R.A. Salvatore might be the worst author I've ever read...

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I'm going to be running a Neverwinter campaign, so I thought it might be good to read some of the Forgotten Realms fiction to get some background on what's going on in that world.  Now, I wasn't expecting James Joyce; as much as I love fantasy RPGs, I haven't really been too interested in any non-LOTR fantasy fiction since I was a teenager, because the writing quality is typically not that high.  But reading R.A. Salvatore was more painful than I could have ever imagined.  How is this guy getting writing deals?  It's like reading something I wrote in fourth grade!  If you were to compile a list of every "fantasy is lame" writing stereotype, he would get an A+ in each one.  I was expecting the next page to include a character called Fee-fi-fo Foofypants, a halfling taking the Ring of Bippitybooboo to Gloopydoop Gultch so that he can throw it in the Cracks of Doom.  And the dialogue... "Argh, ye can't grab me boots, Dibbledoo, if ye grab me boots it will be the death of ye!"

I made it through ten pages and put it down.  I'm considering burning it so that its plague doesn't spread.

Can anyone recommend any Forgotten Realms books that aren't written by him?  I don't expect Shakespeare, but it would be nice to read something that gives the impression the writer took more than a community college class in creative writing.
Still better than Twilight.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
While I'd much rather read Stephen Brust, George R. R. Martin or Elizabeth Boyer (again), I've read far far worse than Salvatore.  He does have some spectacularly crappy names though.  Almost as bad as Dumbledore or quidditch.

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

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Which book did you (begin to) read? If it was the Crystal Shard then I totally get your revulsion. That book is like watching the first season of a Star Trek series, where none of the actors know what the heck their character is or is supposed to be and none of the writers have a clue, either. It's just painful. His books get progressively better from there, though really, he never reaches the sky. More like a low-hanging tree branch. But they are at least readable.

Really, when it comes to Forgotten Realms feel, history, and lore, just stick to Ed Greenwood's books. He focuses on the world as much as the characters. Everyone else just focuses on characters, hoping to recreate the rampant fanboy-ism that Salvatore's Drizzt gets so they can score a multi-book deal.

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Which book did you (begin to) read? If it was the Crystal Shard then I totally get your revulsion. That book is like watching the first season of a Star Trek series, where none of the actors know what the heck their character is or is supposed to be and none of the writers have a clue, either. It's just painful. His books get progressively better from there, though really, he never reaches the sky. More like a low-hanging tree branch. But they are at least readable.

Really, when it comes to Forgotten Realms feel, history, and lore, just stick to Ed Greenwood's books. He focuses on the world as much as the characters. Everyone else just focuses on characters, hoping to recreate the rampant fanboy-ism that Salvatore's Drizzt gets so they can score a multi-book deal.



I started to read "Gauntlegrym".

Are any of Ed Greenwood's books based on post-Spellplague Forgotten Realms?  Do any take place in Neverwinter?
I've been saying this same thing about Salvatore ever since he came onto the scene!  Someone else finally echoed my sentiments!!  Everyone I talk to says what a great writer he is.  Bull hockey!  He's a hack who got lucky because he started writing on a topic that hadn't yet been covered -- the Underdark.

Kudos to RA for getting lucky.  I'll not deny him that.  I will not read any more of his writings, though.


YMMV
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Yeah - his books start off horrifically slow and sometime don't go anywhere - I find his stuff kind of bland.

EXCEPTION: I really did like the Dark Elf Trilogy though - it was interesting and had energy throughout the books - read that if you want to give him a fair shake.



 


Can anyone recommend any Forgotten Realms books that aren't written by him?  I don't expect Shakespeare, but it would be nice to read something that gives the impression the writer took more than a community college class in creative writing.




Elaine Cunningham. Do it. Start with Elfshadow, then branch out. I love basically all of her books, but the ones dealing with the Elves and Evermeet are some of my favorite books, period.

As to Mr.Salvatore, I liked his books at a time. I was a huge fan of the first six-ish Drizzt books and thought they were one of the best cases of world-building I've ever seen, and had some radical and original concepts at the time. Sometimes I wonder if authors like R.A. suffer with new readers, because the concepts have been copied, parodied, and swiped on gaming tables so much in the years since the original book launch that new readers just can't get past the 'cliche'd idea' of the book.

Anyways, the funny things about books is that one person can think it's one of the best ever, another person can think it belongs in a garbage pail, and neither are wrong. To each their own, I hope you like Elfshadow ;)
Still better than Twilight.



+1
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I'll bet you hated "Pulp Fiction" too.

Salvatore has one book that I'd consider really good: "Homeland". That trilogy is pretty decent all the way through. He paints a pretty good picture of the action and his writing is accessible to many different readers. It's not great literature, it's a nice, light read based on characters, places and events in the gaming world. He's not Tolkein or Donaldson, don't expect to get writing on that level.
I find his books fun.  Possibly because I know what to expect when reading his writing.  On the other hand, I find Ed Greenwood hard/nigh impossible to read.

Different strokes and all that.

Not sure if many writers have converted over to the post spell plague timeline; I know it took Salvatore several years after the change to switch over.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
I'll bet you hated "Pulp Fiction" too.



Nope, I'm a huge Tarantino fan; "Kill Bill" is in my top ten of all time list.
I enjoy the fights scenes in Salvatorre's work.  I also agree that the DE trilogy was his best work, and would enjoy more books with drow being drow rather then drow being Drizzt. 

The latest stuff wasn't quite as good, but it's still decent depending on your tastes.  I'm not terribly hard to please.  If it has enough action, I'll probably keep my interest.
My opinion on Salvatore is that he is a pretty good storyteller and a lousy writer.  I really feel like he should plan out his story and then hire a good writer to actually write the darn thing.  I recommend Brandon Sanderson.

-SYB
when it comes to Forgotten Realms feel, history, and lore, just stick to Ed Greenwood's books. He focuses on the world as much as the characters.


     Greenwood?  As a novelist, he is a good short story teller.  I presume he got published because he was big at WOTC at the time.
Yeah, Salvatore is far from the best author in the world, but if he's the worst you've ever read then you just haven't read that many terrible books.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.

Really, when it comes to Forgotten Realms feel, history, and lore, just stick to Ed Greenwood's books.

 

I started to read "Gauntlegrym".

Are any of Ed Greenwood's books based on post-Spellplague Forgotten Realms?  Do any take place in Neverwinter?

Really, I love Ed for the setting he created, but I just can#t stand his books. Every time I force myself through one of his novel it takes me five times as long as other FR novels (I only read them because I want to read all FR novels) because I take long breaks in reading so often. 

Yeah, Salvatore is far from the best author in the world, but if he's the worst you've ever read then you just haven't read that many terrible books.



I'm kind of a literary snob... Joyce, Faulkner, Dostoevsky, Pynchon, Gaddis, etc., so I should change that to "He's the worst author I've read in twenty years." Wink
For good post-Spellplague FR fiction, read Rich Baker's Blades of the Moonsea trilogy (Swordmage, Corsair, Avenger). As D&D fiction goes, its some of the best. 
I agree that Ed Greenwood is best in short fiction. I usually have a problem keeping track of the action in the last few chapters of his novels. Ed's great in expanding the lore of his world through the novels, but the characterization is substandard, even for D&D fiction (maybe I'm still mad about what happened to Shandril, or his personal comments on 4e though).
Yeah, Salvatore is far from the best author in the world, but if he's the worst you've ever read then you just haven't read that many terrible books.



I'm kind of a literary snob... Joyce, Faulkner, Dostoevsky, Pynchon, Gaddis, etc., so I should change that to "He's the worst author I've read in twenty years." Wink



And you actually expect 90% of fantasy writers to write like them?
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
I'm going to be running a Neverwinter campaign, so I thought it might be good to read some of the Forgotten Realms fiction to get some background on what's going on in that world.  Now, I wasn't expecting James Joyce; as much as I love fantasy RPGs, I haven't really been too interested in any non-LOTR fantasy fiction since I was a teenager, because the writing quality is typically not that high.  But reading R.A. Salvatore was more painful than I could have ever imagined.  How is this guy getting writing deals?  It's like reading something I wrote in fourth grade!  If you were to compile a list of every "fantasy is lame" writing stereotype, he would get an A+ in each one.  I was expecting the next page to include a character called Fee-fi-fo Foofypants, a halfling taking the Ring of Bippitybooboo to Gloopydoop Gultch so that he can throw it in the Cracks of Doom.  And the dialogue... "Argh, ye can't grab me boots, Dibbledoo, if ye grab me boots it will be the death of ye!"

I made it through ten pages and put it down.  I'm considering burning it so that its plague doesn't spread.

Still better than Twilight.

I fully agree with both. 8o)

Sadly I can't recommend any alternatives. My wife was responsible for checking in most shipments at our Waldenbooks before it died and still maintains close contact with a lot of authors so I'll ask her for some recommendations.

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Yeah, Salvatore is far from the best author in the world, but if he's the worst you've ever read then you just haven't read that many terrible books.



I'm kind of a literary snob... Joyce, Faulkner, Dostoevsky, Pynchon, Gaddis, etc., so I should change that to "He's the worst author I've read in twenty years." Wink




In fine Doc Holiday (the Tombstone DH, played by Val Kilmer) fashion, now I really hate you. :P


But seriously, as an English/Philosophy major, and avid eyebrow raiser, I would recommend Elaine Cunningham, Erik Scott De Bie (Downshadow is based in post-SP Waterdeep, the book after that about Shadowbane is based in Luskan, both of which are close to Neverwinter.), and Paul S. Kemp. Kemp is downright important if you plan on using the Netherese in the campaign.

Also, just to show you some general fantasy authors worthy of respect, I highly recommend Guy Gavriel Kay, Joel Rosenberg, maybe Joe Abercrombie...and if you can shut the snob part of your brain up a bit, George R.R. Martin.

I know some fans will yell at me for that last bit, but as much as I enjoy reading his stories...the previously mentioned eyebrow raising, basically. My internal snob rolls his eyes at many a passage in GRRM's books. Sometimes I feel like I'm reading something that was written over a weekend, as an experiment to see if fantasy could still be worth reading when it becomes gritty and dark and whatever other buzzwords we can attach. It's basically a "Check out how much the middle ages sucked" story with dragons in.

And really, same story for Abercrombie. Fun read, bit forced and "doing this for the sake of making the story dark, not because it's what makes sense for the story" for my tastes.
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More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
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http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
My other recommendation: Stop being a literary snob. Modern authors don't write like the people that wrote the classics, not even the classics from the 20th century. At some point, you are going to misjudge some fiction because of a different linguistic, narrative, characterization and/or structural style than what you're used to, rather than anything remotely resembling objectivity.

I do not present that advice as an attack. It is, as I said, simply a recommendation.


Also, GG Kay is recommended even if you can't shake your literary snobbery.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
Yeah, Salvatore is far from the best author in the world, but if he's the worst you've ever read then you just haven't read that many terrible books.



I'm kind of a literary snob... Joyce, Faulkner, Dostoevsky, Pynchon, Gaddis, etc., so I should change that to "He's the worst author I've read in twenty years." Wink


So the last time you read a Joyce novel was twenty years ago?

Still better than Twilight.

I don't know how to interpret this comment. On the one hand, something like this should go without saying. I mean, I genuinely believe that Stephanie Meyer actively harmed our society through that series. On the other hand, if Salvatore is really so bad that you need to say that at least it's better than Twilight, then that's pretty horrifically insulting to Salvatore. Not that I care, of course; I've never read anything by the guy and never plan to.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
The problem with the vast majority of the FR books, especially the ones written by Greenwood or Salvatore (but certainly not limited to them) is that the main characters are either Mary Sues (aka Drizzt, Elminster, Simbul, etc.) or they are greatly overshadowed by said Mary Sues.
 
I've read a LOT of the FR books.

Most are terrible.

There are a few that I liked.  One called The Night Parade, for instance.  Not exactly awesome, but decent. 
Still better than Twilight.



Seconded.
Yeah. I did just kill your BBEG with a vorpal frisbee. Problem?
I kinda agree with Crimson. To even compare the two is the biggest insult to Salvatore you can give.
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Paul S Kemp is the best FR author I've read, by far. He's a genuinely good writer.

Most of the good writing I've read for DnD has been in their Eberron line. Sadly, they've virtually abandoned Eberron books. I'd have a long list of recommendations for someone interested in Eberron novels.

What happened to my post count? It seems the more I post, the more it drops. Is that how it's supposed to work? 

Paul S Kemp is the best FR author I've read, by far. He's a genuinely good writer. Most of the good writing I've read for DnD has been in their Eberron line. Sadly, they've virtually abandoned Eberron books. I'd have a long list of recommendations for someone interested in Eberron novels.



+1

I've tried reading Salvatore on multiple occasions, and simply could not get into the stories.

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

Paul S Kemp is the best FR author I've read, by far. He's a genuinely good writer. Most of the good writing I've read for DnD has been in their Eberron line. Sadly, they've virtually abandoned Eberron books. I'd have a long list of recommendations for someone interested in Eberron novels.



Go on...
...you just haven't read that many terrible books.



If the OP continues reading lots of novels based on RPGs, that'll be fixed pretty quick. RPG novels are the only books I've ever thrown away mid-read.



And I'm a librarian.  
when it comes to Forgotten Realms feel, history, and lore, just stick to Ed Greenwood's books. He focuses on the world as much as the characters.


     Greenwood?  As a novelist, he is a good short story teller.  I presume he got published because he was big at WOTC at the time.



Heh.  It goes back a bit further than that.  TSR bought FR from him.  He created it.

Paul S Kemp is the best FR author I've read, by far. He's a genuinely good writer.

This guy beat me to it, but Paul Kemp is excellent!  I really cannot suggest his stuff enough.  The main character in his 2 trilogies so far is Erevis Cale, and while he is the hero of the story, I don't feel like he is a Mary Sue character.  I know Cale shows up in some short fiction, but Twilight Falling (not to be confused with a popular YA series) is where I started, and it is a great starting point.

I haven't read his novels yet, but I have read a handful of his adventures and his work in the Neverwinter book, and Eric Scott De Bie has great stuff in what I have read.  He is also active in the forums, particularly in the Encounters seasons that he wrote.
What makes me sad - no more compiled magazines: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/27580349/Dungeon_and_Dragon_Magazine_PDFs&post_num=24#495423645
I started reading Salvatore in my childhood, and I've read every D&D book he's published since. By now it's basically nostalgia for me. 

That said, I've enjoyed the Dark Elf Trilogy and all the books that featured Artemis Entreri. My personal favorite is still Servant of the Shard, his only book that features all bad guys as the cast. 

Paul S Kemp is the best FR author I've read, by far. He's a genuinely good writer.

This guy beat me to it, but Paul Kemp is excellent!  I really cannot suggest his stuff enough.  The main character in his 2 trilogies so far is Erevis Cale, and while he is the hero of the story, I don't feel like he is a Mary Sue character.

He's just as mary sue as the rest. "Oh look at me, I am the pet of the shadow god but I hate it, now Mask give me more gifts"

His novels are way to much "special effects firework" for me. I prefer quite novels about small heroes doing small things, not a bunch of chosen fighting a godling to stop the world devouring maelstrom of his mistress. It's like the Michael Bay films of FR novels. I also dislike the "comic book inconsistency of the power levels" of the portrayed beings.


City of the Dead is currently my favorite FR novel

Personally, I think Ed Greenwood is tremendously overrated both as a writer and as a game designer. I also don't particularly enjoy Salvatore as a writer.

Now, do we have to suggest only FR novels, Earwicker? 'Cause it seems you haven't read many good fantasy novels, period. :-) I'd recommend Astrid Lindgren's "The Brothers Lionheart" and Lloyd Alexander's "Chronicles of Prydayn" for their blend of a fairy tale/mythological feel, and Michael Moorck's "Elric of Melniboné" and "Stormbringer" for the epicness and the - let's call it "gritty" - side of fantasy/mythology. I consider Alexander and Lindgren to be excellent writers (for instance, Lindgren manages to make things which would be considered Deus Ex Machinas or worse in other books to seem perfectly acceptable), and Moorcock to be quite good.

I don't particularly like his writing, but Robert E. Howard's "Conan" stories do have a feel to them which is very inspiring for some brutal, heroic fantasy. And I've greatly enjoyed all "Discworld" books I've read, but they might not be exactly what you're looking for. Also, I've only read the first book in the series, but I liked "The Witcher" very much.

Finally, while I understand they're not a good read for many, I do think the Norse sagas are great stories and great sources of inspiration.
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Yeah, Salvatore is far from the best author in the world, but if he's the worst you've ever read then you just haven't read that many terrible books.



I'm kind of a literary snob... Joyce, Faulkner, Dostoevsky, Pynchon, Gaddis, etc., so I should change that to "He's the worst author I've read in twenty years." Wink



And you actually expect 90% of fantasy writers to write like them?



Of course not; there is only one fantasy author who is in that pantheon (Tolkien).

However, I'd be happy if 10% of them wrote 50% as well as Tolkien.  I think the only author I've read who comes close is Donaldson.  R.A. Salvatore isn't 1% of the author Tolkien is.

Now, do we have to suggest only FR novels, Earwicker?



Considering he's looking specifically for post-Spellplague FR material/fell, then that's a pretty good guess. Tongue out

Yeah, Salvatore is far from the best author in the world, but if he's the worst you've ever read then you just haven't read that many terrible books.



I'm kind of a literary snob... Joyce, Faulkner, Dostoevsky, Pynchon, Gaddis, etc., so I should change that to "He's the worst author I've read in twenty years." Wink


So the last time you read a Joyce novel was twenty years ago?




Heresy! "Ulysses" is the best novel ever written.
Well I really dislike how Salvatore feels the need to convince the reader of a characters triumph by emphasizing their current action. A few examples if you will:
And her shot was true with that all so deadly bow!
And on came 600 pounds of that powerful panther!
(This exact line has been used in more novels than I can fathom, it's quite annoying. Could he just say the cat was summoned? Or does he need to tell us the weight of it everytime it makes a scene in the story? Because he wants you to be convinced of it doing something so illogical that only a fairy tale would accept such a feat.)
And he drew that infamous deadly dagger!
And so he began his deadly dance of dual blades

I am so sick of the word deadly in his writting. I am starting to think that he uses that word to make the reader imagine the impossible taking place in a should be dead end situation.

Oh, and let's not forget his most famous word: Somehow!
Somehow Drizzt ducked underneath that swift and deadly slice of a blade whipping over his head!
Somehow Drizzt managed to dodge an well aimed arrow headed for a sure hit!
Somehow Drizzt fought off a nuclear bomb dropping right on his dead with his oh so deadly dance of blades!

Lol! Shut up Salvatore. Somehow you managed to keep your characters alive when they should all be dead. It's truely ironic because out of all the FR novels I have read, his seems to be the most detailed in close combat, but I guess when death presents itself to a favored character of a novel, he feels there's no need to explain the logic of survival and replace it with "somehow"

What a clown
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