I bought this book (and some others), to get a quick crash course on Eberron while stuck working. I was really after color, and setting, maybe some history, but actual plots were not high on my list of priorities. I actually decided to get this one when I found posts by the Author (aka Hellcow) discussing it in an RPG forum topic about Eberron novels. Common consensus was that the end of the trilogy sucked. The auther agreed (ok, he said he'd have done it differently if he'd..yadda yadda,)
I like Sharn. I like Lorac the disgruntled flying dwarf and the obnoxiously cute goblin girl far more than any of the actual protagonists, who I'd briefly encountered in Tales of the Last War (Get it first!).
I think I liked the book, but it wasn't a quick listen. Lots of starts and stops. It drags in places, and...
I'd like to fire the editor with unnatural speed, for the soul-crushing number of times someone or something is described with "unnatural speed". The author clearly inserted that same description with unnatural speed almost as often as he reminded us that Pierce is made of wood and metal. Oh, and they ate nothing but gruel for six months. Get used to hearing that. It's whipped out with unnatural speed, though Pierce doesn't mention it, since he's made of wood and metal.
Having only read 3 of the 14 or so Drizzt's novels that preceed this, I felt a little lost. The story's are alright on their own merits, but I'm sure a lot of significance was lost on me. Also, it's rife with spoiler material.
Most importantly though, Ice T narrates one of the stories, and it's amazing. I hadn't even finished his bit when I started looking to see if he'd done more books. Positively steals the show. Following directly after Melissa Rauch, I was terrified about how his female characters would sound, but there was no need to worry. He nails it.
And while I'm mentioning her, Melissa Rauch is terrible. Her Catti-brie sounds like a leprechaun on helium and hard drugs. Seriously, I kept expecting her to shout about her Lucky Charms. On a positive note, the story she was narrating was so ludicrous that her performance sealed it as a slapstick comedy piece.
Well worth a credit to hear Ice T read D&D and laugh as Melissa Rauch fails to be able to do a credible female voice despite having presumably having spoken in one for most of her life.
The narrator change is jarring but it wasn't a deal breaker. The new guy isn't Jefferson Mays by a long shot, but he's not actually that bad. He just pales by comparison.
The story is dreadful. Several rather long subplots are introduced and resolved randomly, often contributing nothing to the story for their entire runs. We get to meet bit characters from previous novels, now starring in this one and revealing why they should have remained bit characters.
Minus padding, and pointless subplots, this could have been a novella. And it still wouldn't have been a good one.
I'm beginning to get the Lost/X-Files/Twin Peaks sense that they're just making crap up at random with no plan to resolve any of it. We're never really going to learn more, only get more mysteries added until the series chokes on them.
I listened to this right after I finally managed to finish the second book in the series (of which no review of mine has been printable). To be honest, just don't read it. You probably shouldn't read any of them.
If you finished the first two novels in the series and are still even considering buying this book, then feel free to consider this review ignorant, uninformed hate-speech, but do remember later when you're feeling bored, let-down, and taken-advantage of, that you were warned.
Without reading "The Mark of Nerath", this book makes a lot less sense. Everything in this book was established in "Mark of Nerath", except the titular Temple of Yellow Skulls.
Ignoring that, it's a decent adventure (if those elements were actually removed so it could stand alone, it would be an excellent adventure) and it is easily better than the next book in the series. I just can't escape how much it refers to the previous book. It fills in all the details, the characters spend a lot of the adventure talking about the events of the last adventure, which isn't marked as part of the series, or available on Audible.
Honestly, I'd skip this one unless you've read "Mark of Nerath". If you have read "Mark of Nerath", you probably won't need me to tell you that you ought to skip this book. If for some reason you read this first, it completely and utterly spoils "Mark of Nerath" as they rehash, in detail, all the major plot points.
Also, the second book has a different author. I blame this for ruining the second book (Oath of Vigilance", and I feel it's worth knowing about before you potentially become invested in the series.
I understand that the purpose of this whole series was to create novels around classic dungeon-crawl adventure modules, and that they have to work with some of the boring, predictable elements that were included in those modules, but this book was garbage, and not because of the original Tomb Of Horrors.
The fallen paladin literally cries and whines through the entire book, displaying not a single redeeming characteristic, occupying about 8 of the 12 hours of listening time with descriptions of what a lousy piece of crap he is, and then, the author having murdered everyone else off just has the hand of god step in, and make everything better. Now here, Have your magical super-sword back, and one-shot the remaining bad guys, we've got to wrap this up in about six minutes.
I've read better fan-fiction. written in sharpie. On truck stop men's room walls.
I grabbed this one because the blurb said it was written for people who were new to Forgotten Realms and was showcasing Waterdeep. It fails utterly.
It constantly references things that you'd need to be quite familiar with Forgotten Realms to understand, and up to date with it's constantly evolving story line. It showcases WaterDeep in much the same way that a really great performance of one of Shakespeare's plays showcases the excellent carpentry of the stage being performed on.
The narrator does numerous voices, mostly intensely silly. They meld a bit later, as three characters seem to use the same "Big, dopey guy" voice.
The story really is great, but I'm in love with Stina Nielson's narration. She really brings Georgia to life, and reminds me of some of my favorite comedians from BBC Radio 4. I enjoyed the diary/journal format, as well. It kept things punchy and succinct, so Georgia never becomes as annoying and hate-able as a silly, self-obsessed teenager ought to be. As she as can manage to do something dreadful, you're into another entry where she's correcting her actions, or at least suffering for them.
I absolutely love this collection. It's a collection of bits done for the radio show when they were promoting Arguing With Idiots. I'd be annoyed by the repeated intro/bumper playing, but I'm too amused by a complaint in the recording from one of the stars about waking up at 4 in the morning with that intro stuck in his head. The only thing I don't really like is the long chunk of Van Jones audio when Glenn goes all ADD during one of the bits. Once I bookmarked it so I could skip around that part, it became perfect.
He's dead. Sorry. Now shut up, grab your towel, and listen to Simon Jones read the book.
If you've already read or listened to the first five, and the five radio plays, and possibly the television show, and the movie, and probably the Dirk Gently stuff and even DA's Dr Who stuff and you're still here looking at this book, you should get it.
Maybe you'll think it's a brilliant cap on the series, being the sixth book in the trilogy and being not just published, but written post-mortem, and then read by the guy who's been Arthur Dent for 35 years now.
Maybe you'll think it's a sad, macabre dance, like someone singing you lullaby's while wearing the skin of a dead friend as a mask.
Either way, If you've made it this far, you need to know.
(Oh, and grab Starship Titanic too! This is at least that good, whatever that backhanded recommendation is worth).
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