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  • Downshadow

  • Forgotten Realms: Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep, Book 3
  • By: Erik Scott de Bie
  • Narrated by: James Patrick Cronin
  • Length: 11 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 21

Watchman by day, vigilante by night, Shadowbane's world is turned upside down when he runs across a powerful wizard - in the form of a confused, hunted girl who finds herself at the heart of a fell plot. When his friends start dying and the girl is kidnapped, Shadowbane must choose between the darkness and the light in his heart: to avenge the deaths of his friends, or to let the villain live to face - and possibly escape - justice.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Glad to See This On Audible

  • By Jeff Greiner on 02-20-13

Harem Anime in Dungeons & Dragons-Form

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-12-18

This story sits in a rather awkward historic space, written at a time when anime as a media-form was truly making a standardized impact in the west. This influence is deeply felt in "Downshadow."

The story is quite crowded with characters, or at least it would have been if the story didn't truly only have one character, the male protagonist himself. Beyond the protagonist, pretty much every other character is a barely developed female shell with their only true purpose being to represent one of the protagonist's metaphorical values. Thus allowing the protagonist to literally flirt with different values he might stand for:

- One female character represents his tendency to lurk in the shadows and fight without honor. Thus she allows him to flirt with the prospect of embracing a life without morals.
- Another female character represents innocence and higher ideals. The life of a hero and a true paladin. Thus the protagonist gets to express his inner insecurity of not feeling worthy of her, and thus of such ideals.
- Yet another female character represents the ideas of duty and the familiar. This is further heightened by the protagonist, at the start of the tale, already having had a relationship with this particular character, essentially emphasizing his movement away from the familiar and into a new understanding of the world and himself.

Supporting characters representing such values is in-and-of-itself a good thing and shows a great insight into the development of the protagonist. However, when there is little-to-nothing to these characters beyond these roles and the continuous flirting they engage in with the protagonist, then it quickly becomes clear that they are not only 1-Dimensional, but outright unbelievable. This especially holds true when one considers the protagonists status as having been in a prior relationship with one of the female characters, but literally finds himself stumbling over the overwhelming and over-the-top expressions of affections from two women he only comes to meet at the start of the story, and immediately faces romantic advances from (in one case, the female character literally appears out of no-where, passes out immediately in his arms, wakes up in his bed the next morning, and is immediately distraught at the prospect that he might have a romantic partner, despite her barely even knowing his name yet).

All of these factors come together to create a tale that is quite interesting from the perspective of witnessing a single character's struggle with his own personal ideals and morals. But is a complete disaster when it comes to its narrative flow and emotional center. The book could essentially have just one character, or one character and the villain. All the female supporting characters could in truth be nothing more than figments of the protagonist's imagination, and the thematic evolution of the story would barely have suffered.
These very same issues can be found in countless examples of "Harem Anime," though this book at least rises above the majority of those by not having the protagonist be a blank slate for readers to use as self-insert-material.


With all of this having been said, "Downshadow" is in truth a quite enjoyable book. One does, however, need a specific mindset for how to truly tap into what the book has to offer, and be willing to accept and look past its many major flaws.
"Downshadow" is not a good book, but it can be a fun one.

  • Mistshore

  • Forgotten Realms: Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep, Book 2
  • By: Jaleigh Johnson
  • Narrated by: James Patrick Cronin
  • Length: 10 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26

Icelin thought she had escaped the horrors of her past - until they come hunting her, forcing her to go to ground. But when things go from bad to worse, and her friends start paying for her mistakes, Icelin learns she has to embrace the talents she fears, accept the past she runs from, and confront those threatening her future. Ed Greenwood, beloved author and creator of the Forgotten Realms, presents the second book in a brand-new series dedicated to showcasing both the City of Splendors and our most talented up-and-coming authors.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Definitely a D&D Novel

  • By Jennifer E. Johnson on 09-01-16

A Quaint List of Ideas

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-20-18

People always look about for "Must Reads!"
This tale isn't that. It offers nothing essential to anybody, but is simply a charming snapshot of a part of the beloved Forgotten Realms. Indeed, though the book takes place in the famous city of Waterdeep, only little of importance relating to the city in question is given beyond; "Mistshore is a sh*tty place."

No. This book isn't a Must Read. It isn't a Realms-shaking tale of epic heroes and warring gods. But what it is, is a small story, about simple people simly trying to live with their traumas in a world filled with chaos and malevolent intent.
Mistshore, both the book and the place, is about good people whom society has given up on and simply want to be rid of.
The book is a story about people, and as a result, the narrator goes the extra mile to try and keep everyone distinct. As a result, the book offers the novel experience of having a female protagonist given an Irish accent, while another speaks like a Cowboy. The dynamic of the narrators voicework does much to bring this small and often-times-confusing story to life, keeping the listener invested in the fates of its scarred heroes.

Due to the book being a small story, it gets to play around with several small but interesting ideas for the fans of the Forgotten Realms to experience; such as how the memorization of Wizardly spells function, and what influence a deity has over the world even after its death.

Mistshore isn't a Must Read. But it is a wonderful and emotional tale of what life can be like in the Forgotten Realms, showing of what a diverse a fantasy world it truly is and can be.

The book is not required, but highly and warmly recommended.

  • Timeless

  • A Drizzt Novel
  • By: R. A. Salvatore
  • Narrated by: Victor Bevine
  • Length: 12 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,142
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,047
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,044

R. A. Salvatore reveals the Underdark anew through the eyes of of this unlikely pair - offering a fresh take on the intrigue and opportunities to be found in the shadows, and providing a fascinating prelude to the journeys that have shaped the modern-day Forgotten Realms. There, a Zaknafein and Drizzt are joined together in a series of trials that parallel those of centuries long past, even though their paths no longer seem to be aligned.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A New Era

  • By Jamie on 09-05-18

Isn't quite a Story yet.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-05-18

This book is a highly enjoyable experience, exploring many of the long-asked questions raised by the Drizzt-series.
The book does however hardly feel like real story, but more like a compilation of only slightly related events, presented together to setup the true story to come.

Salvatore himself has proclaimed this book as a good entry-point to the series, but due to the reasons mentioned above, I personally feel hesitant to agree. Granted, the book puts much effort into explaining its own, long history and the role of the different characters therein as the need arises, but a true appreciation of the events as a story only really occur within the context of the rest of the series; as build-up to the real story to come in future books.

A place where this book does serve well to introduce newcomers is for newcomers already familiar with the Forgotten Realms during 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons but without any former familiarity (an audience swiftly growing).
Many familiar people and places introduced in contexts relevant to 5th Edition are here, creating a fu experience from that perspective.


In conclusion, the book is good, but does by no means stand on its own, and will only truly show its quality in years to come as the storyline reaches an actual narrative flow and climax.

  • Venom in Her Veins

  • A Forgotten Realms Novel
  • By: Tim Pratt
  • Narrated by: T. David Rutherford
  • Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 38
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 36

Zaltys is a girl like any other to grow up ranging thejungles of the Southern Lluirwood. She’s a crack shot with a bow and no stranger to the dangers that lurk beneath the deep forest canopy. On expedition with her family to harvest the forbidden terazul flower, a powerful drug that has gathered many a dreamer into its narcotic embrace, Zaltys is about to unearth a truth long buried by the feculent loam of deception.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Good Stroy

  • By Bugzee3 on 02-04-13

Simple and straight forward.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-22-18

'Venom in Her Veins' is pretty much a classic D&D adventure; it is a short journey into danger for reasons simple and noble. People won't get anything special from this book other than a minour look into the life of a region rarely visited in the Forgotten Realms, but that is also enough. The book's main draw is its charismatic and unique characters and how they deal with issues. Overall, this book isn't a masterpiece, but neither is there anything wrong with it. It is simply offering simple fun and adventure. Absolutely worth a listen if you simple want something light and easy to listen to for some hours of enjoyment.

  • Prince of Lies

  • Forgotten Realms: The Avatar, Book 4
  • By: James Lowder
  • Narrated by: Nicole Greevy
  • Length: 12 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 109
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 103
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 104

An all-new version of one of the key titles in the entire Forgotten Realms novel line. This title is the fourth in a series of recovers of the popular Avatar series. At the time of its original release, this series presented key events that impacted the entire Forgotten Realms world, and the effects of those events are still felt in current novels. This re-released series features a cohesive cover design and all-new art.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great story, terrible narrator.

  • By Robert A Vaughan on 06-06-16

It is hard to believe how far we've come.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-05-18

Sitting here after having finished the "Prince of Lies"
is best described as a surreal experience.
The overwhelming quality of this book can hardly be believed
to have any connections at all to the dumpster-fires that were
"Waterdeep" and "Tantras."
That I've now been through a story so good that even the
acts of occasional stupidity within the main-characters come
off as intriguing character-features calling for a reader's
analysis of their mindsets, as opposed to simply being
facepalm-inducing, is more than a breath of fresh air.

The narrator is always still bad, but she appears to deliver
a more varied performance this time around, when compared
to earlier readings, and even then, her somewhat robotic
delivery makes for a somewhat fitting interpretation of the
alien minds of the gods when given voice.

Overall, a great book, and an overwhelming improvement
to the general series, do not miss this one.

  • The Ring of Winter

  • Forgotten Realms: The Harpers, Book 5
  • By: James Lowder
  • Narrated by: Marty Moran
  • Length: 10 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 45
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 43

One of the Harpers (a secret organization fighting for good) searches the jungle for a missing explorer and happens on a lost civilization--complete with dinosaurs--and the evil Cult of Frost, which tries to steal his magic ring.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Ideas for Tomb of Annihilation

  • By Andrew Bohrer on 02-15-18

Indiana Jones with Dinosaurs

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-08-17

Though this book is nothing remarkable, it is highly entertaining and the very definition of the word "Adventure." This is not a story one needs to experience more than once, but that one time a reader/listener will struggle not to smile at every minour or major event. This story is not incredible or life-changing. No. What this story is, is endless, simple FUN. So if you feel like just being happy while being told a story, this is the perfect place to find it.

  • Waterdeep

  • Forgotten Realms: The Avatar, Book 3
  • By: Troy Denning
  • Narrated by: Nicole Greevy
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 131
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 122
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 124

The streets of Waterdeep... Where danger lurks round every corner as the avatars of the gods seek the Tablets of Fate. Where Cyric and Myrkul, god of death, plot to capture Midnight and twist the Tablets to their own dark ends, imperiling the very existence of Faern.Where the destiny of the world will be decided and a new pantheon of gods will rise into the heaven.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • better than the first two

  • By Scott Kirkland on 03-26-15

We are finally here!

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-24-17

Ppffew!
It was a long journey, but we are finally here, "Waterdeep."
Both "Shadowdale" and "Tantras" were overall terrible books,
but with the switch-out of writers to Troy Denning, we finally
acquire the Times of Troubles-story we were hoping for!

Our narrator is still bad, but if one has gotten this far, one has
presumably gotten used to her and simply tries to get something
out of what she is reading, and with "Waterdeep" she has finally
something to read!

"Waterdeep" is a truly excellent tale with the stakes running
high and several factions fighting for the powers of the gods,
for different reasons, at all times.
The book does contain plenty of weaknesses, but they are
typically minor, and the book even attempts to deal with some
of the failings of the two first books.

"Waterdeep" is by no means a perfect book, but with what we
had to sit through to get here, I'd say that there is time for a
victory lap with simply being given a product of significant,
consistent quality.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Tantras

  • Forgotten Realms: The Avatar, Book 2
  • By: Scott Ciencin
  • Narrated by: Nicole Greevy
  • Length: 12 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 139
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 124
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 125

Heroes stand trial! When Elminster, the Old Sage of Shadowdale, is apparently slain, Midnight and Adon stand trial for his murder. When Bane, god of murder, and his allies seek the lost Tablets of Fate, a slender dark-haired woman is all that stands between Faern and disaster. When a friend betrays them, Midnight and her companions can trust no one.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • not fond of this narrator at all, but good story

  • By Robert on 10-01-18

Drowning in the Sins of the Past

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-24-17

Sigh.... This book almost works.
"Shadowdale" was a complete catastrophe as I spent quite a lot of time on explaining.
Sadly, "Tantras" stands in an even worse situation; where "Shadowdale" was simply just a failure from start to finish, "Tantras" stands in a position where the entire first half of the book is completely tainted because of how terrible its predecessor was, now forcing this book to try and clean up the mess it made, but having little to no way of doing so without making an absolute mess out of it.

Let me say it outright; every second spend away from the city of Tantras in this book is terrible, every character is an idiot with no ability to think what-so-ever and plot-points drag on at a snail's pace while simultaneously being so predictable that one knows the outcome of the next four chapters ahead of time, ruining the pace even further.

Things get A LOT more fun once the characters arrive in Tantras, but by then the damage is already done.
Luckily, if one was to get through this book, let me assure everyone that brighter experiences are to come within the next book, "Waterdeep."

  • Shadowdale

  • Forgotten Realms: The Avatar, Book 1
  • By: Scott Ciencin
  • Narrated by: Nicole Greevy
  • Length: 11 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 233
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 215
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 215

When the gods are banished from the heavens, they must travel through Faern in the guise of mortals. When four companions, last survivors of the Company of the Lynx, find themselves in possession of a mysterious amulet, they must escape death at the hand of Bane, god of murder. When magic itself runs wild, no one can say that the most innocent of spells will not destroy the world.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Middling storyline and uninspired delivery

  • By Adam on 04-06-13

Misguided tropes

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-27-17

Let's shoot straight.
The Times of Troubles is an epic event about a deeply interesting premise; The gods confirmably walking the lands of the living as mortals.
At the very beginning, this book is everything one could hope for, describing the alien experiences of the gods facing punishment at the hands of something even greater than them.
Additionally, the direct confrontations veteran several of the gods are quite satisfying as well.

However, this is where the enjoyment ends.
The entire rest of the book is spend in the company of characters so generic and bland that it becomes completely unbearable.
- Several characters are actively condescending or outright sexist to one another for no reason other than to cause a pretense of drama so characters can overcome them.
- Kelemvor is described by several characters as being either harsh and cold or inspiring and approachable; all while in reality being a character engaged in little other than complaining all the time.
This complaining is due to a valid reason, but a reason that has made his character completely unbearable to listen to and with no chance for the better until what will likely be the very end of the series.
All of this just adds to how totally contrived his romance with Midnight is.
- Speaking of Midnight, she is a character who does several things throughout the book with no clear motivation for them.
The worst of these is her random romance to Kelemvor, despite the both of them wanting nothing to do with each other initially, and her being the target of constant sexist mistreatment by the group.
Then suddenly they are just pronouncing an interest in one another, despite no change in relations or tone having occurred.
- New characters are constantly introduced to the story, typically either just to die so the characters can pretend to care, or to be contrively stupid and want to hurt or hinder the characters for no reason that couldn't be resolved with a few seconds of thinking.
All simply resulting in enormous amounts for padding for the story; the Spider Forest being a significantly large, lame and predictable offender.

Lastly, we have the matter of the narrator, who honestly sounds like nothing other than a Reading-Program for people struggling with reading.
She fails utterly to even attempt to breath some life into this dreadful piece.


I hope things will improve as the series proceeds.

  • Baldur's Gate

  • By: Philip Athans
  • Narrated by: Fleet Cooper
  • Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 84
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 80
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 80

Bhaal must be stopped! Someone is sabotaging the iron mines of the Sword Coast, pushing powerful realms toward a bloody war, and a young mercenary toward an unimaginable secret. Evil gods, giant spiders, murderous doppelgangers, flesh-eating ghouls, and wicked Zhentarim come to life in the action-packed novelization of the Baldur's Gate computer game form BioWare and Interplay.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Poor Novelization of Good Source Material

  • By David A Berube on 10-06-17

Doesn't offer much.

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-21-17

Sadly, there isn't much to this book. The narration is only alright, while the story itself fails to capture much beyond the bare-bones of the original story of the game, and absolutely nothing of its feel. This would presumably be fine if the book was good in its own right, but here it fails as well, killing off most characters before they leave an impact beyond offense of their misrepresented personalities. However, the biggest nail-in-the-coffin of this book is the main-character himself, whom completely fails to be a likable protagonist, and only manages to be bareable by the very end. No one has any reason to go through this book, and if a person likes Khalid and Jaheira, it should be avoided like the plague for its crimes against these characters.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful