R. A. Salvatore


Wyrd and Wonder is a month-long celebration of all things fantasy hosted by Lisa, Imyril, and Jorie. The list of daily prompts can be found here.

One of the main reasons of why I love fantasy are the wonderful unreal locations, the more different from my life, the better. I do also read books set in generic Medieval settings or modern urban cities but I always prefer more exotic locations. Oh, and except for Cogman’s series, all of them are complete.

Amber by Roger Zelazny
First seen in “Nine Princes in Amber”. In this universe, there a just two contrasting real worlds: Amber and Chaos. All other worlds are just reflections of them. So, the people of Amber, more specifically the royal family, can walk anywhere in those other worlds, called the Shadows. The Shadows can be, and are, anything: one world is our modern world, the next a Star Wars type science fiction world. Quite a few are far less developed agrarian worlds. And the characters travel to many of these in just one book. First book: “Nine Princes in Amber”

Discworld by Terry Pratchett
Being a whole world (on the back of a turtle) Discworld, too, has many locations. Perhaps my favorite is the city of Ankh-Morpork which is suspiciously similar to London.
It’s a walled city with the river Ankh running through it. And Pratchett says it so much better:
“A city like Ankh-Morpork was only two meals away from chaos at the best of times.”
“It wasn’t that the city was lawless. It had plenty of laws. It just didn’t offer many opportunities not to break them.”
“Throat took a deep breath of the thick city air. Real air. You would have to go a long way to find air that was realer than Ankh-Morpork air. You could tell just by breathing it that other people had been doing the same thing for thousands of years “
Most Discworld books are stand-alones and they can be read in any order. I love the city watch books (first one: “Guards! Guards!”) and the witches books (first one: “Equal Rites”).

Menzoberranzan by R. A. Salvatore
The vast underground city of the drow, or the dark elves, is led by the Matriarchs of the most powerful families who are also high priestesses of the spider goddess Lolth. They are an evil and cruel race whose city is full of schemers and terrible places.
Not all Drizzt books are set in Menzoberranzan but the Dark Elf trilogy is. It follows Drizzt’s childhood and struggle to escape the city: “Homeland”, “Exile”, and “Sojourn”.

Divine Cities series by Robert Jackson Bennett
In Bennett’s series, divine beings literally lived on the Continent. They influence pretty much everything in the lives of their people. They also enslaved the city without a god to defend it, Saypur. However, 75 years go the people of Saypur rebelled and found a way to killed the divinities. They conquered what was left of the Continent after the divinities died. Now, strange this are happening on the continent again. The series focuses on two cities Bulikov in the first and third book and Voortyashtan in the second book. These are cities where natural laws didn’t apply when their patron gods were alive and when they left, things changed dramatically.
The trilogy is “City of Stairs”, “City of Blades”, and “City of Miracles”.

Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman
Somewhat reminiscent of Amber, this universe has many, many alternate worlds. They have different levels of technology and they’re also on different scales in the chaos/order spectrum. In chaotic worlds, magic is possible and might even be more prominent than science. Chaos is personified by the Fae and order by dragons. They’re powerful and hostile to each other and the Librarians try to stay neutral between them. The Librarians can travel from world to world using their Library which seems to exist in the middle of the worlds.
The first book is “Invisible Library”.

Temeraire series by Naomi Novik
In this world, dragons are huge and used for aerial combat instead of any sorts of airplanes. The Napoleonic wars are still going strong with lots of dragons on both sides. In England, the Dragon Corps are scorned not just by the other military branches but especially by civilians. Most people thing that dragons are just animals to be used, even though they can talk and are clearly intelligent. The dragon characters are great! Also, different cultures view dragons very differently. For example, in China dragons are hugely respected and they’re part of society, unlike in England.
The first book is “His Majesty’s Dragon” (or “Temeraire” in UK).

Seattle in the Clockwork Century series by Cherie Priest
In this world, Seattle is a walled off-city where only the most desperate people live. The city has been tainted by gas which kills people and animates their bodies. The world around it has also changed, but I really enjoyed the claustrophobic Seattle when our heroine Briar Wilks must descent there, to look for her teenaged son. And added bonus is that Briar is a middle-aged heroine, who are still quite rare in fantasy.
The first book is “Boneshaker”.

Chief inspector Chen series by Liz Williams
While this series is set in the future, it has plenty of fantasy elements. Chen is a police officer in Singapore Three and he gets all the cases which have any supernatural elements. Soon enough, he gets a new partner Zhu Irsh, who is a demon from Chinese Hell. The case takes Chen to Hell. Even though most people don’t seem to really believe it, human souls (or at least the souls which lived and died in the Chinese culture because there are hints that European afterlife is somewhat different) go the Heaven or Hell according to how well the surviving members of the family have dealt with the Celestial and the Hellish bureaucracy. If the right permits are signed and offerings made, a soul should go to Heaven. However, it’s also possible to get special visas for a living human to visit Hell. Chen has one so that he can investigate cases.
The first book is “Snake Agent”.

Of course I must end this piece with one of the most weirdly wonderful fantasy worlds ever:
Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Full whimsy and delight, with a dash of more darker tones, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is deservedly a classic.

Oh dear, reminiscing about all this wonderful series, I now want to reread all of them. And I have such a huge stack of TBR books waiting.

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I’ve been a fan of Drizzt ever since I read the Dark Elf trilogy and I’ve read Salvatore’s series faithfully for years. Alas, I’ve come to the conclusion that he doesn’t really write anything new and I’ve also come to loath some of the main characters such as Wulfgar and even Bruenor for being such stereotypes. On the other hand, I’ve rather liked Drizzt, been fascinated by drow culture, and I’ve like Jarlaxle a lot even though he’s character and his band doesn’t really make sense in the supposedly matriarchal drow culture. I rather enjoyed The Servant of the Shard and was looking forward to its continuation. Alas… 

This is continuation of The Servant of the Shard published in 2000. It’s the second in the Sellswords series. If you’re familiar with the main characters, you should probably read the Servant of the Shard first so that you know how they ended up together here. However, if you don’t know them you might as well start with this book. Although, Servant of the Shard is better.

The black elf Jarlaxle used to be the leader of the drow mercenary band Bregan D’aerthe but he has now taken a leave of absence for his own reasons. Artemis Entreri is one of Forgotten Realms’ best assassins and Drizzt Do’Urden’s nemesis. In this book they are working for a couple of dragons who are also sisters. The dragons hire the duo to find magic items which the legendary Witch King has left behind. Apparently he had power over dragons. 

The duo travels to north to the city of Vaasa where they fight and cheat their way to the top of the local mercenaries. Meanwhile one the Witch King’s powerful grimoires finds its way to a village of half-orcs, near Vaasa. A wizard reads the grimoire and it starts to drain her life force which it uses to grow a Castle around itself. This attracts local nobles’ attention and they send a group to investigate. In addition to Jarlaxle and Entreri, the mercenary group includes a wizard, a cleric, dwarfs, and a female commander. At the same time, the local guild of assassins wants to get rid of the duo.

The plot is very typical for Salvatore with schemes, traitors, and detailed fights. Unfortunately, the characters are quite stereotypical: a dwarf who lusts for battle, a human-like (in other words, pretty) half-orc wizardess, and a stupid, ugly, but loyal half-orc fighter. Entreri and Jarlaxle talk a little about the essence of friendship and the meaning of feelings, but not nearly as much as Drizzt. Readers who are bored with Drizzt’s philosophical musings might like this book more. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t give anything new.