Tethtoril's Bookshelf

The Magehound
Counselors and Kings - Book 1

TSR Code:

TSR Series Code: None
Product Type: Novel
ISBN Number: 0-7869-1561-7
Author: Elaine Cunningham
Cover Artist: John Foster
Release Date: April 2000
Format: One book (312 pages).
The following text is taken from a description of the reverse of the product by TSR:

'Some are born with magic. Some without
Matteo, un-magical counselor to the mighty of Halruaa, has devoted his life to the truth - until he finds that he may have a hidden spark of magic after all. Now, with only a street waif for a companion, he's on the run from the mysterious Cabal. In the dismal Swamp of Akhlaur, Matteo will seek his own truth while battling a creature out of his nightmares.
But something even worse is on his trail: a relentless persecutor of magic. The Magehound.'

Other titles in the Counselors and Kings series:

By: Robert Sullivan Date: 08-April-2000
Rating: GoodGoodGood Good
“I would pay any price to bring death to Halruaa’s wizards, and count it a bargain.”
Kiva, the Magehound, by Elaine Cunningham.

“The Mageound” is the latest Forgotten Realms novel by Elaine Cunningham, who is best know for her Harper stores of Danilo Thann and Arilyn Moonblade. These stories are frequently set in the Savage North, if not infamous Waterdeep itself.
With “The Magehound” Cunningham departs the familiar settings for Halruaa, land of wizards in the hot and tepid Shinning South. To date this is only the second Forgotten Realms novel set in the Shinning South – the other being “Murder in Halruaa.”
Be aware, this review contains some spoilers.

“I left Cyric tied to the rail near the tavern,”
Matteo, the Magehound, by Elaine Cunningham.

“The Magehound” tells the tale of a young man named Matteo who is a jordain. They are an elite group of men (principally — there are some women in their ranks) who theoretically possess no magical ability and are in fact naturally resistant to certain magic. In Halruaa, where magics comes in surplus quantities, much people are valuable because if for no other reason than as an alternate perspective. The jordain are a specialty trained group, who are officially dedicated to truth, justice, and the Halrauun way.
Naturally much of their stated ideology is complex bollix. In addition, it gets the members of the group who naïvely believe it into trouble.
Matteo conflicts with a church of Azuth inquisitor – the Magehound from the novel title – named Kiva. She is a green elf who secretly desires revenge against the mages of Halruaa for atrocities previous wizards committed against her people. Matteo also befriends a young woman named Tzigone who is on the run from virtually every authority in Halruaa.
There is also a wemic, another elf, a demon-creature, two evil swamps, a mad queen, some pig farmers, a host of old-stiff-white-men and endless jostling wizards thrown in the already simmering pot.

“...for many moons to come, the evil that the wizard Akhlaur had created would be visited upon his descendants.”
The Magehound, by Elaine Cunningham.

All of the above are worked together with the usual Cunningham skill for making convoluted plots work, both in the story and of the story.
This is only the second Forgotten Realms novel to visit Halruaa in the Shinning South. Better than its predecessor – “Murder in Halruaa” – the Magehound makes it clear that something as been missed by focusing so exclusively on Waterdeep and other familiar settings.
Cunningham vividly paints the story of a nation where magic is painful part of everyday life. The fetid swamps are beautifully detailed, as are the cold clockwork devices of the Queen, the skyships, the great trees and many other alien details.
After more than a decade of novels set nearly exclusively in the north, many of the novels in the line have come to lack a truly “fantastic” sparkle. Settings of Waterdeep, Shadowdale and points between have become too familiar and too easily recognized to be truly “fantastic” anymore. The pseudo-Celtic and faux-Nordic settings are too comfortably part of the genre in general and the Realms in particular. It is all too well etched in the minds of the fan base. Even if they are not cutting-edge or used a medium to address cultural issues, fantasy settings should not be so cliched. When they are, they loose their verve.
In a word — due to probable over exposure — they no longer seem so special.
“The Magehound” manages to breathe some vitality into the Realms if just by visiting a part that is largely unknown and unfamiliar.
However, it so unknown or unfamiliar to the Cunningham. To those with a copy of the (long out of print) “The Shinning South,” it is clear that she did her research. The land is presented accurately and closely to that supplement.

“Since when did monsters become ordinary?”
Andris, the Magehound, by Elaine Cunningham.

There are some draws backs to the novel.
In a way that is difficult to describe, the pacing of the story seems to change more than once as the novel progresses. At times, the story reads as though it was being written as a stand alone novel, with a limited amount of pages to tell its tale. At other times its seems as though it was written as part of a longer and larger series of books (which it is), allowing more time and pages to tell the story. This change of pace is disconcerting.
Kiva is presented consistent in personality, disposition and intent, but not in power. It is difficult to determine just how wide spread her abilities and influence extend. In this it is hard to determine when the heroes are in peril and when they are not.
The plot point that the jordain are castrated is seemingly dropped. Address in a few places it is not given enough attention. It should have been given more space, either as a great and terrible sacrifice for the land, or a terrible betrayal of the trust of the young men, or something else. Likewise, Matteo never learns of the fate he narrowly escaped and this strips the plot point of much of its potential impact. It any event, it is never resolved.
Several of the other plot threads are left unresolved. This is not a problem in and of itself because the novel is supposed to the first of several. However, the next book is not due out until April 2001 - a full year later. This just seems cruel.

“No, my lady, I am not such as fool as that.”
Matteo, the Magehound, by Elaine Cunningham.

It is a rousing good read and a refreshingly new view of an old world. It is also well worth the money. The merits of the book easily outweigh any of its flaws.

By: Mike G Jordan Date: 10-June-2000
Rating: GoodGoodGood

Mixed fealings. For one thing the cover work is incredible and brings a fresh sense to the book. Also, I was thrilled that it wasw set in Halruaa. Elaine Cunningham described Halruaa in an incredible way. The jungle scene's were stounding, everything was great, from the skyships to the cities, to the people.

The beginning is absolutely amazing. The rest of the book is good, however, there is something rather annoying that I've noticed in other Cunningham books. The characters just seem to kind of wander around for no apparent reason. This is good to describe everyday life, but it goes on for too many pages. The characters were very interesting. I loved Matteo! The book had a wemic, which I love! Wemics RULE!

However, sub plots just seemed to be dropped, and information gotten for no reason. If I remember correctly, a main charachter just wanders into a Behir shop and picks up a book about the Jordaini lineage and starts reading. Am, why was it there? However, this is probably my favorite Cunninghams of all time, and is definetely a good read. I recomend this book.

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