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Halls of Stormweather edited by Philip Athans

Posted by travizzt on October 26, 2009

The Uskevren family is an interesting, and powerful, one. Each has their own secrets and motives. Are they worth looking into?

This is the first book of the Sembia: Gateway to the Realms series. There are 8 short stories written by Ed Greenwood, Richard Lee Byers, Clayton Emery, Dave Gross, Paul S. Kemp, Lisa Smedman, and Voronica Whitney-Robinson. Each story involves a particular member of the Uskevren family and servants. I’ll give a few “plus’ and minus'” for each story and a basic and simple rundown of the plot.

The Patriarch – The Burning Chalice by Ed Greenwood: The story revolves around Thamalon Uskevren and how he came to be the patriarch of House Uskevren along with how he stays the patriarch.
*I was hard pressed to find something interesting and good about the story. The only major thing I was really impressed with was setting up the rivalries between the families.
* The sudden rush of various names. It wouldn’t be as bad if it was a long story but with having 15 people (I’m exaggerating a little) being introduced around the same time is just to many names. Not only that, but most of them you only see once and has a brief scene or a word or two said.
* The action was all blurred together. This is the hardest thing to explain. Basically, what happens is that a person starts to do something and the action is suddenly cut away from that action to another person without even completing the first action. It was just disjointed and confusing.
* The details and lack of details. It is a detailed story, however, most of the important details are left out. Instead you the descriptions don’t really pertain to the overall story.

The Matriarch – Song of Chaos by Richard Lee Byers: The story revolves around Shamur Uskevren and her daughter Thazienne as they go to an opera. The opera takes a bad turn. The story shows a lot on Shamur’s past.
*The flow of the story was well done. It was a pretty quick read, but enjoyable.
*I liked the use of flashbacks. I can’t really go much into detail without showing a lot of the plot, but I will say that even though they may have popped up in important scenes, it made sense in the end.
*Somewhat psychological aspects. I enjoy psychological stories. Granted it’s not a thriller, but has some psychological ideas behind the story.
*The story seemed to tell a lot about Thazienne. It’s not really a big negative, but the story’s focus should be on Shamur. Instead about 90% of the story is on Shamur and 10% on Thazienne.

The Heir – Night School by Clayton Emery: The story involves Thamalon Uskevren II (Tamlin) and the events that happen to him and his ‘bodyguards’ when trying to make a business meeting.
*The dialogue. Most of it was funny and enjoyable to read. Tamlin’s laziness and general stupidity in some matters were hilarious.
*The main characters. I enjoyed Tamlin, Escevar, and Vox. Tamlin was a funny little flop. Escevar seemed more real and grounded of the three. Vox was interesting even though he didn’t say anything.
*Slow to build up. The first few scenes were a little annoying in that they seemed to drag on.
*Cliché. The whole story had a clichéd feel. It just felt like it’s been done before.
*Convenient solution. Once you read the part, you’ll understand.

The Daughter – The Price by Voronica Whitney-Robinson: The story involves Thazienne Uskevren and her ‘adventures’ after a masquerade.
* Good flow. The story was another quick read. Very enjoyable and fun.
*Interesting character. Thazienne is the main focus here and she is really brought to life.
*Surprises at the end. Truthfully I was really surprised.
*The only thing I felt was bad with the story is that the other supporting characters weren’t developed enough. The one in particular was Steorf.

The Second Son – Thirty Days by Dave Gross: Involves the second Uskevren son, Talbot. Supernatural occurrences follow.
*Once again, Flow. Quick fun read.
*Developed Characters. I thought that Talbot was very well-developed and same with his pal Chaney.
*Interesting circumstances. What happens is obvious but after that it was a little different, in a good way.
*Once more, I was hard pressed to find any real bad negatives. The only one I’ve come across was the story was a little cliché.

The Butler – Resurrection by Paul S. Kemp: Details the shadowy life of the butler, Erevis Cale.
*Basically the story was pretty good. I just am going to be repeating the positives that I’ve already listed over again …
*There is one thing I didn’t like. It doesn’t pertain to this story but everyone else’s. It seemed like Cale and Thamalon I was a totally different characters when shown in the earlier stories. Maybe it was because Cale had to act the part, which I understand. Then Thamalon seemed more like a uncaring person in the other stories, where here, he seems likable. Not a big deal but just an observation.

The Maid – Skin Deep by Lisa Smedman. Details the story of how the maid, Larajin, finds out her past and how it affects her present.
*I liked the character of Larajin. Pretty much the same general reasons why I liked the other characters a liked. Felt real.
*For the last time, Flow.
*The only story to take two characters for them previous story and made it right. Talbot and Larajin’s friendship stayed the same as it was in Dave Gross’ story “
Thirty Days.” Also, events that happened in Voronica Whitney-Robinson’s “The Price” showed up here.
*Clichéd story. Been there done that feel.
*Not really suspenseful. It seemed like it was trying, but it didn’t work.

Overall, the stories were very good. The characters were well done and enjoy reading about most of them.

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