Saturday, 22 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 22

Inspired by D&D!
22. First D&D-based novel you ever read?

Dragonlance? I mean, that was a sanctioned AD&D setting and I devoured the novels, bought the modules and painted the Draconians (from the Grenadier miniature range). Created by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis (for TSR), Dragonlance was released when I was beginning to play D&D. There is some discussion that George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series is similar in many ways to Dragonlance. The former is definitely more adult! Which is better? Though I’d sooner give a child Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea than Harry Potter, they both have their place.

I read a lot during my childhood. Some of it was not for kids. I remember buying Congo when I was nine - hey, it had a gorilla on the front cover! Some of the books I read as a young teen were ok enough then but unenduring horrible now. David Eddings' Belgariad is an example of that sort of fiction. However, David Gemmell (RIP) is still a good read. I bought the Dragonlance movie because of nostalgia and ouch, it was awful. I’ve read so much science fantasy, my brain must have a library of tomes shelved somewhere gathering dust. My favourite would have to be The Hobbit. It opened up a whole new world and I’ve been amazed by J.R.R. Tolkien’s works since I was eight. The Hobbit is also the first novel I read to my daughters, followed by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

A few years ago I read The Complete Chronicles of Conan and the entire collection of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, back to back, because I was on a mission (of sorts). I then read all the Elric (Stormbringer) books. By the time I got through those, I had forgot what I was looking for. Perhaps it was to understand what I may have missed when I was younger. When I was watching Conan or Tarzan (Greystoke) in the early 1980s, I knew nothing of Robert Ervin Howard or Edgar Rice Burroughs. Later, I would discover them through Appendix N. in the Dungeon Masters Guide.

Ha! Gotcha! No… Jack Vance, Roger Zelanzy, Fritz Lieber, Michael Moorcock, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Hugh Cook, Douglas Adams, Robert Rankin and a host of other authors came to me through my friends (ok, mostly gamers) and an innate desire to read stories of heroic fantasy. Tales of characters that face danger head-on and explore the opportunities that come with growing up. Oh, and some dragons thrown in for good measure! If you ever lent me a book, I thank you. If I ever lent you one, could you finish reading it and give it back please? I may want to share it with someone else, or at least discuss what you thought about it.

I’m a huge Terry Pratchett fan and his books just scream D&D to me. One of the few authors I know my dad read also, because he was given some Discworld books when he was diagnosed with cancer. He found them humorous and recommended them to me, not realising I’d been a dedicated fan since The Colour of Magic. It was good to know he enjoyed them. My dad loved British humour and introduced me to The Goon Show and Monty Python when I was a boy. March 5th will mark twelve years since his passing.

I actually read The Light Fantastic and The Colour of Magic around the same time as Dragonlance and I believe our Dungeons & Dragons games were closer to Discworld than Krynn. I was introduced to Bravd and Weasel before I met Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Perhaps this is where it comes full circle? A novel that parodies classic fantasy works (some of which already packed with humour) and is also influenced by the authors own experience as a DM? I'd certainly recommend reading Terry Pratchett if someone asked for a D&D-based novel.

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