Ed on The Sundering
Check out Ed’s video on the Sundering. (Skip to 1:30)
The Sundering is the event that ends the Spellplague, that utter chaos of magic possibly precipitated by the murder of Mystra, Goddess of Magic and possibly by the world of Abeir crashing into and starting to pass through the world of Toril, home of the Forgotten Realms.®
During the Spellplague, magic went wild. Many wizards died or went mad or lost their ability to wield magic, many magic items and things built with magic collapsed or exploded or got twisted in unforeseen ways, and the very Realms themselves changed, with some countries or regions going away and other landscapes appearing in their place. New creatures appeared, earthmotes floated in the skies like hovering or slowly drifting aerial islands, and Everything Changed.
And now The Sundering is coming to an end, as Abeir has finished “passing through” Toril, and is moving away from it, leaving a changed Toril in its wake.
Much of that remains to be seen, but the Sundering Saga of novels shows you some of the changes happening, right in front of your eyes.
The Sundering Saga consists of six novels by six different writers. Bob Salvatore went first, with The Companions, which came out in August 2013 and told of some pretty shocking events in the life of the infamous drow Drizzt Do’Urden. Next up was The Godborn by Paul Kemp, which came out in October 2013 and featured Vasen Cale, the son of Erevis Cale (the butler whom we first saw in the Stormweather Sembian series and was later featured in his own trilogy). The third Sundering novel appeared in December 2013. It was entitled The Adversary, and in it Erin Evans followed the life of her popular tiefling character Farideh through some of the strife in Cormyr during The Sundering. Then in February of this year, Richard Lee Byers gave us The Reaver, featuring a new character, Anton Marivaldi, who was caught up in the events of The Sundering in and around the Sea of Fallen Stars.
This April, Troy Denning’s novel The Sentinel appeared. This fifth Sundering book returned to Cormyr to see how another new main character, Kleef Kenric, fared during The Sundering.
Which leaves my novel, The Herald, to wrap up the six-book series this June, with a world-shattering romp featuring Elminster—and a lot of his old, familiar, and mighty friends and foes (and yes, I briefly visit Cormyr in the course of that book, too, though most of it takes place elsewhere).
Throughout 2013, we six writers, and the editors, game designers, artists, story folks, and executives at Wizards of the Coast met to plan this saga and talked back and forth by telephone and e-mail, stitching together lore and making decisions about what would happen in the novels, and the consequences of the events in the novels in shaping what the Forgotten Realms® looks like after the Spellplague is over.
All of the novels are “over the shoulders of the characters” snapshots of what it’s like to live through the tumultuous events of the Sundering. It’s easy to glibly and airily talk about a cataclysm in the metagaming sense (“Two worlds that have been passing through each other now part ways and begin to move apart”), but what’s it actually like to live through that? If you’re the halfling sitting on your front porch smoking a pipe, or a human peddler walking past that halfling, what does your life become?
And if you come out the other end of the Sundering alive, what is the world around you like? What is the “new normal” life, if there is one?
So, a lot of people are working on an awful lot of things to do with the “right now” history of the Realms, and at the same time some of the staff people at Wizards of the Coast are working on a consistent look and feel for elements of the Realms (architecture and dress in various regions, and so on); something that really should have been done years and years ago.
For example, when Jon Schindehette was the art director at Wizards, he posted webcolumns at the Wizards website showing everyone the process of hammering out details so there was a consistent “look” for a monster. Or to put it another way, one artist’s owl bear should look like another artist’s owl bear. Any species can have individuals who are aberrations (really tall, really fat, and so on), but some things should be constant. This particular sort of monster—is it an egg layer or does it have live births? What’s the gestation period? Do these monsters form stable families, or do they just mate and then go their separate ways?
If everybody is on the same page creatively, then if twenty years down the road there’s a childrens’ board game that has owl bears in it, there’s a radio show that has owl bears in it, there is a weekend morning cartoon on TV that has owl bears in it, there’s a line of movies with owl bears in them, and there’s a line of books that have owl bears in them, anybody who enjoys more than one of those media forms will say, “Oh yes, that’s an owl bear,” instead of saying, “How come the owl bears in the TV show don’t match the owl bears I’m reading about?”
So they have been very busy at Wizards building a standard, if you want to call it that, for the game, and of course that affects things in the Forgotten Realms. The classic example from the past was infravision. Infravision went away and darkvision came—and that affected things we’d already written about, in novels and game adventures. You either just leave things be and ignore the fact that there are differences, or you have to explain the differences away—and hopefully in the future inconsistencies won’t arise because you will have a standard. As a veteran of gaming who just keeps going as generation after generation moves through, I have started to reach the conclusion (to draw on the title of the unofficial James Bond movie, Never Say Never Again) that there is no “forever.”
“We’re going to write these rules and we’re never going to change them, ever.” Of course, after such a statement is made, you’d be sitting in a restaurant hoisting a beer with fellow gamers, and one of them will ask and somebody will ask sarcastically, “So, how long will ‘ever’ be this time?” because we all know things inevitably do change. A game company goes out of business—and another company buys the rights to their games and changes rules when they reprint those games.
If you want your grandparents to buy the game they loved as children for Christmas for their grandchildren, teach them how to play it and play it with them and do the family thing (and judging by many of the TV ads done by gaming companies, that’s exactly what they want to happen), how much do you want to change that game that they loved in order to hook their kids?
At what point have you changed it so much that those grandparents say, “This isn’t the game of our youth. Throw this impostor away!”
Gamers always have this tug of war because we’re tinkerers. And as the broader spectrum of humans, we’re always curious, always interested in the new, in change, and in innovation—though we may hate change in some cases because another human instinct is to feel, “No, I found what I like. Don’t change it!”
But for the Realms to feel alive, it must change. It always has.
The one advantage it has over real life is that we can clearly see the changes, and in some sense, as players and DMs and game designers, control them; we’re not just along for the ride.
It can be difficult and dangerous to try to make big changes in real life. In fantasy settings, in games and in our fiction, we can make changes without leaving blood on the floor, without destroying real lives. It’s a big challenge—and a big thrill.
I’m still thrilled, after all these years.
The Companions : Book 1
Author: R. A. Salvatore Release Date: (August 6, 2013) Featuring Drizzt Do’Urden (Realms Wiki)
“The Companions is the best novel [R.A.] Salvatore has ever written. It’s insanely courageous, profoundly powerful, masterfully constructed, and easily Salvatore’s most ambitious work to date.”—Paul Goat Allen, BarnesandNoble.com
“After a quarter of a century, R.A. Salvatore just keeps getting better and better, and The Companions is another masterful leap forward for one of the greatest fantasy epics of all time.”
—Philip Athans, best-selling author of Annihilation and The Haunting of Dragon’s Cliff
This installment in New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore’s beloved fantasy saga, The Companions moves Salvatore’s signature hero Drizzt into a new era of the Forgotten Realms. As Drizzt’s fate hangs in the balance, he reflects on the lives of the trusted allies who stood by his side throughout his early life–the friends now known as the Companions of the Hall. Meanwhile, the first stirrings of the Sundering begin.
Add The Companions : Book 1 to your collection:
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The Godborn : Book 2
Author: Paul S. Kemp Release Date: (October 1, 2013) Featuring: Vasen Cale (Realms Wiki)
In the 2nd book of the multi-author Sundering series launched by New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, the shadow legacy of Erevis Cale lives on even as his old foe Mephistopheles seeks to stamp it out at any cost. Cale’s son Vasen—unmoored in time by the god Mask—has thus far been shielded from the archdevil’s dark schemes, alone among the servants of the Lord of Light who have raised him since birth.
Living in a remote abbey nestled among the Thunder Peaks of Sembia, Vasen is haunted by dreams of his father, trapped in the frozen hell of Cania. He knows the day will come when he must assume his role in the divine drama unfolding across Faerûn. But Vasen knows not what that role should be . . . or whether he is ready to take it on.
He only knows what his father tells him in dreams—that he must not fail.
Enter Drasek Riven, a former compatriot of Erevis Cale, now near divine and haunted by dreams of his own—he too knows the time to act is near. Shar, the great goddess of darkness, looks to cast her shadow on the world forever. Riven has glimpsed the cycle of night she hopes to complete, and he knows she must be stopped.
At the crossroads of divine intrigue and mortal destiny, unlikely heroes unite to thwart the powers of shadow and hell, and the sundering of worlds is set on its course.
Add The Godborn : Book 2 to your collection:
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The Adversary : Book 3
Author: Erin M. Evans Release Date: (December 3, 2013) Featuring: Farideh (Realms Wiki)
In this third book of the Sundering series kicked off by R.A. Salvatore and the dark elf Drizzt, SCRIBE award-winning author Erin M. Evans thrusts her signature character Farideh into a maelstrom of devilish politics and magical intrigue that will have far-reaching implications for the future of the Forgotten Realms.
As the chaos of the Sundering rages around her, young warlock Farideh faces a more personal turmoil wrought by a deal she made with a devil years ago. Hoping to protect her twin sister, she leaves everything she holds dear to assist a wizard in a scheme that pits the devils of the Nine Hells against the gods above.
But when Farideh casts the spell to enter the wizard’s remote mountaintop fortress, she picks up a stowaway—a Harper agent named Dahl who isn’t so inclined to follow devilish demands. Dahl attempts to escape only to run into a village of odd people, lurking behind an impenetrable wall.Forced to gaze into the villagers’ souls, Farideh points out the ones who seem different, only to watch as the wizard’s guard carts them off to fates unknown. Are these villagers or prisoners? Are they blessed or doomed by the gods? As the wizard’s guessing game proves more and more diabolical, Farideh resolves to unravel his secrets—even if it means she’ll lose her own soul to the Nine Hells.
Add The Adversary : Book 3 to your collection:
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Check out this author interview with Erin, courtesy of the official Dungeons & Dragons Youtube Channel.
The Reaver : Book 4
Author: Richard Lee Byers Release Date: (February 4, 2014) Featuring: Anton Marivaldi
In the 4th book of the multi-author Sundering series launched by New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, Richard Lee Byers introduces Anton Marivaldi—a renowned reaver with an insatiable thirst for bounty and a moral compass that always leads him toward the evil he’s never tried.
Endless, pounding rain afflict the Sea of Fallen Stars and the coastal regions surrounding it. Harvests are failing, travel and trade are disrupted, and civilized forces are giving way to the deluges caused by the storms. In panic and despair, many have turned to the goddess Umberlee, Queen of the Deeps, offering her sacrifices with hope that they will be spared the inevitable reckoning of her perpetual tempest.
Evendur Highcastle, undead pirate captain, risen from the depths to assume the mantle of Umberlee’s Chosen, takes advantage of the people’s desperation to strike for both spiritual and temporal power in her name.
When Anton captures the boy in order to collect Highcastle’s considerable bounty, the reaver is quickly caught in the riptide caused by the sundering of worlds.Vying with Highcastle for the hearts and minds of the people is Stedd Whitehorn, a little boy and the chosen of a god thought lost to time: Lathander, the Morninglord. In a time of such upheaval, Stedd’s message of renewal and hope runs in stark contrast to the savage ethos of Highcastle and his waveservants.
Add The Reaver : Book 4 to your collection:
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Check out this author interview with Richard, courtesy of the official Dungeons & Dragons Youtube Channel.
The Sentinel : Book 5
Author: Troy Denning Release Date: (April 1, 2014) Featuring: Kleef Kenric
In the fifth book of the multi-author Sundering series, New York Times best-selling author Troy Denning sends an embittered paladin, Kleef Kenric, on a quest to stop evil forces from taking advantage of the chaos rolling across the land of Faerûn and claiming dominion over the entirety of the Realms.
Stubbornly clinging to his family’s worship of a long-forgotten god, Kleef Kenric soon discovers that his god has blessed him with divine gifts, making him one of a new group of Chosen cropping up around the Realms.
This divine gift makes him an excellent ally—and a target for those who wish corral his powers.
After battling his way out Marsember, a city besieged on all sides in the wake of the Sundering, he becomes swept up in the mission of a group of odd allies—a warrior noblewoman, an accomplished thief, and a mysterious short pudgy man exuding a faint odor of decay. With the forces of Shade tracking their every step, they travel to the Underdark to thwart the rise of the goddess of Death, but before long Kleef learns that his allies hide dangerous secrets—secrets that could destroy not only Kleef but the very fabric of the Forgotten Realms.
Add The Sentinel : Book 5 to your collection:
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Check out this author interview with Troy, courtesy of the official Dungeons & Dragons Youtube Channel.
The Herald : Book 6
Author: Ed Greenwood Release Date: (June 3, 2014) Featuring: Elminster (Realms Wiki)
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“The Realms-shaking event to end all Realms-shaking events…”
~Ed Greenwood on The Sundering Saga
Ed Greenwood, New York Times best-selling author and creator of the Forgotten Realms®, brings us the 6th and final book in the pulse-pounding multi-author Sundering series launched by R. A. Salvatore. The Herald further chronicles the exploits of Elminster as he fights for the future of Faerûn.
The world is at war. Chaos grips Faerûn as the worlds of Abeir and Toril tear apart. The gods try to seize power through their Chosen, great archmages seek to rule the world—and most folk of Faerûn just try to stay alive.
Agents of the evil Shadovar lurk in the fabled monastery of Candlekeep, searching for arcane secrets that will empower them with enough magic to defeat all foes in the name of Shar, Goddess of the Night. Their armies besiege the fabled city of Myth Drannor, and everywhere ancient threats stir.
Shar wants to seize the Weave, and with it control of all magic in the world—and Mystra, the Goddess of Magic, has withdrawn from the world. Without her protection, Elminster, her greatest champion, fights desperately to defeat Shar’s agents and somehow deliver all Toril from the dark oblivion Shar desires. Yet with no armies at his command, and facing new threats from some of his oldest allies, how can he possibly prevail?
With the aid of Storm Silverhand and his protégé Amarune, Elminster works frantically to forestall inevitable doom. Yet he can see the price that must be paid. With Larloch, the Srinshee, and the cruel Shadovar all part of the fray, there will be plenty of death to go around. Perhaps enough for every last person in the world.
Sample of The Herald
~Begin Chapter 1~
The nights are growing longer, and betimes the earth
shakes!” young Lady Wyrmwood hissed, leaning forward in her
excitement and granting the table a splendid view of the six linked
silver dragons arrayed on fine chains across her décolletage. “What
does it mean? Are we all doomed?”
The younger nobles around the table leaned forward in shared
excitement, but several older ones rolled their eyes or muttered
“Doomed, doomed—always doomed!” gray-haired Lord Garonder
Illance remarked. “We’ve been ‘doomed’ since before I was born.
Thankfully, the gods work slowly. Even more slowly than unsupervised
Lady Wyrmwood regarded him with finely honed scorn. “Dismiss
my views at your peril, Lord Jaded Seen-All! Things are happening
beyond these walls, outside our fair city—things that could well
shake every last high castle in all the world! The nights are growing
longer, believe you me!”