The Emerald Scepter by Thomas M. Reid- This is the second book in The Scions of Arrabar Trilogy. The first book is called The Sapphire Crescent and the second book is called The Ruby Guardian. The Emerald Scepter is set in the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting. Thomas M. Reid's other Forgotten Realms novels include; The Empyrean Odyssey (The Gossamer Plain, The Fractured Sky, and The Crystal Mountain) and one book in R. A. Salvatore's War of the Spider Queen series called Insurrection. His other works include; Truth & Steel, Forged, The Temple of Elemental Evil, and Gridrunner. He has also contributed a number of short stories to various anthologies. The trilogy is currently only available used or from online sellers, as far as I can tell. The Emerald Scepter was released in 2005 by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
The following summary will contain spoilers for The Sapphire Crescent and The Ruby Guardian.
We pick up exactly where The Ruby Guardian left off. Vambran Matrell comes face to face his uncle Kovrim, who is now a mindless zombie, in the city of Reth. Vambran and his druid companion, Arbeenok, find themselves in the middle of a zombie plague while trying to rescue Vambran's captured mercenary company. With Arbeenok by Vambran's side, the duo goes on a quest to find a way to stop the plague, which takes them underwater and into more peril. We shift back to the city of Arrabar to find Vambran's younger sister, Emriana, trapped in a mirror. After being released by a person who wants revenge, Emriana may have wished to stay in the mirror. At the same time, a Waukeen (the goddess of coin and wealth) priest names Pilos is captured and is being led to his death. But a friendly old lady may just save his life. Finally, we see some of Vambran's lieutenants on their way back to Arrabar to help protect Vambran's family, but things get complicated. Can Vambran and Arbeenok find a cure in time to save Reth and stop the plague? Will Emriana escape her imprisonment and find revenge? Will Pilos escape and bring those corrupt in Waukeen's service to justice? Can Vambran's lieutenants help protect the family?
1) Love Interest. There are really two problems with love interests in this book. The first problem is that one of them is awkwardly placed, concerning Emriana and Pilos. The other I won't touch on in this point. Why is Em and Pilos' love interested terrible? It was sudden, and, quite honestly, unreal. It just wasn't placed well at all. For one thing, in The Ruby Guardian, which is the first time Em and Pilos meet, they have this awkward, forced chemistry between them. Not to mention that Pilos wasn't really a well-developed character (in fact, he mostly felt tacked on) in that book. Then in this book, we have all these clues that they like one another, but it just doesn't feel right. It would have been different if in the first book that this relationship started, but having it start late in the second book and carry over to the third book, it just didn't work. It just was unbelievable and silly.
2) Vambran's 'Loves'. This is the other love interest problem. The reason it's not in with the above problem because there is no 'interest', just Vambran being a seemingly irresistible man who every women in the story wants a piece of (well, almost every). Once again, this issue stems from the second book and just gets worse. In The Ruby Guardian, we have Vambran have some 'playtime' with a druid leader. This was a little more understandable due to the fact that the druid said that she liked him from the moment she saw him and that they actually had some chemistry. That's fine, and that love 'plot' was okay. Then later in The Ruby Guardian, we meet someone else who's 'shared Vambran's bed' in the past. I was okay with this as well. At least there was no awkward sex transitions with that 'interest'. In fact, this person Vambran doesn't do the deed with! Hooray! Now we get to the part that ruins any illusion of Vambran's not being a male prostitute. In this story, Vambran goes off and has 'fun' with a sea elf. There doesn't seem to be a reason, other than the sea elf wanting Vambran. Sure, there may have been a dilute and trivial reason, but it just wasn't written very well. In fact, this made me go back and question Vambran's hook up with the druid and the other woman. The sea elf tainted my view of him. The fact the Vambran is doing these things with almost completely random women, just disgusted me. I'm okay with having sex in the stories, it's fine most of the time. But when you make a decent character into some kind of 'player', it just ruins anything heroic or noble about him. It's just disgusting.
1) Minor Characters. I do have to say that in this story the minor characters are fairly good. They aren't wonderful, but they do play their parts and they play them well enough. In the previous books, the minor characters didn't really shine, they just were there and easily forgotten. In The Emerald Scepter, they have a bigger role and they do accomplish things. For example, one of the lieutenants named Horial has wonderful chemistry and conversation with a druid named Edilus. It was humorous and genuine. Those scenes were some of the highlights of various chapters. However, there still were a lot of 'useless' people who didn't really add anything other than a line or two. Adyan, another of Vambran's lieutenant's, just was there and felt wooden and kind of useless. He didn't add much (aside from some dialogue lines) and didn't do much. But considering how some of the minor characters were in The Sapphire Crescent and The Ruby Guardian were easily forgettable, at least in The Emerald Scepter, the characters did something useful.
2) Ending. I did enjoy how everything wraps up. The plots were wrapped up well and everything seemed to be finished. The whole Vambran story does seem finished and complete, now he can go and be a 'player' some more. Emriana's story ends surprisingly well. Almost everything is wrapped up (except for one thing that I think was downplayed a little too much) and it seemed like her story was pretty much done. Even the questions that were left unanswered wasn't that bad. It really did seem like the story was told and it did leave the possibility for another book (which probably not happen).
3) Arbeenok. I really liked this character. For one thing, he was an interesting creature called an alaghi, which is a half ape, half human type creature. Then you have the interesting way he see the world and everything about him. Also, you don't get much information about him, causing him to be more mysterious and intriguing. Quite honestly, I don't know exactly why I like him. He just was different and unique.
1) Acid. Quick question, what's the obsession with everything and everyone using acid? In each book of this trilogy, we have mages using some kind of acid spitting magic, snakes that spit it, and a giant worm that spits it. What's the deal?
2) Sea Elf. Oh, so there was a reason for a sea elf. Well, a good and bad reason for a sea elf.
3) Cover Art. It's just okay. I do like the use of greens, and the image of Arbeenok does draw your eye. I don't really care for the foggy background though. It just seems average.
The Emerald Scepter is slightly better than The Ruby Guardian. Why only slightly? Because The Emerald Scepter doesn't end on a cliffhanger like The Ruby Guardian did. The only problem I have with The Emerald Scepter is the unrealistic love relationships that Vambran and Emriana have. They are quite awkward and annoying. With that said, The Emerald Scepter was very enjoyable and fun. I do have to say that each book does go better than the previous one. Each installment improved on something that was missing from the last one and The Emerald Scepter really does do a nice job ending the trilogy. I'd definitely recommend picking up the trilogy at some point, it's worth the read.