I’ve never had much interest in D&D novels (or in fact novels about any games). They always seemed to me to be a cheap attempt at milking the fan base and (I assumed) were just poorly written trash, produced merely to sell a few copies on the strength of the game on which they were based.

Yet they endured. Furthermore, they sold more than “a few copies”. Clearly, my assumptions must be all wrong. So I broke down and bought a used copy of a book based on a well known, classic module.

The Module

Anyone who has been playing Dungeons & Dragons for any period of time has certainly heard of the module “B2: Keep on the Borderlands”, written by Gary Gygax. First printed in 1979, this module was included in the basic set and designed for characters of 1st through 3rd level. In 2004, Dungeon magazine ranked it the 7th greatest Dungeons & Dragons adventure of all time.

It has been reprinted a number of times, has had a sequel produced, and has been adapted to (I believe) every edition of D&D since it came out.

The Book

Keep on the Borderlands, by Ru Emerson, proved to be exactly what I expected it to be. It was painful to read and a chore to finish. The setting may have been familiar. Anyone who has read through the module will recognize the description of the caves and the surrounding area. But the excitement of the module was entirely sucked out of the book.

If, prior to ever playing the game, I had been told to read this novel to get a feel for what Dungeons & Dragons was all about, I probably would have gone back to video games.

I would be far more kind had this book been written by a first time author. But Ru Emerson had been writing for years, and had numerous books published, prior to the release of this novel. That being the case, I think it is unconscionable that she sully the name of such a wonderful module with a book such as this.

Other Authors

I have been assured by friends, who avidly read these types of books, that there are far better ones out there. Although skeptical, I was willing to try to keep an open mind. That was fortunate. Otherwise, I would never have become acquainted with Gord the Rogue (the star of a series written by Gary Gygax, that I will describe tomorrow).