The Simbul: Hail yourself Witch of Shadowdale.
Syluné: Others of (our) sisters have vigor, and low contacts across Faerûn, and a love for danger. I have something rarer: patience.
The Simbul: While I have a hunger to kill Red Wizards.
I picked up this book based on recommendations by others. I asked if there were any books that dealt with the Seven Sisters and The Simbul in particular. This book was mentioned, but with a caveat that many people didn't like it.
I went into the book with an open mind. I think I had it better than many becuase I have not really read a lot of Forgotten Realms books yet so I really had nothing to compare it too. I really enjoyed the idea of the basic structure; seven short stories featuring each sister in an over-arching plot. It is certainly a good idea, but how was it executed? Well...I'll get to that in a bit.
First up though, who are the Seven Sisters? Well to people like me who are new to the Realms even I have heard of these women. They are sisters (in the biological and mystical senses of the word) and daughters of the Goddess of Magic Mystra. They had a human father and mother as well, but they are Mystra's. "Chosen" in the book (though there are other Chosen). They all share some basic traits, they are immortal, immune to some magics, unearthly beautiful (natch) and all have long silver hair.
They are (in order of their stories in the book):
Dove Falconhand, a renowned Knight of Myth Drannor.
Qilué Veladorn, a drow (her parent were human) and high priestess of he good drow goddess Eilistraee.
Laeral Silverhand, the Lady Mage of Waterdeep.
Alustriel, Lady of Silverymoon.Syluné, Witch of Shadowdale and a ghost.
The Simbul, the Witch-Queen of Aglarond and maybe the most powerful.
Storm Silverhand, Harper, sorceress and Bard of Shadowdale.
One thing is obvious from the start. Greenwood loves these characters. They are very well defined in his mind and each has a unique voice. He makes you want to love them as well. Sadly that makes some of the issues with the book more pronounced.
The overall story is an interesting one. There is a conspiracy of drow masquerading as humans, slavers, the involvement of various sell-swords, Red Wizards and Priestesses of Shar. How are all of these various factions related? Why are they working together? What is their aim?
Each story follows a formula. The Sisters discovers the activity of some group with nefarious ends. The Sister goes in magics a-blazin' (more or less) and takes out all the mooks, some other big-badder guy comes in and beats the sister to a bloody pulp (sometimes magically, sometimes physically), she has to tag in the next sister. Again there is nothing wrong with a formula, and if it is done well it can be a satisfying build up to a conclusion.
Sadly that is not what we get really. The conclusion never lives up to the build up. The troubles the sisters have never really justify the eventual revealed plot.
I had some other issues as well. Each sister has some reason to take off her clothes and move around naked. Even the ghost. Granted for some, like Qilué, this is needed. She is a High Priestess of Eilistraee so it is part of her religion. Also there is an awful lot of the sisters kissing others "passionately" even people they just met or people they by no logical means should be kissing. I guess this is all "fan service" really.
There is a bigger issue though. The Sisters go in to each conflict over-confident and underestimating their enemy. I get they are super-powerful and there needs be conflict worthy of their skills. But sometimes they make really dumb choices to get to that point. Not ones that powerful, intelligent, immortal magic wielding women should make. Compare their actions to those of another powerful witch Rachel Morgan. Rachel makes mistakes, but Rachel is in her mid-20s for most of her series and still learning. The mistakes she make makes in her first books would not be repeated in later books.
They need to act a little more intelligent and a little less "Chaotic Bimbo".
To be fair, everyone told me this was a problem with this book. I did enjoy it.
I was just hoping for more.
Books Read so far: 8
Witches in this book: Certainly The Simbul and Syluné. Maybe even Qilué. Myra the Dark is described as a cleric, but is very much a witch of Shar.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Mostly good, Myra is obviously evil.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Again, any edition of D&D would work, but this one is 3rd Edition. It does allow for better multiclassing. Most of the material though is based on the 2nd Edition versions I think.
Use in WotWQ: Hell yes! Like with Spellfire, this book is filled with ideas. I will certainly use these characters in my games. Now that I am playing in the Realms maybe the "Witch Queen" that is killed to start the War of the Witch Queens is The Simbul? I would hate to do that, but it would be a seismic shift in the game.