I had the opportunity to talk with and interview Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms game setting, years ago, and all I can say is he is a very nice guy and a class act. His impact on the role-playing game world can’t be denied. Books, game supplements, adventures, and more have all been published in the setting since it launched in 1987 (or 1985, depending on who you ask…) as part of the official D&D canon.
Comics have been part of the line since the beginning, with Jeff Grubb, Rags Morales, and Dave Simons penning a series for DC comics that ran from 1989 through 1991. And although those books are classics—I highly encourage you to grab a collection of them if you can—today I wanted to talk about an omnibus of some of the Forgotten Realms stories published in recent years by IDW.
Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Omnibus contains three separate yet complete stories set in the Forgotten Realms world as created by Greenwood back in the day. The first story, Forgotten Realms, was written by Greenwood himself with art by Lee Ferguson. The story introduces the characters of Randral Daunter and Torn Telmantle, a pair of thieves drawn into adventure when they are cursed by a believer in Tempus, god of war, to return the kidnapped Lady Roaringhorn safely to her home and family. They fell upon the kidnapping plot by accident, and thought to make a few gold dragons by taking someone else’s part of the snatch and grab. Only everything goes to pot quickly, and they arrive to find dead or dying bodyguards and The Watch on the hunt for whoever has taken Lady Roaringhorn. If they can’t find her, the curse promises to make their lives miserable.
The art is very straightforward and well done. Nothing too over the top.
Forgotten Realms: Cutter was written by R.A. and Geno Salvatore with art by David Baldeon. The story tells the tale of two half-Drow siblings, Tierflin and Doum'weille, who are competing to become heir to their father’s sword, Khazid'hea the Cutter, a bloodthirsty and sentient weapon. Their father, Tos'un, has wielded the blade for a very long time, but his wounds slow him down, and the sword requires blood and battles. One of his children must become the new steward of the weapon.
The Drow are the dark elves, living in the Underdark, though Tos'un and his children are in the Moonwood. Both train to be the best, to claim their birthright. But what they don’t know, can’t understand, is that the real choice will go to the sword itself.
And it wants only blood.
Salvatore is a master at telling tales, and this one is a fine addition to his legacy of books and stories. I’ve no idea how much of him is in this story, and how much is his son, Geno. The plot flowed well and I never saw anything that led me to feel a different author’s voice, always a challenge when there’s a collaboration.
The art is much more detailed and stylistic than the first story in the omnibus, and I’m okay with that. I never tripped up on it, except where we get dialogue from the sword itself - Khazid'hea. Done in black and red, it’s very dark and difficult to read.
The Legend of Drizzt is also written by R.A. and Geno Salvatore with art by Agustin Padilla, and I’ve actually talked about it here on Kirkus once before. It tells the tale of Drizzt, the Dark Elf and his companion Dahlia. They’re on the trail of a pack of Goblins who have been causing trouble for the nearby city of Neverwinter, when they find all the Goblins dead, seemingly at the hands of a Vampire. Shifting their focus to this new prey, they track the creature into the wilds only to find that things are very different than they thought, and the Vampire just might be an old friend.
If you’re a fan of sword and sorcery, or Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, or other similar roleplaying games, this book will be a romp for you. You’ve got three well-written and drawn stories altogether in a single, 348-page volume for around $25, and they will pull you in and keep hold of you as you make your way from the city of Waterdeep to the Moonwood, then onto Neverwinter, and maybe a side trip into the Underdark.
Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and 2013 Hugo Award Winner for Best Fanzine (Editor - SF Signal), and 2014 Hugo Award Winner for Best Fancast. He lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast was nominated for a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Hugo Award. In addition to his Kirkus posts, he writes for atfmb.com, SF Signal and Functional Nerds.