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Forgotten Realms: Forsaken House by Richard Baker (Book Review)

It has been a good long while since I’ve read a Forgotten Realms novel. The last one was in December of last year, Elfshadow by Elaine Cunningham. It was a fairly good read, but I’ve definitely read better, from the works of Erin M. Evans and Paul S. Kemp and Richard Baker and all. It is definitely a setting that I love exploring and the more I read in it, the more excited I get about it. Forgotten Realms fully explores the multiverse side of things for a fantasy setting, and that is part of the charm, in addition to the utter abundance and wonder of its many different races and cultures and what not.

And in that respect, Richard Baker’s first novel in the Last Mythal Saga, Forsaken House, is really good. It presents many different facets of Elf life in the Forgotten Realms and it also presents a really fast-paced, excitable and intriguing premise paired with some really interesting characters. The only other novel of Richard’s I’ve read before this is his Condemnation, the third novel in the 6-part War of the Spider Queen multi-author extravaganza and that too was a damn fine read. It is great to see Richard’s best replicated here, and the Last Mythal Saga is definitely a tale that I want to read in full now.

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12 Days of Best SFF Characters of 2013: Day #10

For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my tenth pick is Erevis Cale, from Paul S. Kemp’s Erevis Cale series, which got a new installment this year in the form of the seventh book of the series, The Godborn. The novel also happens to be the second novel in Wizard of the Coast’s current mega-event for the Forgotten Realms, The Sundering. Erevis was practically my first Forgotten Realms character that I read about, and I’ve followed most of his journey so far, and its been incredible.

Hit the break to see why I picked this character.

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25 Series I Want To Read in 2014

Last year, I blogged over at The Founding Fields about 25 book series from various genres, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, space opera, etc that I wanted to read in 2013. The intention behind that particular reading challenge was to read a broad variety of some of the most popular names in those genres as well as to try out several new authors and revisit some favourite classics. While I wasn’t as successful in the challenge as I might like, I’ve made it a new year resolution to make sure that I do indeed repeat the challenge in 2014 with new books, new authors, and finish it this time.

To that effect, here are the 25 book series I’ve picked for this reading challenge for this year. You can see the previous list for 2013 here.

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Best of 2013 Part 2a: Books

Since 2013 is now over, its time to do my second “Best of the Best” list, for the second half of the year from July-December. There were some really good reads in this period, and as always, picking the best has been a chore. I always try to keep these lists as diverse as I can and hopefully you agree.

You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then! Read the rest of this entry

12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #12

The twelfth and final pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013″ list is the cover for author Erin M. Evans’ latest Forgotten Realms novel from Wizards of the Coast, The Adversary. This novel is the third in her Brimstone Angels series that features a pair of twin Tiefling teenage sisters, one a spellcaster and the other a warrior, and is also the third novel to be set in The Sundering, the current big event of the Forgotten Realms setting. I started reading Brimstone Angels last year and all the three novels in the series have been quite good. They’ve maintained my interest in the Forgotten Realms setting and have provided a great counterpoint to all the other novels I’ve read in the setting.

The twelfth and final comic cover that I pick is Matteo Scalera and Dean White’s brilliant cover for Black Science #2 from Image Comics. Written by Rick Remender and drawn by Scalera, this series debuted last month and has been one of my best monthly reads for both November and now December. A (weird) pulp SF adventure that also involves dimensional travel and alternate history, the series has some great characters and some truly fantastic art. It is, for sure, one of the best new comic series of 2013.

Without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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Godborn by Paul S. Kemp (Book Review)

This is the year that Wizards of the Coast goes really big. They are in the midst of launching the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons and to tie-in with that they are releasing a series of linked novels that tell of how all the changes to the D&D settings, such as the Forgotten Realms, end up happening. Each book is written by Wizards’ top talent and links to existing series. Bob Salvatore’s The Companions is the first tale of The Sundering and it is also the latest novel in Dark Elf Drizzt Do’Urden’s epic saga that has lasted for a great number of novels.

Paul S. Kemp’s latest, The Godborn, is the second book in The Sundering and it is also the latest in his Erevis Cale series that has lasted for seven novels thus far and doesn’t look like its going to stop anytime soon. I read the novel last month and it proved to be just as damn good a read as the previous two trilogies. There were a lot of plot threads left open at the end of the Twilight War trilogy, even as Paul provided a very satisfying, but emotional, conclusion. With the new novel, he addresses many of them and creates yet more mysteries, maintaining a healthy balance between the two.

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Epic Fantasy: A Personal Definition

Over at her blog, Helen Lowe has had an interesting discussion taking place of late on the topic of what makes epic fantasy what it is. Its been quite an informative discussion to say the least (more). The descriptions and definitions that people attach to this seemingly simple 2-word phrase have provided a lot of new perspectives, many of which I have never considered before.

And that made me think about how I define “epic fantasy”. What are the components of it? What are the essentials? Like with any other discussion about the definition of genre categories, there are no easy answers here either and that has a lot to do with personal biases and preferences. I’ve seen a lot of books come out in the last few years that have been hailed as epic fantasy but that I wouldn’t necessarily classify as such, since for me there are some basic requirements for a book to be hailed with that genre label.

Which is what this post is about.

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Are Classics Re-readable?

As part of my “Top 25 Series To Read In 2013″ reading challenge, I’ve read a fair amount of books this year that can be considered to be classics of science fiction and fantasy, in all their different forms. There is a certain charm to all these novels that has persisted long after they were first published. Whether we talk about Frank Herbert’s space operatic political intrigue epic Dune or Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s true-to-style epic fantasy Dragons of Autumn Twilight, I’ve had a lot of fun with these novels.

And that is my question: are they re-readable? I’ve read Dune and Dragons of Autumn Twilight several times since when I first read them in 2001. I think they are rereadable, but I’m not completely sure. Is the question answerable in part with regard to whether the book is good or not? We shall see.

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Twilight War by Paul S. Kemp (Book Review)

Just about a year and a half ago, I read my first ever books from Wizards of the Coast: Paul S. Kemp’s excellent The Erevis Cale Trilogy (review). Set in WotC’s highly popular Forgotten Realms setting, these books took me for a great ride through a setting incredibly rich with characters and diversity. It was a… bold new world for me to explore, as someone who had never read any Forgotten Realms novels before, and who was heavily invested in Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy setting. Paul’s books proved to be a great turning point and they inspired me to read more from WotC, and I soon followed up his novels with various others, such as the War of the Spider Queen series and Erin M. Evans’ Brimstone Angels series.

This year, I haven’t read nearly the same number of Forgotten Realms novels sadly, but I’ve started to change that around. I read R. A. Salvatore’s The Companions (review) just last month and a couple weeks ago I finished up Paul’s second Erevis Cale trilogy, Twilight War, constituting the novels Shadowbred, Shadowstorm and Shadowrealm. This trilogy proved to be even better than the first, and I’m really glad that I read it. Now I’m finally caught up with this series, right in preparation for reading Paul’s next Forgotten Realms novel, The Godborn, which is the seventh novel in this series and is the second novel that ties in to the current Forgotten Realms event, The Sundering.

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The Cover Art Mega-Post

I haven’t done something like this before, but I was thinking of doing this for a while. Thing is, there are so, so many books coming out later this year or just about to be released actually, that I really, really want to read, and doing individual posts for all of them on The Founding Fields would be a bit of chore. So I’m just doing a general bumper post collecting all these covers and details on the books.

Hope you enjoy!

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NANP: The Importance Of Reasoning In Naming

As June winds down, my latest guest for Names: A New Perspective is Bruce Cordell, who has been a mainstay in Dungeons & Dragons fiction and game design circles for a number of years, and has been quite prolific as well. I’ve not been able to get around to his Forgotten Realms books as yet, and considering how much praise I’ve heard of his work from a Forgotten Realms geek friend of mine, the loss is mine. I will be reading Sword of the Gods soon however, and the sequel Spinner of Lies soon after that, as part of a planned read of several Wizards of the Coast novels in the second half of the year. In the meantime, here’s Bruce talking about names.

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Names: A New Perspective Part 3

The last two weeks have been spent in a mad scramble to get people on board for the next phase of Names: A New Perspective. I really should have gotten this done a month ago, but I kept getting sidetracked by other things (Game of Thrones, finishing edits on Project Dharmayoddha, reading a ton of graphic novels, catching up on my monthly reading, etc), that it just didn’t happen on time.

But, I have the new schedule done and all worked out, and my thanks to everyone who has agreed to participate. The last few guest posts that have gone up have not been mentioned in any of the schedules, since I was mostly just winging it all, but now everything is set for the most part. This is the schedule that I will be referring to in the coming weeks, and I will also be expanding on this one as I contact yet more authors and bring them on board.

Here they are:

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