Elfshadow (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #2) ★★★☆ ½

elfshadow (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: Elfshadow
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #2
Author: Elaine Cunningham
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 324
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Arilyn Moonblade, poor little half human and moon elf, is taken under wing by a gold elf who teaches her how to be the ultimate fighter. With her magical moonblade, she becomes an associate of the Harper organization to do the deeds they don’t want to sully their hands with.

When Arilyn’s acquaintances begin to die, all Harpers and all marked by a Harper symbol, she sets out to find the killer before the killer finds her. Unbeknownst to her however, her moonblade is a portal to the hidden elven realm of Evermeet and that is the true goal of the assassin.

She encounters Danilo Thann, foppish nobleman, amateur bard and in secret, the protege of Blackstaff Arunsen, major wizard in the city of Waterdeep. Danilo has been tasked with protecting Arilyn and her moonblade without revealing his true identity.

Lots of fights, flights and betrayals occur before the showdown where Arilyn learns about her family, who her secret adversary is and Danilo’s true identity. Sometimes belonging to a secret organization isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

 

My Thoughts:

So much better than the first Harper book. The story was predictable as the sun and you know who the real badguy is by the halfway mark (at least, I did) but the interaction between Danilo and Arilyn was perfect. While Arilyn was the main character, Danilo was one of those sidecharacters who almost steals the show. He has to pretend to be a stupid fop even while being on guard against assassins both mundane and magical. The fact that he carries it off just made it all the better.

One problem I had, which is all me, is that I came across people and places whose names I recognized from other Forgotten Realms books but I couldn’t remember a lot of detail. It doesn’t help that I’m reading the overall Forgotten Realms books out of order. Evereska, city of Elves is mentioned as is Blackstaff Arunsen and both of those played a large part in the Return of the Archwizards trilogy.

After Denning’s writing style in the first book (I don’t like Denning and I’ll probably never stop mentioning that, fyi), Cunningham’s straightforward approach was refreshing. She can write well and while this setting doesn’t allow for spectacular writing, I was pretty pleased with how she handled everything.

The story about Arilyn’s moonblade, it’s magical history, her family drama, etc, were all ok but really, I only liked the fighting bits. And as for the Elfshadow, that was so blatantly obvious that I don’t even feel the need to comment on it beyond this.

On a kind of silly note, the cover just about makes me gag. Danilo looks like he’s about to turn into a fat merchant in about 2 years while Arilyn looks like an angry hobbit with pointy ears. I also found out that the adventures of Arilyn and Danilo are not only part of the Harpers series but eventually split off to become their own little thing called Swords and Songs. I don’t know if I’ll pursue that at some point or not.

★★★☆ ½

 

bookstooge

  1. The Parched Sea (Book 1)

 

The Parched Sea (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #1) ★★☆☆ 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, Booklikes & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

 
Title:       The Parched Sea
Series:    Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #1
Author:  Troy Denning
Rating:   2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre:    Fantasy
Pages:     310
Format:  Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Zentarim, followers of the god Cyric, are trying to forge a path through the desert to establish a lock on future trade routes. This “forging” includes the pacification of the tribes of the desert, whether by bribery or coercian, the Zentarim don’t particularly care. The tribes must either support the Zentarim or perish tribe by tribe at the hands of the lizard mercenaries hired by the Zentarim.

Into this situation comes Lander, a relatively new Harper. He has been chosen to oversee the situation and do what he can to unite the tribes against the Zentarim. He comes across a lone survivor of one of the tribes, an outcast young woman named Ruha, who has been outcast for her magical powers. Now it is up to these 2 to convince children in the guise of tribesmen to confront a force that only promises riches.

With the help of a god, Ruha and Lander can do it. But the victories that the Harpers win are not without cost, as Lander finds out.

 

My Thoughts: Spoilers

I’ve read enough Forgotten Realms books to know when I’ve hit a good one or a bad one pretty soon from the get go. Unfortunately, this was a typical Troy Denning book, which means it was mediocre pablum, even given the context of the universe he was writing in. So this was not a good book.

The Harpers sub-series is written by enough various authors that I’m not giving up on it just from the first book, but I have to say, this does not bode well.

Lander was not a very engaging main character and when he dies near the end, it was more of a “meh” moment than anything else. Ruha is more of token “woman” than anything even while becoming more central to the story than Lander. For a Harpers novel, they certainly didn’t play much of a part. The little bit I did see of them makes me wonder if I’m going to enjoy their adventures or not. They seem to be meddlers and instead of taking direct action, manipulate others to do their work [dirty or otherwise] for them. While they claim to be proponents of freedom, etc, they sure don’t act like it.

★★☆☆ ½

bookstooge

The Sea Devil’s Eye DNF@18% (Threat from the Sea #3) (Forgotten Realms)

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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 WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

Title: The Sea Devil’s Eye
Series: Threat from the Sea #3
Author: Mel Odom
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 356
Format: Kindle Digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Abandoned, Did Not Finish.

 

My Thoughts: Maudlin Memories Abound

Part of why I abandoned this was because I had just finished Gardens of the Moon and I was still reveling in my first 5star read of 2017. ANY book was going to have a hard time following that. However, all the glaring faults of this Forgotten Realms trilogy were really brought into the light after staring into the previous book.

I was at a part where the main boy character [he’s 20’ish, but ‘boy’ is the best description] is being talked to by the main love interest and she’s pouring her heart out and simply asking him if he loves her. This boy has a very big “I’m not worthy” complex and he’s an introspective melancholic. In fact, he acts EXACTLY like me when I was 18-22. So my problem isn’t that he’s unbelievable, it is that he’s just plain selfish and WON’T look at anything other than how he wants to. My real life problem was solved when a professor at bibleschool answered one of my self-absorbed questions by laying into me and simply telling me the truth, in front of the whole class. I didn’t change overnight but I did begin to think about other people. In this trilogy, the boy has his professor moments but he stays self-absorbed. Maybe later in the book that changes, but after 2+ books, I was done.

A young hero needs to mature. However, if you’re only writing a trilogy, don’t drag that “grow up” point to the last chapter. It’s unpleasant for me as a reader because I have to put up with the character until then.

Nothing of the quality of this book was any less than the previous two. I’d simply had enough of the characters and the author’s wanking around.

star10full-custom

The Sorcerer (The Return of the Archwizards #3) (Forgotten Realms)

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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 WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

Title: The Sorcerer

Series: The Return of the Archwizards #3

Author: Troy Denning

Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 320

Format: Kindle Digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Galaeron fights against the Netherese, along with some of Mystra’s Chosen, while the elves and their allies continue the battle against the Phaerim. The good guys mainly win and the Netherese mainly lose, but not completely.

And Galaeron ends up with both his human lover and his elf spirit mate. And he’s more powerful than ever since he’s gotten control of his shadow.

 

My Thoughts:

Lots of things happened and then bam, the end.  Just like with the previous books, I had a very hard time figuring out what the author was doing or saying. It was as if my mind was dulled or clouded. Most of it was just Denning’s writing style though. I think I’ll pass on any future books by him if I can avoid it.

The biggest thing for me, as an Erevis Cale fan, is that we see in this book how the Dracolich [undead Dragon wizard, ie, a dragon that is just bones] came to be under the spell of guarding the shadowrealm where Erevis encounters him. This series also explains a bit some of the power in dealing with the Weave and the Darkweave.

Other than that, this was blase and confusing and a poor example of the Forgotten Realms. Of course, some people would say that about ANY of the FR books, so take my saying it with a grain of salt.

star25full-custom

 

 

My Review of Book 1, The Summoning

My Review of Book 2, The Siege

Thanks to Mogsy at Bibliosanctum for putting me onto the idea of putting links to previous books in a series at the end of a review.

Under Fallen Stars (Threat from the Sea #2) (Forgotten Realms)

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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.com by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Under Fallen Stars

Series: Threat from the Sea #2

Author: Mel Odom

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 356

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Jherek continues to mope and feel bad, just about things. He does travel all over and have adventures, so at least he’s preparing to fight against the Taker. The Taker continues his rise to power and using of the Sahugin. The priestess buries her doubts about the Taker doing Sekola’s will. The old song guy gets more of the song in his head and hooks up with a peg leg dwarf [no, I am NOT kidding] and some old mystical elf. The various strands are starting to come together as each part moves closer to its final end.

 

My Thoughts:

This wasn’t a bad read but my goodness, Jherek and his whiny’ness got to be a bit much. It was just too true to life. Man, I’m glad I’m not a teenage boy anymore. Makes me wonder how my parents stood it.

Adventure-wise, this was a cracking good one. Sahugin and pirates invade a city, a ship battle between pirates, an attempt to capture someone in a crowded tavern. Brawls, fights and maneuvers abounded!

There were a couple of references to the downfall of the Elven empire millennia ago and it made me want to search out to see if any books dealt with that. I do know that some of the Elminster books take place during that time, but I can’t stand Ed Greenwood so I won’t be reading any by him and I don’t know if anything else was ever written. Forgotten Realms books are written about the era currently happening.

star30full

The Siege (The Return of the Archwizards #2) (Forgotten Realms)

0edfb51cc817198fe9c6537286ad0273This 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.com by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

 

 

 

Title: The Siege

Series: The Return of the Archwizards

Author: Troy Denning

Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 356

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

The Netherese are playing hardball with all the kingdoms, trying to dominate them under the guise of helping to stop the phaerim incursion.

Melegaunt died in the previous book but somehow his knowledge of the phaerim lives on in Galaeron and the Netherese are willing to do just about anything to get that knowledge, including abandoning Evereska and allowing Galaeron’s dark shadow to control him more and more.

Battles and mayhem ensue and while the phaerim are weakened, so are the Netherese and the surrounding countries, as they all fight each other and betrayals abound.

 

My Thoughts:

i enjoyed this quite a bit more than the previous book but there were still points in the story that just left me scratching my head trying to figure out WHAT Denning meant or how he got from Point A to Point B. It is like what he thinks is obvious is completely opaque to me.

The big battle at the end was pretty cool and pretty much made up for none of the characters really being likable. I’d like to place an order for One Hero in the final book but I think that the menu is already prepared and that that option wasn’t included.

Rising Tide (Threat from the Sea #1) (Forgotten Realms)

b29c577b9be63f8c852346dbe2f1e1a8This 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.com by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Rising Tide

Series: Threat from the Sea

Author: Mel Odom

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 356

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

A young woman, a Sahugin throwback [which means she looks like a human instead of a pure Sahugin], frees an old sorcerer from his imprisonment, thinking it means he will side with her, extend her power and punish the surface dwellers for their encroachments on the sea. Little does she know that the sorcerer has his own plans and while conquest is on the menu, he plans on conquest of all.

At the same time, a young man, who is the son of an infamous pirate and with some other hidden life secret, is trying to find a life on the sea. Things just don’t ever seem to work out and he’s been hearing voices, which seem to be leading him towards a collision with the aforementioned sorcerer.

 

My Thoughts:

For a Mel Odom book, this was pretty good. Unfortunately, the young man is a guilt ridden, rule obsessive, completely self-centered brat. Everything, and I mean everything, must center around him. And he always puts the worst light possible on it. The young woman really isn’t much better as she is consumed with self-doubt and inadequacies because of her throwback status.

The idea of a world class sorcerer that used to hang out with gods awakening and starting a campaign of world domination never gets old. But it takes a good author to make it work. I’m not convinced that Odom can handle this.

The Summoning (The Return of the Archwizards #1) (Forgotten Realms)

4aa304c162733481b09a43b5bdf900b7This 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.com by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: The Summoning

Series: The Return of the Archwizards

Author: Troy Denning

Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 356

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Galaeron, an elf, is on patrol guarding the crypts from tomb robbers. He and his band come across a group of humans who are invading, but not stealing anything. Galaeron casts a spell that somehow interacts with another spell and it opens a hole in a magic barrier, that a wizard was on the other side of. On the other side were also magical creatures who use magic and live on it.

Now Galaeron and others must trust Melegaunt the Netherese wizard that he can return the floating city of Shade and destroy the Phaerimm before they destroy the last stronghold of the elves.

Only nothing is ever simple. Galaeron has been infected with dark magic and must fight every negative thought as it twists him closer and closer to becoming his own evil shadow. Elminster the Mage is convinced that Melegaunt has much deeper plans than saving Evereska. The Elf Lords are being bull headed and listening to no one, thus allowing Evereska to be besieged and over run.

 

My Thoughts:

Netherese are just bad news. I learned this from my jaunt with Erevis Cale and I’m pretty sure that pretty boy/drow Drizz’t and Company had some bad times with them as well. So to read about them as potential saviors just smacks of backstabbing and double dealing waiting to happen.  That is one of the problems with reading Forgotten Realms books rather randomly like I do. I know things that the characters don’t, I have seen the future written in stone and sometimes, just like Paul Maud’dib, I get lost in the Timestream.

However, this book was a hot mess. At first I thought it was because I started this when pretty tired and hence my faculties weren’t all on campus. But since this took several days I realized it was the author and not me. It was rushed. Tons of action but certain events were given one sentence to happen then referred to for paragraphs and paragraphs. One example: in a battle scene Galaeron, Melegaunt and the others are on a mountain side and before I know it, they’re at the top of the mountain fighting. I go back to see what happened and somewhere there was a landslide that allowed them easy access to the top but I couldn’t see how this happened or why or when. Lots of instances of the characters making connections and me being “huh? where did that come from?” from it.

The changing viewpoints didn’t work for me either. Usually it isn’t a problem but this time around it was. It was random, just to show what was going on. We didn’t necessarily stick with specific characters beyond Galaeron and Company and made for plot whiplash, especially when someone is referred to once and then 3 chapters later we get a whole chapter about what they’re doing.

While I’m not a huge of Drizz’t the Drow, I’m even less of a fan of Elminster so his inclusion didn’t do it for me either.

I hate to say this, but it wasn’t organically put together.  I don’t expect a lot, or very much at all to be honest, from Forgotten Realms books but I do expect to be able to follow along. I am not in my dotage yet.  I’ll be reading the rest of the trilogy just to see how the plot resolves, but my goodness, I sure hope the cohesiveness of the writing gets better.

Unholy (The Haunted Lands #3) (Forgotten Realms)

b5ad29da1ba3d809ac8ba656e7227e7bThis 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.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Unholy

Series: The Haunted Lands

Author: Richard Byers

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 342

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

100 years have passed since the last book. Szass Tam has completed his domination of Thay with the building of multiple fortresses, which turn out to be the keystone for a massive magical spell. A spell that will unmake the Universe and potentially remake it, with Tsazz Tam as the new head honcho god. Theoretically.

So the gryphon rider and undead bard from the previous books set out to stop him, with the help of the former Zulkirs of Thay.

Throw in Tam’s insane but powerful top lieutenant who wants only the first part of the spell to succeed and you wind up with a pretty fantastic story.

 

My Thoughts:

Sometimes Forgotten Realms books really stink. The plot is as pulpy and the characters as wooden as the paper they are printed on. But sometimes you run across some that are really a good story that keep you coming back for more. This book, and trilogy, have been one of the good ones.

The plan behind the plan, that was hinted at in the previous book, comes to full light here. Tam’s deal with Bane makes sense. Why worry about your soul in 1000 years if you’re going to remake the universe with you at the head? You can just unmake the god that you made the deal with and negate it’s consequences.

Just like in the previous 2 books, the “heroes” are the underdogs and Tam is a pretty sympathetic antagonist. The bard and mercenary [and for the life of me, I can’t remember WHY the mercenary is so long-lived] and their little ghost friend all finish their fight, but it ends up being against their former ally turned Szass Tam lieutenant instead of Tam himself. All part of making Tam the “not really the bad guy” bad guy.

Because I’ve enjoyed the majority of Byer’s work in the Forgotten Realms universe, I’m thinking I’ll go track down the rest of his stuff and put it into my tbr pile instead of just some random FF trilogy/series like I have been doing. We’ll see if he can continue to entertain.

Undead (The Haunted Lands #2) (Forgotten Realms)

145670c19b6ae5361ae1d5b4e084e5d7This 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 & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Undead

Series: The Haunted Lands

Author: Richard Byers

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 352

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

The battle for Thay continues. Tsazz Tam obviously has some ulterior motive in taking over Thay, but we the readers aren’t privy to it.

With cunning and treachery, Tsazz Tam takes out the other rulers even as they flee.

The story is told from the losing side though, so it is quite interesting.

 

My Thoughts:

In many ways, Tam is a sympathetic character even while being the antagonist. It makes reading this trilogy just a tiny bit different and I like that.

The 2 other main characters are now entwined and so they’re not nearly so different as in the previous book. The vampire girlfriend is much more interesting than she was just as a maiden in distress. The revenge ridden mercenary just exudes mindless hatred and the griphon rider has definitely developed as a leader.

The battles were awesome with huge amounts of magic getting thrown around. Tsazz makes a deal with a god and pledges his soul in the bargain. Once again, he knows something we don’t and he hints that he’s got the better of the deal. At the same time that all of this is going on Mystra is killed by Shar and the other god previously mentioned [I forget his name to be honest] and the plague of blue fire starts running across Faerun. Magic is wonky, in a land filled with undead. It was more than zombies and vampires and Byers does a great job of coming up with imaginative ideas.

Good times!