Cold Steel and Secret by Rosemary Jones is a four part novella set in current Neverwinter. Think the MMO if you’ve ever played it. We’re introduced a Ruca, a spy with an intense hatred of the undead and all things Thayan.  After completing one task abroad, he returns to Neverwinter and was told to infiltrate and assess the threat of a group of locals against the current government.  A group styling themselves the Nashers.  The goal of the Nashers: find the crown of Neverwinter and through it the rightful ruler of Alagondarian blood, deposing the current Lord Neverember.  ‘Nasher’ referring to Lord Nasher Alagondar, one of the more famous leaders of the city in 1329DR and founder of the ‘royal’ line of Alagondar.

Believed to be recruited through a fencing school, Rucas infiltrates their ranks and becomes close to its mistress, perhaps using her to get through the old hurt of killing his love who had been turned undead by Thayans? Either way he learns that the Nashers are poorly organized, but smart and lucky.  Through a trail of breadcrumbs they find the crown but almost lose their lives, and in trying to keep the city going up in flames like dry tinder that the appearance of the crown would spark, Ruca unveils the true secrets of his spymaster, and his mistress: the mad lich Valindra Shadowmantle.

I love how everything is coming to a head in these stories and moving so fast. Everything ties into one another, even though we the readers are usually the only ones who can piece it together.

Anyways, Cold Steel and Secrets was a good read. My only thing with it is that it was a bit jarring sometimes where the sections chose to end off.  I’m reading…I’m reading…I’m into it…then BAM! End credits. Please insert disc 2. Wish there was one complete edition out there with all four parts together in one PDF/file, but aside from that I enjoyed it.

This next one looks interesting. Another ebook entitled Spider and Stone by Jaleigh Johnson.

Lolth—patron deity of the drow, Spider Queen, regent of the Demon Web Pits—has once again stirred the dark elves into roiling aggression against the rest of Faerûn, reveling in the chaos born from her dark schemata. This is the Rise of the Underdark.

In Iltkazar, the last subterranean kingdom of the once resplendent dwarven realm of Shanatar, King Mith Barak faces a siege of drow soldiers, spies, and assassins looking to seize the powerful city and the ancient magical artifacts hidden there.  Somewhere in the city, the Arcane Script Sphere—a mystical orb touched by Mystra, the long-dead goddess magic—calls out to heroes and adventurers, beckoning with whispers of power and knowledge. Mith Barak hears it and knows he cannot hold the artifact much longer, but fears what the drow may do with it.

Enter Icelin, Ruen, and Sull, Waterdavian wanders whose desire to understand their own spellscars sets them in search of Mystran mysteries—they hope to understand magic and thus understand its plague. As they move from town to town, city to city in search of knowledge, Icelin hears the siren call of the Arcane Script Sphere, and it draws the trio deep into rocks of the Underdark where they find themselves at the center of the struggle between the dwarves and drow.

Only King Mith Barak can initiate them into the mysteries they hope to illuminate. But first they must help him with a mystery of his own—a dark elf assassin, himself a seeker of the sphere, lies in Iltkazar’s dungeons shrouded in the mystery and magic of Lolth. Icelin might be the one to see past that shroud and determine the true goal of the Spider Queen’s schemes.

As the dark elves intensify their attacks, the trio realizes their quest for knowledge has taken them into a new and dangerous realm . . . a realm dictated by the whims of spider and stone.  

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