291638Not entirely sure if I’m going to like this Harper series, but it could just be this one author.

Red Magic is all about Thay and it’s Red Wizards.  We follow the schemes of one to take control of the country’s gold mines while another works to thwart him.

It’s not so much a story about the wizards though, as it is one about the country itself.  Realms readers have long perceived Thay as an evil place, when really it’s not.  It’s a beautiful land, populated by normal people, some good and some bad, who unfortunately are born in a land with a ruling class of wizards who favor power above all else and will stop short of nothing to accumulate more of it.

Granted this land is in a state of perpetual perfect weather, slaves, undead, and wizard creations running amok, but no place is perfect…

Our heroes are a human druid, a pacifist centaur, and a female mage who doubles as a politician from Thay’s neighbor Algarond.  Together through the Harpers they have been tasked with discovering -and if possible foiling- the plans of a Red Wizards who is amassing a gnoll army.

The story and characters seemed very stiff and forced.  I didn’t really connect with any of them and a love connection between the two humans seemed thrown in just because it was expected of the story and not because there was any real connection between the characters.  Things would happen to the characters that sometimes made sense but more often the not appeared to be dumped upon them just to have something happen to create stress or tension in the party.

Hopefully the next in the series works out better.  But for now let’s check out something really old school.  Harking back to R.A. Salvatore’s writing days before Drizz’t, we’re going to check out the first in the Crimson Shadow series next, the Sword of Bedwyr.

400688For twenty years, the once proud lands of Eriador have lain, conquered and suffering, under the despotic and demonic power of the evil Wizard-King Greensparrow and his legions of monstrous cyclops soldiers. The dwarves and Fairborn elves are slaves; humans fare little better.

Arena fighter Luthien Bedwyr, son of Eorl Gahris of Bedwyrdrin, is too young and privileged to understand Greensparrow’s oppression. Then one night Luthien seeks justice for a friend’s murder, only to become a fugitive from Greensparrow’s thugs.

It is a flight that will turn into grand adventure when he befriends the egotistical, irrepressible “highwayhalfling” Oliver deBurrows… and a magical odyssey when the two are recruited by the ancient, exiled wizard Brind’Amour. For now their mission is to battle a dragon and obtain wondrous rewards: most especially a cape that renders its wearer invisible—but leaves behind an indelible scarlet silhouette.