive and well. They are trying to bring about a prophecy, interpretated by their found, Sammaster, that states the undead lichdragons will one day rule the world. Dragons go through a periodic phase of “Rage” where they lose all reason and kill and destroy mindlessly. That time is happening now across all of Faerun and the Dragon Cult plans to make the most of it.

Opposing them is a small group of adventurers who are sucked in against their will. Becoming allied with a shapeshifting dragon AND an undead vampirric dragon, this group starts out simply trying to save one town. This leads to the discovery that Sammaster is somehow controlling, and increasing The Rage, for his own purposes.

Now it is up to this ragtag group of human priest, halfling, arctic dwarf, human/golem hybrid and various dragons, to save humanity from an all encompassing slavery at the hands of eternal lichdragons.

 

My Thoughts:

Finally! Another enjoyable Forgotten Realms book. I was starting to think that I’d have to give up on FR altogether after my last couple of forays which encompassed The Night Parade, Blood Walk and Red Magic. Those were just plain bad. Thankfully, Byers has a pretty good track record with me and FR. I’ve never given his stuff below a 3star and his Haunted Lands Trilogy was a solid 3.5 across the board.

This lived up to past reads and my expectations for the future. It was a solid read. Given it is Forgotten Realms and some things are just part of that, Byers is still a good author and it shows in his storytelling here. I think that is one thing I’ve really enjoyed about Byers. Beyond his qualified writing, he can tell a good story. Too many FR books are just “conflict in a fantasy setting”. Byers tells stories that I want to read about.

I’ve ALWAYS wondered why the world wasn’t overrun or ruled by dragons. It had to be something more than that they were rare. I believe this trilogy will clue us in as to why they are so rare and why they’re not bigger players in the FR realm.

A disparate group that hates and loves itself and bickers constantly while they try to singlehandedly save the world? It works this time. I do have to wonder though, since Sammaster is a former Chosen of Mystra, will other “big name” Forgotten Realms characters become involved? Say Elminster or Blackstaff or Alustriel? Not really keeping track of the timeline,so those characters might have been gone for 100’s of years for all I know.

Ok, going to add a Forgotten Realms date to these FR reviews from now. Man, as if real history isn’t bad enough!

Date: 1373 DR (Dale Reckoning)

★★★☆½

 

 

bookstooge

The Night Parade (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #4) ★☆☆☆ ½

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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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Night Parade
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #4
Author: Scott Ciencin
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 310
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Myrmeen, ruler of a successful city, is approached by her ex-husband. He tells her that their only child never died but that he instead sold the baby girl into slavery to pay off his debts. After lopping off her ex’s head, Myrmeen calls together some of her former compatriots, who are all Harpers.

Their research leads them to the conclusion that every so many years a hideous group of supernatural beings kidnaps children for nefarious purposes and said group is known as the Night Parade. The group finds Krystin, Myrmeen’s daughter but in their rush to leave the city, things happen, people die and the Night Parade is no longer content to let them be.

The Myrmeen and Co group meet up with a vigilante who has a magical item that he uses to kill the Night Parade. They all start hunting down the badguys, For The Children, and the Night Parade hits back, hard. Harpers die left and right, betrayals happen even after death and hardly anybody is who they say they are.

Krystin was a plant to lure in Myrmeen, the Night Parade are barren creatures from another realm that they can’t return to and through the Power of Luv, Myrmeen and Krystin rack up a serious body count of all their friends and tear away the shadow hiding the Night Parade. The Night Parade is prevented from ever recruiting more members and Myrmeen finds out that her biological daughter is being raised in a neighboring kingdom as a Poet Princess. Myrmeen lets her go and sets off on living life with Krystin as her stand-in daughter.

 

My Thoughts:

Wow! And here I thought Red Magic bad. This is the kind of Forgotten Realms book that gives the series its b-class, sub-standard, fantasy is crap, kind of reputation.

I suspect that Ciencin was told to write for horny 13 year old boys, as there were lots of descriptions of generic cleavage and legs and beauty and desire and crap. Sadly, the rest of the writing I’m not sure that even a 13 year old boy would put up with. Maybe?

Myrmeen. Where do I even start? She doesn’t think, she reacts at all the wrong times, she doesn’t consider anyone else but herself and then the eyerolling, gag inducing saccharin sweetness of her desire to be a mom. It was done wrong and it was done lazily and it was done stupidly. It doesn’t help that she seems to be attracted to every male she comes into contact with and that every single one of them dies. Seriously, she’s worse than a black widow.

The only reason I’m not complaining about the other characters is because except for Krystin, they ALL die. That’s just laziness to me. Don’t know how to handle someone’s future? Easy, kill them off. Don’t know how to engage your readers on a gut level? Easy, kill off a trusted companion. Don’t know how to even write effectively? Easy, kill somebody.

If you stuck a gun to my head and forced me to answer the question, which was worse, this book or Bloodwalk I would be really hard pressed to know what to say. I have had a recent string of bad books in the Forgotten Realms and I have to wonder when it is going to end. This Harpers series is on life support and it’ll only take 1 more stinker to sink the ship. I just hate wasting my time on trash.

While I rated this 1/2star higher than Bloodwalk, I am giving this book the “Worst Book of the Year” tag as its Mother/Daughter thing was so badly done that I felt nauseous. Bravo! And it turns out that this is the FIRST book to ever have that dubious honor. Double Bravo!!

★☆☆☆ ½

bookstooge

  1. Red Magic (Book 3)
  2. Elfshadow (Book 2)
  3. The Parched Sea (Book 1)
  4. The Wizards series
  5. Threat from the Sea trilogy
  6. Return of the Archwizards trilogy

 

Bloodwalk (Forgotten Realms: The Wizards #2) ★☆☆☆☆

bloodwalk

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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Bloodwalk
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Wizards #2
Author: James Davis
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A blood witch is planning on taking over a forest and then some towns, or something. She fools the local oracles who have foiled past plots by pretending to be their god. She raises necromantic forces to take over.

Concurrently, a man with angelic blood in him, a devotee to Hoar, the god of justice [you have NO idea how much I laughed at that] is a wandering justice dispensor. He wanders into the situation and is attempting to stop the blood witch.

Finally, you have 2 sisters, one an oracle, one a hunter who are both fighting to protect their town from complete and utter devastation. Enemies within and without make the job that much harder. Plus dead parents and all the baggage that means.

 

My Thoughts:

This was trash. It was a poor storyline, poorly executed and poorly written. Davis knows his grammar rules, thankfully, so there were no aggregious misuses of your/you’re, etc. But telling the story? My goodness. The motivation for everyone was clear as mud.

I completely skimmed the last 25% and STILL had a tough time finishing. It didn’t help that I was coming off a book that I also didn’t like, so this was like rubbing salt in the wound.

It did force me to decide if I wanted to continue this Wizards sub-series and the answer was a resounding “NO!”. Sometimes Forgotten Realms books are just junk and you have to chuck them out the window to keep your sanity.

★☆☆☆☆

bookstooge

  1. Blackstaff (Book 1)

Red Magic (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #3) ★★☆☆☆

redmagic (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: Red Magic
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #3
Author: Jean Rabe
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Scan

 

Synopsis:

Maligor, a Red Wizard of Thay, has plans, big plans. He’s built himself up an army of gnolls and has let it be known that a newly established young red wizard has built his tower on some land that Maligor wants. In secret, Maligor has been building an army of darkenbeasts out of cute wittle woodland animals and is planning on taking over the gold mines for his own personal enrichment.

The city of Aglarond, which is close to Thay, is worried about all the activity going on and they hire some Harpers to investigate. Galvin the druid and his friend Wynter the pacifist minotaur. Aglarond sends it own representative in the form of Brenna Greycloak, a small time politician and enchantress.

In the process of infiltrating Thay, the Harpers are captured by Szass Tam, lich wizard and main character in other future books. Szass Tam has them lead an attack on the mine to stop Maligor. They succeed, skedaddle out of Thay and go their separate ways.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoy stories about the Red Wizards of Thay and about Szass Tam, so I was hoping this book was going to hit the spot, kind of like a good chili dog. Sadly, this chili dog had been left on the counter for a week then overcooked in the microwave for 10minutes.

The interactions between ANY of the characters, whether with other main characters or side characters, was complete cardboard. Galvin and Brenna fall in love for the adventure but then realize their separate life goals aren’t compatible at the end, so they amicably go their separate ways. Wynter the minotaur. THAT should have been awesome. But partway through he gets “magic’d” and acts like a child for some time. And don’t get me started on Maligor and his assistant Asp. I got whiplash from how they interacted. It was completely dictated by the plot instead of the other way around.

Then all the harping (hahahaha) about what a great strategic genius Maligor is because he’s using a public gnoll army to distract everyone while doing his real business with the darkenbeasts? It was bogus. I’m no military genius and even I would have been smarter than Maligor. I would have gathered in some other Red Wizards as “allies” and then betrayed them all like a Good Red Wizard is supposed to. Use their forces for my ends, weaken them and my other enemies and then crush them all in the end, using yet another set of “allies”. Szass Tam did this, Maligor, not so much.

Honestly, this whole book felt like the author hadn’t written any fantasy before, didn’t know how to make use of her characters, hadn’t ever watched one war movie and had no idea how to write a battle scene. “Meh” probably accurately sums up this whole book.

And this is what I got to read last week when I was super busy and doing lots of stuff outside of work as well. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

★★☆☆☆

bookstooge

  1. The Parched Sea (Book 1)
  2. Elfshadow (Book 2)

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