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Queen of the Depths by Richard Lee Byers

Posted by travizzt on August 13, 2015

Queen of the DepthsDesperate to regain followers for Umberlee, Tu’ala’keth is determined to find a way to stop the dragon’s rage from laying waste to the Sea of Fallen Stars.

Queen of the DepthsQueen of the Depths by Richard Lee Byers

Queen of the Depths is the fourth book in The Priests series of stand-alone novels set in the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons and Dragons. The other three books in this series are; Lady of Poison by Bruce R. Cordell, Mistress of Night by Dave Gross and Don Bassingthwaite, and Maiden of Pain by Kameron M. Franklin. Richard Lee Byers has an extensive bibliography of novels, collections, and short stories in varying genres and shared worlds. His other works in the Forgotten Realms include; The Shattered Mask part of the Sembia: Gateway to the Realms series, Dissolution in the R. A. Salvatore’s War of the Spider Queen series, a stand-alone novel in The Rogues series titled The Black Bouquet, The Year of the Rogue Dragons trilogy (The RageThe Rite, and The Ruin), The Haunted Lands trilogy (Unclean, Undead, and Unholy), The Brotherhood of the Griffin series (The Captive Flame, Whisper of Venom, The Spectral Blaze, The Masked Witches, and Prophet of the Dead), and a part of The Sundering series titled The Reaver. Queen of the Depths was released September 2005 and is published by Wizards of the Coast.

Anton Marivaldi figures that he is doomed to die. With nothing around but sea, he has little less to do but float and wait for death to take him. But a curious shalarin, a humanoid aquatic creature, takes pity on his poor soul, or so he thinks. The shalarin, Tu’ala’keth, takes him underwater to the city of Myth Nantar and tells Anton that Umberlee, the goddess of the sea, chose him help Tu’ala’keth bring followers back to Umberlee’s altars. In order to do this, Tu’ala’keth tells Anton that the dragons of the sea are raging and her idea to regain Umberlee’s faithful is to find a way to put an end to it. Luckily for her, Anton was already tasked in uncovering a cult trying to help the dragons turn into dracoliches before they would rage out of control. In order to find out where this cult is located, Anton and Tu’ala’keth travel around the Sea of Fallen Stars joining pirates and discovering information in the shady city of Immurk’s Hold.

Criticisms:
1) Characters. The characters, for the most part, were a real letdown. They weren’t bad but were more underwhelming and felt stale. Anton wasn’t a horrible main character but he didn’t really stand out. He really comes off as a generic lead. By the end of the book, it feels like there wasn’t any development with him. The more interesting and unique character was Tu’ala’keth, but only for her single-minded drive and devotion to her goddess. However, she also suffered from lack of character progression. She stayed the cold, fanatical priestess she started as, until the end of the novel when she does something so out of character that it stuns you into a stupor. As for the other characters, they are completely forgettable.
2) Plot. The biggest issue with Queen of the Depths is its pacing. The story itself isn’t all that bad, just generic. The pacing is what really kills the enjoyment. Queen of the Depths feels like it takes forever to get going and when it does the story jumps from something interesting to something more run of the mill and generic. Honestly, it feels like it doesn’t take the necessary time to develop a lot of the scenarios and plot points, while rushing to find an ending. Aside from when Anton and Tu’ala’keth were masquerading as pirates, the rest of the story feels unfocused and rushed through. Needless to say the pirate plot was the best part of the story.

Praises:
1) Action. The fight scenes and action sequences were probably Queen of the Depths strongest parts. The sword fights and larger scale fight scenes were fun to read, easy to follow, and exciting. It kept you interested and engaged in what was going on. Even the magical and divine spells being slung back and forth weren’t bogged down in typical fantasy prose. Between the sword fighting and magical fights, there wasn’t anything to complain about.
2) Romance. Thankfully there is no tacked on romance in Queen of the Depths. Anton and Tu’ala’keth remain ‘friends’ throughout the novel and stay that way. Too often are fantasy novels forced into having a love interest for the main character, or being remotely interested in another character. Queen of the Depths doesn’t go with the usual tropes and makes Anton and Tu’ala’keth’s relationship strictly platonic. Aside from the two using others in a romantic way to gain what they needed, of course.

Side Notes:
1) Year of the Rogue Dragons. Queen of the Depths ties into Richard Lee Byers trilogy Year of the Rogue Dragons with the rage of dragons going on throughout the novel.
2) Creatures. There were a lot of interesting species that you meet in the novel from the depths of the ocean, kind of makes you want to learn more about them.
3) Cover Art. The cover art is pretty, yet feels like it could have been more. Maybe remove the column borders and actually let the artwork show. The art itself is nice to look at and really gives it a watery feel.

Overall: 2/5
Final Thoughts:
While Queen of the Depths has some interesting aspects to it, it’s sadly just another generic fantasy novel. The plot has some really bad pacing, skipping through the interesting parts while not really taking the time to develop the other main parts of the story. The characters were your run-of-the-mill fantasy heroes and heroines, and whenever they would start gaining some development, it just would drop off into nothingness. Tu’ala’keth was the most entertaining character, but never really takes off. That said, the action was top-notch, something I come to expect from Richard Lee Byers. The fight scenes were very fun to read and kept you engaged enough to keep reading. The lack of a romance was more of a surprise. Usually fantasy novels have some sort of forced in romance, but thankfully the two main characters remain platonic throughout the novel. Queen of the Depths would be interesting to read if you like dragons, but otherwise it’s safe to stay out of these waters.

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