650579And I mean that quite literally here.

Shadowdale, book one of the Avatar trilogy, we are transported to an infamous and tumulous time in the realms where the gods were cast out of the heavens for their hubris in defying the over…god? I think? Ao.  Kind of the god that made all other gods possible.  You don’t really hear of him in the Realms so it doesn’t seem like he has a lot of followers, more of a ‘behind the scenes’ kind of god, but he’s the one who laid the smackdown on all the gods in existence for daring to steal from him.

The gods of the Realms are cast to the earth and forced to take mortal form.  As a result, they are highly vulnerable and weak.  The goddess of magic Mystra is killed trying to reenter the heavens, and the god of strife Bane is killed when he tries to take his followers to war.

Here, Bane dies yet again, and we see the end of the god of Tyr, god of justice in an epic battle complete with scorched earth, a partially destroyed city, and the complete destruction of magic in the area.

We are also reunited with the four brave adventurers: Kelemvor the cursed warrior who finds his salvation in the least likely of places.  Midnight the sorceress, his lover and the unknown savior of a city.  Adon the cleric, a worshiper of the goddess of beauty who has lost his way.  And Cyric, the thief too clever and twisted for his own good.  The four have been charged by Mystra before her death to find the stolen artifacts of the overgod and return them so the gods can ascend once more.  They found one in the city of Tantras, and thanks to the help of one they thought lost, they know the location of the other artifact and are set to right the Realms once more or die trying.

I seemed to be able to read through this one faster than Shadowdale, although I don’t think I enjoyed one more than the other.  For those who know of the Realms knew of Cyric long before now, and it makes for fascinating reading when you watch a character take each step on a path that you already know the destination of.

Things are supposed to be all wrapped up with a nice neat little bow come book three, Waterdeep.  Again, those who know, like myself, are expecting the death of at least one more god which will be simply ironic when it happens, the birth/regeneration of at least two more, and only the fates know what else at this point.

Hitting a little bit closer to home next time, we’re looking at #5 in the Jack Howard series: The Mask of Troy by David Gibbins.

8111305Greece, 1876. Renowned archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann unearths the tomb of legendary King Agamemnon and makes a mind-blowing discovery. Determined to keep it secret until the time is right, he dies before it can be revealed to the world.

Germany, 1945. The liberation of a concentration camp reveals clues to the lost antiquities stolen by the Nazis. But the operation is covered up after a horrific secret surfaces.

Northern Aegean, present day.   Jack Howard, head of the International Maritime University, and his team discover the wreckage of the legendary Greek fleet from the Trojan War, sending shock waves around the world. But the biggest surprise is yet to come, for Jack is on the trail not only of Agamemnon, but of Schliemann’s true discovery–and a mystery so explosive that it leads to the kidnapping of Jack’s daughter and a confrontation with a new and evil foe.