Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Sword Play


The first installment of author Clayton Emery’s Netheril trilogy opens with a blurb where a glob has the maiden Ruellana in its grasp, with Sunbright the barbarian chasing her through a portal despite the elf Greenwillow’s warnings. The actual events of the story open with Sunbright eluding his enemies, orcs, in the Barren Mountains, whilst noblewoman Lady Polaris talks to the magicians Candlemas and Sysquemalyn about a rusty taint of a wheat harvest, the pair of sorcerers further making a bet as to whether Sunbright will survive. The barbarian battles a remorhaz, an ice worm, while the gambling wizards watch through a palantir.

Delegates of the Beneficent Traders’ Guild of Dalekeva see Candlemas, the merchants wishing to seek an audience with the enigmatic One King and demanding word of his submission to Netheril, the wizard wanting them to take Sunbright along. When Sunbright meets the One King, he is incarcerated, although the maiden Ruellana promises him escape. The barbarian is tasked with seizing a mysterious tome from the dragon Wrathburn, and, after convincing the wyrm to turn against the One King, attempts to barter for the release of the elf Greenwillow. The mentioned magicians continue their bet throughout the novel, with twists and turns along the way.

Overall, this was an enjoyable Forgotten Realms book, full of plentiful action, with occasional good twists such as true identities of certain characters revealed, although it follows many tropes of other fantasy stories and features nods to franchises such as Lord of the Rings, the encounter by Sunbright with the dragon somewhat imitating that of Bilbo with Smaug in The Hobbit, although it has enough elements to stand on its own, especially with some of the unique names such as that of the sorceress Sysquemalyn. Those seeking a fantasy yarn that doesn’t take much chances will likely enjoy this story, and I in particular will definitely read its sequels.

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