I figure the appropriate way to end this week’s posts would be to shake it up a little bit: instead of talking about D&D classes in novels, I’m going to give some suggestions of novels for fans of Dungeons and Dragons. I’ll explain a little bit about the reason behind my picks. And..away we go!
First, before I run away with it, Geeky Galaxy has a recommendation:
NPCs by Drew Hayes
“NPCs is a lot less serious and lots more fun. If you’ve wondered what happens when your adventuring party disappears, leaving the locals of the average fantasy tavern to pick up the pieces, NPCs is the book for you. Perfect for D&D and fantasy video games (think Divinity: Original Sin 2 or Skyrim), then this may just be the book for you!”
Now, brace yourself: I’m about to spout opinions.
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
Oh, how I loved this book! This is the best “we’re getting the band back together” book I think I’ve ever read. It’s also perfect for fans of roleplaying games. It has an effortless sense of humor, lots of viscera (and heart), the group dynamic, and it’s just flat-out fun. (Review)
Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, there’s no way you’re surprised that I brought Dragonlance into this. I promise, it isn’t my adoration of this series that puts it on the list. It absolutely fits. Originally, this trilogy was written in conjunction with TSR (now owned by Wizards of the Coast, the creators of Dungeons and Dragons). It has that adventuring feel, a mismatched group of companions that have to fight inner and outer darkness, and a vast world peopled with all sorts of fantastical creatures. Oh- and did I mention that there are actually Dragonlance campaign settings? Yup, you can totally play D&D in Dragonlance’s world of Krynn.
Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
Not only is there the D&D party dynamic, this series has something that most gamers will recognize: characters “level up”. They don’t start out awesome. Instead, they improve as they go along, facing bigger challenges as their skills grow.
Lexcalibur: Useful Poetry for Adventurers Above and Below the World by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik
And now for something different. Lexcalibur is not a novel. Nope. Instead, it’s a poetry collection that is perfect for roleplaying gamers and fantasy lovers of all kinds. It’s full of humor and wonder. (Review)
Okay, gamers, your turn: what books give you that wonderful “D&D feel”?
There used to a be a bit of a “these people are weird” attitude toward people who enjoyed roleplaying games, such as Dungeons and Dragons. It was pretty funny to hear it coming from readers of fantasy (or any genre, really: you’d be surprised at the similarities that can be found). I’m assuming some of the judgement came from a place of discomfort at older kids and adults using their imaginations. I’m honestly not sure. Fortunately, D&D, and other roleplaying games are becoming much more accepted, which is great because playing can be pretty stinking fun.
As I briefly mentioned, there are similarities between books and roleplaying games. Both require the use of imagination to fill in pictures, both allow for a suspension of disbelief, and both take us to new and unusual places, constrained only by the author (or Dungeon Master).
A ‘character class’ is a profession or set of skills that help differentiate different types of characters in roleplaying. I put a call out for bookbloggers and authors to give their thoughts on D&D classes in books and they answered in a big way! In fact, what I originally thought of as a single post has become a few, each post focusing on two or three of the main character classes. While I have each writer’s link attached to their amazing contribution, please make sure to check out a more detailed introduction to each of them at the bottom of the post. I’ve also included my own ideas here and there, as well as some loose definitions of each character class. Enjoy!
FIGHTER:This is pretty self-explanatory, but also has a lot of room for creativity. A warlord, knight, or rich person’s bodyguard are all different types of fighters. A fighter has a ton of skill with a weapon, and functions as a pretty good meat shield (can you tell I’ve used the fighter in that capacity before?).
“Atae from Kaji Warriors: Shifting Strength by Kelly A. Nix. To the Kaji warriors, being a halfbreed means being weak. Atae refuses to back down and engages in rigorous combat training to stay at the top of her warrior class. Strength and skill in battle are revered among the Kaji, and Atae will do everything in her power to become a true warrior. Trained in both hand to hand combat and weaponry, Atae will cut down her foes without a second thought.”
“Kate Daniels from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews: Kate was raised to be a weapon. Forced into fighting pits from a young age, it was hit the ground running or die trying. Any weapon in her hands is lethal, though she prefers her sword. When she unleashes a combination of magic and blade, she is a near unstoppable force.”
“I gave him a smile. I was aiming for sweet, but he turned a shade paler and scooted a bit farther from me. Note to self: work more on sweet and less on psycho-killer.” – Ilona Andrews, Magic Strikes
Ricardo Victoria, author of The Tempest Blades series says: “Here, there is a lot to choose from in Fantasy. I think this is the class most well represented. So I will keep this one short: Boromir [from The Lord of the Rings]. Aside from the fact that he is the character from the Fellowship that needs more love, he is a classical fighter. Knows all sort of weapons, can improvise during a fight, has the Con [constitution] of an Ent (I mean, how many arrows did he take before falling?). He even trains Merry and Pippin. Had he lived to amend for his sole mistake, he would have been Aragorn’s second hand.”
Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub shares an opinion: For me, when I think of the D&D fighter class, my mind immediately goes to Clay “Slowhand” Cooper from Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. He’s a used-to-be-impressive warrior, a member of an elite mercenary group. He has major fighting skills-or at least, he used to. He and his friends come out of retirement for one last impressive feat-one that may get them killed.
“Clay pushed his body off him and mumbled another apology – because, enemy or not, when you hit a man in the nuts with a magic hammer the least you could say was sorry.”– Nicholas Eames, Kings of the Wyld
Barbarian: the simplest way I can think of to describe a barbarian is as a fighter with anger issues. They thrive on violence and chaotic battles (although they may not always crave them). Their anger can give them a berserker state of mind: think an overdose of adrenalin allowing someone to do the nigh impossible.
Ryan Howse, author, reviewer for Grimdark Magazine and contributor for Before We Go Blog, weighs in: “For gamers, barbarians are often some of the most memorable and dynamic characters played. They tend to be chaotic (in earlier editions, being a lawful barbarian was against the rules) and their ignorance of civilized customs provides some obvious comedic fodder.
But barbarians are not fools. They just don’t care about civilization. People who are fools don’t survive the wilds—especially fantasy versions of the wilds, with all the strange new monsters and dangerous terrain that implies.
Fafhrd, from Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series, is an iconic barbarian. He’s the bruiser of the duo, and the tank. He’s a massive man from an ice-covered land, and he mostly wants to spend his adventuring loot on women and ale.
The greatest part about these stories is that while they’re classics of the genre, they feel closer to a real tabletop game than even the best tie-in fiction.
In the first chronological story of Fafhrd, he straps rockets to his boots to make a jump down a hill. That feels absolutely like something out of an all-night gaming session where the barbarian has a ridiculous plan and rolls just well enough to make it work.
There’s also a story where Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser die, and end up dealing with Death Itself, which again feels like a DM trying to keep the campaign going after a TPK [total party kill]. (They get better.)”
“And even when we serve, we make the rules. We bow to no man’s ultimate command, dance to no wizard’s drumming, join no mob, hark to no wildering hate-call. When we draw sword, it’s for ourselves alone.”– Fritz Leiber , Sword in the Mist
Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub chimes in: I see Beowulf as the ultimate barbarian. He fights Grendel with near-supernatural strength ( Grendel definitely meets his match), and several other feats of strength are boasted about throughout the epic poem. He feels no fear and isn’t big on laying traps, or making battle plans. Any character that divests a monster of its arm without using a weapon to do it lands in the “berserker” category for me.
Meet the contributors: Behind the Pages is an excellent blog and beta reading site, run by the talented Tabitha. Her reviews are very insightful and incredibly well-written. She has excellent taste and never fails to review books that would have snuck under my radar, adding to my already way-too-long list of books to read.
Ricardo Victoria is the author of The Tempest Blades fantasy series. Book one, The Withered King, (which I highly recommend reading), is available now. Book two, The Cursed Titans will be released this summer and is available for pre-order on Amazon.
Ryan Howse is a literary jack-of-all-trades. The author of several books, he also reviews for Grimdark Magazine and is a regular addition to BeforeWeGoBlog. I honestly have no idea how he found the time to contribute to my post, but I’m excited that he did!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of most romances in books. I don’t read the romance genre anyway, but even in other genres, romance isn’t my thing. Every now and again I’ll read a book with a loving relationship that doesn’t make me want to roll my eyes or giggle like a little kid (yes, I really am that immature). By loving relationship, I’m thinking more than just the romantic kind. It could be a loving family dynamic, or even a relationship with good friends. Anyway, on a day when love is in the air (or something like that), here are a few books with love in them that I…LOVE.
The House in the Cerulean Sea
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune has the sweetest relationships! While there is a bit of a love story going on, it’s the found family aspect that I absolutely adore. Add to the fact that Linus also learns to love himself a little in this wonderful novel, and it has all the makings of a perfect book featuring love. Find my review here.
The Mammy by Brendan O’ Carroll has the most fun family dynamic! A little dysfunction, a dash of zaniness, and a whole lot of love make this series a great one. Again, the book doesn’t have the typical romancy type of relationship, but it’s fantastic to read.
The Crocodile on the Sandbank
I love this series so much! This actually has a romantic relationship that I enjoy reading about, one between Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson. She’s stubborn and nosy, and he’s cantankerous. This whole series is a blast and the relationship between these two characters is a big part of that.
The Night Circus
I’m pretty sure this is the most “traditional relationship” on this list. The writing in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is brilliant, including that of the romance. It’s far from mushy, or angsty. I loved everything about this book, romance included.
The Oddmire: Changeling
The relationship between the boys and their mom is perfect in The Oddmire: Changeling! When the twins, Tinn and Cole, go into the Wild Wood, their mom goes charging in after them as any loving mom would. Being a mom of boys myself, I could totally relate. It’s a great book in what is shaping out to be an awesome series. You can find my review for The Oddmire: Changeling here.
The Living Waters
This was such a refreshing surprise! A calm and beautiful book with hidden depths, The LivingWaters shows new facets of love. You can find my review here.
So, here you have it. Five books that focus on loving relationships that are more than worth the read. What books do you enjoy that feature love in some form?
In case you’re not yet sick of hearing me rave about it, let me just say: I love Dragonlance! The Dragonlance Chronicles- comprised of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, and Dragons of Spring Dawning– were my gateway to adult fantasy. I remember opening Dragons of Autumn Twilight for the first time (longer ago than I care to admit) and knowing from page one that what I held in my hands was special. I was immediately drawn into a world of magic, of misfits coming together to accomplish something bigger than themselves, and of dragons. Oh, the dragons! I devoured the Chronicles. Then, I read every other Dragonlance book that had been published at that point.
I still find myself returning to the world of Krynn at least once a year, opening those almost-memorized pages of Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Rereading that trilogy is like seeing an old friend, one who’s stuck with you through thick and thin.
This year’s reread is doubly special: I got to participate in a buddy read! Myself, another Dragonlance veteran, and two new Dragonlance readers all got together and dove right into Dragons of Autumn Twilight. It was wonderful getting new perspectives on the characters (Fizan is a favorite! People are divided on Raistlin), and chatting about all things Dragonlance.
My thoughts remain pretty much the same (I’m boring like that): Laurana grows in leaps and bounds between books and is still one of my favorites for that reason (plus, she does some pretty hardcore things at later parts). Raistlin is still flat-out awesome, and I credit him for my love of complicated, morally ambiguous characters. Also, I want to travel to the Inn of the Last Home for some of Otik’s Spiced Potatoes. However, here’s the fun part: what those who read with me thought!
“Dragons of Autumn Twilight is the first book in a trilogy set in the land of Krynn. It is pure fantasy escapism. A light and easy read. I would recommend this book to fans of epic fantasy who like comical characters and unlikely situations. There are dragons too and strong friendship between the band of unlikely friends embarking on a journey to find out what’s happening ‘up north’ – rumours of war. The land of Krynn is being overrun by hoards of ‘draconians’ in thrall to the dragon overlord Verminaard and Pyro, the dragon he rides. The main characters are all very different and fully realized, such that you know how each of them will react in each situation they are faced with. The world building is descriptive and well done. I will definitely read the other books in this trilogy.”
“The day was hot as I stood waiting for the taxi. How would I feel reading a book that I had loved over twenty five years ago? Would I still feel the same? Would that spark still be there? Would I feel the same as I flipped through the pages? Would I still be able to devour the book as I had once done, many years ago.
“It’ll be fine” Jodie from W&SBookclub said, smiling warmly. “I read it all the time, I still love it!”
Sue from Sue’s Musings looked at the copy that she held in her hands, “It’s got dragons in. And there’s a snarky wizard! What’s not to love?”
Carrie, who had recently joined the buddy read from her website in Canada, icanhasbooks, glanced nervously at the sky “Do you think it’s going to snow? Those clouds look menacing to me! I can tell you that they are snow clouds. Look that one is even shaped like a snowflake!”
I turned swiftly to them all, trying to keep my attention focussed on the slowly moving traffic. “It’s not that, it’s just I can’t remember a thing about it. I know that it is good and I really enjoyed it. It’s just that….” I shrugged my shoulders.
“Well, you know!” Carrie rolled her eyes “ I don’t know what you’re worried about. It’s only a book! I mean it’s not like you have the same problems as me. I mean look at them clouds! I’m going to be snowed in soon. Half an hour and this place will be covered, covered I tell you!” She held up the new book that she had just bought at the local bookshop. “Well, at least you’ll keep me entertained for a while!”
Shortly afterwards, after discussing hair and laughing when we all had all joked about what the characters would look like as Goths in the Twitter message room, I settled down with my customary cup of tea and flicked open the first page. It wasn’t long before I was gripped by the story of the book. Laughing at the antics that Tasselhoff Burrfoot got up to, accidentally pinching everything that wasn’t nailed down. I loved the fact that it moved from one adventure to another, barely stopping for Tanis’s party to get something to eat. I mean this book had all sorts going for it, Dragons, Elves, Unicorns, ghosts all sorts. It was great, everytime I read it, I couldn’t wait to get back to twitter and tell everyone about it. If we had any questions, Jodie could come up with an answer just like that. Sue and Carrie told me all sorts of stuff. Sue even showed us a video on youtube about goths getting dressed. And Carrie was an old goth too. Jodie showed us some pictures of her new hair. Everyone complimented her on how great she looked. Soon, I was getting to the end of the book. I reflected on what I had read. I needn’t have worried about revisiting the book, it was a fantastic read. I think, looking back on it, it’s a bit of an ensemble piece with each of the characters getting their time in the spotlight. My favorites were the sulky, snarky wizard, Raistlin. But then there was Fizban, the mad old wizard who can never remember the fireball spell and does not get along with trees. So, we all got together after finishing. Everyone giving their thoughts about their own favourite parts of the book and decided. We can’t wait to read the next part of the trilogy!”
“Welcome to the world of Krynn…. It has been 5 years since our characters have last seen one an other, vowing to meet again at the Inn of the Last Home in Solace. All having their own stories and secrets to keep, some seem different, changed. Little did they know that after all this time they would be adventuring together, finding new friendships and enemy’s along they way. Stars are missing, and dragons, children’s tales are coming to life. Things that haven’t been seen since before the cataclysm. A magic staff and corrupted clerics. Has the Queen of Darkness returned? So if you are dork like myself you will instantly love Dragons of Autumn Twilight. If you like doing quests, if you like grumpy dwarves, a kender who will make you giggle, but do watch your purse around them. Cheesy songs that are beautiful regardless. You will enjoy this. If you love elves, magic, adventure, mystery, monsters, dragons, friendship and found family, you will enjoy this. D&D, RPG’s you will enjoy this. Dragonlance in my mind, was world that I new I had to visit to someday, it always screamed to me as being a staple in not only the genre of fantasy but in the overall nerd/dork/geekdoms. This book has been sitting on my shelf for many a year. And sometime during 2020 I kept on placing on each monthly tbr to only have it collecting more dust, (and no there were no draconian killed on top of it) Then thanks to Twitter and my scrolling I somehow ended in a buddy read with some great folk… I look forward to my next adventure. To learn more secrets, to see if my thoughts on certain characters are right. Also to see what else Flint complains about.”
We will be continuing our buddy read with Dragons of Winter Night, book two in the Dragonlance Chronicles. And it is the perfect time to be reading these books because it was announced today that Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are returning to the world of Krynn with a new triliogy! To say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement. If you haven’t yet experienced the world of Dragonlance, now is the time. Happy reading!