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Realms of Valor edited by James Lowder

Posted by travizzt on November 4, 2009

What does it take to become a hero? These stories really do show true valor.


Realms of Valor edited by James Lowder was released in 1993 and it is now out of print today (2009). Comprised of 11 short stories by Douglas Niles, Ed Greenwood, Christie Golden, Elaine Cunningham, David Cook, Scott Ciencin, Mark Anthony, James Lowder, Jean Rabe, Troy Denning, and R.A. Salvatore. Some stories revolve around well-known Forgotten Realms characters; Drizzt Do’Urden, Arilyn Moonblade, Elminster, and Jander Sunstar to name a few.

Lord of Lowhill by Douglas Niles
This story follows two halflings, Pawldo and Stefanik, as they search for treasure in a dark, evil place. Pawldo is found in the Moonshae trilogy also written by Douglas Niles.
Negatives:
1) Cliché. The story just seemed like a cliché. Greed takes one adventurer to far and he realizes it to late. It just seemed cliché.
Positives:
1) Characters. I did like Pawldo and Stefanik. I’m not quite sure really. Like my theory on halflings says, halflings give people consciences. Dang halflings.
2) Fun read. It started out kind of boring and whatnot, but ended up being a pretty fun read.
Overall: 4/5
*If the story would have introduced something different, it could have really benefited.*

Elminster at the Magefair by Ed Greenwood
The story is about Elminster and Storm Silverhand going to a magefair to pick up a key. The key invites trouble from younger mages and an old friend.
Negatives:
1) Boring story. It’s not a bad story by any means, it just wasn’t all that exciting.
2)Confusing towards the end. There just was too much going on to really follow. Then of course, you have to sit and think about what happened and what was so important.
Positives:
1) The magefair. That was really the only interesting and fun thing in the story. The fireball toss contest was pretty funny and amusing.
2) Didn’t overburden you with names. I’ve been told that Ed Greenwood likes to use a lot of names. This story was an exception and it worked pretty well.
Overall: 3/5
*If things were a little slower at times and sped up at others, this could have been a better story.*

One Last Drink by Christie Golden
This story is about Jander Sunstar, a gold elf vampire. The story’s events are before Vampire of the Mists. It tells of how Jander escaped his vampire master.
Negatives:
None. Yeah, I have no complaints or annoyances with the story at all.
Positives:
1) Jander. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters and this story really shows why. I just can’t help but feel sorry for him.
2) The set-up of what happens. I really did like what happens and how everything fell into place. The way Jander handled himself and broke his enslavement was just great.
3) Details and Descriptions. I like how Christie Golden describes everything. You can feel the malice and fear of everyone. The ‘gory’ (for lack of a better word) details she uses are superb.
Overall: 5/5
*I like Jander. But regardless, the story telling was perfect*

The Bargain by Elaine Cunningham
Arilyn Moonblade and Danilo Thann and their attempt to warn the Pasha of Tethyr of an assassination. Along the way, they encounter an assassin, Hasheth, who is trying to kill Arilyn. Bargains are made and deals are struck. Arilyn and Danilo appears in a few of Elaine Cunningham’s books.
Negative:
1) “Brawl” scene. The scene was when Arilyn and a ‘thug’ were outside a bar fighting. The only problem seemed to be how it ended. It ends a little confusing with the clink of metal. Not a really big negative, but I had to reread that paragraph to understand about the ‘daggers’.
Positives:
1) Characters. Arilyn, Danilo, and even Hasheth were good characters. I like Arilyn because of her demeanor and temper at times. Danilo for his humor. Hasheth for his single-mindedness and naiveté.
2) Plot. I liked how everything fit together and how it ended up. I didn’t really expect that so and so was really the target. It ended in a way I thought was fitting.
3) Bonus funny positive… Two camels.
Overall: 5/5
*One of the best short stories I’ve read.*

Patronage by David Cook
Koja is a lama from the Red Mountain. Koja is a scribe that wrote down a history of a group of people called the Tuigan. Koja wants his book to be able to be read by many people, so he seeks out a printer, whom is to expensive. Koja then goes to the Duke of Procampur to ask for the money for the book to be printed. But it isn’t the duke that grants Koja his wish, rather someone more powerful.
Negatives:
1) First Person point of view. While I was glad for something new and different in a Forgotten Realm story, the viewpoint seemed to be lacking a lot of details.
2) Predictable. The story was one were you knew something was going to happen. I didn’t expect the person, but I just knew something like that was going to let Koja print his book.
Positives:
1) Different Style. Along with the viewpoint, I thought it was interesting that Koja wasn’t a hero. He didn’t fight any monsters or evil people, just stood for what he believed in. That made the story different and fresh.
2) Koja. He was interesting character because of what I mentioned above. He wasn’t high and mighty, he was a normal person wanting to better the world with knowledge.
Overall: 3/5
*Better details could have made this story better*

A Virtue By Reflection by Scott Ciencin
The story is a murder mystery. The ruler of the city Arabel, Myrmeen Lhal, tries to solve the murder of Penn Othmann, a merchant. Myrmeen encounters a race called cat lords, which holds the key to the mystery along with a girl.
Negatives:
1) Boring. I hate to say it, but this was a boring story. It never really interested me.
2) Cat lords. What are they? There really wasn’t a good explanation other than they are half cat/ half human, with the ability to shift into a cat. It just seemed like someone was looking at too many Japanese cartoons when they were writing this. But seriously, I didn’t really understand the race, and honestly didn’t know about the race at all. I liked it better that way.
Positives:
1) Good Mystery. I can’t give too much away but I thought the premise of the story was a good idea. The execution was poorly done. How it was all explained was well done in my opinion.
2) Zaehlas Alandovos Zacharious or Zaz. I did like the leader of the car lords though. He did have a cool demeanor and a self of humor that made him likable.
Overall: 2.5/5
*What held this back was how this story just dull and unexciting.*

King’s Tear by Mark Anthony
The story is about Tyveris, a former sell-sword turned monk, and his mission to recover a stolen item, called King’s Tear, from a necromancer named Kelshara. Along the way, Tyveris learns that not everything can end with a weapon.
Negatives:
1) Predictable. You knew what was going to happen. You knew what ‘weapon’ was going to stop Kelshara.
2) Underdeveloped Characters. The characters didn’t really seem to grow and weren’t very interesting. Kelshara is the best example. She started the story, yet she didn’t really seem like a true villain, even though it’s obvious she was. She didn’t really come off as truly evil.
Positives:
1) Fun read. It was a really quick exciting read. There wasn’t any real dull parts. It really seemed that every scene set up the following scene. It really kept me wanting to read.
2) Just desserts. The ending I thought was really good. Sure, a little cliché, but I really thought it was worth it. Not to mention, it was very well written.
Overall: 3.5/5
*The characters are what really brought this story down.*

The Family Business by James Lowder
The story is about a father-son highwayman duo. Artus Cimber is learning the tricks of the trade from his father, the Shadowhawk. During the ‘training,’ Prince Azoun inexplicably shows up with a trailing trio of groundlings, transformed dwarf Zhentatium assassins. Artus and Azoun team up and tries to wait out the attack. However, things don’t work out the way they should have and Artus had to make a tough decision.
Negatives:
1) The Shadowhawk. I was really annoyed by Artus’ father. His attitude really bothered me. But it’s not a major problem.
Positives:
1) The story. The story was really solid. I couldn’t find a big problem with the story at all.
2) Characters. Everyone was a well thought out and interesting. The interactions between each character, father-son and Artus and Azoun, were perfect.
Overall: 4.5/5
*Another really good story. Fun all around.*

Grandfather’s Toys by Jean Rabe
A child is missing! Her grandfather, Drollo, enlists the aid of a druid, Galvin, to help find her. Drollo’s tower however, is full of nooks and crannies where a little girl could hide. Filled with junk, the duo, along with the aid of a weasel named Elias, search the cluttered tower. However, the search goes farther than expected.
Negatives:
1) Rushed. The whole story was badly rushed. Everything was happening so fast that it was hard to really follow.
2) Boring. Another story that fell flat on its face. Even though it was a fast read, it just was a story I kept setting down.
3) Undeveloped characters. The characters seemed like a joke. Drollo was constantly worrying and was all around useless. Galvin was interesting, but wasn’t fully developed enough.
Positives:
1) Good idea. The story seemed like a good idea. Something pretty much different from the other stories. However it just wasn’t executed very well.
2) The ending. The happy ending was well done pretty good. Also, what Galvin gets as a reward was a great idea.
Overall: 2/5
*I’m being very nice about this grade.*

The Curse of Tegea by Troy Denning
A horrible curse has fallen upon the village of Tegea and the villagers only hopes lay with two clerics of Mystra. The clerics, Adon and Corene, have to show the people of the village what truly lies beneath the villages exterior. Adon is a main character in The Avatar series.
Negatives:
1) The beginning. It started out kind of rough, but it picked up after a few pages.
Positives:
1) The story. The plot, the action, and the descriptions were near perfect. The plot was well thought out and executed perfectly. The ending was, I thought, done the way it should have been. The action scenes were superbly done. The descriptions really made you picture the deformities.
2) Characters. The characters in the story were great. I like Adon and he put everything upon his shoulders. Corene was really only a minor character, but she really felt like she was more of a central character at times. That sounds bad, but it worked fine. The tavern keeper’s daughter, Sarafina, eluded a sense of pride even when faced with the hatred of the village. I liked how she stood for herself.
3) The villain. The way the duke of Tegea acted made you just want to hate him. That’s probably the first villain that I truly hated.
Overall: 4.9/5
*Near perfect short story. Just wish that the beginning could have been a little more clearer*

Dark Mirror by R. A. Salvatore
Drizzt Do’Urden helps a group of farmers track down some captives from a small farming village, Pengallen. Among the captives, Drizzt learns about ways that people view things and that not everything is evil from an unlikely source. Drizzt Do’Urden is one of the most recognizable characters in the Forgotten Realms and his story continues in The Legend of Drizzt saga.
Negatives:
None. It was a well written story that combined life issues and some philosophy into it.
Positives:
1) First Person. I did like the viewpoint. The execution was better in this story than with the previous story, Patronage. You actually get into the mind of one of the best known Forgotten Realms heroes.
2) Philosophical, psychological, and sociological. The whole talk between Drizzt and Nojheim carries many things in philosophy, psychology and sociology. The certain views people have towards things and other’s and how they stay the same and change was wonderfully done.
3) Drizzt. If you ever read any story featuring him, you would understand why he is a positive.
Overall: 5/5
*Wonderfully story with actually meaning you can take with you.*

Afterward by Jeff Grubb
Basically tells of the minds behind the Forgotten Realms. Enjoyable if you want to learn about the ‘secret’ history of the Realms.

OVERALL ANTHOLOGY: 4/5

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