Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eyes Wide Shut Vs. Night Of The Blood Beast

* = FINALLY, a canidate I can get behind...

I finally finished R.A. Salvatore’s Cleric Quintet (***** out of 5).
I know a lot of the smarter, more ‘high brow’ readers out there will scoff at me giving Mr. Salvatore’s work 5 Stars, and I can’t blame them. By and large I find most D&D, heck most fantasy novels in general, novels to be sort of pseudo-80's 'pulpy' fantasy fiction. They never reach the heights of the actual Pulp Masters; Lieber, Tolkien, Vance, C.A. Smith, C.L. Moore, or Howard. They usually are style over substance and never aspire to be much more than a rollicking tale of adventure. I found though that the five books telling the tales of Cadderly Bonaduce are something different. It’s more about a young man coming to terms with his Gawd’s plan for him. It’s about faith, mercy, love, and sacrifice. In my opinion it’s as close to Tolkien in feeling as a lot of these books get. Let me clarify before someone sets the Internet(s) on fire to burn me in effigy. It’s not as well written or as all encompassing as Tolkien, few things are, however the sense of purpose and expanse of it being a part of a larger tapestry are there. During the story you get the idea that the Forgotten Realms is a GIGANTIC place and that while Cadderly is important he isn’t that important. This gives the books a feeling of dread. However it’s interestingly enough not one inspired by his enemies, but rather by his first lack of faith and by the end his faith itself. And the ending, WHEW, the ending is just perfect. It’s bitter sweet without being cliché. The books aren’t without their issues. The over reaching conflict is a tad played out, I found the Bouldershoulder Brothers while played for a tad bit of comic relief to be slightly irritating at times, and Salvatore does what he always does and spends a great deal of time and effort giving us ‘battle porn’. Which means it’s a LOT of fight description. The thing is there are two saving graces here besides the lead character. The main supporting character of Danica Maupoissant, Cadderly’s friend, lover, and all around bad-ass Monk, and the internal conflict Cadderly feels about fights, battle, and war overall. This is definitely explored in great detail in the second book, where he and his allies assist the Shilmista Forest Elves, who are at war. That is the book that solidified my interest and connection with the character. He is overwhelmed by the size of the world outside his ‘home’, he’s jealous of another seeking Danica’s affection, he’s appalled by what he has to do and say, and in the end he makes a decision that I can honestly say I’ve never seen a ‘Hero’ make before. While these themes carry forward and are resolved, for me, it never quiet hits the high point emotionally again. That being said, it gets damn close quiet often. It’s just a great set of books, and I really hope that at least one of you out there gives them a shot, if for nothing else than the incredible ending. Great stuff.

I really did just go on and on didn’t I? Oh well, I really adored this collection. How ‘bout some…


- I finished TWO Monster Decks for the D&D Adventure System this weekend;
o http://www.artscow.com/gallery/playing-cards/ghost-set-w95hbl3udvsi
o http://www.artscow.com/gallery/playing-cards/the-known-world-v9nrajn1mq54
In addition, I’ve started to knock out Ally Card versions of the Pathfinder Iconic miniatures. My next step is to figure out what to do with the characters from the IDW D&D Comics. On a side note, the idea that we might not get another D&D Adventure System Game this year pisses me off, especially considering I’m not sold on the new Skirmish game, Dungeon Command. If that game is simply repaints and maps, rather than the ‘puzzle piece’ tiles and some new sculpts, I might just be giving all my cash to Paizo/Wizkids.
- Speaking of the new Dynamic Duo, here’s more Rise Of The Runelords to gaze at;

I’ve read Rise Of The Runelords and I for one dig the Sinspawn. I like the idea of corrupted Human servitors. I know in my games they will be worshipers of Torog, maybe shock troops for Wrackspawn. I like the emaciated look, that horrific split jaw thingy, and the backwards legs it just evokes a look of ‘wrongness’.

I like the Bugbear Hero quiet a bit. It’s a little unfortunate that it isn’t more similar to the ‘classicBugbear, but it has a nice vibe with its stoop and hood.

The Harpy is mediocre at best. It looks small, the fingers, or claws, don’t look that great, and it’s really flat sculpt wise.
The Barghast, which has a different name, looks ok, but a bit cartoony. I know that it is supposed to evoke that vibe due to the story elements, but thus far it’s simply made me iffy on my opinions about it. Don’t get me wrong I want one, one can never have to many Barghasts after all, but I’m not blown away.

I have to point out that the ‘Treachery Demon’ aka the Glabrezu is FANTASIC! It’s a huge sculpt, the color is perfect, and it is light years better than the old DDM model. This is one of those minis that I’ll be after right away on the secondary market. To me it is, thus far, this set’s Ettin.

Last, but not least, is the Young Red Dragon. I have to say the picture isn’t doing this mini any favor. There is no sense of scale, the color on the stomach is to light, and its pose is sort of passive. All that being stated, it’s still a big ole Red Dragon! What’s not to love? Now I personally have more than enough Dragons, well that’s not true, I should say I have enough Dragons for now. However if I was to get my grubby paws on this one I have to say I would NOT be disappointed. Overall I like the way this second wave is shaping up and I look forward to seeing what our next preview brings.

- Grillin’ today!
- While reading a lot of the info from the DDXP ’12 I’m intrigued by 5E. I think I’m more intrigued now after reading about the experiences people had playing within the confines of the new system. It really seems as if the design team has a tight focus on what they want to get done; creating a modular system that allows for all Edition play styles to be viable. It also sounds like it was good fun. In the mean time it’s given me some interesting ideas on how to run my current game(s) more efficiently.
- We’re in ‘The Cloud’ this Saturday for some ‘Family Time’.
- It’s going to be a low key Super Bowl for us, I think we’re just going to chill out, snack, and hopefully watch Tom Brady win another Lombardi Trophy.
- The first episode of the third season of Justified was just outstanding.

I think I’m done.

“Hand of fate is moving and the finger points to you
He knocks you to your feet and so what are you gonna do
Your tongue has frozen now you've got something to say
The piper at the gates of dawn is calling you his way

You watch the world exploding every single night
Dancing in the sun a newborn in the light
Say goodbye to gravity and say goodbye to death
Hello to eternity and live for every breath

Your time will come, your time will come
Your time will come, your time will come

The ferryman wants his money you ain't going to give it back
He can push his own boat as you set up off the track
Nothing you can contemplate will ever be the same
Every second is a new spark, sets the universe aflame

You watch the world exploding every single night
Dancing in the sun a newborn in the light
Brothers and their fathers joining hands and make a chain
The shadow of the Wicker Man is rising up again

Your time will come, your time will come
Your time will come, your time will come

Your time will come, your time will come
Your time will come, your time will come
Your time will come, your time will come
Your time will come, your time will come”

* = That's for you Dave...


  1. I read those books several years ago and have purchased and gifted them to many people over the years since. Outside of the Dragonlance Chronicles I don't think there is a better set of books set in the DnD worlds. That being said I too found the Dwarves overly unnecessary at times outside of their comic roles, but I understand what Salvatore was trying to do by using the "you can do anything you want if you want it enough" sort of thing. And part of why I dig these is because it is one of the first sets of fantasy where I actually felt like I was reading about someone that had real emotional struggles and not just trying to figure out "why don't they like me?" as Salvatore is usually quick to fall in to.

  2. I agree on the Dwarves wholeheartedly. The whole thing with the 'Druid' Pikel was interesting if not a tad tedious from a comedy aspect.
    Oh I completely agree Duke. If you compare Cadderly with Drizzt as characters there is NO comparison. Cadderly comes off as a real person, with flaws, insecurities, aspirations, loves, and more than anything questions about life and his place in it. I find Drizzt far more shallow compared to that.
    It really is just a solid, enjoyable reading experience that made me sad when it was over. Good to hear from man!