Sharn is the largest metropolis not only on Khorvaire, but on all of Eberron. It is built on a relatively small piece of land at the mouth of a major river. It is located in a 'manifest zone', which means the barriers between it and another plane - one attuned to Air - are thin and so magical spells using that element are stronger. This allowed enormous towers of stone to rise up as high as a mile. One neighborhood, the Skyway, is an island that floats high above the rest of the city. The high population is mixed as well, with all of the traditional races of humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, halfing and half-orcs, but also a substantial minority of 'monster' races from goblins to medusas make their home here.
This makes for a complicated setting. The towers grow so high lower levels are sometimes in complete shadow, despite the presence of everbright lanterns, and there are rumors of older ruins deeper in the foundations of the city. Skycoaches or public lifts easily bring residents or visitors anywhere they like, but a notoriously corrupt city watch and several active gangs in all levels of power can make the city as difficult to navigate as a dungeon.
The book separates the city into levels, districts and wards and spells out what adventurers will find there. Everything is considered from entertainment districts to residential working class neighborhoods. There is even a section on local government and a nod towards such things as sewer systems and zoning permits. Love the details.
I'd used this extensively during my long Eberron campaign, but reading 'The Night of Long Shadows' made me remember that I'd never read it cover-to-cover. The truth is, as handy as it is, it just doesn't feel like enough for a separate book. The CD of atmospheric music is a nice touch, but not what I was looking for. Sharn is simply too enormous to go into the 'Eberron Campaign Setting', but there should have been a module or two, bigger maps, or something else built in for added value.
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It's been a long time since I've continued my LotR marathon. Life became really hectic last year and I couldn't finish. Since then, I have reread The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring and have enjoyed both of them tremendously all over again. Even more so than the last time. It was a thrill being back in Middle-Earth and falling in love with the characters again. Now finishing The Two Towers I can easily say that this series is becoming one of my favorites.
That's not to say I didn't have some difficulties with this book. Last year, when I first tried to read this book, I did struggle a little bit. I felt that it dragged and it was slow in the first half of the book when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli were chasing the Hobbits. However, upon rereading those portions this time around, I didn't have those problems. I felt like it was fascinating getting to see more of the world and feeling the anxiety the characters were going through made it feel that much more real. I believe a part of my struggle with it the first time had mostly to do with my environment and the subsequent moving house I had to go through last year. It's hard to focus on the book you're reading when you have so many worries going on in your mind. Which is why I ultimately decided to put it aside until recently to fully immerse myself into the world and story. And it definitely paid off this time.
However, one thing I struggled with before and I still struggled with this time were the Ents or, as I like to call, sexist trees. Are you kidding me, Tolkien? I heard so many wonderful things about the Ents and I was so excited to see them in all their glory... and it turns out that the "Entwives" are shallow and like to boss the Ents around. That they didn't care about the beauty of nature or learning about the world. They just want to have things done their way. It was so disappointing to see that they were restricted to a gender-binary. They are trees, ffs! I wanted to see them be more epic than stupid, trivial, shallow reasons. And whilst I do admit when they weren't focusing on how "foolish" the Entwives were being, the Ents were pretty badass. But otherwise, they were just a letdown. I hope they are better in the movies once I finally watch them. The Ents are what really made it difficult to fully enjoy this book.
Other than that, I really liked this book! We got to see more of the characters we got to meet in the first book, really stand out in this book! And meet some new ones along the way. Finally got to meet both Eowyn and Faramir in this one! I really like what I see of the two so far. Eowyn is fierce, strong, and intelligent. Faramir is bold, caring, and sweet. I cannot wait to see more of them in book three.
But I think my absolute favorite parts of this book are seeing Frodo and Sam's relationship and seeing more of Gollum. Frodo and Sam have a kinship stronger than anyone in this book. It's absolutely beautiful seeing how much these two love each other. They really would be lost without each other. And Sam! Ugh! The way he would give up his life just to make sure Frodo is protected at all costs just makes my heart asugufghdfh I love them. And Gollum! Okay, he's my favorite character in the entire series. He won my heart back in The Hobbit and I think he shall forever have my heart. Needless to say, we get to see more of who he really is in this book and it's beautiful and heart-warming and gut-wrenching all at the same time. I won't say anymore because spoilers, but you really need to see how wonderful of a character he is for yourself. It hurts me in all the right ways.
Anyway, I don't need to tell you to read these books. Most people have read them already. And that's good! I do think they are worth the read. These books really do live up to the hype. They are fun, interesting, adventurous, and fantastic books. If you haven't read them yet then I highly suggest you do. There's a little bit of something for everyone here. It's not the best representative-wise. The characters are all white, and not many female characters take center stage, but they're a classic and I think you should read them at least once in your life.
I only have one more book to go! I'm looking forward to seeing how this fantasy epic wraps up!