Book Club Discussion - City of the Dead - Chapters 5-9

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Sophraea is off to find a wizard and we're off into week two of our discussion.  With all the unique names in the Carver family, I wonder if Rosemary drew out a family tree at some point?  I picture them having something carved on a wall somewhere, kind of like the Blacks in Harry Potter.

In any event, enough geneology, on to the reading:

This forum will cover Chapters 5 - 9.

That's pages 52 - 101.   Looking forward to your thoughts, as always.
I wonder if Rosemary drew out a family tree at some point?  I picture them having something carved on a wall somewhere.



I often wished I carved them on my computer case as I went along.  The family kept growing. As did the cats, which slithered in and out of certain scenes much to my surprise. Like Sophraea, I often wondered what it was going to take to corral them all and make them sit quietly in a corner while I counted noses.  Chapter Seven, by the way, introduces one of my favorite characters.  I'll say a little more when you're past that point.

BTW the wind is absolutely howling outside my windows tonight.  It's a perfect time for ghosts...

Well, well, well.  My initial observation about character alignment was quite wrong.  Kindly old Lord Dorgar Adarbrent.  The noble and honorable historian of Waterdeep.  Turns out he’s got a very sinister plot going.  I like this development.  We now have two villain-type characters, of very different methods.  Stunk is obsessed with his own glory and selfishness.  He doesn’t care about anyone but himself.  On the other hand, Adarbrent is most likely motivated by something far different, but the reader doesn’t know the details yet.  Perhaps revenge?


On a lighter note, is there a little romantic tension between Sophraea and Gustin Bone?  Seems like they end up “falling” on each other a little too often.  Hee hee.  I like it.  Otherwise, I very much enjoy the adventuring in the halls/dungeon below the graveyard.  Rosemary does a good job giving the reader a nice visual of the shadows and sounds that would haunt such a spooky place.  I’m looking forward to reading more.   

It remains intriguing to me that Sophraea has no discernable powers or martial prowess at all.  I have to wonder if there's ever been a Realms novel with a main character like this.  I'm curious to see if this continues or if she somehow unlocks her destiny at some point.  Gustin seems like he's much more of an amateur than he first appeared as well.  I'm also enjoying their budding romance.  It's also interesting that Rosemary chose to switch to Gustin's perspective for parts of this section, expanding the narrative focus of the book.  I noticed the next chapter after this starts with Gustin's point of view as well, so the book is really becoming about both Sophraea and Gustin, which I think will be fine.

Adarbrent is obviously up to some sort of "revenge" with that ghost, but who is it against?  We know he's into history, so is he trying to stop Stunk from desecrating the old tombs? Or are they in cahoots to get some other family?  It remains to be seen.

Anyone know if Feeler and Fish are a specific race?  I couldn't decide what either one might be.

One other minor question: Why didn't the gargoyle that was above the entrance to the tunnel come to life and protect Sophraea from the thief with the sword?  Maybe I misunderstood what this protector was (or where it was), but I thought it was right over the door protecting it from intruders.

I'm enjoying this novel as much as the other Waterdeep books we've read, and I know I've said it before, but I think this may turn out to be my favorite series of books that Wizards has put out.
It remains intriguing to me that Sophraea has no discernable powers or martial prowess at all.  I have to wonder if there's ever been a Realms novel with a main character like this.  I'm curious to see if this continues or if she somehow unlocks her destiny at some point.  Gustin seems like he's much more of an amateur than he first appeared as well.  I'm also enjoying their budding romance.  It's also interesting that Rosemary chose to switch to Gustin's perspective for parts of this section, expanding the narrative focus of the book.  I noticed the next chapter after this starts with Gustin's point of view as well, so the book is really becoming about both Sophraea and Gustin, which I think will be fine.

Adarbrent is obviously up to some sort of "revenge" with that ghost, but who is it against?  We know he's into history, so is he trying to stop Stunk from desecrating the old tombs? Or are they in cahoots to get some other family?  It remains to be seen.

Anyone know if Feeler and Fish are a specific race?  I couldn't decide what either one might be.

One other minor question: Why didn't the gargoyle that was above the entrance to the tunnel come to life and protect Sophraea from the thief with the sword?  Maybe I misunderstood what this protector was (or where it was), but I thought it was right over the door protecting it from intruders.

I'm enjoying this novel as much as the other Waterdeep books we've read, and I know I've said it before, but I think this may turn out to be my favorite series of books that Wizards has put out.



Dado, if I was to make a character sheet for Sophraea, she'd be a 0-level commoner.  Gustin Bone would be a 1-level wizard.  It's different, that's for sure.  But in many ways this is one of my favorite stories so far.  I feel like I understand Waterdeep much better after seeing the city through the eyes of a commoner and a hapless wizard on vacation.
I don't want to spoil anything ... but that gargoyle question will be answered later!

When I was writing this book, several new creatures were being proposed for Waterdeep. Fish and Feeler belong to that group. If anyone ever wants to play some hardworking "monsters" who found jobs as gravediggers much less stressful than preying on people or having people assume that they will prey on them, I'm happy to dig up my notes and send them along.  I'm sure that F&F would enjoy having an adventure or two of their own. 

Like all authors, I make a lot of scribbles to myself, and tell myself lots of stories about my characters, and a great deal never makes it into the final book because sacrifices have to be made for the sake of my editor's sanity.  She didn't deserve WAR & PEACE arriving in her in-box.

"if I was to make a character sheet for Sophraea, she'd be a 0-level commoner.  Gustin Bone would be a 1-level wizard.  It's different, that's for sure." Sophraea would stick up her nose and mutter, "Who are you calling common? My family have lived here for generations."  Leaplow would have a more violent reaction, but he'd also shout "Yep, she's common, and I'm her brother.  Come over here and let me explain it to you!" 

 Laughing

I do love that you like these not-so-powerful characters. Making them 0-level or very low level was never deliberate on my part. I wanted to write a story that would show off this incredibly fantastic city and somehow these are the characters that seemed best suited to doing that. And, at the time I was writing, the rules were shifting from version 3.5 to version 4. So, frankly, I wasn't sure what a super-powered wizard could or couldn't do. Besides, would a very high-powered wizard need to run minor con games across the Realms? These are the questions that haunt an author at 2 am in the morning.

Oddly, several of Gustin's abilities ended up being fairly close to prestidigitation cantrip.  And if you ever put him into a game, he would rely on that cantrip often. He might also be a bit more reliable a wizard if he could get his hands on a better wand. 

Bless my editor's willingness to roll with my quirky takes on Forgotten Realms fiction (like the little white dog in my first novel). The fabulous folks at Wizards, and the even more fantastic Ed, never questioned that I was writing about essentially an entire family of non-player characters.
I'm finding this novel to be lots of fun to read so far; it makes a change to have a story grow around two essentially unremarkable characters, and to see the world through their fresh eyes. Gustin's street smarts will come in handy later on, I'm sure, and I don't think Sophraea will have any problems keeping him on the straight and narrow with her determination and sense of justice.

I loved the idea of the animated guardians - both the topiary dragon and the door-watcher, and the characters of Feeler and Fish (again, great names!); I also enjoyed the clumsy, uncoordinated nature of the various encounters Sophraea and Gustin went through in this section. They're obviously not skilled in combat, and Gustin's use of magic seems to be decidedly unreliable at this point, but it's clear that Sophraea doesn't scare easily, and Gustin, although wary, is ready and willing to defend her - even if he's misread the situation.

Again, I like the way that Rosemary has described events in this book in quite a delicate way - Sophraea's feelings of being followed in the tunnels under the graveyard, for instance, or the descriptions of how she feels when she uses her double-vision. There are no hard blocks of exposition - rather light brush-strokes that build up gradually. Very pleasant to read, and sharing the characters' thoughts and sensations in this way helped me to connect with them.

I liked the incident where Sophraea and Gustin bump into the group of thieves in the tunnels, because it reinforces the suggestion that there are other stories going on within Waterdeep, and that makes the setting come alive.

At the end of Chapter 9, my sympathies lay with poor Gustin - I was itching to find out how the rest of the Carver family would react, and whether he'd avoid a difficult and potentially painful conversation with Sophraea's brothers.

> Again, I like the way that Rosemary has described events in this book in quite a delicate way - 
Well said! I think this is captured best when we get Sophraea's thoughts on Gustin--how she sees him as being brave & worldly and not reacting to danger because he has seen it all before, but really he is just clueless--that was very well done.

I am starting to gain on you guys... 

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game

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