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Author Topic: At the Gates of Darkness Thread  (Read 10534 times)

Donald the Chandler

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2010, 12:48:18 PM »

320 odd pages of 'we have no idea whats going on'

'we'll run round doing random things that dont advance the overall story at all and contradict or totally forget things we already know or have done'

this book is almost total filler with only a very few pages of actually relevant exposition
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Great One

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2010, 05:22:04 PM »

That seems to be the case with this one, as well. It's quite disappointing Ray's writing 'filler' at this integral point of his great Midkemia Cycle.

The book, like his last couple, is taking a good amount of bashing by those who've read it. But some of the bashing is quite ridiculous. Borders on nuts, even - like someone complaining about how you need to a 'long time fan' to enjoy it - just makes zero sense and shows an utter lack of understanding concerning the author's work.

And that it is short is doing Ray no favours, either. He's damaging his reputation by continuing in his current fashion of publishing...
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Zyxthior

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2010, 04:21:24 AM »

Well I logged in here to see if I had to buy this immediately from Amazon.co.uk and pay the extra cost and shipping charges because it was such and awesome and mind-blowing novel....or whether I should just wait until April when it's released in the States and save about 50% of the cost....

Looks like I'm waiting until April....
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brandos

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2010, 05:04:32 PM »

i'm in new york and got the book from amazonuk.com for  thirty bucks u.s.. if you love feist it's worth it
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coeshaw

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2010, 10:05:39 AM »

I recently finished AtGoD (funny acronym  :lol:) and have to agree that it did seem to be a whole lot of filler for the main course with a small bit of plot progression as a side. However I still enjoyed the book, Ray knows how to write engaging page turning fiction, unfortunately the page turning does not last very long as its only 320 pages of relatively large print.

I really feel that the Demonwar saga should have only been one book and not a standalone series. Rides a Dread Legion and At the Gates of Darkness should have been one 700page book as the story would feel more natural as one book of a larger series. I get the feeling that the Demonwar and Chaoswar series are really one series which were split by Ray's publishers for marketing reasons.

Spoiler: AtGoD Spoilers • show
I did enjoy learning more about Demons and the 5th circle especially the civil war and how there are separate Kingdoms and the Demons the Elves have been fighting are from the out edges of the Demon society. I have enjoyed seeing the progression of some of the recently added characters such as Amiranthia, Sandrena and Jim Dasher. I hope the Chaoswar saga features more of the Star Elves as they were barely in this book (except the 2 brothers), in RaDL it seemed the Star Elves would be the focal point for this book.

I must admit to being disappointed that the Demonwar Saga did not turn out to be a massive demon invasion of Midkemia, Ray could have written another series along the lines of the Serpantwar Saga with full blown military combat with all the nations of Midkemia uniting under the direction of the Conclave.


To sum up I did enjoy reading the book and I must disagree with other peoples comment as I certainly do not think this is Rays worst book I can think of at least 5/6 worse books. However it did not live up to its potential, I hope the next book follows on from this as there is still a lot of storylines which can be explored with the current set of characters and political landscape, I hope we don't jump another 10-100 years for the next story.
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romana

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2010, 12:01:22 AM »

ok, just finished AtGoD and I really enjoyed it! I actually do agree that it would have been well placed to join it with RaDL, much like Magician was made of two "books" (in the Australian edition anyway).
ok, what I enjoyed in AtGoD:
Spoiler: show
Sandreena - I like a girl who can yield a mace. Learning more about Demons and their society. The relationship between Gulamendis and Laro - reminds of Jimmy and Lockyear. Sun Elves - very interesting group. The hints of what is to come - the Void and the two waves of devastation. I can only surmise that the Demons are the first, and what the demons are fighting themselves are the second wave that Midkemia has to worry about. Discussion for the next books thread maybe? Always find it ammusing to read references to past characters - the mention of the book written by Roo, found by Arimantha.


what I wasn't so keen on:
Spoiler: show
lack of action from Sun elves and demons. I was totally expecting at least some major conflict with one of the other, so maybe it was just my own expectations that got in the way, rather than the actual story. Thought there were some good opportunities to flesh out the book more, but either it was written short or was edited a lot. Oh well.



Overall I really enjoyed it. Of course, now is the long wait till the next installment. I also hope that not too much time passes between this storyline and the next book. I think there is ample opportunity for them to  be clos in timeline.
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ButtSlappingPirate

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2010, 03:16:46 AM »

Well I logged in here to see if I had to buy this immediately from Amazon.co.uk and pay the extra cost and shipping charges because it was such and awesome and mind-blowing novel....or whether I should just wait until April when it's released in the States and save about 50% of the cost....

Looks like I'm waiting until April....

I'm a little annoyed that there's a four month delay between the UK release, and the USA release. In addition, given what I've seen of the spoilers, and other comments from those who've read the book, I get the sense that these books are being deliberately spread out over four freaking years simply to generate some extra cash....and with the current economy, I don't think that it's going to work.

I think it's a good thing that this series is ending soon, because I'm not sure I want to spend another decade waiting for the end of another series; I feel like this series truly began with Talon, and hasn't really had a conclusion of any sort since then. This is probably why I'm now trying to write my own books, simply because it's getting a bit old having to wait a year between stories....and yes, I'm impatient.

Well, I'll be back in again, whenever....probably after I read the book.
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Great One

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2010, 04:24:32 AM »

Read other books.

Unlike some other successful SFF writers, Ray is continuing to publish works (for better or worse) nearly every year. We may call  question to the quality of the novels he is releasing, but as far as international releases go, there is always the option of ordering it online at no extra charge. Better that (if you're a fan) than forking out unseemly extra money for the novels.
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romana

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2010, 03:40:41 AM »

is it too early to start a thread on the next book? discussion of what we think may happen what we would like to happen, given what occured in AtGoD?
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Great One

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2010, 04:21:53 AM »

I usually wait until I've either read the book myself, but I'm lagging behind as of now. So, go ahead, if you like. ;) If not, I'll get around to it myself.
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charles

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #30 on: February 15, 2010, 12:51:45 AM »

I must confess, I found aTGoD a disappointment.  It was a nice enough book to read but it just felt like there was so much untapped potential.  RaDL was awesome in comparison, with the Star Elves and introduction of new characters such as Amirantha, but this just seemed to completely lack any character progression or the usual intrigues in the various nations.  I don't know if I'd agree with others that aTGoD and RaDL should be one book, I'd just like to have seen aTGoD be a fuller, richer book.  Maybe I'm too harsh as I did enjoy the Star Elf brother's adventure and their discoveries. It just feels like there was very little progression all together and a lot of setup with various little hints and occurances which will probably only be explained and make sense in the next book or two.  The majority of the book really felt like a retelling of an RPG campaign with the PCs speculating on what to do.

To be fair again there were good parts such as the Star Elf brother's entire adventure and discoveries, plus I thought the information about the demon relm interesting.

Spoiler: show
The really strange thing is Belasco's hint at the beginning that he was leading them on a false trail while he worked the real evil elsewhere.  Then we get the hints from Jimmy that it's a trap (which it was) and the Oracle that they're fighting a distraction from the real danger but in the end, summoning a demon prince doesn't seem like a distraction they can ignore and Belasco seems to treat it like the main event.  Heck, it was even more surprising to find that his ultimate goal in all of this had simply been the first event in RaDL to kill his brother by altering a summoning and the rest was apparently just him caught in over his head (although it is half explained away by him simply being a mad man).  I'm also a bit puzzled as to why Macros and the others were captured at all in the end as it seemed an almost pointless part of the story not to mention the whole investigation into the Demon Gate which pretty much resulted in the simple fact that it had to be destroyed.  But I guess you can put that back to Pug's previous experience at trying to blow things up without further investigation.
aTGoD
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Great One

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #31 on: February 15, 2010, 01:45:52 AM »

First thing: welcome to the Hall!

The majority of the book really felt like a retelling of an RPG campaign with the PCs speculating on what to do.

Huh, just a thought:
Maybe the more we narrow down Midkemian Time until the end, the closer we come to the real story, i.e. the RPG campaign that this was spawned from?

Perhaps, Ray feels he's been insufficient at pulling the objects (and players) into place up until now, and is facing a mad dash? A reason I'd dismiss this would be that the page size is getting smaller with his novels. If there were details worth cramming, we wouldn't be looking at books around 300 pages long.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2010, 03:47:04 AM by Great One »
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charles

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #32 on: February 15, 2010, 05:40:09 AM »

I always thought that he was very much using the old RPG campaign that this is based on but just as a very high-level guide to where he had to go.  Even if they weren't essential I think he could have brought in the nearby dwarf group in some way.  Have Sandreena go through some sort of negotiation with them to gain assistance in the coming battle (heck, they're dwarfs so they're probably peeved they weren't invited *lol*).  But also a chance to hear from another unexplored group who might have some old tales or lore that could add to the information and just the general niceties of describing a new race/group, their history and their home as we got with the introduction of the Star and Sun elves together with the Dark War saga through Roldem which allowed us to meet a variety of new groups and peoples there.

But in most RPG campaigns you get very little character development on the PC characters (except they get more powerful with more XP) and often not a lot of large movement in the political situations of the nations (taking territory, etc).  In nearly all of Feist's books I've often thought he's done very well to compensate for it by adding in all sorts of detail, relatively insignificant to the greater battle that appears to be going on, but which I found interesting and fasinating.  Heck, if you think about it Talon's entire quest over two books was relatively pointless as all he was needed for (in the greater scheme) was to get into Sidi's tower but IMHO it was one of Feist's greatest tales since Magician when we followed Pug in a relatively similar way that we followed Talon, introducing us to a previously unknown part of Midkemia.

In any story you have the overall plot that you need to follow and quite possibly you just need to position your characters and set the scene for upcoming plot events.  But in it all you have a lot of fluff and buffer, fleshing out things that aren't so important to the major plot but which help further develop the world and characters in it.  Feist has been great at this in the past since he's got the entire world of Midkemia with all it's various nations and races to share with us and the story has nevery stayed too heavily (about the only places we've visited repeatedly have been Elvandar and Korondor).

Spoiler: show
Did we ever find out why Pug was spending so much time at Stardock?  Thats probably what I'm talking about with so much untapped potential.  It's like there were a lot of things half-started and then never finished or followed up on.  Even with Belasco, it felt like he initially intended to go somewhere else, far more epic and significant than where he went but then just made the 4 towers the true goal and simply had them attack it capture Macros, Sandreena and Kaspar for no good reason other than to have them tied up in front of Belasco to witness the battle of wills with the Demon prince.  Its just odd to think that they could have gone in guns blazing and simply destroyed the tower at the very beginning to save them all the heartache and threats at the end.  With Sidi in Kaspar's tower, you had the excuse that he was well guarded against magick users so they needed Talon to get them in.

MAJOR atGoD spoilers
« Last Edit: February 16, 2010, 10:01:12 AM by charles »
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Spuduka

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #33 on: February 26, 2010, 12:21:55 PM »

In the middle of reading it, enthralled   :elf_drow:
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Liallan

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #34 on: April 01, 2010, 02:19:42 PM »

Read it in about two sittings - it was a real page-turner for me. And now I'm surprised by the vastly negative reviews on Amazon and such. I enjoyed the book and while I can think of stuff that could've been done better, there was nothing important that really stuck out at me while reading to ruin the experience. It didn't read like filler to me, either. It's an information-gathering story, sure - you know, the same thing the most exciting spy and conspiracy stories tend to center on - but I thought that was a given. They're facing demons and know next to nothing about them, from another dimension. It would have felt very bland and unrealistic to me if they had simply plunged into all the flashy fighting, instead.

The only thing I disliked were some writing style issues - both typos and misspellings and punctuation errors, which were the most disconcerting aspect, as I'm not used to seeing them outside of mediocre fanfiction. (There are times when I feel it might be deliberate, to convey a particular effect or impression of intonation, but it didn't work for me.) Then there was the extremely disconcerting literally copy-pasted description of Dahun in the first and last chapters. I'm not entirely sure what those four editors get paid for. Also, some of the writing devices were somewhat primitive and transparent, such as "Character X said blah blah blah and Character Y knew that Character X was thinking about Z", or the somewhat cartoony "I wonder how Character X is doing?" out of the blue, followed by a perspective switch to Character X.

Another detail that stuck out at me, content-wise... After they barely manage to escape a world with a volcanic eruption in time, Magnus makes the brilliant suggestion of sending scrying orbs or something through the portals in the future, before stepping in bodily. A fine suggestion, but looking before you jump isn't just something you'd expect a novice to know, it's common sense. Pug's been doing world-hopping for about two hundred years and is supposed to have investigated lots of worlds by now. He should have been doing this all along, there's really no way around it. (Though they DO seem rather short on personal contingencies, such as those that would save one from having one's throat torn out by an ambushing demon...) However, given that the story would have turned out no different if they HAD sent a scrying ball through (and consequently seen that no eruption was happening just yet) before walking in, I'm willing to let that slide as a minor logic oversight.

That complaint aside, I think it fit well together. I've read complaints about a lack of taredhel and Tomas appearances and such, but that didn't bother me. For me, the theme of the book was set very clearly at the very beginning - the plot revolves around gathering information (which makes sense, given the mystical and disastrous events in the previous book). The Conclave got caught off guard, big time, and it was clear from the beginning that the point was to retreat, regroup, and rethink their strategy. It never occurred to me to expect a book thick with epic battles against demons or anything. After RaDL, now was clearly not the time to hack away without asking questions first.

I complained about the characterisation in RaDL. I found AtGoD a huge improvement. Subtle, showing and not telling, simple words and actions without needless narrative clogging them up, allowing the reader to interpret them at will. I didn't care for Sandreena or Jim in RaDL but feel that they've been really fleshed out here. Amirantha was likewise enjoyable to read about it. Magnus, sadly, remains very undefined, little more than a walking magic cannon and someone for Pug to emote over. A pity, since all he really needs is a couple of scenes focused on him to flesh him out. I don't think I remember any scene where we actually see Magnus on his own, interacting with other people or making decisions, rather than serving as a magical crutch to Pug. Something as simple as showing his conversation with the Quegan spy and his reactions to her advances, rather than being TOLD about it by Pug, would have done him wonders.

By contrast, the relationship between the taredhel brothers was established well and their personalities and distinct differences fleshed out more. I was worried at the beginning that the taredhel brothers would feel interchangeable, but a subtle yet definite dynamic established itself. Gulamendis emerged as the protective more cynical and pragmatic older brother sort, Laro as the roguish charming slightly naive and absent-minded younger brother who's willing to look to him for leadership and guidance. And they're both rascals. I've read someone say that their relationship is vaguely reminiscent of the old Jimmy/Locky one, and I agree.

Spoiler: show
The little trip of the taredhel brothers definitely did their characterisation a lot of good, and was a pleasant surprise, because I hadn't expected them see them in such a big predicament in their first appearance in this book and was thus hooked from the start. This part was the biggest page turner because they were completely on their own, with no way to expect support from anyone, and it was so easy to envision their adventure coming to a horrible and very sudden end. (Particularly after they DO nearly drown after stepping through a rift.)

Pug's luxurious infiltration of Queg was a nice contrast (with the brothers on a demon-infested world feeding off lizards and all). I also liked how it showcased his limits. On occasion he's been sliding into the boring invincible character territory, where one would think that he could get away with anything, but this drew a few lines. He may be one of the most powerful magicians but if he wants to just pop into the Quegan Imperial Library for an extended search for helpful information, he can't really take advantage of his magic without inevitably causing mass-scale problems with horrible political implications. For all his power, he's not above the laws of the workings of Midkemian society.


In general, I really liked that the book focused on this rather tightly-knit little group of ragtag heroes, rather than branching out to epic developments on the front of the eledhel, taredhel and humans. It gave it a sort of "fellowship" feel. And yes, it's essentially a story of solving mysteries and putting the pieces together (or even gathering the pieces first) rather than a standard fantasy epic, but that was perfectly enjoyable to me.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2010, 02:25:06 PM by Liallan »
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Take other people's opinions with a pinch of salt. Take your own opinion with a heapload of it.

Great One

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #35 on: April 06, 2010, 05:06:10 PM »

The book has been released today in the US. I know a few of you hail from there, so how did you acquire your new copies? From abroad or elsewhere?
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Ashen_Joe

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #36 on: April 07, 2010, 09:02:32 PM »

ugh.....I wasn't to into AtGoD, i felt it had the same feel as Legion...To much empty space, still can't stand or understand what the point of Sandreenas character was. I don't know, I'm to the point where i think Ray is just fulfilling his contracts. I'm feeling he's lost touch with his own world. It feels like every early chapter is just one big run on sentence heh. Maybe i'm just wearing my rosey shades. I'm trying to remember or capture for me where in my eyes he started to slip.
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charles

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #37 on: April 08, 2010, 12:55:55 AM »

Yeah, Sandreena seemed like a very hollow character in AtGoD.  I found I could connect with her much better in RaDL but even then I feel like her own exploits in the series are almost unnecessary and just a way for Feist to either fill in some blank space or show something pointless that he could have had another character seek out.  She could have been a wonderful character to help us flesh out the religious orders and maybe show some of the intrigue and politics that might be played there, but all it seemed to amount to was petty behaviour from one high ranking figure that seemed more like childish sulking and put-downs than any real menace.

I remember some old comment when he was creating AtGoD that it would change the nation's views on Stardock forever or some such thing.  There was some mention of Pug spending some time there but then it never featured again except for some explaination about the island/organisation.

Even their trip to a foreign country seemed to indicate that it was a trecherous journey, but I never really felt like they were ever in any danger or that they truly had to be careful.  I'm not even sure they had a single close encounter.

Once again, I don't mind the story and there was a good deal of interesting information about demons, but it just felt like it had so much potential to be more.
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ElAguila

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #38 on: April 09, 2010, 04:32:16 AM »

I just finished this one. It was one of those books that leaves me with mixed feelings. There were things I liked and things that I didn't about this. I will use spoilers for all of the comments just in case.

Likes:
Spoiler: show
I liked learning more details about the demon realm and the fifth circle. The adventures of the 2 star elf brothers was interesting. I was very interested in the rift gate/device they found before they went to Sorceror's Isle. I liked that it finally brought an end to Belasco and his sneaking to and fro. I liked the idea that Pug now had people in position to bring in so many troops from so many different kingdoms on a moments notice to combat evil for a greater good.


Dislikes:
Spoiler: show
I didn't like that the first book of the series really built up the star elves and their conflict with the demons and their ideas and plans for Midkemia and their resentment/disrespect for the elves in Elvandar. And then in this book we only heard about the 2 brothers and nothing else from them. I really thought Tomas would have played a greater role in this. I mean if Pug thought a demon gate had any chance of being opened, I would have thought he would asked Tomas to come. He could have not only physically overpowered demons but still has some lingering magic of the Valheru. I was kind of disappointed with the end. I also was expecting a massive invasion and long battle that maybe swayed back and forth as far as the outcome. That just didn't happen in this book.


Overall enjoy reading all of REF's books. But for the last couple of series weren't quite the same as how I felt about the Riftwar and Serpentwar series. But that is my opinion. I am looking forward to his next release.
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carltonec

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Re: At the Gates of Darkness Thread
« Reply #39 on: April 10, 2010, 01:17:50 AM »

Finished reading this last night, and I really liked it, except I have so many questions now. :)
There does seem to be a few things that "start", but don't seem to finish. I am a major fan of Ray's, so for me this is acceptable, but still it has me scratching my head.
These are a few of my thoughts:

Spoiler: At the Gates of Darkness • show
The demon brothers... what happened to finding out who they were? It seems after they found the demon book written by some unknown person, the demon brothers story ended. No word as to who they actually were, or if it holds any kind of importance. The author of the demon book seemed to have got his info straight from a demon, but this did not explain who the demon brothers were, or why the story was even brought up. Is it possible that the demon brothers were actually Dahun and Belasco? Did their 'partnership' go that far back? Could the author of the book have been Macros?

Macros. They find a den that he had, and it seems like he wanted them to find it, but they found nothing of value? The books are mostly copies?
The battle at the end seemed WAY too easy. More of a skirmish.


And, here are a few things I think would really kick arse in the next series:
Spoiler:  • show
What if Macros IS the main bad guy? :)
What if Pug had to travel in time and bring all of these heroes we have read about (Arutha, Jimmy the Hand, Eric, Amos Trask, Guy du Bas Tyra, etc) FORWARD in time to help with the most epic battle midkemia has ever seen?


I enjoyed this book, but I really don't know what it accomplished. Pug learned that there are 2 waves of trouble coming. But that seems to be it.  :o
« Last Edit: April 10, 2010, 01:47:01 AM by carltonec »
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