Homeland

“I’ve thrown a fair amount of shade at Salvatore in my previous reviews — the Mary Sue characters, the stilted dialogue, the incredibly florid, dramatic prose style — and all of those flaws are still present here. But despite all that, I have to admit that this is a surprisingly good book.”

Viperhand

“So let me get this straight, old man — you did a Ph.D in Astrology just so you could tell us “the moon’s going to keep shining, and things will be different”? Jesus, I could have told you that!”

Dragonwall

“After all, the one thing D&D was really lacking was yet another goddamned word for polearms…”

Horselords

“I appreciate Cook’s nuanced portrayal of the Tuigan: they’re dirty, brutal, and barbaric, but also clever, well-organized, and surprisingly sophisticated in some respects. It’s a much more realistic and complex depiction of a culture than the Mazticans, who seemed to be strictly divided into cartoonishly evil nobles and virtuous noble savages.”

Ironhelm

“You know the plot already; you learned it in high school. They’re even wearing full conquistador outfits in the cover art, just to ensure you don’t miss the historical parallels and confuse this for a fantasy story.”

The Wyvern’s Spur

“It’s about one-third comedy of manners, one-third mystery novel, and one-third swashbuckling action, which adds up to a much greater focus on the characters and their society than any of the other Realms novels to date.”

The Halfling’s Gem

The Halfling’s Gem, unfortunately, is a textbook example of Orientalist literature: the noble northern (Western) characters visit exotic Calimshan (the Middle East), are disgusted by what they find, demonstrate their moral and physical superiority by kicking seven kinds of hell out of the depraved Calishites, then return to their home.”

Pool of Radiance

“An apprentice mage who’s accidentally transformed herself into a buff amazon, a retired thief mourning his dead lover, and a fervent young priest of Tyr walk into a bar… stop me if you’ve heard this one before.”

Waterdeep

“It’s not perfect — the pacing drags at points, Adon’s survival feels more preposterous than miraculous, and there are a few duds among the supporting cast — but it’s still a marked improvement over the previous couple of books.”

Tantras

“I’m intrigued by how Ciencin tries to take Shadowdale’s established “peaceful utopia” characterization and twist it into something darker and more cynical. It doesn’t actually work, but it could have if it had been handled more deftly.”