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5.0 out of 5 starsI feel this position fits my strengths and values very well
Reviewed in the United States on August 9, 2020
I feel this position fits my strengths and values very well
The book is about a young street entertainer getting forced into a race after an artifact wanted by a number of factions in Messemprar, the largest city of Free Unther.
The plot is strong, with a fine number of twists, some more predictable than the others. The leading character is a bit to "good" to be believable, given the circumstances of her life. The supporting characters try to stay away from stereotypes as much as possible, and some of them are quite memorable. The author does a fantastic job of picturing a truly miserable and depressive atmosphere prevalent in a poor, war-torn city.
The writing style is not great, but not bad either.
The Alabaster Staff is a story of a "small" person getting caught in events that are way out of her league, and trying to survive. So, if you are expecting epic battles, heaps of monsters and other stuff usually associated with fantasy genre, you aren't going to get any. And, in my opinion, it is a good thing. The book is also battle-light, with more space given to thieving expeditions and plotting, which is another thing I liked.
On the downside, the book is painfully slow to start, and it has a slightly cliché ending. Could have done much better without it, really. There is also much repeating introspective on behalf of the main character. I know that introspective is in the service of character development, but if the same things are repeated chapter after chapter, it gets rather tiresome. The villains in the book are naïve at moments, but at moments only.
It is kind of a book I expected from "Rogues" series. If you liked Salvatore's "Servant of a Shard" for more reasons than Jarlaxle and Entreri, you should like this book. If you are more into epic fantasy, this may not be a book for you. All in all, an above-average FR novel.
Edward Bolme brings to life another wonderful novel with this story based in the Forgotten Realms. This is not simply just another adventure tale (though it is also that) set in a complex political/religious city, but part mystery and part life lesson as well.
Ed weaves a complex tale of a land fighting to maintain its own existence amidst a choatic background of both religious and political strife. Be prepared for something more than your typical tale of sword swinging and spell hurling adveturers in this one. The characters are at the same time complex and believable. It continually forces the main characters to question who they can trust, while at the same time forcing them to rely on the help of others to complete their goals.
The main character a rogue street performer struggles to hold onto the ideals of her beloved mother, and of a father that she has never even met. Not your typical rogue. When forced to steal, she doesn't attempt to better her position in life (which could stand a great deal of bettering) but rather gives her precious boon away to those in even greater need than she.
This book paints a beautiful picture of a city torn between the religion of their ancestors; a power hungry god who has been overthrown and slain, and the religion of the new god in the area. Tiamat, she who slew the former diety in power. At the same time the city is fighting for survival in a war against superior foes.
Enter Kehrsyn, the street performer. Because of her skills and anonymity she is thrown into the middle of a complex struggle for power between several different factions within the city. All those who would use her for their goals give her but a taste of the truth, only enough to keep her on their hook, believing that theirs is the most just cause. All the while she wants nothing more than to see the lot of the common man bettered in life, but first she has to figure out who she can trust, and how to save her own skin.
I highly recommend this book, whether you are a fan of Faerun or not, it is simply a great read.
4.0 out of 5 starsGreat read - makes me want to be a thief
Reviewed in the United States on June 30, 2004
This book was a look into the life of a rogue caught between a rock and a hard spot. The idea behind this book was not original, but it was masterfully carried out. Talk about your chain of unfortunate events. I almost forgot about the prolouge of the book which had a war between two god's and their followers because it seemed trivial to the main character's quest - but the book comes full circle with a nice conclusion. Also, the description of the stealing of the Alabaster Staff is incredible and very well written - I felt like I should be holding my breath in some places so I wouldn't be heard. Scenes like those, and all the things the thief had to think about and know from experience, make me want to be a thief. I also think that "The Alabaster Staff" is a nice step back from the other "mainstream" Forgotten Realms books. This book focuses on a city I had little to no knowledge on, and it also introduced some characters (even if they will not be used again) that have not been seen in other FR books. I nice breath of fresh air was what this book provided for me. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is that it's a book I really don't plan on reading again anytime in the near to mid-future, if ever - but it was certainly worth the time when I did read it.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 8, 2018
The Alabaster Staff by Edward Bolme is a Forgotten Realms novel and is the first book in a quartet titled The Rogues. Each of the four books details a story featuring a central character whose main skills lie in sneakiness. As I love sneaky characters, I'll admit I am a little biased towards these books from the outset.
This book focuses on Kehrsyn, a slip of a girl on the verge of womanhood who has grown up living on the harsh streets of the cities in the nation of Unther. Unther was a nation ruled by the god Gilgeam and his tyrannical clergy. All that changed when Kehrsyn was a small girl as he was killed in battle with another god Tiamat, the five-headed queen of dragons (who you should remember if you've ever seen the old D&D cartoon). Chaos has ruled in Unther ever since, with various factions controlling each city and struggling amongst themselves to reunite the country under their sole authority. To add to the nations problems, just over a year ago the nation of Mulhorand invaded, and has conquered three quarters of the divided country in just under 18 months. All that is left of Unther is the city of Massemprar and its environs.
And it is here that Kehrsyn, like so many other refugees has fled too, the cities population has tripled from the influx, and between that and the naval blockade of the harbour by the Mulhorandi fleet, food prices have soared. Kehrsyn does her best to earn a living though, entertaining crowds in the various plaza's of the city, with sleight-of-hand tricks (such as the card and coin tricks performed by modern day magicians). Still a couple factors make her living hard, one is that few people are inclined to part with coin to pay for her perfomances when that same coin could be needed to feed them; and the second is that Kehrsyn is far too nice for her own good, and frequently gives her money away to those more needy than herself.
It is while performing in such a plaza that she attracts some unwanted atention from a recruiter for the newly formed Thieves Guild, who seeks to employ her. When Kehrsyn refuses, the agent frames her for the murder of a Zhentarim soldier (the Zhentarim being a powerful evil organisation of merchants and wizards, and one of the few groups able to get food shipments past the blockade). Wanted by the Zhent's and the city guard she has no choice but to carry out the theft that the guild want her to perform, in return for which they will remove the stain on her name.
There are several powerful organisations in the Realms, for a novel to feature a couple of them and to do them justice is one thing... this book features no less than five of them! And all written superbly. I smiled reading pretty much every page of this book, as the characters, the action, the dialogue (ohh the wonderful dialogue, in particular how the character of Massedar speaks!), all of it is well written. I've never read anything by Edward Bolme before and I know he is now writing books for the Eberron shared fiction world, which is a loss to the Realms.
This book gets a full marks from me, 5/5. Kehrsyn is one of the best written heroines that I have ever read, and I'd dearly love to read another book about her (unwanted) exploits. If you want to try a Realms novel and you don't know where to start, I can heartily advise you to give this one a read.