Corsair by Richard Baker- This is the second book in the Blades of the Moonsea trilogy. The first being Swordmage and the last book is called Avenger, which is due out in March of 2010. This trilogy is set in the Forgotten Realm universe. Richard Baker has written numerous novels for the Forgotten Realms and others. Some of his notable works in the Realms include; The Last Mythal trilogy (Forsaken House, Farthest Reach, and Final Gate), The Shadow Stone (part of The Adventures series), Easy Betrayals (a book in the Double Diamond Triangle Saga), The City of Ravens (part of The Cities series), and the third book in the War of the Spider Queen series called Condemnation.
The story picks back up a few months after the events in Swordmage. We find Geran Hulmaster returning to Hulburg after a visiting his mother. During the journey back, Geran comes across two ships that are beached on the coast. While one ship, a merchant ship, is being searched through by the pirates that took it, Geran notices that they have captured a young woman from the merchant ship and takes the risk to save her. He does and finds out that she was traveling to Hulburg to take control of one of the merchant companies, which her family owns. After returning to Hulburg, the harmach decides to put a stop to the pirates attacking ships that are bond for Hulburg. Geran is to captain the ship to search out the pirates along side with his spellscarred cousin, Kara, the ghostwise halfling, Hamil, and the teifling mage, Sarth. After sailing around the Moonsea, Geran, Hamil, and Sarth find a pirate ship and become part of its crew. During their journey as being pirates, Geran finds out that the High Captain of the corsairs, or pirates, is his disgraced uncle, Kamoth, who tried to take the throne of Hulburg from Geran's other uncle. Slowly the trio finds out the plans the corsairs have with Hulburg and try to stop it. However, back in Hulburg, militia groups are terrorizing the town. But things aren't as they seem with the terrorizing gangs. Can Geran stop the corsairs in there plans and will Hulburg survive another tempt at usurping power?
1) Pacing. While this story is better paced than Swordmage, it still feels a little slow at times and to fast at others. There were many chapters that just dragged on for one reason or another. It's really hard to pin down exactly why they felt like the dragged on, they just did. As for the fast paced chapters, they just didn't really flow too well. It felt rushed through, thus making it harder to follow. The scenes in which this is apparent are when the trio are corsairs in order to find out their plans. There were some chapters in which things just progressed to quickly and it felt like there was a lot of things left unsaid and undone. I do have to say that the pacing is still better than Swordmage, but there still was a lot of problems.
2) Sudden Appearances. Where did Sarth and Kara come from? There absolute sudden appearance aboard the Seadrake, the ship that Geran takes to find the pirates, was a little more than startling. Honestly, I just thought that Hamil is the only one joining Geran on the mission. Then to have a really brief sentence saying that Sarth and Kara are aboard wasn't right and it really felt stupid. This might be a small issue, but it still really bothered me nonetheless.
3) Hulburg Plot. I honestly didn't really care for the whole subplot involving Hulburg. While it was well written, it just felt really simple. Also, it was just a plain rehash of the events that occurred in Swordmage, with a few changes. I didn't care about it because the Hulmaster's are just plain dumb and clueless. Sure it helps the plot, but everything just screamed, "Look at what just happened in Swordmage, and you're just going to sit and have pretty much the same thing happen again?" It just annoyed me. However, it was better thought out than what happened in Swordmage.
1) Characters. While some have the same blandness as in Swordmage, the ones in this novel are better. Geran is a deeper character than he was. Before, he had little to no personality. Now, you can really see the motivations he has and how that affects him in more emotional and personal ways. He is just better. Hamil did feel more of an important character than before. He had more of a presence and it was hard for me not to like him. Finally, Sarth was still interesting. Some of his mysteriousness vanished, but he still was an interesting character to read about. The best scenes with him have to do with his time being a corsair with the others, it just made him into a better defined character than he was.
2) Plots. The plots really were better because their weren't ten or so going on at once. The main plot of Geran tracking down the pirates was much easier to follow and simpler. Then the events that happen within the main plot line do feel like they would be problems instead of some random thing that doesn't feel like it would affect the plot. The secondary plots are better because they are smaller and didn't take you out of the main story. It just was better all around.
3) The Ending. The last five or so chapters were plain amazing. In one chapter, the crew is utterly amazed and astonished at what they are seeing and I felt the same way when reading it. The descriptions of this 'alien' place was just awe-inspiring and beautiful, but totally foreign and unknown. Then all the events that take place after this, were exciting and satisfying. It just was a great ending.
1) Kara. I was actually kind of glad of how little we see of her. She wasn't a good character in Swordmage because she really had nothing interesting to her character. The less I saw of her, the happy I was. I'm not saying that she won't be a great character, I really do think she would be, but it feels like she is just being misused.
2) Chapter 23. Two words. Wonderful and beautiful. Just the sense of wonderment the crew had, I had. Then the descriptions were just wonderful.
3) Cover Art. I like the art work here a lot. It's not as busy as the art work for Swordmage and there's Sarth in the back ground so that gives it some props.
Corsair really improves on everything that Swordmage had problems with. The plot lines are simpler and more to the point, no more lollygagging. The characters are improved, most of them were better developed and much more interesting. The only big problem was how the pacing was off for most of the story. It was mostly slow, but there were times in which things felt rushed. Even with that problem, I did have a harder time putting the book down for too long. All in all, Corsair is a big improvement over Swordmage.