Set in the Forgotten Realms the book is fairly fast moving and has a good plot and nice plot/character development. There are places where the book seems to me to a little over written as in when internal dialogues go on and on but on the whole I'll go a low 4 stars.
Okay, So I was totally dreading this book, and it turned out to be way better than I thought!
Determined to unravel the mystery of the azure bonds, Alias joins forces with a mute lizard warrior, an exotic mage and a greedy halfling bard on an adventure that pits her against assassins, dragons, and worse. Certainly the strongest-written of five Realms novels (at the time of release), Azure Bonds weaves a tale of intrigue from the get-go. The amnesia plot propels the story forward - and thanks to the supporting cast, particularly the amoral halfling "bard" Olive Ruskettle, the novel attains new levels of character development for the setting, with character growth and change taking place in the course of the book. New villains seem to pop up at every turn as Alias and her companions slowly get to the bottom of the mystery of the tattoo. Alias is certainly the Realms character with the most cinematic appeal to a more general audience - she's an attractive, strong female lead whose backstory nicely treads familiar sci-fi beats.
In fact, she can't remember much about her recent past, and comes to wonder if her more distant memories are even real.
I know Ive mentioned before that a lot of Forgotten Realms novels read like Dungeons and Dragons modules, but this one is a little out of hand. Of course, thats not necessarily a bad thing Dont get me wrong, this was still a great book for the exact reasons it sounds like Im criticizing above. Continuing to set the stage An obviously recurring theme in most of these event reviews is that these early works helped to pave the way for future fantasy (and not just Forgotten Realms fantasy). While most of the characters and settings in Azure Bonds dont actually go on to impact much of future Forgotten Realms fiction, it did later grow into a trilogy, which also spawned several connected novels afterwards that were among some of my personal favorites in the Realms. The Gold Box Dungeons and Dragons games (starting with Pool of Radiance, just before Curse of the Azure Bonds) had a huge impact on the future of RPG gaming. You should read this book because it tells a great, engaging story of struggle and overcoming odds. But in all seriousness, as a child and early teen, I must have read this book a dozen times, and the action and pacing keep it engaging every time, even when you know how it ends.
Azure Bonds is not a bad book, as such. The original Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy also has a tie-in series of adventure modules, and the Avatar trilogy that updated the Realms for AD&D 2nd Edition has a module trilogy where the player characters can follow along the events of the novels. Azure Bonds kills time without killing brain cells and has an interesting position in the history of tie-in fiction, but that's the beginning and end of its virtues.
As compared to some contemporary fantasy I have read, the density of this book's plot is ridiculous: you get dragons, demons, the undead, assassinations, gods, rites, swordplay, magical duels, mystery, prophesy, characters that win your sympathy, and a story that *actually ends at the close of the book*. This is good fiction done well.
Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb are co-authors of the best-selling Finder's Stone Trilogy, and collaborated on the book Azure Bonds.