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BileDemon
Acolyte

14 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2023 :  19:14:45  Show Profile Send BileDemon a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
So - as I have recently read through the Songs & Swords series I want to give my review of it.

I have to say, maybe it was a "mistake" to read Starlight and Shadows before - because IMHO this is a better series than Song & Swords. This however felt like a rollercoaster in quality. Not saying it is bad, but you clearly see that the author has developed better qualities over the years.

Letīs begin:

1. Elfshadow
Overall I liked the book. It is a good read and Iīm aware that itīs Elaine Cunninghamīs first.
While I would have liked that Arilyn Moonblade would have been overall a bit more fleshed out in general the book had me captivated enough to enjoy it.
Still, TBH designing characters is - no offense - not really a strength of Elaine Cunningham. I overall had the feeling that something is missing to make me really feel sympathethic with Arilyn, I mean, we are dropped into the story when she is already mature, skipping her childhood and youth entirely, when she is already an accomplished fighter - IMHO Liriel is a far more interesting character. Anyway, I would recommend it.

2. Elfsong
Well, it was overall ok, but somehow failed to captivate me. Maybe because I expected more of Arilyn but then it was a single Danilo story. While Danilo has some qualities as character I fail a bit to see him as a really interesting protagonist. The theme was interesting and the characters like Morgalla likeable, but the end was a bit disappointing. Donīt know if it was intended that the antagonist might survive for later books. Maybe Iīm a bit allergic to uncertain endings as watcher of horror movies(like the Jason/Freddy/Michael Myers who always comes back) but would have wished it a bit better.
Ok to read, but not the best.

3. Silver Shadows
This is by far the best book in the series! The struggle of the Wood Elves to defend their homeland with the help of Arilyn really captivated me. Also the character struggle of Arilyn was good to read and finally she got more fleshed out. A really good book I can recommend without hesitation.

4. Thornhold
While itīs overall a good read it really feels as not belonging to the series or more like a spinoff. After Iīve read it I saw that it was indeed originally planned as standalone novel. It would have sufficed as that, too.
Still, like said, itīs a good book. I liked the new characters like Bronwyn and Ebenezer. And the part where they invaded the keep through unpleasant tunnels made me laugh out loud!
OTOH I have to say, Bronwyn overall felt a bit like a carbon copy of Arilyn, save for her struggle with the mixed heritage. Still, we have some kind of noble ancestry, but she makes a living as a rogue, then she also has a kind of identity crisis...
At least the evil characters like Dag Zorath are also interesting.
Would recommend the book despite some weaknesses.

5. Dream Spheres
Well, sorry...but that was a letdown. It began interesting and I really was interested to see how all the character stories will merge, but then it became too much of a hodgepodge. Was it really necessary to introduce this totally uninteresting storyline of a unknown sister of Danilo and the unsympathethic Isabeau Thione? A character that really felt unnecessary. Also the whole idea with the dream spheres seemed nonsense. The solution to this whole mess felt constructed(who would have thought some guy is not really dead but faked that?) and overally my impression was that the author felt for whatever reason that all of the series characters should join in a big final battle. Might work, but here unfortunately it didnīt.
Until we come to the finale, we have to go through this whole mess with half-hearted intrigues, accusations of friends, long-winded fight with reptilian monsters and whatsoever, and nobody really knows who is behind all that.
Iīm aware that wasnīt meant to be the end of the series but I wish there would have been a better end.

Thatīs my conclusion for that.
(Please be aware that english is not my native language, so if some phrases sound odd or wrong, thatīs the reason.)

Edited by - BileDemon on 18 Jul 2023 19:26:46

Shardnax
Acolyte

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 19 Jul 2023 :  20:31:46  Show Profile Send Shardnax a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I haven't read Thornhold or Dream Sphere but I feel differently on what I have.

I appreciated the lack of time wasting on detailing Arilyn's past in Elfshadow. I nearly skipped chapters in Saga of the Old City because of that. I likely would've dropped Elfshadow. I liked that Elfsong focused on Danilo. I trudged through Silver Shadows after that and didn't think Arilyn did well as a solo protagonist.

Does Danilo have much presence in 4/5? I've been stalling on reading the rest because I didn't care for SS, but also because I know the series remains unfinished (likely forever).

Edited by - Shardnax on 19 Jul 2023 20:33:08
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Seravin
Master of Realmslore

Canada
1267 Posts

Posted - 20 Jul 2023 :  22:56:43  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I know Elaine frequents here and sometimes responds about her books (hi Elaine if you're watching!)

Danilo and Arilyn are both the main characters of Dream Spheres, Shardnax. I think you'll like it although for some reason it just doesn't captivate me to reread like Elfsong which is Danilo's main book.

I also agree with Shardnax that I found Silver Shadows harder to get through than the first 2 books, and I can't say why other than maybe I liked Danilo better than I thought? Elfsong is fantastic and I re-read it all the time. Not a single criticism really - although I would have liked Storm Silverhand to make an appearance given she's the premiere Harper Bard and her sister lives in Waterdeep.

I love a lot about Elfshadow, and think Arilyn and Danilo are well developed in it as characters; also the lore and backstory is top notch whether it's Harpers, Evermeet royalty, Waterdeep, or Evereska. I just did not like a few points about the ending which seemed contrived (eg that Arilyn couldn't kill Kymil or somehow she would be guilty even though there are things like detect lie and speak with dead and Khelben knowing the truth etc etc etc).

I did not like Thornhold, I think because it wasn't Arilyn and Danilo - I also wasn't crazy about the corrupted paladin not being detected by anyone in his holy temple at all despite his dealings with Cyric etc. Just seemed also very contrived. Not my fave book.

Dreamspheres was good. I didn't love it as much as the Elfsong but I think it's my 2nd fave in the series. Elaine is just a fantastic character and world builder to me. Only Novak/Grubb come closer than Elaine to capturing Ed's vision of the Forgotten Realms in my book (pun intended).
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BileDemon
Acolyte

14 Posts

Posted - 21 Jul 2023 :  12:09:35  Show Profile Send BileDemon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Without Danilo doesnīt go much! Of course he is frequently in books 4 and 5. Only in book 3 there isnīt much Danilo. I have to say the frequent visits to his uncle Khelben are sometimes a bit annoying, but yes, necessary part.

I wouldnīt have minded a bit more backstory of Arilyn. I liked that about Liriel, I could get more into her character as her series followed her from training over the rest of her journey. While Arilyn is just there, has already done a lot of tasks for the Harpers and the reader is thrown in into the middle of it.
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Shardnax
Acolyte

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 22 Jul 2023 :  19:56:05  Show Profile Send Shardnax a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't mind being tossed into a story for a new character; it was fitting with Elfshadow being a 'Harpers' title.

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

I know Elaine frequents here and sometimes responds about her books (hi Elaine if you're watching!)

Danilo and Arilyn are both the main characters of Dream Spheres, Shardnax. I think you'll like it although for some reason it just doesn't captivate me to reread like Elfsong which is Danilo's main book.

I also agree with Shardnax that I found Silver Shadows harder to get through than the first 2 books, and I can't say why other than maybe I liked Danilo better than I thought? Elfsong is fantastic and I re-read it all the time. Not a single criticism really - although I would have liked Storm Silverhand to make an appearance given she's the premiere Harper Bard and her sister lives in Waterdeep.

I love a lot about Elfshadow, and think Arilyn and Danilo are well developed in it as characters; also the lore and backstory is top notch whether it's Harpers, Evermeet royalty, Waterdeep, or Evereska. I just did not like a few points about the ending which seemed contrived (eg that Arilyn couldn't kill Kymil or somehow she would be guilty even though there are things like detect lie and speak with dead and Khelben knowing the truth etc etc etc).

I did not like Thornhold, I think because it wasn't Arilyn and Danilo - I also wasn't crazy about the corrupted paladin not being detected by anyone in his holy temple at all despite his dealings with Cyric etc. Just seemed also very contrived. Not my fave book.

Dreamspheres was good. I didn't love it as much as the Elfsong but I think it's my 2nd fave in the series. Elaine is just a fantastic character and world builder to me. Only Novak/Grubb come closer than Elaine to capturing Ed's vision of the Forgotten Realms in my book (pun intended).


It seems like Thornhold is a Harpers novel and has a loose connection to S&S. Sounds like I'll enjoy DS well enough. I think I'll start on them next.

Edited by - Shardnax on 22 Jul 2023 19:56:48
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Shardnax
Acolyte

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 11 Aug 2023 :  01:57:14  Show Profile Send Shardnax a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I read through Thornhold. The depiction of paladins seemed off, similar to Double Diamond Triangle. I'm at a loss for how they wouldn't have noticed something when near to Sir Gareth since he was involved in a lot of evil dealings and had an object on his person.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
36782 Posts

Posted - 11 Aug 2023 :  02:10:16  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Shardnax

I read through Thornhold. The depiction of paladins seemed off, similar to Double Diamond Triangle. I'm at a loss for how they wouldn't have noticed something when near to Sir Gareth since he was involved in a lot of evil dealings and had an object on his person.



Simple: a paladin's evil radar isn't a continuous effect, they have to deliberately use it -- and why would they use it on a trusted member of their order, one who had proved himself repeatedly in the past?

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Shardnax
Acolyte

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 11 Aug 2023 :  14:01:16  Show Profile Send Shardnax a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by Shardnax

I read through Thornhold. The depiction of paladins seemed off, similar to Double Diamond Triangle. I'm at a loss for how they wouldn't have noticed something when near to Sir Gareth since he was involved in a lot of evil dealings and had an object on his person.



Simple: a paladin's evil radar isn't a continuous effect, they have to deliberately use it -- and why would they use it on a trusted member of their order, one who had proved himself repeatedly in the past?


I assumed that much on specifically detecting evil or lies. Algorind feels pain from being in proximity to Dag. Gareth has a personal item from Dag. How did an entire room of them not feel anything?

Edited by - Shardnax on 11 Aug 2023 14:02:25
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
6651 Posts

Posted - 12 Aug 2023 :  03:48:49  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Shardnax

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by Shardnax

I read through Thornhold. The depiction of paladins seemed off, similar to Double Diamond Triangle. I'm at a loss for how they wouldn't have noticed something when near to Sir Gareth since he was involved in a lot of evil dealings and had an object on his person.



Simple: a paladin's evil radar isn't a continuous effect, they have to deliberately use it -- and why would they use it on a trusted member of their order, one who had proved himself repeatedly in the past?


I assumed that much on specifically detecting evil or lies. Algorind feels pain from being in proximity to Dag. Gareth has a personal item from Dag. How did an entire room of them not feel anything?



If you want a "rules" answer, it's because he had the "Veil of Cyric" feat from the 3E City of Splendors: Waterdeep sourcebook, pgs.49 and 146.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Seravin
Master of Realmslore

Canada
1267 Posts

Posted - 14 Aug 2023 :  23:16:57  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote

In other series paladins sense evil without turning on their power (Holly in Finder's Bane). And it's so convenient that "Veil of Cyric" is so much more powerful than a paladin's natural ability in a temple to a good god and that good deity doesn't find a way to tip off their own paladins that something is amiss in their own temple. The deity would know about a fallen paladin, no? It's contrivance to move the plot. I hate when evil deities get directly involved in plots and characters but good deities just let whatever atrocity happen by the bad deities because reasons.
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Seravin
Master of Realmslore

Canada
1267 Posts

Posted - 14 Aug 2023 :  23:25:23  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
And even the contrivance I could live with if a scene was written to explain why all the paladins are oblivious to someone evil and fallen living among them in their holy place. Instead the reader has to come up with one or have George tell us on a forum. Maybe a scene was written that got cut in editing. I'm still smarting from why Holly didn't know Bear was evil in Finder's Bane; or why Detect Lie spells weren't used in many novels for trials/tribunals. Magical worlds with speak with dead, resurrect spells, detect lie, detect evil, etc are hard to write logical plots for using our real world framing devices.
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Shardnax
Acolyte

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 19 Aug 2023 :  01:30:29  Show Profile Send Shardnax a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I got the impression that something was in the works for Tyr. Maybe WotC changed the plans, perhaps I'm way off.
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Shardnax
Acolyte

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2023 :  17:38:18  Show Profile Send Shardnax a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Finished Dream Spheres, I feel ambivalent about it. Throwaway characters created and tossed and plot threads abruptly resolved. Too many starts and stops before the climax. The conclusion and setup for future content is alright. Elaith potentially on the path to redemption is the best part of the book.

Edited by - Shardnax on 24 Sep 2023 17:42:05
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Seravin
Master of Realmslore

Canada
1267 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2023 :  21:12:02  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes the next book was to be about Elaith's child/redemption I believe? Reclamation was the name if memory serves. The cover art was very nice! But the book never saw the light of day because the world is an awful place. Elaine once posted an excerpt from it here; it was great!
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Shardnax
Acolyte

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 26 Sep 2023 :  21:34:38  Show Profile Send Shardnax a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A shame it went unreleased.
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Gord
Acolyte

Canada
14 Posts

Posted - 02 Dec 2023 :  01:07:00  Show Profile Send Gord a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I never did get around to reading the later novels in the series, but Danilo Thann is my favorite pulp fantasy character.
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Seravin
Master of Realmslore

Canada
1267 Posts

Posted - 02 Dec 2023 :  09:23:33  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
He's pretty great, I'll agree. I do like Arilyn and all but to me Elfsong >>>> Silver Shadows.
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Gord
Acolyte

Canada
14 Posts

Posted - 02 Dec 2023 :  14:11:46  Show Profile Send Gord a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would love to see this series come to life on the big screen. With the new D&D film taking place in the Realms, there may be a chance it happens.
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Delnyn
Senior Scribe

USA
891 Posts

Posted - 03 Dec 2023 :  12:26:13  Show Profile Send Delnyn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Gord

I would love to see this series come to life on the big screen. With the new D&D film taking place in the Realms, there may be a chance it happens.



Preferably an independent producer who knows and respects the Realms. At the very least, consult with Elaine.
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Firestorm
Senior Scribe

Canada
826 Posts

Posted - 22 Mar 2024 :  23:31:52  Show Profile Send Firestorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Does anyone know why the 3 sample chapters from the serpent's daughter were deleted here?

Long ago, i saved them to my PC>
I keep getting asked to post them on social media but do not want to if Elaine does not want them posted.
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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
6354 Posts

Posted - 23 Mar 2024 :  09:02:51  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I believe Elaine intended to do something with them more recently but in the end it didn't progress.

If you don't mind sharing with me, I would love to get a copy of it for my archive of all realmslore ever written.

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Firestorm
Senior Scribe

Canada
826 Posts

Posted - 23 Mar 2024 :  13:13:16  Show Profile Send Firestorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, it was here and is now deleted, so I have posed the question in hopes of getting an idea of if she is ok with it being out there or not. If it would bother her or get her in trouble, I do not want to post it.
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Seravin
Master of Realmslore

Canada
1267 Posts

Posted - 24 Mar 2024 :  01:43:04  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think she took it down when Wizards started allowing content creators to put things on their DM Guild site, I know some of Ed's fiction went on there with some modules.
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
6651 Posts

Posted - 24 Mar 2024 :  03:14:34  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, I understood there was talk of some creators publishing fiction where there was some "crunch" attached (i.e. magic item and spell write ups). I think the DMs Guild finally decided not to allow such submissions and so Elaine's ability to publish that work in that fashion was stymied.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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