(Blades of the Moonsea, Book II)
A Forgotten Realms novel
Corsair is the second adventure featuring Garen Hulmaster. The adventure begins only a few months after the events in the first Blades of the Moonsea novel, Swordmage. As with any series, it’s helpful to read the books in sequence but in this case that really doesn’t matter too much. The main characters – heroes and villains – are introduced in the first couple of chapters and everything you need to know from the first book is summarized nicely.
The town of Hulburg is still recovering from the attack it face a few months earlier. As Hulburg’s population swells gangs begin filling the streets, the most problematic of which are the Cinderfists. And if problems at home weren’t enough, piracy on the Moonsea has also become more brazen and more frequent. Goods are not getting to their intended destination and everyone is suffering for it.
The Harmach decides to fight back in the only way that his limited resources allow. He authorizes Garen to amass a crew of soldiers, equip a fast ship and go on the offense looking for the pirates.
It doesn’t take long for Garen and his companions to get into trouble. While docked in a known pirate refuge, Garen, Hamil and Sarth find themselves in a position to infiltrate one of the pirate ships. For the next week they learn the way things work on a pirate ship making friends and enemies alike. Their real challenge is figuring out how to stop these pirates from attacking innocent ships and villages while the heroes maintain their cover.
A climatic battle marking the book’s mid-point shifts events from the sea of Falling Stars to the Sea of Night. Pirate ships take to the night skies in flight. The adventure takes on a whole new peril as stopping piracy becomes secondary to rescuing innocent captives kidnapped during a recent raid.
I really enjoyed Corsair. I’m not a big fan of stories that take place at sea, but this was a clear exception. Too many authors go overboard describing how ships work and throwing around too much nautical jargon. Corsair provides enough explanation of what’s happening without bogging down the story with ship-speak. The focus is where it belongs: on the story and the characters.
Garen Hulmaster is a cool and powerful character. His statistics can be found in the heroes section of the Character Builder (yet another reason to subscribe to Dungeons & Dragons Insider). He’s a 12th level Swordmage. His abilities are above average (house ruled) but this is kind of expected since he’s the main character of the Blades of the Moonsea series. The story would certainly take in interesting twist if Garen dies because he’s got a low Dexterity.
His companions are Hamil, a Halfling Rogue and Sarth, a Tiefling Sorcerer. I’d put Hamil around Garen’s level but I suspect Sarth is a few level’s higher. Both are interesting in their own right, but this story does very little to further develop these characters. They are supporting characters in this tale and you get just enough to keep them interesting.
Corsair is self-contained and as mentioned above you don’t have to read this first novel, Swordmage, to understand what’s going on. The story arc pertaining to the pirates is nicely wrapped up by the end of this novel. However, some big events happen in the background that set up the plot for the third and final novel, Avenger. As the title implies someone’s been wronged and they’re not too happy about it.
8 on a d10.