A Forgotten Realms book taking place in Hlondeth, a port city ruled by the serpentine Yuan-ti, Venom’s Taste follows the story of a human ropemaker named Arvin. Under the thumb of the thieves guild and forced to use his talents to make magical rope for guild members, Arvin’s only goal is to find a way to buy his freedom from the guild and escape from Hlondeth.
He never expects to become tied up in a rebel group’s fight for human rights and independence from Yuan-ti rule, or fighting the clock to stop a cult who worships a god of disease from unleashing a virulent new strain of the plague that killed his mother. Add to that the discovery of his abilities as a psionic and the fact that he never served his mandatory military service, and Arvin has enough targets on his back that he hardly needs a shirt to cover it.
While this is definitely a Forgotten Realms book and feels that way from start to finish, the setting and characters make it a less than typical one from what I’ve generally encountered in the Forgotten Realms. Wanting to know more about the setting is actually a great read-on in this book. But there’s also a ton of action, some interesting political intrigue, and characters you want to learn more about.
My only complaint with this book is that the main character, Arvin, is difficult to connect with at first. He really is kind of a jerk and a selfish one at that, and it took a good long while before I really started rooting for him. Once the book makes that connection though, its incredibly easy to stay wrapped up in this story. A fast reader could probably finish the book in one sitting.
Although it took the book longer to hook me than usual, I still rate Venom’s Taste at 4/5 stars for “I really liked it”. Fantasy fans should check it out, and Forgotten Realms fans definitely should.