291547Interesting anthology to say the least, but good.  I thought Realms of the Underdark would focus on the evil drow, but it actually follows a number of characters crossing a spectrum and above and underdark species.  Most of the stories take place in or around infamous SKullport, and even Mirt the Moneylender, one of the renown Lords of Waterdeep makes an appearance and plays in the alleys of Skullport.

What endeared Realms of the Underdark to me was the fact that one of the stories started out at the Yawning portal in Waterdeep, the starting setting for Neverwinter Nights Hordes of the Underdark computer game expansion.  And since Neverwinter Nights was what started me on this love of Realms…yeah…I got a soft spot for it.

But I must admit my favorite story was of a deep gnome who escaped drow slavery and tricked a fellow slave into sacrificing himself so the gnome to get revenge on his former captives.  In the end the two former slaves became friends and the gnome attempted to save the life of the one he meant to sacrifice but failed.  Not entirely sure why, but that story facinated me and sticks out in my mind the most.

Traveling waaaaay back in time to one of my favorite periods in history: Empress of the Seven Hills by Kate Quinn is next.

11531957Powerful, prosperous, and expanding ever farther into the untamed world, the Roman Empire has reached its zenith under the rule of the beloved Emperor Trajan. But neither Trajan nor his reign can last forever…

Brash and headstrong, Vix is a celebrated ex-gladiator returned to Rome to make his fortune. The sinuous, elusive Sabina is a senator’s daughter who craves adventure. Sometimes lovers, sometimes enemies, Vix and Sabina are united by their devotion to Trajan. But others are already maneuvering in the shadows. Trajan’s ambitious Empress has her own plans for Sabina. And the aristocratic Hadrian-the Empress’s ruthless protégé and Vix’s mortal enemy-has ambitions he confesses to no one, ambitions rooted in a secret prophecy.

When Trajan falls, the hardened soldier, the enigmatic empress, the adventurous girl, and the scheming politician will all be caught in a deadly whirlwind of desire and death that may seal their fates, and that of the entire Roman Empire…