The Dungeon’s Master Book Report

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 26, 2010

Have you read any of the D&D novels? Hundreds have been written over the past 30 years if you look at all of the different campaign settings and worlds. With new books coming out every month it’s difficult to know which ones are worth reading and which ones you should pass on. Today at Dungeon’s Master we’ve launched a new page called The Book Report. This permanent new page will help you decide what to read next.

When I can’t play D&D I find that reading D&D fiction is a pretty good substitute. I read a lot anyway, so it only makes sense that I’d pick up the novels set in the Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, Greyhawk, Ravenloft and Eberron (sorry Dragonlance). It’s not exactly the same as playing D&D, but there are many similarities. I find that the novels often serve as a source of inspiration for my campaign (when I’m the DM) and for the type of characters I might want to play (when I’m a player).

When I read a D&D novel it feels like I’m observing a D&D game already in progress. The author is the DM and I get to ride along with the PCs as an observer. In addition to the sheer entertainment that comes from reading a good book, D&D novels provide me with great inspiration for my games.

As a player I enjoy seeing the various race and class combinations that the author chooses for his heroes. As a DM I often borrow story-lines from D&D novels and incorporate them into my own campaign. Reading about places in the Forgotten Realms or Eberron really gives me a sense of what those places are like. I can then try to share that vision with my gaming group when our campaigns brings us to those same places.

Periodically we run book reviews here at Dungeon’s Master, but since this isn’t a site dedicated to book reviews I only write up reviews for a small fraction of what I actually read. That means that many of the novels I read get no mention on our site.

Over the past few months I’ve created a list of all the books I’ve read (most of them D&D novels) and scored them. My intent is to keep expanding the list as I continue reading new books – so about three new entries a month. This gives you a quick and easy way to see what D&D novels are actually worth your time. Along with each book I’ll provide a few short sentences giving my thoughts and opinions.

The permanent link to The Book Report is located in the left navigation below the Popular Posts and above the Staff Picks. Be sure to check back regularly to see how I scored the last book and to find out what I’m reading next.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lahrs November 26, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Just curious, what is wrong with DragonLance? Unfortunately, that is all I have read, so I am unable to give any suggestions.

2 Thorynn November 28, 2010 at 7:58 am

Yeah, the dragonlance chronicles hold up quite well. I read them back in the early 90s, and now just re-read them and they are pretty epic. Other than that, the old-school forgotten realms avatar trilogy is pretty good, tho not really applicable to current 4e forgotten realms, it will give you the back story on Kelemvor, Mystara and Cyric.

3 Ameron November 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm

@Lahrs
I read the original Dragonlance trilogy (Chronicles) way back when they first came out and just couldn’t get into it. I’ve read a couple others since then and none of them ever “wow”ed me like FR and Eberron.

@Thorynn
I thought the original Avatar trilogy was good, and the two follow-up novels were fantastic. I find any story where the gods themselves interact with the main characters or are themselves the main characters is usualy pretty good.

4 Clark December 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I can’t take anyone seriously that gave The Mark of Nerath a 7 out of 10, but “couldn’t get into” the Dragonlance Saga.

Not even going to comment on the fan boy bias toward the already-overrated Drizzt books or complaining that he was only in one-quarter of a particular novel — oh, I guess I just did.

5 Ameron December 6, 2010 at 9:11 pm

@Clark
My score is based largely on what I think of as the “D&D Experience.” When I’m reading these books I try to imagine that I’m a player in the events described. I’m not judging whether or not it’s a literary masterpiece. I’m trying to give other gamers an idea if they’ll find the book entertaining.

Say what you will about the Drizzt books, but they’re a blast to read. I only wish some of my D&D adventures were as exciting.

As for the Mark of Nerath, I’m the first to admit that it’s far from perfect. But as an introduction to D&D for anyone jumping into the novels this is a good start, especially if they’re looking for a D&D Essentials book.

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