To Each Ending A New Beginning

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And here we come at last to the end of the Sundering saga.  It’s been quite the ride folks and the last book is no exception.

The Herald, written by the Old Sage himself Ed Greenwood, caps us off with an epic battle scene that is…well…pretty much the whole book.

The elves of Myth Drannor are surrounded, besieged, and almost beaten by the armies of Shade.  Their king, or Most High, seeks the power of their Mythal and the wards of great Candlekeep give his dark goddess Shar the power she seeks to subvert Mystra’s portfolio and become the next goddess of magic and lady of the weave.

Well, the Chosen of Mystra can’t have that now can they?

Elminster goes to Candlekeep to try and save it, with Alustair and Lareal opposing him.  He is tricked by the first Chosen of Mystyl and the wards are destroyed.  Making their way to Myth Drannor, Elminster realizes his error with Candlekeep and so the trio go to destroy it’s mythal. 

Storm, Amarune and Arclath are there on errands of Elminster as well, again first to save the Mythal, then to fight when saving is no longer an option.  Dove makes an appearance along with Mirt, protecting what elves they can to allow them the slimmest of chances to escape.  Which they take, ensuring the next generation of Myth Drannoran elves to return and reclaim their ancient homeland.

And in the end, all is both lost and saved.

Candlekeep and Myth Drannor are lost, the magic of the wards and the mythal snuffed out forever, though the location remain and can be rebuilt.  The weave however, is saved.  Shade is thrown down – literally, as their capital city crashes – and the Most High is dead.

At the end of this long, costly war, the words of Abeir and Toril are mostly if not completely separated, the weave is stabilizing once more, and Mystra is returned in body and soul.

But of course this is not the end, this is only the beginning of a new chapter in the Realms world…

Speaking of new chapters, we’re looking at the second chapter of the Companions Codex, Rise of the King next.

The Companions of the Hall are united in body, in spirit, but not in ideals. The world changes around Drizzt Do’Urden once more and old debts insist on payment, old wrongs demand to be set right. And dwarves and orcs once again look at each other with hatred and distrust.

Tos’un Armgo and Tiago Baenre work to matters worse, and they work as only drow can — from the shadows, but with blades drawn.

The King of Many-Arrows is the very image of the new peace in the North, and that’s why he needs to die. When a new orc king takes the throne, and Gruumsh himself calls for war, the savage hordes gather.

After decades of peace, the North explodes in war once again. Dwarf steel meets ancient enemies, and once they taste blood, those blades will not soon be sheathed. Not until all the Spine of the World runs red.

In the middle of this chaos, the Companions fight, and DRIZZT is forced to defend himself, his newly rediscovered friends, and his adopted home, from the treachery of his own black-souled kind.

The Companions of the Hall are back in action in a world that seems to be falling apart again, but may simply be repeating a deadly cycle of violence and hate, a cycle that brings one of the fantasy genre’s best-loved characters into a fight for his life, his loves, and his very soul.

 

End of the Realms

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So this is a bittersweet day for me.  I have recently discovered that as of , there are no more Forgotten Realms books.

There is no official word from Wizards of the Coast as of yet, but a few authors on different sites I frequent have piped in whenever the question has arisen.  The Realms authors seems to be a tight knight community, and the few who have spoken up have confirmed that there are no new Realms books contracted from any of them.

This is really hard for me to hear, but there is a slim hope that some other publisher will pick it up.  Thankfully my paperback collection is almost complete, I only need Shadowmask from the Stone of Tymora trilogy.  Although I did decide to expand my collection a wee bit and pick up the Abyssal Plague series so I need a few of those.  Next it’s the ebooks, and with a little lick I can space everything out until next year before the withdrawal sets in.

And even then, there’s still all the D&D 5e stuff that they’re coming out with, so I should have a goo stockpile for a bit.

But, seeing as no more Realms books are being published, here is a list of all Realms books published from 1983 to 2016, ebooks and cross worlds included, compiled from both Wikipedia and the Realms wiki.  As of today I do not own any of the eBooks, and have starred the paperbacks I do not yet own.

33 years…fuck that’s as old as I am… o_o

Abolethic Sovereignty

  • Plague of Spells
  • City of Torment
  • Key of Stars

Abyssal Plague

  • The Gates of Madness **
  • The Mark of Nerath
  • The Temple of The Yellow Skulls
  • Oath of Vigilance
  • The Eye of The Chained God**
  • Sword of the Gods
  • Under The Crimson Sun by Keith R. A. DeCandido
  • Spinner of Lies Bruce R. Cordell (eBook)

Anthologies

  • Realms of Valor
  • Realms of Infamy
  • Realms of Magic
  • Realms of the Underdark
  • Realms of the Arcane
  • Realms of Mystery
  • The Best of the Realms
  • The Best of the Realms II: The Stories of Ed Greenwood
  • The Best of the Realms III

The Avatar Series

  • Shadowdale
  • Tantras
  • Waterdeep
  • Prince of Lies
  • Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad

The Baldur’s Gate Series

  • Baldur’s Gate
  • Baldur’s Gate 2: The Shadows of Amn
  • Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal

Blades of the Moonsea

  • The Swordmage
  • Corsair
  • Avenger

Brimstone Angels

  • Brimstone Angels
  • Brimstone Angels: Lesser Evils
  • Brimstone Angels: Fire In The Blood
  • Brimstone Angels: Ashes Of The Tyrant
  • Brimstone Angels: The Devil You Know

Brotherhood of the Griffon

  • The Captive Flame
  • Whisper of Venom
  • The Spectral Blaze
  • The Masked Witches
  • Prophet of the Dead

Chosen of Nendawen

  • The Fall of Highwatch
  • The Hand of the Hunter
  • Cry of the Ghost Wolf

The Citadels

  • Neversfall,
  • Obsidian Ridge
  • The Shield of Weeping Ghosts
  • Sentinelspire

The Cities

  • The City of Ravens
  • Temple Hill
  • The Jewel of Turmish
  • The City of Splendors: A Waterdeep Novel

The Cleric Quintet

  • Canticle
  • In Sylvan Shadows
  • Night Masks
  • The Fallen Fortress
  • The Chaos Curse

Cold Steel And Secrets

  • Part 1 (Ebook)
  • Part 2 (Ebook,)
  • Part 3 (Ebook)
  • Part 4 (Ebook)

Companions Codex

  • Night Of The Hunter
  • Rise Of The King
  • Vengeance Of The Iron Dwarf

The Cormyr Saga

  • Cormyr: A Novel
  • Beyond the High Road
  • Death of the Dragon

Counselors & Kings

  • The Magehound
  • The Floodgate
  • The Wizardwar

The Dark Elf Trilogy

  • Homeland
  • Exile
  • Sojourn

Double Diamond Triangle Saga

  • The Abduction
  • The Paladins
  • The Mercenaries
  • Errand of Mercy
  • An Opportunity for Profit
  • Conspiracy,
  • Uneasy Alliances
  • Easy Betrayals
  • The Diamond

The Druidhome Trilogy

  • Prophet of Moonshae
  • The Coral Kingdom
  • The Druid Queen

The Dungeons

  • Depths of Madness
  • The Howling Delve
  • Stardeep
  • Crypt of the Moaning Diamond

The Elminster Series

  • Elminster – The Making of a Mage
  • Elminster in Myth Drannor
  • The Temptation of Elminster
  • Elminster in Hell
  • Elminster’s Daughter
  • Elminster Must Die
  • Bury Elminster Deep
  • Elminster Enraged

The Empires Trilogy

  • Horselords
  • Dragonwall
  • Crusade

The Empyrean Odyssey

  • The Gossamer Plain
  • The Fractured Sky
  • The Crystal Mountain

The Erevis Cale Trilogy

  • Twilight Falling
  • Dawn of Night
  • Midnight’s Mask

The Fighters

  • Master of Chains
  • Ghostwalker
  • Son of Thunder
  • Bladesinger

The Finder’s Stone Trilogy

  • Azure Bonds
  • The Wyvern’s Spur
  • Song of the Saurials

The Harpers

  • The Parched Sea
  • Elfshadow
  • Red Magic
  • The Night Parade
  • The Ring of Winter
  • Crypt of the Shadowking
  • Soldiers of Ice
  • Elfsong
  • Crown of Fire
  • Masquerades
  • Curse of the Shadowmage
  • The Veiled Dragon
  • Silver Shadows
  • Stormligh
  • Finder’s Bane
  • Thornhold
  • Rise of the Blade -never published because the Harpers series was canceled. The novel is available for reading online at the author Charles Alexander Moffat official website.

The Haunted Lands

  • Unclean
  • Undead
  • Unholy
  • Realms of the Dead

Homecoming

  • Archmage
  • Maestro
  • Hero

House of Serpents

  • Venom’s Taste
  • Viper’s Kiss
  • Vanity’s Brood

The Hunter’s Blades Trilogy

  • The Thousand Orcs
  • The Lone Drow
  • The Two Swords

The Icewind Dale Trilogy

  • The Crystal Shard
  • Streams of Silver
  • The Halfling’s Gem

The Knights of Myth Drannor

  • Swords of Eveningstar
  • Swords of Dragonfire
  • The Sword Never Sleeps

The Lady Penitent

  • Sacrifice of the Widow
  • Storm of the Dead
  • Ascendancy of the Last

The Last Mythal

  • Forsaken House
  • Farthest Reach
  • Final Gate
  • Realms of the Elves

Legacy of the Drow

  • The Legacy
  • Starless Night
  • Siege of Darkness
  • Passage to Dawn

 

Lost Empires

  • The Lost Library of Cormanthyr
  • Faces of Deception,
  • Star of Cursrah
  • The Nether Scroll

The Lost Gods

 

  • Finder’s Bane,
  • Fistandantilus Reborn
  • Tymora’s Luck

The Maztica Trilogy

  • Ironhelm
  • Viperhand
  • Feathered Dragon

The Moonshae Trilogy

  • Darkwalker on Moonshae
  • Black Wizards
  • Darkwell

Mysteries

  • Murder in Cormyr
  • Murder in Tarsis
  • Murder in Halruaa

Netheril Trilogy

  • Sword Play
  • Dangerous Games
  • Mortal Consequences

Neverwinter Saga

  • Gauntlgrym
  • Neverwinter
  • Charon’s Claw
  • The Last Threshold

The Nobles

  • King Pinch
  • War in Tethyr
  • Escape from Undermountain
  • The Mage in the Iron Mask
  • The Council of Blades
  • The Simbul’s Gift

Paths of Darkness

  • The Silent Blade
  • The Spine of the World
  • Servant of the Shard
  • Sea of Swords 

The Pools

  • Pool of Radiance
  • Pools of Darkness
  • Pool of Twilight

The Priests

  • Lady of Poison
  • Mistress of the Night
  • Maiden of Pain
  • Queen of the Depths

Return of the Archwizards

  • The Summoning
  • The Siege
  • The Sorcerer
  • Realms of Shadow

The Rogues

  • The Alabaster Staff
  • The Black Bouquet
  • The Crimson Gold
  • The Yellow Silk

The Sage Of Shadowdale

  • Elminster Must Die
  • Bury Elminster Deep
  • Elminster Enraged

The Scions of Arrabar Trilogy

  • The Sapphire Crescent
  • The Ruby Guardian
  • The Emerald Sceptre

The Sellswords

  • Servant of the Shard
  • Promise of the Witch-King
  • Road of the Patriarch

Sembia: Gateway To The Realms

  • The Halls of Stormweather
  • Shadow’s Witness
  • The Shattered Mask
  • Black Wolf
  • Heirs of Prophecy
  • Sands of the Soul
  • Lord of Stormweather

The Shadow of the Avatar Trilogy

  • Shadows of Doom
  • Cloak of Shadows
  • All Shadows Fled

Shandril’s Saga

  • Spellfire
  • Crown of Fire
  • Hand of Fire

Shadowbane Series

  • Downshadow
  • Shadowbane (eBook)
  • Eye of Justice (eBook)

Songs & Swords

  • Elfshadow
  • Elfsong
  • Silver Shadows
  • Thornhold The Dream Spheres

Starlight & Shadows

  • Daughter of the Drow
  • Tangled Webs
  • Windwalker

The Stone of Tymora

  • The Stowaway
  • The Shadowmask
  • The Sentinels

The Sundering

  • The Companions
  • The Godborn,
  • The Adversary
  • The Reaver
  • The Sentinel
  • The Herald

Sword Of The Gods

  • Spinner Of Lies (eBook)

The Threat from the Sea

  • Rising Tide,
  • Under Fallen Stars
  • The Sea Devil’s Eye
  • Realms of the Deep

Transitions

  • The Orc King
  • The Pirate King
  • The Ghost King

 

The Twilight Giants

  • The Ogre’s Pact
  • The Giant Among Us
  • The Titan of Twilight

The Twilight War

  • Shadowbred
  • Shadowstorm
  • Shadowrealm
  • Realms of War

Unbroken Chain

  • Unbroken Chain
  • Unbroken Chain: The Darker Road

War of the Spider Queen

  • Dissolution
  • Insurrection
  • Condemnation
  • Extinction
  • Annihilation
  • Resurrection

The Watercourse Trilogy

  • Whisper of Waves
  • Lies of Light
  • Scream of Stone

Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep

  • Blackstaff Tower
  • Mistshore
  • Downshadow
  • City of the Dead
  • The God Catcher
  • Circle of Skulls

The Wilds

  • The Fanged Crown
  • The Restless Shore
  • The Edge of Chaos
  • Wrath of the Blue Lady

The Wizards

  • Blackstaff
  • Bloodwalk
  • Darkvision
  • Frostfell

The Year of Rogue Dragons

  • The Rage
  • The Rite
  • The Ruin
  • Realms of the Dragons
  • Realms of the Dragons II

Other titles

  • Once Around the Realms
  • Evermeet: Island of Elves
  • The Shadow Stone
  • The Glass Prison
  • Silverfall: Stories of the Seven Sisters
  • Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor
  • Sandstorm
  • Dawnbringer
  • Venom in Her Veins
  • The Rose of Sarifal
  • The Gilded Rune
  • Prince Of Ravens (eBook)
  • If Ever They Happened Upon My Lair (eBook)
  • Spider and Stone  (eBook)
  • Spellstorm
  • Death Masks
  • Untold Stories

Faith and Vigilance

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The Sentinel is the second to last book of the Sundering series, and it took a bit for me to get into, again because there was no real connection with the character going in.  But other than that I quite enjoyed it.

We are introduced Kleef, Chosen of the dead god Helm and a member of the watch of Marsembar who is probably the only honest man on the payroll.  When the shadowvar chase two fellow Chosen through the streets of his city carrying the Eye of Gruumsh, naturally the servant of the Watcher feels obligated to get involved and ensure the safety of all caught up in this quest.

And an interesting quest this is.  With the worlds of Abeir and Toril separating at long last, many gods and almost-gods are vying to be in the perfect spot to gain more power in the inevitable vaccum that will be left behind, as some of those who were on Toril before the joining of the worlds choose to leave.

One such creature it the earth primordial, who just so happens to be the lover of Gruumsh’s wife.  Tempted into leaving, thinking his love was lost to him, she stole the eye of her husband to give to her lover as a token.  The task of the Chosen are to see it to the primordial’s alter and appropriately scarified to tie the primordial to the plane of Toril.  Or at least that’s the hope.  It is assumed once he has received such a token of love and fidelity he will choose to stay, retaining his mantle so that non other can take it up and gain more power.

Well, that’s the gist of it.  It is a tad bit more complex than that, but those are the bones of it.  What I found most interesting was that nothing was really as it seemed.  See there are four main characters, four Chosen in this story.  One isn’t really a Chosen at all, and another is not the Chosen of the god he claims.  You think these two are going to fall for each other, when really it’s those two. You think this person is going to sacrifice themselves, then you think that person, when really it’s someone else altogether!

It changes direction a lot, but it’s done in such a way that it’s kinda your fault, if that makes sense.  Like the story doesn’t directly point to the assumptions you make, you just make them based on what you (well I guess me in this case) make about books like this, and then it’s revealed that you were wrong all along.

So it’s a mind hump, but in a good way.  And it all makes sense which is better.

And now we move right along to the sixth and last book of the Sundering, The Herald by Ed Greenwoo.

Chaos grips Faerûn as vainglory, prophecy, and ancient forces comingle in the shadows cast by war.  Agents of the Shadovar lurk in the corners of Candlekeep in search of the arcane secrets that will power their war machine toward Myth Drannor. Gods and their Chosen run amok, all in a gambit to seize power. And a threat foretold by an ancient seer stirs.

At the heart of it all, Mystra, the great Goddess of Magic, has withdrawn from the world. Without her protection, Elminster, her greatest champion, fears for the nascent Weave, the fabric of magic Mystra wields to bind Faerûn. Will the Nightseer Shar, mistress of the great and fearsome Shadovar, seize the opportunity to blanket the world with her Shadow Weave?

With the help of Storm Silverhand and his protégé Amarune, Elminster works frantically to strengthen the Weave’s tethers and forestall what seems an inevitable reckoning. But other interests machinate for their own sinister ends.

As the Sundering draws nigh, Elminster and his heroic cohort must see the signs for what they are. The choice of worlds lies in the balance.

Old Friends, Older Enemies

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First in the Companions Codex, the most recent (and possibly last) series of the Drizz’t Saga.

This was full of so many feels for me.  It’s the first book where the Companions of the Hall are reunited in mind, body, and purpose.  And what a purpose that is.

The events of over a century ago looks like they are about to have some hidden and unintended consequences.  The Treaty of Garumm’s Gorge was created to bring peace between the orcs and the Silver Marches, but now it looks like it was a move in a long game Loth and Grummsh were running.

Because now Loth is on the move, and calling on some friends to join her.  We spend a lot of time with the drow of Menzoberranzan, where we learn that Loth is not pleased.  As Drizz’t traveled with Dahlia and Entreri in the Neverwinter series, Loth was making power plays for his soul, hoping to corrupt him.  But thanks to Meilikki intervening and offering his friends to choice to come back and help him, his soul was saved from Loth and delivered once again into Meilikki’s hands.

So now Loth, in spite of or perhaps because of this loss, is making a play for the shattered Weave, hoping to become the supreme Mistress of Magic and greater than all the other gods.

But in order to achieve that, certain steps must be taken on the surface.  So in tandem with Gauntlegrym (newly renamed as the drow city of Q’Xlorrin) the drow weave a mighty spell called the Darkening to…well…darken the skies above the Silver Marches, allowing Loth’s dark children to walk freely and wreak what havoc they can.

And among all this happening, the Companions of the Hall are wrestling with the implications of the treaty they signed so long ago, as Meilikki herself condemned it, telling her new disciple Cattie-Brie that all orckind and goblinkin are irredeemably evil and therefore, a blight on the face of Faerun, and that the treaty was a foolish move.

Tied to all this, in Q’Xlorrin, Entreri and Dahlia are held captive, with the elf female being tortured in mind and body until she breaks and is offered up as a sacrifice to Loth and turned into a living effigy within the new temple of Q’Xlorrin.  Of course when Drizz’t eventually catches wind that Enteri at least is captured by his dark kin, he enlists the companions to help him save the assassin.  And in the process Cattie-Brie and Dahlia face off against each other and battle things out, as Loth had taken over poor Dhalia and used her as an avatar, with Meilikki doing the same to Cattie-Brie.

So…yeah.  Hell of a lot going on here, and there’s a million other smaller things happening that I can’t even begin to tell you here.  I cannot wait to see what happens next, and I can’t help but wonder what happened to make Loth and Meilikki such enemies.  Is it personal? Because of Drizz’t?  Or just a result of their natures clashing, evil chaos vs natural order?

I don’t, and may never know.  But it will be fun trying to find out! After the next book though.  We have The Sentinel, fifth in the Sundering series next.

Stubbornly clinging to his family’s worship of a long-forgotten god, Kleef soon discovers that his god has blessed him with divine gifts, making him one of a new group of Chosen cropping up around the Realms. This divine gift makes him an excellent ally — and a target for those who wish to corral his powers.

After battling his way out of Marsember, a city besieged on all sides in the wake of the Sundering, he becomes swept up in the mission of a group of odd allies — a warrior princess, an accomplished thief, and a mysterious short pudgy man exuding a faint odor of decay. With the forces of Shade tracking their every step, they set out to thwart the rise of the goddess of death, but before long Kleef discovers that his allies hide dangerous secrets — secrets that could destroy not only Kleef but the very fabric of the Forgotten Realms.

Pirates Ho!

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The Reaver is the fourth book in the Sundering series, and the first one I had difficulties with.  Mostly because the first three were like ‘GASP! I KNOW THIS CHARACTER! I AM NOW SO INTERESTED/INVESTED IN THIS STORY!’ so I was able to get through them fairly quickly.  This one was a new character, never introduced to before, so I wasn’t as eager to read it at first.

But aside from that it wasn’t bad.  We are introduced to a Turmish prince-turned-pirate who is hired to kidnap a young prophet, a Chosen of the returned Lathander so he can be sacrificed on the altar of Umberlee by her Chosen.  And it just so happens that the boy is also pursued by minions of Thay, as Szass Tam has notions of godhood and is intent on capturing and sacrificing a Chosen of any god in order to absorb the spark of divinity that the Chosen harbors inside themselves and thus take on some deific mantle.

Chosen are popping up by the dozen as well, so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

Anywhoodle, this obviously does not happen, as the pirate turns back into a prince and does what he can to rescue the boy and keep him from both Umberlee and Thay so that he can help some Chosen of Silvanus stop the Great Flood.

Part of what happened during the original upheaval of the Spellplague was an incessant rainstorm over the Sea of Fallen Stars.  Sunlight rarely seeps through the black clouds, and the rain never stops, not once in a hundred year.  This has caused the sea to rise dramatically, and in correlation with the rising sea level, so too has the worship of Umberlee arisen.

But the boy intends to change all that, as Lathander says that a new world is being born and the storm was just the birth waters that precedes the great event of new life.  Now that this new life is to take hold, the waters must stop falling and start receding.  And only the combined might of Silvanus and Lathander can hope to halt the advance of Umberlee and her minions.

I cannot wait to get to the end of the Sundering and see what happens.  But before we move on to that, we’re going to check out Night of the Hunder, first in the Companions Codex trilogy by R.A. Salvatore.

See, I finally got smart and I’m reading them in publication order so I stop mixing up timelines and spoiling story arcs for myself 😛

Drizzt Do’Urden returns to Gauntlgrym with old friends by his side once again, as they seek to rescue Bruenor’s loyal shield dwarf-turned-vampire. But not only do Drizzt and his allies face a perilous journey through the Underdark and the dangers of the undead that lie within, but they must cross through a colony of drow, who would like nothing better than to see Drizzt Do’Urden dead.  

Serpentbane Dusk, Bearskull Dawning Pt 1: The Middle

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The din of battle echoed all around her as she hastened to her father’s side.  The clash of steel on steel, the screams of the fighters, the moans of the wounded and the dying were faint but distinct.  The elves of Beriath’s Valley were more wont to take out their foes from the treetops, but Lord Berriam refused to allow the attackers to come so far onto his land.  As soon as word reached him of the assorted orc, bugbear, and goblin horde descending upon the valley he rallied his people to meet the creatures on the neighboring plains.

Even this far back from the front lines Aurina could smell the blood, thick on the air.  Lord Berriam had seen a decisive victory for his people, but the horde that descended upon them was almost twice the size of what was reported and after three days of fighting she was beginning to have doubts as to who would win this battle.  Lord Berriam had sent out all call for aid that morning, a call she feared would be answered too late for the elves.

Aurina finally caught sight of her father, standing on a hill overlooking the battle, directing the flow as best he could through commands issued to his officers.  She quickened her pace. 

“What are you doing here?” Berriam growled at his daughter as she approached him.  “I told you to stay back and help with the wounded.”  Aurina arched her brow at him, looking pointedly at his bandaged arm.

“I am helping.  I can help out just as well here with axe or bow atar, you need every able body fighting.” Berriam sighed. 

“You do realize preserving your life protects mine as well?  Elga would kill me –literally– if  anything happened to you.”  Aurina stepped closer to her father, finally noticing her half brother on the far side of him, and pitched her voice so only they could hear.

“We need to retreat now atar, into the trees where we can take them from above.”  Berriam looked away from her, but she reached out and grabbed his uninjured arm.  “Do not let your pride and arrogance be the downfall of everything you have worked so hard for,” she hissed. “We thought this would be done and over with quickly but we were wrong.  We must retreat if we are to survive.”

Berriam’s eyes grew round before they narrowed at his daughter’s words.  Something was not right here.  Berriam knew nothing of his daughter’s existence until a few scant years ago when she showed up on his doorstep, demanding to be trained.  But in the five years since he had taken her in she proved herself to be much her mother’s daughter.  Elga Serpentbane was a loud and boisterous woman, prone to smiles and laughter among comrades, fond of drinking and merriment.  Their daughter Aurina was not as loud as her dam and more reserved regarding festivities, but the smiles and laughter came just as quick.

Neither were within her face now, and while she may have spoken the truth, never had she been so harsh or virulent with him before.  In one glance he took in the lines on her face and the hardness in her eyes, neither had been there the morning before.  Something profound had changed within her, but now was not the time to probe.  Aurina was right, they needed to retreat. 

As he opened his mouth the give the order, the blaring of a horn echoed over the battlefield, drowning out all else.  The fighting slowed and then stopped altogether as friend and foe alike turned to look towards the sound as a second clarion call rang over the plains.  A line of warriors, some mounted, crested a ridge just over a league away.  The horn sounded for a third time as the mounted leader drew their weapon and brandished it over their head, bellowing loud enough for all to hear.

“FOR GLORY!”

AND BEARSKULL!” came the resounding refrain from hundreds of barbarian throats echoed by the roar of dire tigers as the tribes swept down the ridge towards the fight, a handful of mounted figures bounding ahead of the rest of the line, led by the largest and loudest pair.

Berriam turned towards his daughter. “Your mother certainly knows how to make an entrance,” he drawled as the young woman drew her bow.

“No more than you atar,” she said grimly.  With a nod he motioned her away and she sped off towards the waiting line of archers.

*

Berriam stood on the hilltop, looking over the field of dead.  The arrival of his old comrade and her people had turned the tide of battle.  Taken by surprise, faced with raging barbarians, dire tigers, and elves infused with renewed hope, the goblin kin horde had broken and fled.  The mounted barbarians known as Claw Riders and a handful of their shape shifting brethren had followed, tracking and taking down stragglers, those too slow or wounded to keep up with the rest.  In a few days, after licking their wounds and bickering among themselves, the last of the horde would break up and the creatures would return to wherever it was that they called home.

Now, the surviving elves and humans looked to their dead.  The wounded had already been carried off, so most of the movement he saw below was corpse sorting.  The allied bodies would be burned, it was the way of the barbarians to cremate their dead, and there were too many elf dead to properly bury.  Berriam had already sent some of his people to scavenge as much fuel as they could.  There were spells to start and prolong the life of flames, but those flames would still need to be fed.  The goblinoid corpses would be left to the ravages of the wind and time.

“Elf brother!” came an old familiar call.  Berriam turned to see Elga and Shadow walking towards him, her grin turning to a frown as she noticed his bandaged arm.  She had not changed much in years they had been apart.  Tall, broad, amazingly strong, the years had treated Elga well.  Even Shadow looked much as he did since he last saw him, full grown yes, but still little more than a cub. 

“I would ask how you fare but I can see that plainly for myself,” she said as she drew closer.  “What happened here my friend that a cleric of Correlleon walks wounded?” 

“What this? Oh nothing, an orc almost took off my arm with one blow,” he replied dryly.  “I’ve done what I can to keep it, and keep it functioning.” 

Elga looked across the battlefield. “What of the other clerics?” she asked

“I would rather they use their prayers to keep my people alive.  I can ensure the survival of my arm well enough on my own.”  Elga nodded and motioned towards the wounded arm.  “May I?”

Berriam arched a brow as he held the wounded appendage out for her, for last time he saw her healing was not Elga’s strong suit, especially such of his magnitude.  Elga laid gentle hands upon his arm, closed her eyes and murmured a prayer.  Immediately Berriam felt a warmth suffuse his arm, and the last of the aches and pain fade.  He looked at her incredulously.

“Better?” she asked as he flexed, testing out the strength and flexibility of the newly healed limb. He nodded.  “How did you do that?” he asked.  She just grinned and stared expectantly at him, seemingly waiting for him to think of it himself.

Now that she was closer, he noticed that the years had not just treated Elga well, they had not touched her at all.  A quick glance revealed the same for her Shadow.  Frowning, Berriam took half a step back, readying to defend himself for surely this was not his friend of old before him.  But a whisper on his consciousness stopped him as a seemingly familiar energy ebbed off her and Shadow both.  A whispered prayer to his god revealed a bright light surrounding them, and the image of a great hammer above each of their heads, the mark of a god.  Berriam could only think of one god who would mark Elga so, and what she had now become because of it.

“Oh gods be good,” Berriam groaned, clasping the hand of his newly healed arm to his forehead in mock dismay. “You’re a Chosen of Tempus now?”  Elga winked at him and held a finger to her lips.  Catching sight of her children, she called to them and waved them closer.

“Berriam, this is my son Elgin,” Elga introduced as the pair drew close.  The lad was little younger than his half elf sister Aurina but almost as tall and broad as his mother, Berriam noted.  The lad inclined his head with a murmured “My lord.”  Berriam nodded his acknowledgement as Elga greeted their daughter.

“Ah daughter mine!” she embraced the young woman in a fierce hug then held her at arm’s length, appraising her from head to toe.  After a moment she nodded decisively.  “Yes, now THIS is the Auriana that the world will know hmm?” Aurina smiled weakly as her mother glanced around them with a frown before setting her eyes on her son.  “Elgin where is your father?”

The young man shrugged.  “I lost track of him in the fight mata.”  

“Hmmm,” Elga stroked the head of her dire tiger companion. “Find Tanta, Shadow mine,” she bade the great cat who swiftly bounded off to carry out her wishes.  “Now that we are mostly assembled,” she said as she turned to the three of them again, face grave.  “In all seriousness my friend, what happened here?”

“You know as I do that these things happen,” he waved off her concern.  “Gruumsh and Magloybet get antsy for blood and call forth their minions to make war.” 

Elga shook her head in denial.  “They war once a decade or so, it is too soon for it to be just another uprising of the tribes.  And I recognize some of the Black Shields among the orc dead, something more is at stake here,” she insisted.  Aurina felt a chill run down her spine.  The Black Shields were an orc clan whom, if not exactly friendly, were neither openly hostile towards the Bearskulls.  Something about a war between bugbears and orcs, in a hobgoblin stronghold taken over by hill giants that her mother was able to stop practically single handedly.

“Well whatever the reason they have been soundly put down now, thanks to your ever so timely arrival.  Ahh…” Berriam looked questioningly between mother and son.  “How did you know to be here?”  Elga nodded to her son.

“You can thank the eyes on this one,” she said.  “He was out hunting and spotted the tracks of a large group of goblins and such heading in this direction.  His report was not the first one I had heard, but it was the third and ultimately the last.  Thankfully the tribes were already gathering for a moot so I sent out the call to ride and here we are.”

“And just in time too,” another voice chimed in.  Berriam turned to see his son and introduced him to the others. “Yes we were sorely pressed before your arrival my dear,” he admitted.  Elga smiled and clapped her old friend on the shoulder.

“Well, here we are!  And here we will stay, for a few days at least!” she laughed and hurried to reassure the look of mock horror on the elf lord’s face.  “Just until we can be sure that nothing else is forthcoming.”

It was at this point Aurina looked up.  Silent, brooding, and avoiding the gaze of all around her during the others conversations, she at last opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by the wail of a dire tiger rolling across the plain.

Elga went still and all color drained from her face when she heard it, and before the cry had faded she had turned to run swift as the wind, down the hill and across the field slippery with the dead.  Aurina and Elgin looked at each other in shock.  Berriam sighed.

“Follow her younglings,” Berriam said softly.  “She will need you both now.”  The maternal half siblings spared a glance for their hosts before following their mother as another of the great cat’s cries came forth.

“Should we go as well atar?” his son asked from beside him, but he shook his head.

“No. I need you to search out wood for a pyre, one great pyre set aside from all the others.”  His son looked at him quizzically.  “Shadow has found Tanta, but not as Elga would hope” he explained.  “Only a creature in mourning can make that sound.”  Father and son both winced then, as a very human, soul shattering scream of rage and defiance rolled forth from across the battlefield

Moar Awesomeness Please!

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Wow…just…wow.  The Adversary is the third book in the Sundering series, third in the Brimestone Angels saga, and I could not put it down.  My fingers are itching to pick up the fourth Brimestone Angel book, Fire In The Blood, but alas I must wait.

 The Adversary brings us back to teifling twins Faridah and Havilar shortly after the events of Brimstone Angel’s Lesser Evils, and things swiftly go sideways.

 Once again, in an attempt to protect herself, her sister, and Lorcan her cambion pact holder, warlock Faridah makes a deal with another devil, and the three are held in stasis for almost ten years.  When they are released, the girls are now women grown and estranged from their friends and family who have thought them dead for almost a decade.

 Thankfully proving everyone wrong, the twins are reunited but it does not feel so good.  There is much anger towards Faridah and her choices, so much so that when the terms of her pact are called into play, she attempts to leave without alerting anyone, thinking they’re all better off without her.

 But not-so-fallen-paladin-of Oghma Dahl catches her as she tries to sneak out and is unwittingly whisked away with her to the tower of an old enemy, and what turns out to be a camp of Chosen.

 Lots more happens of course, but it all boils down to the devil-become-god-of-sin Asmodeaus and his bid for more/continuing power by stealing the sparks of other gods.

 See, when a god chooses a Chosen, the Chosen is imbued with a spark of power from that god.  What the god of sin is trying to do is find these Chosen and extract the spark of godhood that each has within them, although we still are not 100% sure as to why.

 We learn a bit more riiiiiiight at the very end about the infamous Brimestone Angel and ancestor of the tiefling twins Bryseis Kakistos, who is not as dead as we thought and has some interesting plans for the twins, both of whom we suspect are Chosen of Asmodeus himself.

 Dun dun duuuuuuuun!

 But anything more on them will have to wait a bit.  I decided the best way to not hop over important world plots was to read whatever I have left in publication order.

 Oh, and I also figured out that the little…poem?  Prophecy?  At the beginning of each of the Sundering books is actually speaking about the events of the series, with each stanza representing one of the books.  So for the first three stanzas I can draw the line right away between verse and book.  I’ll see if I can puzzle through the next one a wee bit before starting on book 4, the Reaver.

 Don’t got much time for pondering though, as The Reaver is what we’re going to be looking at next!

Endless storms wrack the Sea of Fallen Stars and the coastal regions surrounding it. In panic and despair, many have turned to the goddess Umberlee, Queen of the Deeps, offering her sacrifices with hope that they will be spared the inevitable reckoning of her perpetual tempest.

Evendur Highcastle, undead pirate captain, raised from the depths to assume the mantle Umberlee’s Chosen, takes advantage of the people’s desperation to strike for both spiritual and temporal power in her name.

Vying with Highcastle for the hearts of and minds of the people is Stedd Whitehorn, a little boy and the chosen of a god thought lost to time: Lathander, the Morninglord. In a time of such upheaval, Stedd’s message of renewal and hope runs in stark contrast to the savage ethos of Highcastle and his waveservants.

When Anton captures the boy in order to collect Highcastle’s considerable bounty, the reaver is quickly caught in the riptide caused by the sundering of the worlds.

 

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