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Lady Ruin by Tim Waggoner

Posted by travizzt on December 10, 2010

Lirra Brochann finds herself attached to a thing of corruption. She has to fight to keep madness from taking over the world of Eberron and herself.

Lady Ruin by Tim Waggoner

Lady Ruin is a stand-alone novel set in the Eberron setting of Dungeons and Dragons. Tim Waggoner has written a trilogy that is also set in the Eberron universe titled Blade of the Flame (Thieves of Blood, Forge of the Mindslayers, and Sea of Death). He has written a vast amount of other novels. His work includes; a Hyperswarm novel titled Defender, the Godfire series (The Orchard of Dreams and Heart’s Wound), the Nekropolis series (Nekropolis, Dead Streets, and Dark War), Last of the Lycans series (Monarch of the Moon), Dying for It, The Harmony of Society, a Dark Ages: Vampire book called Gangrel, Necropolis, an Exalted novel titled A Shadow Over Heaven, Like Death, Darkness Wakes, Pandora Drive, Cross Country, two novels in the Dragonlance: New Adventures series (Temple of the Dragonslayer and Return of the Sorceress), a novel based on Nightmare on Elm Street called Protegé, and a Stargate SG-1 novel titled Valhalla. He has written a vast amount of short stories for various anthologies and magazines, and has two story-collections titled All Too Surreal and Broken Shadows. Lady Ruin was released in December 2010 and was published by Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Lirra Brochann and her family have served the nation of Karrnath during the Last War. When that war ended, her father and uncle were put in charge of a project to create a new kind of weapon by fusing an aberration called a symbiont to a warrior, with the hopes of creating a type of super soldier. However, aside from one case, the trials and experiments have all met with failure. The warlord who is funding the project decides to pull the plug after catching wind that news of their experiments have found other warlords ears. Desperate to continue the experiments, Lirra’s uncle, Elidyr, talks his brother into trying one last experiment. Lirra’s father, Vaddon agrees with the condition that Elidyr has one day to get the experiment under way. However, things don’t go as planned. After a portal to the Plane of Madness opens too wide, things go horribly wrong. A daelkyr lord almost enters into the world of Eberron, but is only able to corrupt Lirra’s uncle before the portal closes. After madness consumes her uncle, he escapes into the night with three symbionts attached to him. Before he can make his escape, a symbiont attached itself to Lirra as she runs after her uncle, but is unable to stop him from escaping. Now she has to fight a battle to remain in control of the symbiotic tentacle whip and use the whip’s power against her uncle. However, the whip has a strong will and Lirra could lose herself to the symbionts corrupting influence.

Criticisms:
1) Rhedyn. The only bad thing about Lady Ruin was Rhedyn. Rhedyn is in love with Lirra and was the first successful attempt at combining a symbiont to a human. The problem with Rhedyn is that he is poorly developed and could honestly have been removed from the story without causing any difference in the outcome. The only reason he was in the story was to give Lirra a love interest, but it never came across as such. This is due to Lirra and Rhedyn never really talking together for the majority of the novel.  In fact, there never seemed to be anything resembling love or lust between the two characters. It had to be told in the story, instead of shown. That could have been because Rhedyn was mostly in the background for almost the whole story, but I really expected something more to come of this. There is a part of the story where Rhedyn does become truly unbearable, and that’s towards the end. However, I can’t say much about it, else I would give away a few things. I will say that his motivation for doing what he does is pathetic and almost juvenile. It’s almost like he is acting like a child who can’t get want he wants so he goes to extreme measures to do it. It’s really pathetic and from that point on, I just didn’t care about him. However, because Rhedyn is almost nonexistent in Lady Ruin, it was very easy to overlook his parts and forget he even was apart of the story.

Praises:
1) Characters. Aside from Rhedyn, the rest of the characters were great. Some may have been slightly cliché, but they all were generally interesting characters. The cliché characters were Sinnoch, Osten, and Ksana. They weren’t bad characters, but they weren’t as strong as the rest of the cast. In Sinnoch’s case, it was obvious he was a villain. Being a dolgaunt, a creature from the Plane of Madness, it was written in stone that he was going to do something bad. He did have a good quality about him however. He was pretty mad and disturbing in some scenes so that did add some interest in him. With Osten, he just never really developed. He could have been an interesting character, but he doesn’t seem to really do much until the end. He’s loyalty to Lirra seemed to come from nowhere, but in the grand scheme of things it’s understandable. With Ksana, she’s just your normal cleric of the group who is more like a part of the Brochann family. That’s all she really is. She does have some good scenes with Vaddon, but aside from that, she just seemed to be there to give generic advice. These characters were still good characters, but they really didn’t add as much to the story as the other characters. The rest of the main cast was great. Ranja, a shifter who encounters Lirra, was a blast. She had this charisma that you couldn’t help but like. She was fun, funny, and interesting. Most of the scenes that she was in, she stole. She is one of those characters that you want to read more about. Vaddon was great as well. He really came across as concerned and worried about his daughter. This as made all the more impressive his reaction to what happens with her. The internal struggle he was facing after Lirra was ‘corrupted’ by the symbiont was almost tangible. Elidyr was just great. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked him, mostly because early on he kept sending mixed messages about his character and who he is. However, after being touched by the daelkyr lord, he becomes fun. His insanity and the way he acts just made me like him. To me, a great villain is someone who is fun while being menacing. You like the villain, but at the same time, you hate the character. Elidyr does this almost flawlessly. Finally, we come to the main character, Lirra. Lirra is good. She goes through an awful lot in the story and how she deals with the situations she’s in really do build up her character. Her ordeal with the symbiont does come across as frightening and I was impressed by how she was able to handle it. This whole ordeal really made her a strong character. Also, her interactions with her father did come across as something that a father and daughter would say to one another. All in all, the characters were great.
2) Story. The story was interesting, although a bit straightforward. There wasn’t any real side stories going on, but the main storyline was interesting and kept my attention for the duration of the novel. I never felt bored while reading. I also never felt like I had to force myself to continue reading. As for the straightforward nature, I didn’t mind it. In fact, I enjoyed it. The story never felt overblown and it never give off a sense of being too much. This give the story an urgent feel to it, and it came across as being important and dire. Also I liked how it ended. It set up a lot of things that could happen in a future sequel. The story left you wanting more. Hopefully there will be a continuation of the story in the future.
3) Humor. Lady Ruin was surprisingly funny, and the funny moments didn’t come off as awkward. There was just enough humor in the story to regain my interest at key points. Otherwise, without the humor, the story could have been a little dry and boring in some scenes. While some of the jokes were painfully bad, they were done so on purpose. For example, Shatterfist’s jokes were painful, but that was the point. Also, Ranja had some moments that were brilliantly funny. She had some great interactions with Osten and Lirra. They were genuinely funny moments that would come up if you were with friends, and it felt real. I didn’t expect her to be as funny as she was and her timing was almost spot on. The humor really did help with keeping my interest and it was breath of fresh air when the story became dry.

Side Notes:
1) Short. Lady Ruin was only two hundred and fifty pages long. It was short and there could have been more, but it still worked out well enough.
2) Lady Ruin. Sounds like a name for a superhero or supervillain doesn’t it?
3) Gates of Madness by James Wyatt. Lady Ruin also contains the final part of an event that will spread across the worlds of the Dungeons and Dragons novels. The first part is found in the paperback version of R. A. Salvatore’s The Ghost King, the second part is found in Bill Slavicsek’s The Mark of Nerath, the third part is found in Jeff Mariotte’s City Under the Sand, and the fourth part is found in Richard Lee Byers’ Whisper of Venom. This part is titled “Voidharrow”. It’s an interesting story but there is one major problem with it. I don’t recall anything that happened in the previous parts and there is hardly any recap. I didn’t know who was who and what was going on. I really do think that is should have been a novella instead of attaching it to various novels. However, the ending was really good and heart-breaking.
4) Cover Art. Lady Ruin‘s cover art is definitely eye catching. I do like the use of the blues and purples. It has a nice contrast with the other colors on the cover. It’s nice to see a cover look equally dark with bright, eye catching colors. However, Lirra looks terrible. The pose looks like something you would find out of a bad nineteen-nineties comic. Her right arm looks unfinished and looks to be at an awkward angle making it look broken. Her hips and legs look better, but the pose can’t be comfortable. However, her worst feature is her blurry, Frankenstein-esque face. It looks like someone cobbled together a bunch of peoples faces and sown them together. She is the an eye-sore of an otherwise good and eye-catching cover.

Overall: 5/5
Final Thoughts:
Lady Ruin was just great, simple book. The characters were wonderful with only one real hiccup. Rhedyn was very forgettable and I just couldn’t stand him pass a certain point. However, everyone else was just great. Each character added something unique and interesting to the story. Even the more cliché and weaker characters were good. The story was a real blast to read through. It wasn’t bogged down with subplots that would have taken away the urgency that the story had. The straightforward nature of the story really made it a quick read. The ending was very exciting and it left room for more. Hopefully there will be a sequel in the future. I was also very surprised by the humor that was in this story. It was actually funny and helped to keep me focused on the story. All in all, Lady Ruin is a fun and exciting book that is definitely worth picking up.

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