Black Bouquet (Rogues) Mass Market Paperback – 3 Nov 2003
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Hired by a tanarukk bandit supposedly for his skill and cunning, a rogue soon discovers that his victim is not just another mark and that he has been set up to take the fall for a dangerous conspiracy, in the second volume of a series focusing on the adventures of those who survive on the fringes.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Byers does an excellent job of "humanizing" the characters within the story and threads a good deal of suspense throughout. One thing that occurred to me is that, for the most part, there isn't too much magic used in the book; most of the action is carried through physical combat. Thus, it dawned on me how well this novel would do as an action movie. How I would love to see that come to pass!
Due to the lack of magic and prevalence of human characters I think most people would agree this isn't a typical fantasy novel. I have to imagine that is one goal Byers had in the back of his mind when writing the book. Likewise, when you find out what the Black Bouquet actually is, then I think you certainly would have to agree! Very inventive!
First the things I liked. Byers does a good job of describing the lawless hell-hole that is Oeble, and the mentality of people that live there. The plot is OK, I guess, but it is a bit too predictable for my money. The reading flows nicely and there is no confusion whatsoever. The battle scenes are good, not Salvatore good, but still good. The beginning is fast and you get into action and plot in the first page of the book. The ending is OK, even leaving a back-door for a possible sequel (if anybody wants one). O yeah, and the names are probably the best bunch of character names I have ever seen in a fantasy book. I know it is probably unimportant, but I had to mention it.
Now, the characters. I have never seen more generic characters in my life. They (main and supporting alike) don't have a single characteristic that would make them stand out, and stick in memory more than ten minutes after you finish reading the book. They have no past and no future. At least they have cool names. Apart from the ranger, that is. The book is also a bit too battle-heavy in my opinion, but the battles are good, so that is no major complaint.
If the characters had even a bit of personality, this could have been a decent, three or four star book. If you like the Realms as much as I do, you will read it anyway. If you don't, you will be able to live on without reading this one.
First of all, the main object of every single characters obsession was silly. It was an old book with formulas to make perfume that were "magical" in nature and people wanted to buy this perfume. Therefore the owner of the book would be making perfume and making lots of money - I mean lots of money. It is hard to get attached to the deeds and the desires of the characters when they are after something so silly.
Also, I had a hard time liking the characters. I really didn't care about any of them and had no real reason to hope for their success or their demise. There is one main character and two supporting characters, and then there are a lot of side characters that play what seemed like big roles. It got confusing just because there were so many small characters that kept rising up and showing their power for a chapter or two. Then they would dissappear and resurface later. The book is just frustrating and doesn't give any good reason to like it. The fight scenes and battles aren't really that great either. They don't grab ahold of you in any way.
However, there are a few shining moments, like I mentioned. First of all, like I said with "the Alabaster Staff," it is nice and fun to get a different perspective of different locations around the Realm. The city of Oeble is facinating and I would like to return there on a different adventure. The culture is similar to that of Calimport, mainly known from Enterei the assasin from Salvatore books. The other good thing is that the book is moderately intriging because there are a lot of twists and backstabbings. It is hard to tell who is in what party and what their true intentions are.
In my opinion, this book could be enjoyed by some and not by others - it is truely up to the reader to decide. The previously mentioned items are the only reasons why I gave this book two stars instead of one. It might be worth checking out but don't expect too much.