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The Ruin by Richard Lee Byers

Posted by travizzt on November 17, 2010

As dragons continue to rage, will the hunters be able to stop it in time? Does The Ruin have the answer to your rage or will you continue going insane?


The Ruin
by Richard Lee Byers- This is the final book in The Year of Rogue Dragons trilogy. The first book is titled The Rage and the second book is titled The Rite. The Ruin is set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting of Dungeons and Dragons. Richard Lee Byers has written a number of books, mostly focused on the horror genre; Deathward, Fright Line, The Vampire’s Apprentice, Dark Fortune, Dead Time, The Tale of Terrible Toys, and The Children of Gaia and Uktena: Werewolf, 5. His also contributed a number of stories to other series including; three Nightmare Club novels (Joyride, Warlock Games, and Party Til You Drop), four World of Darkness novels (Caravan of Shadows, Netherworld: Vampire, On a Darkling Plane, and Wraith: The Ebon Mask), a X-Men based  novel titled Soul Killer, and a Warhammer based novel titled The Enemy Within. His also written a trilogy for the Scarred Lands called Dead God trilogy (Forsaken, Forsworn, and Forbidden). He has written a number of Forgotten Realms novels as well; a novel and a short story in the Sembia: Gateway to the Realms series (the short story is found in the first book of the series, The Halls of Stormweather, and wrote the third book, The Shattered Mask), wrote the first novel in R. A. Salvatore’s War of the Spider Queen series called Dissolution, a novel in The Rogues series called The Black Bouquet, a book in The Priests series called Queen of the Depths, The Haunted Lands trilogy (Unclean, Undead, and Unholy) and he is working on finishing The Brotherhood of the Griffon trilogy (The Captive Flame, Whisper of Venom, and The Spectral Blaze). He has also contributed a vast amount of short stories to various anthologies. The Ruin was released in May 2006 and published by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

As the rage of dragons continues on, the hunters may have found the breakthrough that they need. The group, consisting of a priest of Lathander named Pavel, a halfling thief named Will, the arctic dwarf ranger named Raryn, the avariel (flying elf) bladesinger named Taegan, a faerie dragon named Jivex, a song dragon bard named Kara, and the leader, a half-golem named Dorn, set out toward the frozen north. Their travels lead them to a place called The Great Glacier, where the arctic dwarf Raryn’s home was before leaving and because of he’s knowledge of the region, he is able to navigate the wasteland with ease. After a chance encounter with his old clan of dwarves, the group relax. But treachery is afoot, and before they know it, the hunters are taken to the self-proclaimed Ice Queen of the Great Glacier. Seeing the value the hunters could process and wishing to out-think the lich Sammaster, she tries to coerce Pavel into telling her all they know about the lich’s plans. However, he proves to strong to break. During this, their vampiric smoke drake ally, Brimstone, sets off to find where his companions have disappeared to. After finding a group of white dragons led by a dracolich named Zethrindor, Brimstone learns that his allies may have been taken to the Ice Queen. The white dragons are tasked to serve the Ice Queen by Sammaster, were sent out to overtake the country of Sossal, something they don’t like and agree with Brimstone that the Ice Queen can be a threat to their wishes to become dracolichs. During this, the Ice Queen agrees to help the hunters search for a ruin that could hold the key to the rage. As the group find the site they believed to be linked to the rage, the white dragons strike. Has the group found the cure for the rage or is it too late to stop the destruction?

Criticisms:
1) Minor Characters. The biggest flaw that The Ruin has is the minor characters. They just weren’t interesting enough for me to care about them. They came across as poorly placed and almost useless at times. For example, the white dragons are off trying to conquer Sossal and we meet some of the defenders of the place. They aren’t memorable and while they do play a part in the story, they come across as through they should be something more. It was almost like they were meant to have a bigger role. Yet, things just happened to that are supposed to make you like them, but they happen so suddenly and vanish so quickly, that you just don’t care. It felt like some of the minor characters were supposed to be more, but were just rushed and forgotten. Also, even the bigger minor characters (the Ice Queen, for example) seem to be wasted. She does come across as a generally interesting character, yet what happens is that you really never get to delve any further than her surface. It could be that the story was deviating too far from the main plot, or something but it seemed like there should have just been more to these characters.
2) Impact. I still don’t see any real impact this story made to the world. The whole rage of dragons never really came across as something dire and deadly. In fact, the dragons themselves seem amazingly weak and not threatening. When a world-changing event happens, you kind of expect it to be world-changing. Instead, it felt like nothing changed, other than a few deaths. It felt like it didn’t matter to the world at large. The events really didn’t have the impact that was meant for it.
3) Dodging. This is something that really bothered me throughout the trilogy, the amount of dodging the characters did. I couldn’t count how many times Will runs under a dragon, poked it a few times with his sword, and rolled out-of-the-way when the dragon belly slams, or stomps down. It seems like this happened, every single time that Will attacked. With the others, they nimbly avoid bites, a tail whipping around, parry claws (which is amazing, seeing as dragons are huge and can crush a person easily), and stopping attacks. In fact, it only seemed like Kara was the only character to actually show terrible wounds. This really stopped my suspension of disbelief and cause me to question these characters abilities. They come across as god-like beings, with their dodging and blocking. It just doesn’t work when your fighting a huge dragon to come away almost unharmed and still alive.

Praises:
1) Action. The Ruin was a very exciting read, mostly due to it being full of action scenes and battles. The action itself is really well written and very easy to follow, aside from a few instances. Every chapter contained an exciting and fast paced battle, making the story a very quick read. However, the best part of The Ruin is at the end, when we get a gigantic battle that is filled with tension. This battle really put me on the edge of my seat, wondering what is going to happen and who will survive. Overall, the action is really well written and very exciting.
2) Dorn. Dorn does come across as a better character than in the previous two books. However, he still isn’t perfect. At least this time, his self-loathing and attitude is understandable, but it still did get on my nerves easily. Aside from one painfully stupid scene involving Kara and him at the end of the novel, he really works to his strengths here. His bitter attitude of his condition and how he considers himself a freak finally do come across as deep and sad. It could have been because of the event he goes through, but even so, it was well executed. Finally, we get a reason as to why Dorn is so full of self hate and he actually becomes a decent and likable character.

Side Notes:
1) Inconsistencies. This really bothered me, albeit it was just one little scene in the whole novel. However, Taegan and Jivex never met or seen Chatulio from The Rite. Yet, Jivex was able to capture a perfect image of him during a fight. How?
2) Dragons. Once again, there are way too many dragons! Is there an endless supply of these things hiding in someone’s closet or basement? Where do they keep coming from and why aren’t the detailed and described better?
3) Cover Art. The cover art for The Ruin is actually really good. The green dragon staring at the people in the tower as they cower in fear is eye catching and interesting. The background is forgettable and doesn’t really add much to the cover. However, that green dragon is just menacingly gorgeous and creepy looking.

Overall: 2/5
Final Thoughts:
The Ruin isn’t the way you want to end a trilogy. The plot does pick up from the previous book and a lot of loose ends were tied up in the end, but it doesn’t seem quite right. It was action packed with fighting and battles that made it a very quick read. The battles were well written and did keep me to edge of my seat, but it still felt like something was missing. At least Dorn’s character was actually decent this time! But still that sense of something missing was there. What’s the something? Well, the impact of the world-changing event wasn’t there. Not once did I feel like the world was in danger or even changed because of that. It didn’t even feel like it was all that important in the long run. It also didn’t help that minor characters only seemed to be there to move the story along when they were obviously meant for a bigger role. Finally, if this series was supposed to be as big and world-changing as it was supposed to be, why was it that there were so few major character deaths? It just didn’t have the impact that The Ruin was shooting for. Overall, would I recommend The Ruin? No, unless you’ve started this series and want to see how it ends.

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