Review: undead (The Haunted Lands, Book II)

undead (The Haunted Lands, Book II)
Title:  undead (The Haunted Lands, Book II)
Author:  Richard Lee Byers
Published: March 2008
Genre:  Fantasy, Horror, Dungeons & Dragons
Review:  It’s ten years into the war that started in “unclean” and the lands of Thay are bleak and dying.  This isn’t really a problem for Szass Tam’s legions of undead, but for the Council, the rest of the Zulkirs opposing him, they see a country that will be barely habitable if they don’t finish the war soon.  Weary of the decade long war, the leader of the Griffon Legion, Aoth Fezim even contemplates abandoning the cause for greener pastures.  In a battle that should have gone the Council’s way, a bit of espionage turns the tide in favor of Szass Tam.  As he’s about to have his victory, though, Mystra, Goddess of Magic, is assassinated, unraveling the Weave, and causing the Spellplague, which renders all arcane magic nearly useless and allows the Council to survive the battle.
At their next battle, the Council’s forces are fairing well and look to have a chance of winning the day, before Szass Tam begins to unleash the powers he bargained from the evil god, Bane, and a long time ally turns his coat.  As Tam’s forces assault the port city in which the Council has taken refuge, the Council slips off across the water, burning the boats they don’t need, abandoning Thay to Tam.
In an attempt to finish the Council once and for all, Szass Tam conjures up boats for his minions, and draws on the waning powers Bane had given him to summon a few more undead sea creatures.  They chase down and join battle with the Council.  When the last trick he has up his sleeve is beaten, Tam is forced to concede defeat and pull back to Thay, and what remains of the Council has to try to find new lives in exile.

Bottom Line:  This installment of the series provides more new(ish) undead, plenty of face time for some of your favorite characters, like Aoth Fezim, Bareris Anskuld and Tannith, Mirror, and Malark Springhill.  It has betrayal, allegiance changes, a number of large battles, and the first look at the Spellplague…and what it did to casters, magic, and the land itself.  I’m not sure how well it would stand as a story by itself, but it’s a good series book.

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