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Book Review: Azure Bonds

Posted by Sam Kressin in D&D

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Azure_BondsAzure Bonds, the first book in the Finder’s Stone Trilogy, is a Forgotten Realms novel published in 1988 (the 2nd year the Forgotten Realms Books were introduced) by Jeff Grubb and Kate Novak. I give this book four out of five stars. I thought it was great! The book captures the essence of a really good Dungeons and Dragons Campaign it even starts in a Tavern. It’s loaded with mystery and action. My only reason for holding off the fifth star is because the final ending of the story is a little bit weird and drags on longer than it needs other wise the entire book is a really fun read.

Here’s a quick spoiler free summary. Alias is a female sword for hire. She wakes up with a weird magical tattoo and a mute lizard man sidekick. She has no memory or recollection of where they came from. She then sets out a on a quest to discover the origin of the strange markings on her arm. This leads us through an awesome adventure where she teams up with a Halfling Bard and a Mage she has to battle dragons and take on all kinds of other challenges. I highly recommend this book.

Book Review; Darkwalker on Moonshae

Posted by Sam Kressin in D&D, Opinion

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Darkwalker_on_MoonshaeDarkwalker on Moonshae (Forgotten Realms-Moonshae Trilogy, Book 1) by Douglas Niles is the inaugural book in the Forgotten Realms Series of novels published in 1987. This first book gets an automatic two stars for it’s awesome name and book cover alone. The book also contains a lot of cool things like More Hounds (large dogs used for hunting), Wolves, a Sword with Special Abilities, Unicorns, Blood Riders, Invisible Fairy Dragons, Northmen and several wars and battles all of which earn this book an additional star. Beyond that while it does have a few page turning moments the overall story is just ok and moves a bit slow for me from time to time.  

Here’s a quick run down. The Moonshae isles are an archipelago located about 400 miles southwest off the Sword Coast of the Forgotten Realms. In this book an evil shape shifting beast of demonic origin called Kazgaroth takes on a human form to gain command of the Northmen a group of war loving roid raging men who want more than anything to raid and kill the Ffolk  an agricultural monarchical society of pussies that live in the southern Moonshae islands. Thanks to Kazgaroth’s completely psychotic influence the Northmen wage war upon the Ffolk not just to fight it’s armies but kill all it’s people. Massive war breaks out between the Ffolk and the Northmen. Tristan an expert dog trainer who loves hunting and has a crush on his sister who although was raised by his father does not share a blood relationship to him has been judged by his dad as unworthy to rule the kingdom. Therefore throughout this adventure Tristan fights to prove his worth to his father and win the romantic affection of his sister while discovering some of his own talents and abilities.

I give this book an overall rating of three stars two for an awesome title and cover and one for having all the cool things I listed show up in it. Beyond that it was just ok.

The Forgotten Realms

Posted by Sam Kressin in D&D, Personal Journal

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DarkwellWhen I first discovered Dungeons and Dragons the Forgotten Realms published by TSR was in full swing. What intillitally drew me into D&D was the art work. To this day the illustrations, covers, paintings and drawings found inside the pages of many D&D manuals, books, supplemental materials and more are still some of my favorite. A major campaign found on the shelves of every gaming shop and many comic book stores was The Forgotten Realms.

Forgotten Realms is a complex fantasy world and literally an entire world with a complete history geographical maps and more. When I discovered this thing I had acquired the Advanced Dungeon’s and Dragons 2nd Edition Dungeon Masters Guide and the Players Handbook.  I had some major problems with it both these books. First interior pages of the book aesthetically did not hold up to the cover. I wanted to study this game despised the disappointing interior design of the books. However the game described within its pages was very complex and beyond the abilities of my young brain at that time. I still ran a number of campaigns but more or less made up the rules as I went.

Today I prefer a less restricted D&D campaign. One in which the DM and players can wing it as they go. I find myself getting really board when every character move has to undergo an ability check or some other type of dice roll. To this day I’d say I probably enjoy reading the campaigns and studying the worlds of D&D more than actual game play.

Back to my early encounters with The Forgotten Realms. Both the Dungeon Masters Guide and Players Hand Book priced in at $20 back in 1989 that would mean working and saving a lot of money as well as passing on a lot of comic books. The Forgotten Realms campaign books and supplemental materials weren’t much cheaper.  As awesome as The Forgotten Realms looked and as badly as I wanted to read those books I ultimately passed.

A few months after forgoing “The Realms” I was scouring though a used book store where I came across The Forgotten Realms Novels. Written by various authors TSR began publishing The Forgotten Realms Novels in 1987. These Novels existed to enrich the history and the stories of The Forgotten Realms (and to cash in on the popularity of the campaign)  but the number one thing these novels had, Bad Ass Covers and Bad Ass Titles! I’m talking about titles like “Black Wizards,” “Darkwell,” “Iron Helm,” “Curse Of The Shadowmage” and more. This is the kind of stuff I wanted to learn about! Now just take a look at some of the cover art;

Crystal_shard_cover Elfsong Shadows_Of_Doom Spellfire


















There was one major problem with these books. They were all novels 300+ pages each with small type and no pictures! I was a slow reader and couldn’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time reading something without getting bored. As gnarly as these books looked as much as they appealed to me I would have to pass.

Today as an adult I have the capacity to understand and comprehend a lot more than I did as a child and with audio books abundantly available I have decided it is time to journey through The Forgotten Realms. Therefore I have decided I will begin reading / listening to every single forgotten realms book in chronological order of publication. Beginning with the first one. Upon finishing each book I will write a short review and give  my opinions of it. My objective is to get through the entire library within two years time!