Apparently it is a copy of Lawrence of Arabia

The Parched Sea - Troy Denning, Fred Fields

After reading through a number of reviews for other Forgotten Realms books that I had read, and noting the regular comments on how terrible the writing is and how unoriginal the plots are, I decided that, after a 20 year break, I will try to find some that I have not read (because I am not sure if I could really force myself to read one that I have already read) so I thought that I would settle on the Harper's series. As it happened, as soon as I read the blurb for this book it all come flooding back to me – yes, I can add this one to the list of books that I have read.

I can't remember much about it except that it is about a bunch of evil traders (the Zhentirim) trying to force a trade route across a vast desert so that they can make money and screw the inhabitants of the land. I also know that it is about how a group of tribespeople known as the Bedin and one of their women stand up to this evil group of people and defeat them. My friend also claims that when I finished this book I took it to him, handed it to him, and said 'this is rubbish, here, you might like it'. Needless to say that statement really didn't endear it to him, and from what I can remember, to this day he has not read it.

It is interesting to think about the Zhentirim because they have been a stock villain of the Forgotten Realms for, well, forever (though I believe that Zhentil Keep has since been destroyed and is now a haunting ground for demons), and after reading the blurb for this book that I have mostly forgotten about it sounds as if they are like a, well, modern corporation, or corporate state. It appears that the only reason they are entering the Anarouch (which is the name of the desert) is to create a road through it, and the only reason for that is to generate a profit. It seems that a lot of corporations do this as well (and don't care about the impact they have upon the inhabitants, and will do their best to rip the inhabitants off as well), yet what they never seemed to do in the Forgotten Realms is to successfully interweave this evil citadel into the society of the Realms to create an entity upon which the society was dependant, yet inwardly malicious, and in many cases psychotic. I guess that is one of the things that I did not particularly like about the Realms (and Dungeons and Dragons) in that there was a very black and white approach to good and evil and every time I tried to ditch alignment people would jump up and ferociously object.

Me, well, I still don't like alignment in Dungeons & Dragons.