Tangled Webs is Elaine Cunningham at her best here in Tangled Web. The story takes full advantage of the rich Forgotten Realms setting and crafts a tale with plenty of action, character development, plot twists, excitement and even a dash of humor. This is the sort of fun fantasy book that you just can't put down.
Tangled Webs builds off the excellent Daughter of the Drow and turns everything up to 11. One half a road trip by sea and one half a intrigue plot the book keeps you guess and the story moving. The new villains and supporting characters are great increasing the stakes to their highest yet. Liriel and her companion continue to be great characters. As a protagonist Liriel continue to be a delight with her flippant attitude, love of life and proactive willingness to confront her foes rather than wait to be attacking like most heroes.
Once again the audio quality is the only really negative here. While the reading is better than the first the recording quality and editing are really terrible and need to be brought up the level that this novel deserves.
I continue to enjoy the Ex-series but this book felt like it started to loose steam. The lack of a full cast was greatly missed in this installment although Jay Snyder does his best. The story likewise didn't feel as tightly written and compelling as previous installments. Although some interesting story threads feel like they are being setup and leave me interested to see what book 5 will bring, however not enough pays off in this story and we see far less of many of the characters then I would have enjoyed.
While this isn't a bad story, nothing in this book hits the high notes. Character never quiet come to life, the plot meanders, foes are under developed and the setting isn't used very well. The book lets too many hints around the mystery slip and most readers will figure out the mystery plot long before the characters do making the middle of this book painful to get through as you wait for the characters to get a clue. While I've certainly read worse genre fiction, it lacked a little something to really set it apart or tap into the wonderfully vibrate D&D energy leaving it very average.
However despite the books flaws, I don't regret picking it up. While I can only recommend this book on its own to hard core fans of the Forgotten Realms series it does set the stage for better stories down the line and really lets you get to know the leads. The characters events and relationships established here all are used to much better effect later in the series and while it slows down in the middle, the last 3rd of the book really picked up nicely once Airlyn finally figured out the score and stopped bumbling around clueless from point A to point B and goes to confront the villains in a great high adventure conclusion.
So, while Elfshadow has its fair share of flaws, I still recommend picking it up if you are a fan as it builds into some great stories down the line.
Inferior in almost ever way to Tangle Webs; Windwalker is a crushingly disappointing conclusion (if you can even call it that) to the Starlight & Shadows series. The story goes all over the place and just seems interesting is wrapping up loose ends as quickly as possible rather than telling a real story. Side characters unceremoniously drop like flies, we spend long chapters of the book with under developed villains bumbling after Liriel to little climax. Side characters dominate the story and the Drow Princess is subdued and dull and hardly does anything except get pulled along by others most of this book. Unlike previous installment the D&D setting becomes a millstone dragging the story down with pre-existing characters we hardly know rather than helping to fill the story with robust flavor and depth. After waiting so long to finally got to the much talked of lands of Rashaman, the new location is painfully dull and interesting as are its people.
The story's climax is a whimper, totally unsatisfying and despite the narratives interest in killing off characters to tie up loose end in the end it feel like none of the important issues and questions have been dealt with. I think they may have been trying to set up a new status quo for another series of book but they never materialized so we're left with this for a finale.
The audio quality is one again a negative but if you've put up with it through the first two books in the series you should know what to expect. Dara Rosenberg actually is considerably improved by this installment and the audio quality might be slightly better than previous recording however the editing is just as bad as ever.
If you've only read RA Salvator's work with the drow than you owe it to yourself to check out Daughter of the Drow. Lyriel the main characters is a witty, devious and enjoyable character whom actually revel's in he culture even as she slowly learns to reject its evil. These delightful contradictions and intrigue make this story extremely enjoyable. The story is extremely fun, well paced with an great supporting cast of allies and enemies for Lyriel and over all a real delight.
The story is set in the heyday of 2nd edition D&D's Forgotten Realms but it works well as a stand alone and any fan of fantasy should be able to get into and enjoy this series with no prior knowledge of the setting or D&D in general, however if you do read the other Drow centric book it acts as nice little companion piece.
However as good as the story is the current recording is of very low quality. The reader doesn't have very good audio quality, the editing is a pit choppy and the actors choice of inflection is rather unusual which might prove distracting to some listeners. If they can fix the audio issues I'd say this is a must buy for any fan of the Drow and the Forgotten Realms.
Evermeet takes a but of an unusual approach to telling its story. It is almost an anthology of short stories covering the long history of the elves of Evermeet and dozens of its important figures with all their hopes, dreams, plots, love, betrays, triumphs and failures. It is not for the uninitiated into the Forgotten Realms but for a fan this is a fantastic look at the history of the Realms from the perspective of Evermeet's elves. Each story is great fun, but slightly uneven with some getting a lot more time to develop their character's then others. It makes a great companion piece to Cunningham's Songs & Swords books which I recommend you read first as this story references some of the character and events from that series. In the end it is fun read and a solid read if you enjoy the D&D style of fantasy novels. I would absolutely listen to it again whenever I read through/listen to my collection of Forgotten Realms novels.
Lolth has long been a distant threat in the Forgotten Realms but this is the first book that really dives into her character and give back story and context to the spider queen. I wish the books had been able to spend more time getting into her character and how she changed from Arrashuni into Lolth but with it covering so much history sadly we only get small snippets of Lolth's history and schemes.
I have not listened to Kirby Heyborne read before but he did top notch work with a large and constantly changing cast.
No since it jumps forward to different characters and different time it had some natural breaking points where I turned off the audio novel and saved the rest for another day.
While I don't think this is the best of Cunningham's D&D novels, it still features her signature style of likable character you can get into quickly and sinister villains and even manages to fit in a few more complex, morally grey character along the way. Sadly stuck on the rails of the forgotten realms last history, sometimes great characters and epic events a swept aside or skimmed over since their fates were details elsewhere in the forgotten realms series which sometimes hurts the story. While it feel it wraps up a bit to quickly after the very long build up to the dire present, it is a great companion piece to anyone who is fan of the Forgotten Realms, its large cast of characters and particularly the Song and Sword series.
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