Monday, June 02, 2008

Swords of Dragonfire by Ed Greenwood

The Knights of Myth Drannor have been granted an adventuring charter by King Azoun of Cormyr and become the personal knights of his Queen, Filfaeril. But the death of Lord Maniol Crownsilver's daughter Narantha, and his lady wife, the second a traitor to the throne who was infected by a mindwyrm and infected her own daughter in turn, causing both of their deaths, sends Lord Maniol into a fury and he marches to see the King to demand the death of the man he considers the author of their deaths, Florin Falconhand, a ranger, and the deaths and/or banishings of his companions, the other Knights. King Azoun doesn't agree to kill them, but does say he is banishing them from the realm.

After Florin is rid of the mindwyrm infesting him, the other knights are gathered and hustled out of the Capital, but a certain Red Wizard intends to use them as his catspaws, and so harries them with hired sellswords and wizardly killers. Along the way, Pennae, the band's thief, overhears a plot to murder the Royal Family and the Royal Wizard, Vangerdahast, while retrieving some healing potions she concealed in an abandoned mansion.

Meanwhile the Knights get into another fight in Arabel, which leads Florin to the rescuing of one of the Royal Princesses, Alusair Nacacia, who has found a magic ring and used it to seek adventure, despite being only eleven. When that fight is done, the Knights are hustled on to the town of Halfhap, where they stay in the Manycoats Tavern. Unfortunately, this is merely another trap set by their enemies, meant to brand the Knights as murderers, but the Knights win free of the trap and coincidentally discover a true hidden treasure long lost in Halfhap, but they are unable to claim it before they must take a hidden gate out of the basement of the tavern and Inn which has collapsed upon them.

From there, they discover they are back in the Capital and near the palace, whereupon Pennae informs them of the plot to kill the Royal Family and Wizard, and they must battle their awy through the palace without killing any of the Purple Dragon guards to warn Vangerdahast about the traitors amongst the War-Wizards and nobles, before the plot can succeed. But with the overwhelming odds against them, and their unwillingness to seriously hurt or kill their opposition, how long can they last against their foes?

This was an excellent book that carries you along with the plot. While the characters do get a chance to rest every now and again, reading it will make you feel breathless as the plot advances quickly. You won't want to put the book down to find out what happens next. The ending is a bit abrupt, but humorous at times, as all the threads of various plots are tied up with differing degrees of neatness.

Ed Greenwood does have a knack for making his characters sound like they are from a different time. His dialogue has an air of quaint age (characters are prone to using expressions like "Look you" that lend a slight aura of unreality or great age to the dialogue), with his personal character of Elminster "The Great Sage" being the worst offender in this regard, though El's puckish humor makes him a humorous character who isn't a joke.

This volume is a great read for anyone, but especially Game Masters, who may mine the book for many great story ideas that they can use in their own campaigns. Highly recommended.

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