#79: Insurrection: War of the Spider Queen, Book 2 by Thomas M. Reid:
“Betrayer!” Sspiriina spat back. “I should have known better than to trust you, Khorrl Xornbane. You can die with the meddlers. Kill them,” she cried to her few remaining soldiers, who were massing in a line. “Kill them all!”
“Death to all drow!” Khorrl Xornbane roared, and motioned his handful of troops forward.
Pharaun’s shoulders sagged.
We’re never going to get out of here, he thought swinging his magical rapier around.
Synopsis: Band of non-plucky adventurers, having nearly destroyed their hometown, set off to destroy someone else’s, magical rapiers firmly in hand. Scoobyness ensues.
When last we left our decidedly non-plucky band of adventurers, they had aided in saving Underdark uber-city Menzoberranzan from destruction at the hands of slithery, tentacled things, orcs and exploding firepots. That taken care of, they are sent on a secret mission to Ched Nasad, the City of Shimmering Webs, to find out why that city hasn’t sent any trade caravans in two months. They’re also out to find out whether the spider goddess Lolth is ignoring everyone or just Menzoberranzan.
Along the way, parts of the party are kidnapped, parts get laid, other parts get tortured, and someone gets killed. Then the giant spiders arrive.
Now, I happen to love the Underdark as a concept–this huge subterranean world of vast and complicated cities, twinkling phosphorescently to themselves and launching lichs and cave yetis at each other–and I love the amoral dark elf race, the drow, even more. They’re just so unabashedly amoral. They make wonderful plotters. And that’s basically what’s going on in this book: the Mbzn adventurers stumble into the middle of a big old pot of intrigue where all the high-placed Ched Nasad matrons have decided to kill each other. Allegiances shift at the drop of a hat, and no one’s playing fair. Think Smiley’s People with elves.
And it’s good fun. It’s a solid Forgotten Realms quest book: go forth and attempt to escape from a horde of duergar then encounter a locked door and roll for initiative. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Because it’s so very questy and drow-laden, it’s definitely going to appeal most to folks who already enjoy the Forgotten Realms world, especially the Underdark. It’s not a book I’d recommend for oddlittlecat, for instance. But it’s solid and well-executed, and Pharaun, the wizard, while saving the day with his *cough* magic rapier perhaps one too many times, is an interesting hero, by virtue of being kind of a dickhead.
I could’ve done without the succubus demon ho floating around doing absolutely nothing except pining after Pharaun, and there’s a bit 200 pages in where the author attempts to render one explosion five times from five different points of view that didn’t work at all well, and toward the end it was just hack and slash and hack and slash and hack and slash. But I really really liked the giant spiders. I’m easy that way.
Definitely not as good as Book 1, but didn’t suck, either. However, unless you’re an Underdark fan, there are a lot of other better D&D-themed books out there: City of the Dead by Rosemary Jones, Thieves Guild by Jeff Crook, and Elaine Cunningham’s Starlight and Shadows series to name a few. But I was looking for some easy comfort reading involving the Underdark and this fit the bill nicely.