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Annihilation by Philip Athans is the fifth book in the War of the Spider Queen series.

Menzoberranzan in Ruin.

For enemies of the drow, it would be the ultimate triumph. If the City of Spiders were to find itself buried by the uncaring sands of eternity, thousands would dance upon its grave, including more powerful enemies than even its most suspicious inhabitants have ever imagined. But Gromph Baenre, Archmage of Menzoberranzan, will not let that happen. When the time comes, he will risk everything to save a city and a civilization he loves more than any drow would ever admit.

While Menzoberranzan fights for survival, a dwindling company of would-be saviors travels the multiverse in search of a goddess who could be dead, or could have simply turned away from them. They might just survive the trip, but can they possibly survive the Demonweb Pits?


The novel opens in Menzoberranzan, still besieged by the duergar army of Gracklstugh and tanarukk warriors of Kaanyr Vhok's Scourged Legion. Archmage Gromph Baenre seeks out new eyes (literally) as he prepares for his coming spell battle with the Lichdrow Lord Dyrr.

Meanwhile, on the ship of chaos in the Lake of Shadows, everyone's nerves are on end. The leader of the group, Quenthel Baenre, sends Valas Hune and Danifae Yauntyrr to Eryndlyn to gather supplies for the coming journey while Pharaun Mizzrym continues to put the ship in working order. In Eryndlyn, Danifae tracks down Zinnirit Yauntyrr, the former house wizard of House Yauntyrr and convinces him to dispel her Binding with Halisstra Melarn before killing him and stealing his ring of teleportation. When she and Valas return to the ship of chaos, they find their group more ragged than before, having fought Raashub, the imprisoned uridezu captain, and his summoned hordes of rats and uridezu. Quenthel is despondent, leaving an angry and frustrated Jeggred Baenre to turn to the newly-released priestess as his mistress. Pharaun attempts to learn how to manipulate the ship on his own (with the secret aid of Aliisza, who had been sent to spy on them on behalf of Kaanyr Vhok).

On the surface, Halisstra has converted to the worship of Eilistraee and joined with a group of priestesses of the Dancing Maiden, leaving her lover, Ryld Argith, feeling isolated and doubting his choice to follow her to the surface. Danifae locates her former mistress and schemes to put in in as much misery as possible. She takes Jeggred, her new pet, to the surface to kill Ryld, offering to allow Halisstra to return to the sisterhood of priestesses. Heartbroken, she nevertheless resolves to continue with her mission to destroy Lolth with the Crescent Blade.

In Menzoberranzan, Gromph engages in a battle with the Lichdrow. Dyrr initially prevails over Gromph, sending him to the Green Fields (halfling heaven). Gromph is able to return, but one of the halflings named Dietr follows him to the city, becoming a huecuva (undead halfling). Gromph forces Dietr to take the brunt of Dyrr's attacks, destroying the huecuva in the process. Then Gromph enters a long and protracted spell battle with Dyrr which destroys the Menzoberranyr Bazaar. Nimor Imphraezl, revealed to be half-shadow dragon, joins the battle and Dyrr is able to petrify Gromph. At that moment, Lolth's power suddenly returns to her priestesses. Triel Baenre transports herself to the Bazaar, turning her brother back to flesh and allowing him to kill the Lichdrow's corporeal form by exploding his Staff of Power. However, he knows the battle is not yet over; he must still destroy the lich's phylactery.

Having traveled to the the remains of the old Demonweb Pits, Quenthel's group discovers that Lolth has apparently removed her realm to its own planar space. Valas declares his job finished and returns to Menzoberranzan, but the rest follow a gate from the Abyss to Lolth's new domain, with calls of Yor'thae (Lolth's Chosen) on the wind calling to Quenthel and Daniefae. On the Astral Plane, Halisstra and her Eilistraeean companions, Uluyara and Feliane, follow a line of drow spirits leading to the new Demonweb Pits. They run into the spirits of Ryld Argith, who tells Halisstra it is too late for him to join with Eilistraee, and Seyll Auzkovyn, who tells Halisstra she chooses oblivion over an afterlife with Eilistraee in order to protect Halisstra from the returning power of Lolth. However, Halisstra's doubts are strong and she too can here the call of Yor'thae as they approach the gate.

With the power of Lolth returned, the forces of Kaanyr Vhok retreat from Menzoberranzan, the duergar armies are set to be defeated, and Nimor returns to Ched Nasad to his Jaezred Chaulssin brother to inform them of his failure to obtain Menzoberranzan. The exact state of Lolth, however, remains to be seen in the final novel.


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Readers -- and the Drow -- Prepare for Annihilation (2004-08-03)