on June 4, 2004
Definitely a great fantasy epic and one of my personal favorites, The Avatar Trilogy- Shadowdale, Tantras, and Waterdeep, is about the Time of Troubles when the Gods walked the Earth (in this case Toril). The books are so incredibly well written that the reader feels that they have been transported to another plane of existence and are actually present among the characters, seeing what they see, feeling what they feel, sensing what they sense. The authors have truly outdone themselves and have presented us with a masterpiece of literature the likes of which we have seen only in JRR Tolkien's work, RA Salvatore's The Dark Elf and Icewind Dale trilogies, and in authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends trilogies. Love, honor, bravery, magic, and heroes are all about. In conclusion, it's what Fantasy reading SHOULD be. A GREAT trilogy indeed and a "must read" along with James Lowder's Prince of Lies and Troy Denning's Crucible: The Trial of Cyric! DON'T MISS IT!!!
on May 20, 2004
This story is very interesting. I think it has some of the best charecters i've ever read. Its cool that they put the gods into the story. Without the gods the story would be pretty boring. The main person in this story is Midnight a female mage who is Mystras chosen. She doesn't really do much in this story. They should of made Adon the main charecter because not many storys have a cool cleric in them.
on February 23, 2004
This books is a major improvement over Shadowdale. I got into this book alot faster than it took me to get into Shadowdale. I think most people who had gripes with the previous novel in the series would agree. The author has definatly improved since then.
My only gripe in this novel is how Cyrics attitude change is so sudden. It should have been a gradual thing but it it not.
Heres some info on the book
**Spoilers if you have not read SHADOWDALE!**
At the end of Shadowdale Mystra was destroyed. Lord Banes Avatar was blow into a bloody pulp, and Elminster was sucked into a rift and killed.
Now Midnight and Adon are on trial for the Murder of Shadowdales sage. Kelemvor who we have found is cursed to turn into a Panther if he tries to do anything that is not in his own best interest cannot do anything. Cyric has changed drastically, he thinks himself better than all in the group.
Bane takes a new avatar and with the help of Myrkul continues his quest to regain the Tablets of Fate.
The Time of Troubles continues!
on May 5, 2003
This is a classic Forgotten Realms trilogy, and reading it is pretty necessary if you want to make sense of a lot of the goings-on in the Realms. This is especially the case if you care a whit about the FR pantheon, since a lot of the material comes from these books. I have to admit, this was really the only reason I picked them up, and I went ahead and got all three at once.
After reading Shadowdale, I seriously regretted it. Frankly, I couldn't (and still can't) believe that book is the start of a classic anything- let alone a FR trilogy. Compared to any of Salvatore, Denning, or Cunningham's novels, it is utterly pathetic. The characters are flat, and the book reads like a transcript from some Dungeon Master's game (and not a very good DM, at that). Despite the fact that I already had the other two, I was somewhat reluctant to continue.
Fans of the Realms, take heart. This book is good enough that I've forgotten most of the unpleasantries of Shadowdale. I'm pleased to say that Tantras is a huge improvement over its predecessor. It is supposedly written by the same author, Scott Ciencin (a.k.a. Richard Awlinson) and if this really is the same author's work, then he has seriously improved. It's true that the characters are still a bit undeveloped, but at least they don't act like cranky, somewhat deranged children anymore. I'm still not quite sure why Adon is even present, but he does at least do something useful in this book. Additionally, some of the perplexing, seemingly random events that took place in Shadowdale are given at least a partial explanation. For example, the haunted woods that appeared out of nowhere to waylay our heroes was just nature gone bad. Oh.
The villains here are largely what they were before, plus one that you can probably figure out if you've read the FR Campaign Setting. More or less, Midnight, Kelemvor, Adon, and a few extras in red shirts (who die just as quickly as you would expect) are done mucking around and fighting the good fight for people that would rather just hang them. Now they're getting down to business- namely, securing the Tablets of Fate and stopping all the madness. The heroes journey to exotic new places, meet exciting new people, and of course kill them. It's not a very deep or thought-provoking plot, but it is engrossing and fun. In the meantime, ham-fisted but heavily-armed Bane and his ugly sidekick Myrkul are up to their usual no-good, and you can expect to see great deals of violence and slaughter that would seem to indicate that the God of the Dead is the only one winning this whole show... but that's to be decided.
For those that suffered through Shadowdale and thought it to be drivel, it would be a shame to not read Tantras. This is your reward for putting up with the heroes in the first book, and it does satisfy. While still not up to par with some of the other 'non-classic' Forgotten Realms novels, this one is at least enjoyable enough to recommend.
on April 17, 2003
Tantras continues the adventures of Midnight, Kelemvor, Cyric, and Adon started in Shadowdale. I feel that the quality of this book is slightly better than the first in the series. The action is swift and the plot doesn't really drag at any point in the book. Cyric is actually my favorite character, even though he is turning toward the evil side. The other characters are too inconsistent. Kelemvor is supposed to have a curse that prevents him from helping anyone without the promise of payment, a trait that leads the supposed hero of the series to being decidedly unheroic. Midnight, who is supposed to be carrying the remaining power of Mystra the Goddess of Magic, really gets on my nerves. You just want to shout 'Are you really that stupid?!' at her at some points. Adon is really a non-character for most of this book as he does nothing but get abused by Cyric. It seems to me that when you want to write heroic fantasy, you need a hero. I'm having trouble finding one here. Elminster, one of the great characters in the Forgotten Realms, is even drug in to try to liven things up. Anyway this book isn't actually too bad if you can handle this cast of characters. I actually am looking forward to reading Waterdeep, the final book in the trilogy. Good for fans of Feist or Brooks (but not of their quality). Recommended to any fans of the Forgotten Realms RPG or other novels in the series.
on February 1, 2002
This is necessary reading if you are a fan of the Forgotten Realms simply because this is the actual explanation of what happens to cause the Time of Troubles. The execution of that explanation, though, isn't all that great. It actually seems that there is TOO much time spent on "developing" the characters...even after we already know them pretty intimately. The plot seemed to drag (it was fairly fast paced, but in numerous bursts), and it felt like there were parts that were stuffed in there to make the thing take longer. Also, I found the characters frustrating...let's just say that you should only let a guy stab you in the back once, twice in a book, before you see it coming. Read it if you are a fan of the Forgotten Realms, otherwise don't bother.
on January 30, 2002
OK. So here we have the second installment in a series in which I didn't have much faith in after finishing the first book SHADOWDALE (Refer to my review for it.) The first thing I found annoying was the whole trial ordeal. With very little development, and alot of circumstancial evidence, the Authors (remember, Richard Awlinson is a pseudonym for various Authors) hope to make us believe that the heroes of the story, after putting their lives on the line to save Shadowdale, are accused of killing the sage Eliminster (I think I spelled it right) because A: Eliminster was nowhere to be found, only his hat and bits of his robe were around, and B: the ranger Silver... something, was very angry. Honest. Thas how it is presented. It is believable that the townspeople might see things like the way they were presented, but to have us (the reader) believe that the Lord of the town would also accuse them without giving them the benefit of the doubt, makes for poor characterization, and a King (Or whatever he was) that is not even memorable. Well, in this book, I feel as if the characters start to show signs of a more developed personality (whether by design of the authors or just the fact that I know the characters from the first book.) the authors also make some headway into not only telling us more about what drives the characters, but also start being more descriptive about the surroundings and events the heroes are faced with. I recognize that this was probably the first attempt to write a novel by both authors (Or whomever else colaborated.) Again, I felt as though the characters were lacking in personality, that the authors did not spend time developing the scenery where events took place, or the personalities of the characters, which I think is crucial to any story. What a character is feeling, thinking, and what drives him, are essential (in my humble opinion) to making people care enough about a story to read it. When they showed it, it seemed forced, sorta because they probably were told it was missing. They were probably more worried about the action in the story (Which is a mistake, the action doesn't make the story, it just spices it up) In the end, it was a little more improved, but still lacking in most respects. The end battle between Torm and Bane was sorta cookie-cutter/Clash of the Titans style. I hope the third fares better.
Read the Elven Nations Trilogy, its very good stuff.
on January 9, 2001
This is an excellent book completely filled with action, adventure, romance and riddles along the way. It is the best book in the series in my opinion and the author did a great job of even more character developement. The characters from Shadowdale become even more heroic as the book goes on, and its one of the great books that you won't want to put down. So do yourself a favor after you've read Shadowdale and definately pick it up, its well worth it.
The reason it got four stars is because at parts i did actually feel bored, although it was a bored in which i didn't want to put the book down because of awaiting what would happen next; i knew something would.
on October 4, 2000
After voraciously reading Shadowdale, I quickly picked up Tantras in hopes of learning whether or not Midnight and the heroes can find the Tablets of Fate and if Elminster was really still alive. Tantras was a pretty good read, and if I've read correctly, does a great job of bridging the gap between Shadowdale and Waterdeep, the third book in the series. On its own, Tantras offered less in the way of character development than in continuous battles. But I had a great time watching Cyric widen the gap between himself and the heroes and Kelemvor becoming closer to Midnight and Adon. Overall, good book, but I am really looking forward to following Tantras up with Waterdeep.
on September 27, 2000
The Gods of the Forgotten Realms still wander among the mortals, since the Tablets of Fate have not been returned to the Gods' overlord, Lord Ao. The assault by Bane's Zhentish forces on Shadowdale has been repulsed, but Elminster has gone missing during the battle and is presumed destroyed. The Dalesman put Midnight and Adon on trial for Elminster's murder. But Cyric kills several guards and succeeds in freeing Midnight and Adon, and together the three flee down the River Ashaba and away from Shadowdale. Kelemvor and a force of Dalesmen are sent in pursuit. The chase leads to the occupied city of Scardale, then across the water to the city of Tantras, which will witness a titanic struggle between Bane and Torm, God of Duty and Honor. Along the way, loyalties shift and alliances fracture. By the end of "Tantras," the characters of Midnight, Adon, Kelemvor, and Cyric will be remarkably different than they were at the end of "Shadowdale."
Another reviewer said that this book doesn't work well as a bridge between the lst ("Shadowdale") and 3rd ("Waterdeep") books of the series. I disagree.
This book does not stand on equal footing with the other two books. That being said, "Tantras" is just as good as the others. "Well, wait a minute," you're saying. "Didn't you just say it wasn't as good?" No, that's not what I said. I said it doesn't stand on equal footing. That's because it's a different kind of book. The only reason this book was written, in my opinion, was to set the stage for "Waterdeep" by exploring the different characters and their different motivations in depth. The best part of the book is the journey down the river, because it allows the reader to get insider Cyric's, Midnight's, and Kelemvor's heads and understand what makes them tick. Since Adon is still catatonic for that part of the journey, his motivations don't get the same in-depth treatment.
If you've read "Shadowdale," buy this book. If you haven't, read "Shadowdale" first, because the changes that take place in the main characters will be more profound with the background of "Shadowdale."