Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Top Ten Forgotten Realms Novels (Part 3)

At long last, this is part three of my series on the Top Ten Forgotten Realms novels.  They are by far and away my favorite vice, literary or otherwise.  As I've said before, FR novels are 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.

Since it's been a few weeks since I published the earlier pieces of this list, let's take a minute to recap what's gone before.  

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at numbers 10 through 7.  There were:

10.  Streams of Silver by R.A. Salvatore
9.  Swordmage by Richard Baker
8.  Circle of Skulls by James P. Davis
7.  Hand of the Hunter by Mark Sehestedt

In Part 2 of this series, we looked at numbers 6 through 4.  They were:

6.  Daughter of the Drow by Elaine Cunnigham
5.  Shadowbred by Paul S. Kemp
4.  The Magehound by Elaine Cunningham  

And so today, at last, we look at the top three books!

Danno’s Top Ten Forgotten Realms Novels (Part 3)

3.  Starless Night by R.A. Salvatore

Starless Night is the second book in the Legacy of the Drow trilogy, and in my opinion, it’s the best of the books featuring Salvatore’s signature character, Drizzt the drow ranger.  In Legacy of the Drow , Drizzt finally deals with the fact that in denying his people, he made an enemy of the most powerful magical race in the Realms, and now they’ll stop at nothing to even the score.  Starless Night specifically sees Drizzt journey to Menzobarrenzan, the city of his birth, to confront the evil forces that threaten his life and his friends, but of course, this proves to be a pretty foolish idea.  So now it’s up to Cattie-brie, Drizzt’s best friend--and eventual spouse--to rescue him in a city that she neither knows nor understands.

Starless Night by R.A. Salvatore
Starless Night is the book where Drizzt finally comes into his own as the finest swordsman of the Realms.  That works because it sets up the elements of the story that work--the intrigue of the drow and sheer weirdness of their Underdark home.  

I liked this book because a lot goes wrong, leaving our heroes in a Hell of a lurch.  When they finally overcome and escape, it’s awesome.

2.  The City of Splendors by Ed Greenwood and Elaine Cunningham
The City of Splendors by Ed Greenwood
and Elaine Cunningham
My theory on this book is that Wizards of the Coast (WotC)asked Ed Greenwood to write a novel about his signature city, Waterdeep, and the manuscript that he turned in was a hot mess.  This left WotC with a problem, which they solved by bringing in ace writer Elaine Cunningham to re-write the story in its entirety.  The resulting book was an explosion of the kind of wild ideas characteristic  of Greenwood’s best stuff, but balanced by an understanding of plot structure and the necessity for foreshadowing that’s normally absent in his other, less well-edited books.  So this book has it all.  Dastardly villains, ridiculously awesome heroes, a girl who can spin gems into thread, and even a  beholder cult.  It’s both exciting and hilarious, and I loved it.  Clearly, because here I am naming it my second favorite FR book of all time.

1.  Servant of the Shard by R.A. Salvatore

By the time the Legacy of the Drow trilogy is over, the drow are less a force of nature than they are a kind of disorganized set of competing organized crime families.  Servant of the Shard takes that new dynamic on the road, setting up Salvatore’s best villains--the drow crime boss Jarlaxle and his pet assassin Artemis Entreri--as the heroes of a fantasy/crime fiction novel set in the FR version of Tunisia.  As the story opens, Jarlaxle is addicted to the power of the sentient arcane artifact Crenshinibon, and it leaves Entreri in a bad spot.  Surrounded by enemies, Entreri and Jaraxle have to hit the road to escape a trap of their own making.

Servant of the Shard isn’t just my favorite FR Novel.  It’s one of my favorite novels, period.  I loved it.  Unfortunately, however, I don’t know how much sense it’ll make to the uninitiated,  which is why I think you probably ought to start with The Legacy if you want to see what these books are all about.

Servant of the Shard by R.A. Salvatore is
my favorite Forgotten Realms novel.


  1. Good stuff, man. I'm going to see if I can get the audiobook versions of Legacy of the Drow trilogy. The Mistborn trilogy (audiobooks) was pretty sweet too, btw.

  2. Thanks Alan. Glad I could help.

    I liked today's Rival Angels btw. Whooo!