Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Top Ten Forgotten Realms Novels (Part 2)

This is part two of my series on the Top Ten Forgotten Realms novels.  They are by far and away my favorite vice. 

They’re like salty potato chips.  Even when they’re good, they’re not really good for you, but... once you get started, they’re awfully hard to put down.

Danno’s Top Ten Forgotten Realms Novels (Part 2)

6.  Daughter of the Drow by Elaine Cunnigham

Elaine Cunningham is my favorite Realms author, and Daughter of the Drow is a good example of why.  Like some of the others on this list, this is a story with a strong female protagonist—in this case the drow wizard/cleric Liriel Banre, daughter of the archmage of dark elves Gromph.  However, Daughter stands above some of the others because of Cunningham’s writing skills and her use of language as well as because it is firmly rooted in extant Realms mythology.  Cunningham starts Daughter in the drow city Menzobarrenzan, in a spot that’s already been mapped extensively by earlier Realms author R.A. Salvatore—another of my favorites.  From there she weaves actual elements of the game into her story, including the fact that her leading character is a multi-classed wizard/cleric trying to decide her place in the world.  Is she a priestess?  A mage?  The whole thing might sound idiotic, but in Cunningham’s hands, it’s a compelling story point.

Daughter of the Drow is the first book in the Starlight and Shadows trilogy.

Daughter of the Drow by Elaine Cunningham.
5.  Shadowbred by Paul S. Kemp

Shadowbred is the first book in The Twilight War trilogy, and it’s notable because it focuses on a war between rival churches, both devoted to evil.  In this one, Rilaven, high priest of Shar, the Goddess of Night, seeks to fulfill his deity’s ultimate purpose by fusing the mortal realm with the Plane of Shadow, and only Erevis Cale, the high priest of Mask, the God of Thieves, can stop him.  But why should he?

Author Paul S. Kemp is a lawyer in his regular life, and he must be frustrated as all Hell with his career because he’s packed his books with a world-weary nihilism and political cynicism that’s simply breathtaking.  He’s also a Hell of a good writer, and his books remain fan favorites for good reason.  I liked this one so much that I based the plot of my long-running tabletop D&D game The Sellswords of Luskan on its depiction of the Church of Shar.

Shadowbred by Paul S. Kemp 
4.  The Magehound by Elaine Cunningham

The Magehound is the second of the books on this list by Elaine Cunningham, and being one of the absolutely best books ever set in the Realms, it is—of course—out of print.  This particular book is the first of theCounselors and Kings trilogy, all of which are terrific.  Set in the mystical land of Halruaa, Cunningham builds an arcane oligarchy as the backdrop to a story that follows the adventures of a magical teenaged sneak thief and her mundane protector Matteo, who is himself a kind of anti-magic policeman in world where only the powerful are allowed to be born with magic.

The Magehound is another of those books that’s terrific for newbies looking for a place in which to enter the Realms.  It’s out for the Kindle at $5.99, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a quick and easy read that’ll take your mind off of all the utter crap that’s happening in the world right now. 

The Magehound by Elaine Cunningham.
I really liked this book.
Me?  I’m always looking for that, which is why I like the Realms so much.

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