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Darkwalker on Moonshae, by Douglas Niles, is the first book in the Moonshae trilogy. It was the first novel set in the Forgotten Realms, followed in published order by The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore.
A cursed denizen of an ancient era again walks the islands of the Moonshaes, and the sacred realm of the Goddess Earthmother shudders under its vile onslaught.

A bold but reckless prince, a beautiful young druidess, and their companions both magical and mortal do their best to protect their cherished homeland.

If only their best was good enough.

SummaryEdit

Darkwalker on Moonshae tells the story of the Darkwalker War. It takes place entirely in the Moonshae Isles, in particular, the realm of Corwell on the island of Gwynneth. Caer Corwell is the main castle and capital. The Ffolk of the Moonshaes mostly worship a local nature deity known as the Earthmother, whose power is manifested through her druids, the magical Moonwells, and the goddess's three children: Kamerynn the unicorn, The Pack which is a massive wolf-pack, and the Leviathan, an enormous whale. The centre of the Earthmother's power is Myrloch Vale around the lake Myrloch. Elves and dwarves also live in the magical, secluded vale.

Tristan Kendrick is heir to the throne of Corwell but is portrayed as rash, irresponsible and hedonistic. He indulges in drinking, hunting, and casual sex, and is implied to make poor decisions. He is in love with his adopted sister Robyn who later turns out to be a powerful druid, and he has a difficult relationship with his father, the King of Corwell, who harshly criticises Tristan for failing to live up to the duties of a prince. Over the course of the story, Tristan comes to assume the mantle of leadership and becomes more diligent, partly through Robyn's encouragement, partly because his impulsiveness brings harm to those he protects. The book begins with Tristan obtaining a powerful new Moorhound, Canthus, from his halfling friend Pawldo. The pair also catch a Calishite rogue, Daryth, who is trying to rob Tristan. To save Daryth from execution so as to impress Robyn, Tristan makes him master of the hounds. Tristan's guard Erian is unhappy about this. Tristan, Robyn, Daryth, Canthus, and the bard Keren Donnell form the core adventuring party for most of the novel.

After arguing with his father, Tristan goes hunting in Llyrath Forest with Robyn, Daryth, Pawldo, the guard captain and Tristan's teacher Arlen, Tristan's steed Avalon, and dogs including Canthus and the old top dog Angus. They fight a wild boar and Angus is killed. They find footprints belonging to firbolgs. Rashly, and against Arlen's advice, Tristan decides to pursue the giants. The party are trapped between two groups of firbolgs and barely escape. Arlen is killed, Daryth knocked unconscious and Robyn spontaneously discovers her druidic powers. The party are saved by the timely intervention of Keren. After the party return to Caer Corwell, Keren leaves. The others are warned by Keren's raven Sable that the bard has been captured. They set out in pursuit, following the raven to Myrloch Vale. Tristan rashly causes a snow avalanche but survives. The party meet the mischievous faerie dragon Newt from whom they learn that firbolgs have captured Keren and taken him to their underground lair. They sneak into the lair and defeat a tentacled monster. They stumble upon the firbolgs' treasure hoard and retrieve the Sword of Cymrych Hugh, an extremely powerful magical artefact wielded by the historic hero of the Ffolk, which may be the only weapon able to kill Kazgoroth. Unbeknownst to the adventurers, the firbolgs have also captured Kamerynn, but the unicorn has escaped and is loose inside the lair. Kamerynn directs the companions to Keren's cell, where they release both Keren and the dwarf leader Finellen. They then set fire to the firbolg lair and fight a group of guards, escaping with the help of Newt's illusion magic. Newt then disappears and Finellen leaves. 

Earlier, one of the Moonwells has been corrupted into a Darkwell by a group of firbolgs led by Groth.  As a result, Kazgoroth, the Beast, has come into the world to destroy the power of the Earthmother. Changing its shape as needs be, the Beast goes across the island of Gwynneth, corrupting everything in its way. Its destination is a large gathering of Northmen raiders at Oman's Isle, in the middle of the Moonshaes, where they are preparing an assault on the kingdom of Corwell. The Northmen don't realize yet that this is going to be more than just a plundering raid. They don't know that their leader isn't King Thelgaar Ironhand, but the Beast, who has killed the king and assumed his shape. Meanwhile, the Earthmother, aware of the danger and hurting from the corruption brought to the land, her body, by the vile presence of the Beast, awakes her children - the Leviathan, the Pack, and Kamerynn, the unicorn. They will try to stop Kazgoroth in different ways, but that won't be enough.

The Beast takes the form of a woman and seduces Erian, killing him and turning him into a werewolf. It then uses the form of a dryad to corrupt the druid Trahern. Erian the werewolf attacks the halfling town of Lowhill and then usurps leadership of the Pack by killing its most powerful wolf. The Northmen of Norland habitually raid Corwell. King Thelgaar is considering peace but the lords, including Grunnarch the Red, oppose him. Unbeknownst to the Northmen, the Beast kills Thelgaar and takes his form. Thelgaar/Kazgoroth sends Grunnarch with a first fleet to attack Corwell. Grunnarch's ships raid and devastate coastal villages while the mounted Bloodriders disembark to attack other villages inland. The plan is for the two groups and the firbolgs to pincer and massacre the fleeing Ffolk. The riders are corrupted by evil magic and become undead and addicted to blood, taking sustenance from their victims. They follow a secret trail left by Trahern, through Dynloch Pass to Myrloch Vale, and join with the firbolgs. The king takes a second fleet equipped with rams to fight the Leviathan. In an epic battle, the Northmen lose hundreds of ships but slay the Leviathan. After escaping from the firbolgs, Kamerynn damages the Darkwell and looses the stream, but is injured and blinded by the polluted water. 

Tristan's party meet the heavily-built smith Gavin shortly before finding his village destroyed. They set off in pursuit of the Bloodriders. They meet a group of Llewyrr elves, the Sisters of Synnoria]], led by Brigit, Carina and Maura. They realise the invaders plan to trap the fleeing refugees. The elves reluctantly lead the group through their hidden realm of Synnoria, where the bard Keren's power proves crucial in preventing their enchantment. 

The force of Northmen, firbolgs and Bloodriders are being slowed, demoralised and picked off by the druid leader Genna Moonsinger's nature magic, and the Sisters of Synnoria. The Bloodrider leader Laric becomes fixated on the elvish rider Aileen. Tristan's group and the Sisters of Synnoria make a stand at the pass into Corwell, Freeman's Down. They are joined by Finellen's dwarves, who are angered by the invasion of Myrloch Vale, and also recruit the more capable refugees, including Gavin. The Ffolk hold a line against the Northmen, aided by Keren's music, Tristan's tactical ability and Gavin's courage, while the Sisters engage the Bloodriders. The firbolgs charge spontaneously and are broken by arrow fire. Tristan goes to call off the Sisters while Laric stalks and captures Aileen. Tristan rescues Aileen but is unhorsed. He is saved by Carina but the knight is then slain. 

Canthus is missing after the battle. Genna finds Canthus, revives him, and sends him against Erias wearing a magical collar. He kills Erias and gains control of the Pack. The refugees find safety in Caer Corwell. After their return, the heroes learn of Robyn's heritage from Friar Nolan. She is descended from the great druid Brianna Moonsinger and has enormous power. She obtains the Staff of the White Well and learns more druidic magic. 

Thelgaar's fleet attacks Caer Corwell but is defeated by druidic magic. The druid Quinn Moonwane is killed in a battle of magic with the Beast. Most of the fleet land further ashore and march on the town of Corwell. Tristan argues with his father and struggles to marshal a defence. The Northmen strike the town from two directions, forcing the population and fighters to flee to the castle,. The Bloodriders attempt to intercept the fleeing people and enter another melee with the Sisters of Synnoria. Tristan makes a mistake in battle and as a result, Laric kills Aileen. Robyn uses lightning magic to blast the Northmen and clear a path to the castle. Laric then identifies Robyn as his next target. Kazgoroth also targets Robyn and attacks her in the form of a flying monster. It is driven off by Robyn and Nolan. The firbolgs use a battering ram to enter the castle gatehouse. Many of the firbolgs are slain while making the breach, routed by the defenders and Finellen's dwarves. The setbacks cause Kazgoroth to start losing control of his shapeshifting ability. 

The Bloodriders slaughter captives from Corwell town and become extremely fast with trails of fire. They charge the breach. Gavin dies fighting the Bloodriders. Robyn sends the Sisters of Synnoria to lure the Bloodriders on, and then kills them all except Laric with a magical wall of fire. Canthus and the Pack fall upon the Northmen who are routed and flee. Tristan engages Thelgaar/Kazgoroth in single combat. With everyone distracted, Laric abducts Robyn and flees. Kazgoroth assumes its true form and pursues Laric, but runs out of energy and returns to the Darkwell. Tristan and his companions pursue Laric and Robyn, but Genna persuades Tristan to attack the Beast instead. 

Newt stumbles on Kamerynn's trail and finds the unicorn. He uses his illusion magic to guide Kamerynn to Robyn. Genna, Kamerynn and Newt fight Laric. Newt is injured, but manages to free Robyn. With their help, Kamerynn kills Laric and his steed. Canthus tracks Kazgoroth to the Darkwell. Kazgoroth kills Keren with a beam of magic and drags Pawldo into the Darkwell. Robyn arrives, but Kazgoroth counters Robyn's magic, and knocks out Daryth and Canthus. However, Tristan stabs the creature in the belly with the Sword of Cymrych Hugh, killing it. By the end of the book, Robyn has come to reciprocate Tristan's love but is committed to becoming a druid. The goddess cleanses and restores the Moonwell. She rewards Keren by spreading the song he was writing about the group's adventures throughout the land. Trahern survives and retrieves the Heart of Kazgoroth from the creature's body, setting up the events of the sequel, Black Wizards.

IndexEdit

Characters
AileenAllianAngusArlenAvalonBrigitCanthusCarinaCorwyssCymrych HughDarythDierdreDinsmoreKeren DonnellEarthmotherEdricEnidErianErianna MoonsingerEvanFinellenGavinGeoffreyGrettaGrothGrunnarch the RedGwendolynnRaag HammerstaadThelgaar IronhandIsoldeKamerynnKazgorothKeeganBryon KendrickTristan KendrickKoartLaricLeviathanMauraMeridithGenna MoonsingerRobyn MoonsingerQuinn MoonwaneNewtNolanNowllOspreyOwenPawldoRandolphSableSharreenTrahernWarren
Creatures
bird (falconhawkowlpheasantquail) • boardeerdonkeydryaddwarfcamelcowdog (desert racermoorhound) • elf (Llewyrr) • faeriefaerie dragonfirbolggargoylehalflinghorsehuman (CalishiteFfolkNorthmen) • rabbitsheepsharksquirrelunicornwerewolfwolf
Referenced only
bear
Locations
AlaronCorwell RoadDarkwellNorlandNorheimSnowdownStockwellSynnoriaWinterglen
Buildings & Sites: Academy of StealthBig CaveCaer CallidyrrCaer CorwellDruid's GroveIron Keep
Settlements: CallidyrrCantrev DynnattCantrev MacsheehanCantrev MyrrdaleCantrev ThorndykeDynnwallLowhill
Geography: Corlyth CreekCorwell FirthDynloch PassFens of the FallonFreeman's DownGwynnethHighlandsIron BayLlyrath ForestLlyrath HighlandsMorayMyrlochMyrloch ValeOakvaleOmanSea of MoonshaeStrait of the LeviathanSynnorian MountainsWestshae
Realms: CalimshanCorwellMoonshae Isles
Referenced only
Sword Coast
Organizations
BloodridersKendrickthe PackSisters of Synnoria
Religions
Earthmother
Miscellaneous
aleaspenBalanceBallad of Cymrych HughbardcoalCommonspeechcoracleCouncil of KingsdruidFestival of the Spring Equinoxgalleonginyak weedGreat DruidhickoryHigh DruidHigh KingironIron KinglongshipMidsummerMidsummer's EvemistletoeMoonwelloakOld ScriptPashapineRed KingSilver CrescentSong of ArlenSong of the EarthmotherSong of the LlewyrrSong of the North WindStaff of the White WellSword of Cymrych HughTears of the Moonwineyew
Referenced only
copper piece
Dates
Start: Ches 19, 1345 DR, spring (vernal) equinox
End

AppendixEdit

TriviaEdit

  • This was the first official Forgotten Realms product ever published.
  • When R.A. Salvatore wrote the sample chapter to his novel, The Crystal Shard, he used the characters Daryth and Canthus from Darkwalker on Moonshae to introduce his expected hero, Wulfgar. However when he learned of the scope of the realms he replaced the characters with Drizzt Do'Urden and Guenhwyvar.

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Douglas Niles (September 2004). Darkwalker on Moonshae. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3560-X.
  2. Douglas Niles (May 1989). Darkwalker on Moonshae. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-88038-451-4.
  3. Ed Greenwood; Eric L. Boyd, Steven E. Schend (2000). Presenting...Seven Millennia of Realms Fiction. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2015-08-12.
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