Lolth - patron deity of the drow, Spider Queen, regent of the Demon Web Pits - has once again stirred the dark elves into roiling aggression against the rest of Faern, reveling in the chaos born from her dark schemata. This is the Rise of the Underdark.
In Iltkazar, the last subterranean kingdom of the once resplendent dwarven realm of Shanatar, King Mith Barak faces a siege of drow soldiers, spies, and assassins looking to seize the powerful city and the ancient magical artifacts hidden there. Somewhere in the city, the Arcane Script Sphere - a mystical orb touched by Mystra, the long-dead goddess magic - calls out to heroes and adventurers, beckoning with whispers of power and knowledge. Mith Barak hears it and knows he cannot hold the artifact much longer, but fears what the drow may do with it.
Enter Icelin, Ruen, and Sull, Waterdavian wanders whose desire to understand their own spellscars sets them in search of Mystran mysteries - they hope to understand magic and thus understand its plague. As they move from town to town, city to city in search of knowledge, Icelin hears the siren call of the Arcane Script Sphere, and it draws the trio deep into rocks of the Underdark where they find themselves at the center of the struggle between the dwarves and drow.
Only King Mith Barak can initiate them into the mysteries they hope to illuminate. But first they must help him with a mystery of his own - a dark elf assassin, himself a seeker of the sphere, lies in Iltkazar's dungeons shrouded in the mystery and magic of Lolth. Icelin might be the one to see past that shroud and determine the true goal of the Spider Queen's schemes. As the dark elves intensify their attacks, the trio realizes their quest for knowledge has taken them into a new and dangerous realm...a realm dictated by the whims of spider and stone.
©2012 Wizards of the Coast LLC (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
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"Dislikeable Characters and a poor plot"
This story and it's audio sample started out promising, but the cast of characters expanded beyond a manageable cast, and became whiny and genuinely dislikeable. Worse, their behavior and actions seemed forced and dishonest, as if the author wanted some kind of interaction between juxtaposed characters, but could not think of how to bring them together. The story became plodding and rather stupid until I just wanted this mess to stop.
"Brilliantly told story, brilliantly narrated."
I very much enjoyed listening to this book. I think Pearl Hewitt is one of the best of the best narrating books these days. Her characterizations are varied and emotionally evocative without becoming too overly dramatic -- very nice, pleasant delivery that invites me to become fully immersed in the story. I don't want technical fireworks, I just want the story, and Pearl delivers. The novel itself: I've only read a few of these WotC tie-ins, and I don't like stories that take place completely underground. That said, Jaleigh Johnson does a fantastic job of making sense of this world and structuring a dramatic, engaging plot. The characters (which are hers, and not WotC's at least to the best of my knowledge) are fully motivated by personal backstory and interesting. The wild spell scar magic is dramatic, as is the climax of the novel which features two stunning twists I did not see coming. I strongly recommend this book. I do not like all the game nomenclature--but that will be a strong plus for some readers. The battles are vividly described and narrated with coherence and flair. I strongly recommend this book for those interested in Drow and the Forgotten Realms.
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