Minsc and Boo Back in Action!

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28262830First in what I am hoping to be a series, Legends of Baldur’s Gate takes us to that infamous city of the Realms, and introduces us to some interesting characters.

Minsc the ranger and Boo the hamster return from their hundreds long stone sleep to fight evil and right wrongs in the city they call home, alongside some new friends with questionable motives but reasonably pure intentions.  An elf mage determined to find her twin, an elf lordling turned ranger with daddy issues, and a Halfling thief with sticky fingers just to name a few.  The mage is technically the main character, and the plot is her seeking her twin brother, with the rest tagging onto her along the way.

What was really cool for me was seeing that Minsc and Boo were legit characters within the Forgotten Realms world.  I remember coming across them briefly in Neverwinter Nights 2, but thought they were just something fun that the developers threw in there, not that there was any substance to them.  I’ll have to see if I can dig up anything else on them.

But until that time we’re off to start a new series within the Realms world with Fall of Highwatch, first in the Chosen of Nendawen trilogy by Mark Sehestedt.

6472457Hweilan is the last of the line of Highwatch and–as she discovers–one of the last of the Vil Adanrath, a bloodline of lycanthropes left on Faerûn. Guric, her uncle and the slayer of Hwelian’s family, has released a terrible evil in order to resurrect his beloved wife and gain control of the northern countries. When Hweilan escapes Guric’s schemes, she is taken in by Lendri, a Vil Adanrath who has stayed in Faerûn to help guide Hweilan to her fate.


Mage Cullers for Hire

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28109970Dragon Age Magekiller by Greg Ruka is one of those cases where you seriously should not judge a book (or a graphic novel) by its cover. Just by looking at it, fans of the Dragon Age Series would assume that this deal with events in or around Dragon Age 2, as the cover looks like one of the villains from that instalment being speared through with a sword.  Which is what happens if you choose that particular character to be your nemesis.

Anyways, one would assume when looking at it that this is the fourth in the Dragon Age graphic novel series, when actually it’s a bit of a standalone side story.  Not entirely sure where in the Dragon Age world timeline it begins, but it carries on through to the end of events in the third Dragon Age game, Inquisition.

The story follows a young, stern man with no real past and a paladin’s sense of honor as he teams up with a fiesty rougish young woman, killing mages in Tevinter for one of the Magistars.  At least until the dude comes face to face with a lover of his past.

After that they quit their job and run from their former employer and find themselves smack dab in the middle of the rift between the world and the fade ripping open, so they spend their days saving who they can from demons before being snapped up as agents of the Inqusition.

I like it in that once the story got to that point, the main characters visited many places from the game and there were multiple reference to prominent character both from Inquisitions as well as the first game Origins.

I enjoyed it, and will definitely continue with the series in all its formats.

 Might be dealing with a bit of a throwback next as we dive into Dungeons and Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate.


Why Marry A Serial Killer?

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25106926I always love Philipa Gregory’s books and Taming of the Queen is no exception. 

Latest in the Tudor Court saga (well, for me at least.  I’m pretty sure she’s published one or two more since this came out) we follow young Kateryn Parr, last wife of King Henry VIII as she tries to navigate court politics and intrigue and an increasingly unstable husband.

Interesting in that I feel there was actual affection and camaraderie between king and queen.  I’m not sure how much is based on history and how much is author’s creative leeway, but it was surprising and refreshing to see.  Seems most of the wives to this point didn’t really care about Henry all that much.  They were either too afraid of him or too interested in the power their position gave them.

I’m not too sure where the saga will go from here.  Henry is now dead, we have already seen the reigns of his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, as well as their cousin Mary Queen of Scots.  But this is the house of Tudor.  I’m sure there are plenty more stories to tell, and I for one am looking forward to them.

Speaking of looking forward, been waiting for this one for almost a year now and it’s finally here!  Fourth in the Dragon Age graphic novel series, Magekiller is next.

28109970Tessa and Marius are mercenary partners united by an unbreakable bond and compelled to eliminate those who use magic to hurt others. When they betray a powerful patron who intended to kill them once their job was completed, they’re forced to run and join the Inquisition. With the breach in the sky tearing the world apart, there’s more to fear than Venatori and an angry former employer. Can Tessa, Marius, and the Inquisition overcome the greatest threat Thedas has ever faced!?

Gather Round Children…

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30556352I was so excited for this book, and I was not disappointed.  Volo’s Guide to Monsters did surprise me a little but it totally delivered on expectations.

Volothamp Geddarm is a well-known traveler and storyteller in the Realms world.  He has gone to many places and has written guides and books on what he has seen and done, so I was excited for what he would come up with in this Guide to Monsters.

This is just fantastic.  The first chapter deals with monsters we know and hate such as ilithids, beholders, kobolds, orcs, goblins and goblin kin to name a few.  It’s an in depth look at their culture, their habits, the different subsets and even maps of their homes and lairs.

The second chapter is all about the new player races for 5th Ed. The Kenku bird race, the Tabaxi cat race, Aasimir, Fribolgs, Goliths, and Tritons each get their own time in the spotlight, as well as little side notes if you want to create a monstrous character such as an orc or bugbear.

There are a few new backgrounds and subclasses, but after that it’s mostly an addition to the Monster Manual, with statblocks for some new creature and monsters from the beginning of the book.

And funny! You have got to read the little side notes and annotations between Volo and Elminster.  Hilarious.

Honestly the only thing that surprised me about the book was the form of the narration.  I thought it would be like Volo was talking to us, describing all these things about all these different monsters, but it feels more like standard third person.  Not at all bad, and it did not detract from the book in any way, just not what I was expecting.

All in all I am over the moon with this.  To the point that I actually own two copies of it, one with the standard cover and one with the fancy special edition cover.

And now it’s time for something fairly different.  Going completely away from the Realms and jumping straight into medieval fiction with Taming of the Queen by Philipa Gregory next.

25106926Why would a woman marry a serial killer?

Because she cannot refuse…

Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives – King Henry VIII – commands her to marry him.

Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn’s trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent.

But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and a published author, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry’s dangerous gaze turns on her.The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy – the punishment is death by fire and the king’s name is on the warrant…

To the Wilds of Rashemen

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11486939Fourth in the Brotherhood of the Griffon quintet by Richard Lee Byers, The Masked Witches see Aoth, his lover Cera, his familiar Jet, and his ward Jhesrhi travel to Rasheman to try and replenish their griffon ranks.

The witches of the land has enspelled a pride of griffons from their homes in the high mountains, and are essentially putting them up for sale to the highest bidder, with the bet being whoever is the first to clear Rasheman of its undead infestation.

Rasheman has always been a unique land where the spirits often walk side by side with the flesh, but something is different this time. Yes it is an old land and like old lands it is built upon the bones of the cities and civilizations that came before it so it is not unusal for some restless dead to stretch their legs once in a while.

But this time, it’s more than just the odd restless dead.  Ghouls, wraiths, and vampires just to name a few are all walking the land of the living, in greater and greater numbers. Add the threat of werewolves and dark fey into the mix and you have something that even the mighty witches need help with.  So they put out the call that they have griffons for sale, and whoever aids Rasheman will get them as their reward.

This one feels a bit off to me.  It almost seems like the story is being pushed because of the characters and not the story.  Like Aoth and company uncover hints of an undead plan to take over the world, spearheaded by a mysterious force called the Eminence.  And in the first three books there was no mention of this Eminence or any undead aside from the dragons and troops that served under the dracolich.  There just does not seem to be anything to tie this story to the rest of the series aside from the characters.  I know there is still one more to go in this series, but I’m feeling right now that it might have been better if the Brotherhood of the Griffon was a trilogy rather than a quintet, and that Richard Lee Byers brought out this book and the last one as their own duology rather than part of the whole.

Still looking forward to the final installment, Prophet of the Dead, but! Until then we’re going to take a look at something I am super excited about. Another 5th Ed Dungeons and Dragons core rulebook, Volo’s Guide to Monsters is next.

30556352The esteemed loremaster Volothamp Geddarm is back and he s written a fantastical dissertation, covering some of the most iconic monsters in the Forgotten Realms. Unfortunately, the Sage of Shadowdale himself, Elminster, doesn t believe Volo gets some of the important details quite right. Don t miss out as Volo and Elminster square off (academically speaking of course) to illuminate the uninitiated on creatures both common and obscure. Uncover the machinations of the mysterious Kraken Society, what is the origin of the bizarre froghemoth, or how to avoid participating in the ghastly reproductive cycle of the grotesque vargouille. Dungeon Masters and players will get some much-needed guidance as you plan your next venture, traipsing about some dusty old ruin in search of treasure, lore, and let s not forget … dangerous creatures whose horns, claws, fangs, heads, or even hides might comfortably adorn the walls of your trophy room. If you survive.
Research has never been so dangerous!

All Along the Sword Coast

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25982608So I’m pretty much a lost cause.  When I heard that Dungeons and Dragons was going to set their next edition within the Forgotten Realms, I was lost.  Since then I have purchased every core book and adventure to date, but I’m sure I’m missing many of the smaller adventures.

Anyways, Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide is the next on my chopping block here, and I have very mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand I love it.  It give you more of an in depth look at the Sword Coast where most of the adventure such as Horde of the Dragon Queen etc take place, as well as many of the novels.  Lore, history, culture, geography, it’s all there.  Would have been better if there was a bigger map. Like they do have a map, but it’s one little page.  I would have loved it if there was like a pull out map in the back or something of the Sword Coast.  Something you can frame kinda thing.

Now on the other hand, I think half of this is useless.  It touts the fact that is has new backgrounds/class paths for player characters, but there’s not really a lot of new stuff there.  It outlines several adaptations, but when it comes to actually implementation you are continuously referred to the Player’s Handbook.  There are maybe 5 new subclasses overall and one or two backgrounds.

 Overall, I am glad I bought it for my collection.  I think there is much room for improvement, but if you’re looking for hints and tips when playing/planning and Dungeons and Dragons campaign within the Forgotten Realms, this is a good aide.

Speaking of aid, I wonder what kind of help Aoth and the Brotherhood will be getting after their near defeat in Spectral Blaze.  Well we’re about to find out with the 4th installment of the Brotherhood of the Griffon series by Richard Lee Byers: The Masked Witches is next.

11486939Aoth Fezim and his mercenary company have restored their tarnished reputation and attracted new recruits for their depleted ranks. But they still have one big problem. Too many griffon mounts were killed in the battles in Thay Chessenta. If “the Brotherhood of the Griffon” is to be more than a name, new mounts must be found.

As it happens, the masked witches in Rashemen have griffons available to a worthy few who can slay the undead that are committing atrocities throughout the land. Aoth volunteers his band, as do other groups who are in the market for the fighting beasts. But things are not as they seem. Epic battles between rival sellswords, berserkers, and aerial skyships punctuate this whirlwind tale set in a barbaric land of oracles, nature spirits, and talking animals.

From Shadowfell to Rasheman

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10095748Darker Road is the second and final instlament of the Unbroken Chain duology by Jaleigh Johnston.

Animals of the Shadowfell are going mad, and Ashok realizes it’s all because of one broken Shadar-kai woman.  She is haunted by dreams of far off Rashemen, frozen land of spirits and witches, and it is decided that Ashok and his friends will escort her there to hopefully put an end to the madness.

But along the way they discover it’s not just Shadowfell reactures that are affected by her, but anything monstrous in the Prime Material plane. Frost wolves, spirits, and ice trolls just to name a few.

Seeking help with the very cause of what ails her, the four enlist the aid of three Rashemen witches to banish the darkness that plagues the spirit realm, with Ashok giving and regaining his life in the process.

Little disappointing ending.  The woman stays behind in Rasheman whil Ashok and the rest return to the Shadofell, and we’re left unsure of that status of the relationship between the couple, for that is the direction they seem to be going it, but it’s really muddled and confused.

 Kind of wish there was one more to straighten that out, but it looks like this is the end of Ashok’s journey with us.

 Going to go a little sideways now, reading a core rulebook for 5th Ed Dungeons and Dragons: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide is next.

25982608Get everything you need to adventure in the Forgotten Realms on the exciting Sword Coast, home to the cities of Baldur’s Gate, Waterdeep, and Neverwinter. Crafted by the scribes at Green Ronin in conjunction with the Dungeons & Dragons team at Wizards of the Coast, the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide provides D&D fans with a wealth of detail on the places, cultures, and deities of northwestern Faerûn.
The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide is also a great way to catch up on recent events in the Forgotten Realms, to get background on locations featured in the Rage of Demons storyline coming in September, and to learn the lore behind video games like Neverwinter and Sword Coast Legends.

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