49386Once upon a time, I thought myself a fan of Ed Greenwood and his writings.

And don’t get me wrong, I still love the bearded old man because he gave me my beloved Forgotten Realms franchise.

But I don’t think I’m a fan of his writing anymore.

Before The Kingless Land, the first in his Band of Four novel, I had only ever read his Forgotten Realms works and the first half of the first book in his Falconfar trilogy, Dark Lord.

Now his Forgotten Realms works I loved, despite the obvious reasons.  I liked the story, it was well paced, and I loved the characters he created.  I didn’t like Dark Lord, but I figured it was because I saw too much of Ed Greenwood’s own disappointment in the direction Wizards was taking the Realms and D&D in general with this story about a writer who sells his story to a game company only to have them change pretty much everything, and he has to go into the world he created in order to save it.

Sounds familiar?

So I figured I’d like the Kingless Land.  But I was wrong.  I think.

The problem is, it took me a good month to read this book.  I didn’t dislike it enough to put it down and be done with it, but neither can I say I liked it.

I think I’m just too confused by the events in the book and the way it was written to form an opinion like that.

The story revolves around a sorceress who also happens to be the daughter of a very evil, very powerful noble who also happens to be using her to fuel his own magics, in a way.  Enter two thieves, looking to break into her bower to steal some jewels to live, only to steal her away from her evil father.  They flee to some old ruins where they meet a healer who tells them they must undertake a quest with him to find some ancient stones to awaken a legendary Sleeping King who is basically this world’s version of King Arthur.

So the Band of Four as they are now calling themselves, are running around trying to find the first of the three stones, while being hunted by mages, blundering into armed patrols looking for the same thing, there’s a snake cult rising in power in the background, and at the very end another fabled secret society rears its faceless head and makes a play that is seen by the Four through a magical portal.

Confusing, ain’t it?

I think the biggest problem is that there is so much going on.  You’re thrown all these names of all these people, given snippets of their lives away from the Band of Four, only to have pretty much everyone ever mention except for sed Band to be dead by the end.

The narration is choppy, jumping from one person’s viewpoint to the next, from one time to another.  There are numerous references to a dead Baron named Blackgult, who started a war with our sorceress’ father Silvertree, (and for whom our two thieves worked for) and we’re told from day one that he’s dead.  And as we’re reading along, we think this entire story is happening as we read it, but in the end it turns out it was all a narration from one bard to another that we met on page one and haven’t seen since.  And not only that, but the Blackgult is still alive and is the biological father of the sorceress!  What. The. FRACK!

So yeah.  For me, not so good.  But it is one of Greenwood’s earlier works so I will continue on with book two (eventually) and hope for the best.

Now if you folks can make heads or tales of what I just told you, by all means be my guest and give it a shot.

Good luck.

Next time: Dying Wish by Shannon K. Butcher

11261730Jackie Patton has been rescued by the Theronai from her captivity and torture at the hands of the Synestryn, only to learn that she’s a potential match for the Theronai warriors who need a woman to literally save their lives.

Forced to choose, she unexpectedly selects Iain, a cold-hearted warrior who doesn’t want to be saved. Iain is convinced that it’s too late-that his soul is already as dead as his former betrothed, killed by the Synestryn. Still, he is the only one she wants. But is Iain indeed beyond saving?