After a couple of days of chores around the house I finally found an hour to finish Tantras, the second book in The Avatar Trilogy by pseudonym Richard Awlinson. Where I found the first book in the trilogy, Shadowdale, somewhat entertaining, I had a hard time getting through Tantras. While I enjoy "seeing" places from the role-playing game come to (wooden) life - in this case the city of Tantras in particular - the story is weak, the characters are bland, and the writing is, and I almost feel bad about it for saying it because I do love the Forgotten Realms as a setting - simply atrocious. There are descriptions repeated so often (carrying over from Shadowdale) that I roll my eyes every time they appear, which means I'm rolling my eyes a lot, which in turns makes me dizzy. Which is not good. The main villain of the story, Bane, God of Strife, Black Lord and all that, comes across as the least intimidating, most stupid evil character I've read in a long time; it reminds me why I stopped reading Dungeons & Dragons-novels in the first place, many moons ago (in fact, when I was recommended A Song of Ice and Fire, my encounters with tales such as R.A. Salvatore's The Icewind Dale Trilogy and Weiss' Dragonlance-tales could have stopped me from accepting the challenge).
This leaves me wondering whether I dare finish the trilogy with the third book, Waterdeep. Sure they are quick and easy but also so irritating in all their deficiency. They leave me wondering what Steven Erikson could have done with the plot outline. Now that would be interesting! Or George RR Martin for that matter. From my ventures online I realize that The Avatar Trilogy is among the lower ranked novels of the countless Realms novels so I am not giving up quite yet - I have three more Realms novels on the shelf, Evermeet: Island of Elves, Gauntlgrym, and Cormyr: A Novel - but before I begin those, I am definitely going to dive back into A Storm of Swords just to get some well-written fantasy again. I also have The Red Knight waiting which looks promising, and as always The Way of Kings. Buried beneath a veritable pile of Forgotten Realms sourcebooks, all of them more entertaining than Tantras, heheh.
I know I should give you some examples of why Tantras is such a lousy read, but you know, time and all that. No, really; all the levels of wrong I could go into with this book. But that's not really what Stormsongs is about. So expect a new re-read post in the very soon.
In other news, my story The Hauntress did win the June Flash Fiction Contest over at SFFWorld, and so I have the honor of hosting the July Contest. For the theme I chose Dungeons & Dragons in the hopes to see stories of high fantasy that are actually well written. Back to the shelf with you, Tantras. A shame really. You have to read it to believe some of it. Almost Robert Stanek-level.