Death Masks by Ed Greenwood is the last of the Elminster books as far as I can tell. And for fans of the Old Sage and the Seven Sisters, it is a bit of a hard, emotional read.

So here we are in Waterdeep, with the Open Lord and one of the Seven Sisters Laeral Silverhand, widow of the Blackstaff. She is doing her best to rebuild the City of Splendors to its former glory, no thanks to her diminishing magical abilities and the usual array of fractious nobles looking out for themselves when they’re not out right trying to take over.

And this was an interesting thing we get to discover about the children and Chosen of Mystra. They are not indeed immortal as I personally thought.  Theit bodies to decay and succumb to time, and when they feel that process beginning to take over they have a choice:  continue on their path and allow their deaths to meet them where they may while retaining their magical might and abilities, or sacrifice that power for longer physical life.

Laeral outright admits she chose the latter option, I think mostly in an attempt to do as much for Waterdeep as she could before her body passed. And she has her work cut out for her.

Someone is on a killing spree in the City of Splendors. Masked Lords are dropping like flies and demanding Laeral do something but no one aside from Elminster and the returned Mirt the Moneylender are willing to help.

The usual slap stick, humor, and who-dunnit of most Greenwood books, and what I loved most (and broke my heart btw but not gonna say why cuz spoilers) is that there is an openly gay couple in this book. I know that themes of differentiating sexualities/genders have always been present in the Realms, but because it’s never really applied to me I never looked for it.  I have noticed it on occasion, but most of the time it was a ‘hmmm I wonder’ situation, not something as clear cut as what’s presented here.

Anywhoodles, long story short the culprit is another Masked Lord trying to take over the city and depose Laeral. We actually learn early on who he is, but the come uppance for this dude is pretty spectacular so it’s kinds worth holding on.  The hardest thing about this is the fact that it is blatently obvious that these characters that I have known and loved for so long are indeed mortal.  Two of them die!  Right here!  They are able to save their consciousness/soul/what have you from crossing over and simply take over new bodies to continue on, but yeah.  Character death is character death and it was pretty harsh to read.

Oh, and I REALLY don’t like this new Blackstaff they got running around. Arrogant, indignant, bull headed, righteous little chit she is.

But yeah. Sad face last Elminster book and character deaths.  Otherwise good.

Next up we’re going to check out another short story, Wraith by Jaleigh Johnson.