New Moon Through the Eyes of a Hardcore D&D Fan

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on December 15, 2009

new-moon-cover-01Let the mockery begin. I’m a 35-year-old man who read and enjoyed New Moon. I remember when the Harry Potter books first came out I took a lot of heat for reading those too. But look at how big that franchise eventually became. Everyone eventually read the books and saw the movies. Even though the series was first marketed to younger readers, it eventually reached readers of all ages.

I’m not saying the Twilight Saga is anywhere near a good as the Harry Potter stories nor do I believe that they will reach as broad an audience, but I do think a lot of people will eventually end up reading these books. If for no other reason than to see what all of the hype is about. If you’re into D&D then you might actually enjoy these books more than you expect.

The first book in the series, Twilight, is all about vampires. These aren’t your run-of-the mill, D&D-style vampires. They’ve chosen to suppress their instinctual desire to consume human blood and in doing so attempt to lead somewhat normal lives. The friendly vampires remind me on some level of Drizzt Do’Urden. Drizzt refused to believe that all Droware inherently evil and chose to walk a path different than the one expected of him by his society. The good vampires also chose to reject the basic assumption that they must consume human blood and live solitary lives. In stead they choose to only consume animal blood and they choose to form a family and try to blend in with regular people.

I won’t deceive the guys out there. The story is told from the point of view of Bella Swan, a whining, irritating, indecisive, typical teenage girl. Much of the story is her inner thoughts and ramblings. Although I found her heartbreak somewhat tiresome, I read on. Eventually the first book turned into a story about vampires fighting one another. The good vampires vs. the traditional vampires (the kind that drink human blood).

The second novel, New Moon is much less about vampires and a whole lot more about werewolves. And let me tell you, although the vampires come off as a bunch of sucks (no pun intended), the werewolves come off as all kinds of cool. They are everything you’ve come to expect from D&D-style werewolves. In fact, I’d say they’re even more powerful than the Lycanthropes listed in the 4e Monster Manual.

These werewolves have all the powers you’d expect them to have. They’re strong and they’re fast. They can assume the form of a human, wolf or wolf-human hybrid. They can shift between these forms in mere seconds (minor action). They can track and hunt by scent. They move silently all the time. They regenerate wounds quickly. The most interesting improvement is that the werewolves can communicate telepathically with each other while in wolf form. When hunting as a pack that presents a huge tactical advantage.

The werewolves of New Moon are lycanthropes because of bloodlines. The powers are hereditary and not inflicted by biting or clawing.

The vampires are also different than you’ve what you’ve come to expect from D&D. They have a lot of the usual vampire abilities like extreme speed, stealth and strength. But in addition to these abilities each vampire also has a unique, individual power. The main vampire, Edward, can read minds. His siblings have different powers, one can influence the reactions of people around her and another can see the future.

These vampires still have to consume human blood, but that’s about their only weakness (that and the fact that they’re undead). They can safely survive exposure to direct sunlight, although their pale complexion refracts the light and causes them to glow in a very obvious way. They don’t seem to have any aversion to crosses, garlic or running water and they don’t sleep in coffins.

So now that we’ve established the Twilight Saga’s version of vampires and werewolves, it’s time to recap and review the plot of New Moon.

During the events in Twilight, Bella, a normal, human, teenage girl ends up dating Edward, a hundred-year-old vampire who looks and acts like he’s 17. When New Moon begins they are still together and Bella is fully accepted by Edward’s vampire family, the Cullens. Unfortunately, a paper cut that releases a single drop of Bella’s blood causes one of the Cullens to go crazy with blood lust and he tried to feed on her. Edward of course protects Bella and things eventually calm down. But Edward realizes that it’s too dangerous for him to keep dating a living girl (he’s ok with the age thing, but the living/undead thing seems too dangerous). The Cullens pack up their stuff and leave town.

Bella, being a typical teenage girl, is devastated when her boyfriend dumps her and she sulks for the next four months. She finally starts to come around when she renews her friendship with a local boy named Jacob. Jacob is smitten with Bella and plays the part of the friend even though it’s obvious to everyone (Bella and Jacob included) that he’s madly in love with her. As they spend more and more time together it seems like Bella is close to “settling” for Jacob and having a normal relationship with a living, flesh and blood boy closer to her own age (she’s actually two years older then Jacob).

Then some vampires come back into the picture and screw everything up. During the events in Twilight, Edward killed a vampire who was determined to feed on Bella. The dead vampire’s two friends believe that killing Bella will hurt Edward more than any direct attack. One of the vampire’s finds Bella alone and tries to kill her. She is saved by a pack of werewolves, one of whom she later discovers is Jacob. Realizing that Bella is still in danger the pack vows to protect her while they hunt the remaining vampire threat. But before things get resolved Edward’s sister returns because Edward is in danger and the Cullens need Bella’s help.

Bella drops Jacob like a bad habit and rushes to Italy to stop Edward from exposing his undead heritage to the world and thereby getting himself killed by the vampire lords. Bella succeeds, Edward is saved, the vampire lords let everyone live and the Cullens all move back into their old house. Bella chooses to be with Edward even though it means that she and Jacob can’t be friends. (The werewolves and vampires are sworn enemies.)

By the end of New Moon Bella makes up her mind that she wants to become a vampire so that she can be with her vampire boyfriend forever. The werewolves make it very clear that if the Cullens attempt to do so they will be violating their peace treaty and war between the vampires and the werewolves will erupt. We can only assume that Bella is still being hunted by the remaining rogue vampire the werewolves were protecting her from before the Cullens came back.

New Moon ends with a lot of conflict and violence knocking at the door. It’s like a pot that’s been simmering for the entire story is turned up in the last chapter. It’s captured my interest enough for me to want to pick up the next book, Eclipse, just to see how things play out.

All-in-all I’m recommending New Moon. If you’ve subjected yourself to the book or movie version of Twilight then you might as well get something out of it and read the next part. If you haven’t read Twilight then I’d say skip it. Everything you need to know is recapped in the first couple of chapters of New Moon. If you’ve into werewolves then you’ll probabily enjoy New Moon. If you’re looking for a vampire story, then keep looking.

7 on a d10.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Neuroglyph December 15, 2009 at 10:41 am

While I applaud you for admitting you read those books, and I’ll admit I too am a Harry Potter fan, I still think I’ll stick to real vampires and werewolves as horror figures, and not the idols of teen romance.
.-= Neuroglyph´s last blog ..Review – Blackdirge’s Bargain Bestiaries: The Created – Lesser Golems =-.

2 Ken Marable December 15, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Hey, I’m with you. I tore through all 4 books and really enjoyed them and the movies so far (plus just turned 36 last week!). Certainly, it’s a romance, but it’s still enjoyable enough and quick to read.

The ending of New Moon in the book felt entirely tacked on, for me however. Almost like she stopped writing one story and inserted another. I’m not sure if it’s something they did a little different in the movie or because it’s only a couple hours, but it felt more natural there.

Eclipse has some fun in it dealing with Victoria. I don’t want to spoil much, but we find out more about Jasper and he would definitely make a great RPG character.

3 pb December 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm

I loved all the of the books, except Breaking Dawn….that was a cop-out. I’d suggest that if anyone wants to read them, after the movie trashed the book, just stick to the first 3.
.-= pb´s last blog ..[Travel] Shopping for Geeks in Johannesburg – Part 1 =-.

4 Ameron December 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm

@Neuroglyph
You’re preaching to the choir my friend. If you’re looking for good D&D-style horror check out the Ravenloft novels “Vampire of the Mist” by Christie Golden and “Heart of Midnight” by J. Robert King about vampires and werewolves respectively.

@Ken Marable
I picked up these books knowing that they were teen romance with some vampires thrown in. I turned off my brain and just enjoyed the ride. Like you I tore through them pretty quickly. I like New Moon enough that it made me go out and pick up Eclipse. I haven’t read it yet but I suspect it’ll be another quick, easy and enjoyable read.

@pb
I’ve received the same advice from a lot of other people. I’m included to take your advice and save myself a few bucks by passing on the last book.

@Wyatt (The Spirits of Eden)
I’m glad that by opening myself up to ridicule and admitting to reading this book you found the courage to do a similar review of another often scoffed series.

5 Inatiff April 4, 2010 at 8:56 am

I agree – the werewolves are way more interesting, and not just because in the movie version they were always shirtless.
The shirtlessness did help though.
.-= Inatiff´s last blog ..Doc Request =-.

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