ArenaAt the end of the last issue, the boat Tanis, and party were on was caught the the maelstrom known as The Blood Sea of Istar. This issue starts with Loralon saving Tanis and Bas-ohn Horak (head of the minotaur delegation) from drowning with the aid of a magical air bubble. The three are under attack from a large sea creature just outside the ruins of Istar. As the air bubble pops, Tanis and the minotaur find themselves inside ancient building; Loralon, nowhere to be found. The two are attacked and captured by the people still alive in the underwater city.
Meanwhile Kitiara and Lord Soth look out at the ocean and wonder if the half-elf is still alive. They also discuss their plans for attack should the minotaurs form an alliance with the Solomnic knights.
Back underground, Bas-ohn and Tanis escape from their cell and encounter a pair of giant fire beetles before being recaptured. They are give armor and weapons and forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena for the amusement of dragon turtles. In the arena they fight a human and wild elf, and while Tanis defeats his opponent, he can't bring himself to kill as the rules require. The minotaur steps in to finish off the prone wild elf.
Afterward, they learn that by being the best, there is a chance for them to be set free. They also learn that the current leading gladiators are Maquesta and Bas-ohn Koraf. Both were thought to be dead when Maquesta's ship was pulled into the maelstrom and who now, for some unknown reason, both appear to be part sea-elf with green coloring and small fins on their arms and legs.
Later, Loralon appears to Tanis and Horak, but instead of freeing them, reveals that he was responsible for the storm and bringing them to Istar to fight in the arena.
CommentaryOnce again, I liked the artwork on this issue. I thought Dan Simmons did a great job with the ruins of Istar and the gladiator combat. I really like the detail on various character faces, from the dwarf armorer to the wild elf fighter.
Story-wise, I once again didn't really like this issue. It felt like not enough happened from the beginning to the end. Also, I never liked the idea of a black-robed cleric of Paladine, so seeing his apparent betrayal at the end of the issue wasn't a shock. The appearance of Maquesta and Bas-ohn Koraf (two characters seen in the Chronicles books) was a pleasant suprise, but their strange appearance already has me questioning who they really are.
Interestingly, the last page of this issue is an ad for the then-upcoming Forgotten Realms comic. Written by Jeff Grubb, this comic was the best of the TSR/DC comics and well worth the cost of picking up back issues.