TSR Best D&D Novels

I read most of them through the 2E years. Most of them were forgettable (and I've indeed forgotten them). Of the ones I liked most, I'd say the first two Drizzt trilogies, the first two Dragonlance trilogies, the Maztica and Horde trilogies, the two Moonshae trilogies, and The Ring of Winter....
 

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MGibster

Legend
Of the novels based on D&D settings (Dragonlance, FR, Greyhawk, Dark Sun, Ravenloft, Ebberon, etc), what would you consider your standouts?
I only ever read Ravenloft novels and while I read quite a few of them it's been more than 25 years. I did recently re-read I, Strahd by P.N. Elrod and Vampire of the Mists by Christie Golden and they were both. The only other Ravenloft novel that stands out to me is Knight of the Black Rose because it features Lord Soth.
 

KahlessNestor

Adventurer
Heck, even Drizzt got tiresome for me around Starless night and the whole king Obdoul storyline. Too much of a food thing can sometimes spoil the broth...
I did like the Obould storyline, though, because I liked the idea of Many Arrows. And he was really the only villain Salvatore has written that could legit kick Drizzt's ass. I dislike that they undid Many Arrows, unfortunately, or pushed it back into the one keep in the mountains (currently reading that series where Bruenor and Cattie-Brie are going religious genocide on the orcs).
 

I did like the Obould storyline, though, because I liked the idea of Many Arrows. And he was really the only villain Salvatore has written that could legit kick Drizzt's ass. I dislike that they undid Many Arrows, unfortunately, or pushed it back into the one keep in the mountains (currently reading that series where Bruenor and Cattie-Brie are going religious genocide on the orcs).
My thoughts on that are a mixed bag. The stories are well written but the super unkillable hero Drizzt became over the course of the books after the side story line with Entreri lessened my interest. But it took literally, a god invested Orc to pose a challenge to Drizzt. Even Raistlin finally got down. At some point, too much of a good thing spoils the broth. I did buy all the books, but did not get as much enjoyment as I did with the first six (which I read many times).

Take the cleric's Quintet. Nice books, nice wrap up and Salvatore has not extended the sauce to the point where it became less interesting. Two trilogies are usually the maximum you can see if you want to keep logical. There are exceptions, of course, but it takes a lot of work to do it. The sword of truth comes to mind but even then, after the 9th book, it was clear it had to end somehow. I was really happy when Goodkind did the books on people able to recognize serial killers just by looking into their eyes. It is unfortunate he had such an early demise...

There were many series which lasted longer than two trilogies, not all were really good. Again many exceptions but usually, three to six is about the max.

Did you read his Demon serie?
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
"Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch" by Mizuno Ryo.

It's the original Lodoss War story, adapted from a Mizuno's original Lodoss D&D game replay (Mizuno was the DM). The novel was recently published in English for the first time ever. The same story appears in manga and anime form, as well. Later Mizuno game replays were adapted into novels and manga, but they changed their game rules to a homebrew system called Sword World because TSR wouldn't license the setting in Japan.
 

Mezuka

Adventurer
Dragonlance novel Weasel's Luck. Haven't read it since it came out. YMMV. There was a sequel.

The first Drizzt novel when he is young in 'Menzo' is memorable.

Kaaz the Minotaur! 🙃
 


Zardnaar

Legend
My thoughts on that are a mixed bag. The stories are well written but the super unkillable hero Drizzt became over the course of the books after the side story line with Entreri lessened my interest. But it took literally, a god invested Orc to pose a challenge to Drizzt. Even Raistlin finally got down. At some point, too much of a good thing spoils the broth. I did buy all the books, but did not get as much enjoyment as I did with the first six (which I read many times).

Take the cleric's Quintet. Nice books, nice wrap up and Salvatore has not extended the sauce to the point where it became less interesting. Two trilogies are usually the maximum you can see if you want to keep logical. There are exceptions, of course, but it takes a lot of work to do it. The sword of truth comes to mind but even then, after the 9th book, it was clear it had to end somehow. I was really happy when Goodkind did the books on people able to recognize serial killers just by looking into their eyes. It is unfortunate he had such an early demise...

There were many series which lasted longer than two trilogies, not all were really good. Again many exceptions but usually, three to six is about the max.

Did you read his Demon serie?

I don't think he's done a great Drizzt novel since 1999. There's been some ok ones after that but the last one I read was terrible.

He always seems to try and fit the latest world shakeuos and edition changes in as well.

But the main problem is just to many and Drizzt is overdone, predictable and ultimately boring.
 

The Knight of the Black Rose has come up a lot. I just finished it a month or so ago.

Ah, a story about two brooding self-absorbed goths who both think a woman is for owning trying to out-brood and out-goth each other. ;) (which fit in perfect for the time it was written)

I kid. Sorta. I found it an enjoyable read, and Jim Lowder is a pretty good human, so not gonna knock it.

The Sequel was pretty good too (Spectre of the Black Rose)
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
Lynn Abbey’s Dark Sun books. Brazen Gambit, Cinnabar Shadows, Rise and Fall of a Dragon King.

Morris Simon’s The Black Vessel, set in Mystara.

Simon Hawke’s The Iron Throne set in Birthright.

Maybe Paul Kidd’s White Plume Mountain.

PN Elrod’s I, Strahd.

update: stretching definitions here, but Deeds of Paksenarrion is clearly a D&D book. 🙃
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
Maybe Paul Kidd’s White Plume Mountain.
(Note: Pauli Kidd, nowadays)

update: stretching definitions here, but Deeds of Paksenarrion is clearly a D&D book. 🙃
Well, the world/"rules" of The Deed of Paksenarrion is a bit different. Mages making healing potions, for example.

But yeah, the appearance of a certain famous moat house and village (albeit under a different name) in the second book of the trilogy (which is usually easiest to find in the omnibus edition collecting Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold) definitely gives it an honorable mention, at least. As do the evil underground elves worshipping a spider goddess, the variant Paladins, and the nature of religion in the setting in general.
 

Bolares

Hero
I reeeally love the Thorn of Breland trilogy by Keith Baker. It's a Eberron set spy thriller trilogy, written by the creator of the setting.

here's the synopsis of the first book, Queen of Stone (3,87 ratings) on goodreads:

"In the land of monsters, you'll want her by your side.
Nyrielle Tam--better known by her code name, Thorn--is a Dark Lantern sent undercover to a summit in the monstrous kingdom of Droaam. The beasts of Droaam have organized and want recognition from the kingdoms of Khorvaire. Breland attends to gauge its neighbors' reaction to the new state's demands of equality . . . and to take the opportunity to recover something long ago stolen by the mysterious Sheshka, Queen of the Medusas. It's up to Thorn to accomplish both, while keeping her King and Country out of war.
The creator of the world of Eberron returns with a series that shows off Eberron's cross-genre capabilities--all the smarts and action of a spy thriller, with the magic and depth of world only fantasy can create. There's something here for every fan!"
 

Voadam

Legend
Well, the world/"rules" of The Deed of Paksenarrion is a bit different. Mages making healing potions, for example.
That is consistent with 1e (DMG pages 116-117). 1e Potions are made by Magic Users in conjunction with, or at higher levels without, an alchemist. Healing and extra healing potions are noted as special for the components used can be either something like blood from a regenerating creature like a troll or an ogre magi, or the hair of a saint or thread from one's garment, but the latter type requires a cleric's participation in compounding the potion.
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
That is consistent with 1e (DMG pages 116-117). 1e Potions are made by Magic Users in conjunction with, or at higher levels without, an alchemist. Healing and extra healing potions are noted as special for the components used can be either something like blood from a regenerating creature like a troll or an ogre magi, or the hair of a saint or thread from one's garment, but the latter type requires a cleric's participation in compounding the potion.
Nice reference! I guess I'd have to get more into the weeds to point out all the differences between, say, "Paksworld" Paladins and D&D Paladins. :)
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
In no particular order, my top picks for TSR era D&D books:
  1. Homeland (origin story of Drizz't, a visual feast into the unforgiving realm of Lolth's people and the Underdark).
  2. Verdant Passage (first Dark Sun novel, Denning brings the brutal and morally-gray world of Athas to life...the 5 book series goes downhill from there but still worth a go; if you're going to DM in Dark Sun, this one is a must-read).
  3. Legends trilogy (Dragonlance's best involving the relationship between twin brothers Caramon and the infamous Raistlin as Raistlin goes back in time to become a god, you'll love and hate during this journey; of course, you really need to read the Chronicles first to fully get it).
  4. Finder's Stone trilogy (Forgotten Realms, starts with Azure Bonds (waking up with tattoos that compel the main character) and may seem full of fantasy cliches, but that's because this trilogy came up with many of them; it's pure RPG adventure and high fantasy with a clever storyline, D&D at its best).
  5. The Cleric Quintet (FR, the cleric Cadderly, who is more complex than most D&D characters get, and friends have cool D&D adventures with an awesome premise...it's just a fun read with a little exploration into understanding one's faith).
  6. Vampire of the Mists & Knight of the Black Rose (Ravenloft's first two novels following the tortured elf Jander and getting a glimpse at the nature of Strahd, and next Dragonlance's great villain Soth makes his way, both capture the heart and soul of the setting...I, Strahd gets an honorable mention because if you're going to run Strahd as more than a stat block, you really should read it).
  7. The Moonshae Trilogy (early FR high fantasy, it's not going to win awards for character development but it's just epic fun with save-the-world tropes that make you think that'd make for an awesome campaign).
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Lynn Abbey’s Dark Sun books. Brazen Gambit, Cinnabar Shadows, Rise and Fall of a Dragon King.

Morris Simon’s The Black Vessel, set in Mystara.

Simon Hawke’s The Iron Throne set in Birthright.

Maybe Paul Kidd’s White Plume Mountain.

PN Elrod’s I, Strahd.

update: stretching definitions here, but Deeds of Paksenarrion is clearly a D&D book. 🙃

I thought I was the only one to remember The Iron Trone.

Personally I don't think the most popular books (Drizzt and Dragonlance) are the best books but they're probably the best vs the amount who have read them. Maybe the Dark Elf trilogy that was kinda good.

Verdant passage yeah that belongs along with Lynn Abbeys books.
 

KahlessNestor

Adventurer
I reeeally love the Thorn of Breland trilogy by Keith Baker. It's a Eberron set spy thriller trilogy, written by the creator of the setting.

here's the synopsis of the first book, Queen of Stone (3,87 ratings) on goodreads:

"In the land of monsters, you'll want her by your side.
Nyrielle Tam--better known by her code name, Thorn--is a Dark Lantern sent undercover to a summit in the monstrous kingdom of Droaam. The beasts of Droaam have organized and want recognition from the kingdoms of Khorvaire. Breland attends to gauge its neighbors' reaction to the new state's demands of equality . . . and to take the opportunity to recover something long ago stolen by the mysterious Sheshka, Queen of the Medusas. It's up to Thorn to accomplish both, while keeping her King and Country out of war.
The creator of the world of Eberron returns with a series that shows off Eberron's cross-genre capabilities--all the smarts and action of a spy thriller, with the magic and depth of world only fantasy can create. There's something here for every fan!"
I'd forgotten about those! I definitely liked Thorn of Breland. The others were good also, but I thought Son of Khyber suffered a little because it was a...disappointing callback to the weird, unfinished ending of Baker's previous Eberron trilogy that ended...but didn't really end. (I get the understanding he expected to write more Eberron novels that then never got contracted). The third book was weird dream realm stuff, which never really appeals to me anyway (same with the third book in his first trilogy). Also, I knew less about Eberron when reading them than I do now, so I may have suffered that.
 

KahlessNestor

Adventurer
In no particular order, my top picks for TSR era D&D books:
  1. Homeland (origin story of Drizz't, a visual feast into the unforgiving realm of Lolth's people and the Underdark).
  2. Verdant Passage (first Dark Sun novel, Denning brings the brutal and morally-gray world of Athas to life...the 5 book series goes downhill from there but still worth a go; if you're going to DM in Dark Sun, this one is a must-read).
  3. Legends trilogy (Dragonlance's best involving the relationship between twin brothers Caramon and the infamous Raistlin as Raistlin goes back in time to become a god, you'll love and hate during this journey; of course, you really need to read the Chronicles first to fully get it).
  4. Finder's Stone trilogy (Forgotten Realms, starts with Azure Bonds (waking up with tattoos that compel the main character) and may seem full of fantasy cliches, but that's because this trilogy came up with many of them; it's pure RPG adventure and high fantasy with a clever storyline, D&D at its best).
  5. The Cleric Quintet (FR, the cleric Cadderly, who is more complex than most D&D characters get, and friends have cool D&D adventures with an awesome premise...it's just a fun read with a little exploration into understanding one's faith).
  6. Vampire of the Mists & Knight of the Black Rose (Ravenloft's first two novels following the tortured elf Jander and getting a glimpse at the nature of Strahd, and next Dragonlance's great villain Soth makes his way, both capture the heart and soul of the setting...I, Strahd gets an honorable mention because if you're going to run Strahd as more than a stat block, you really should read it).
  7. The Moonshae Trilogy (early FR high fantasy, it's not going to win awards for character development but it's just epic fun with save-the-world tropes that make you think that'd make for an awesome campaign).
I did enjoy the Cleric Quintet. Anytme a fantasy book takes religion and faith seriously, I enjoy it. Also enjoyed the dwarf brothers. Wonder what happened to Cadderly after the Second Sundering. Anyone heard any mention of the haunted cathedral of Spirit Soaring and the Ghost King since the 4E FR campaign guide?

The original Dragonlance trilogy has a special place in my heart because of Strom and his end. I admit to sniffling a bit.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I did enjoy the Cleric Quintet. Anytme a fantasy book takes religion and faith seriously, I enjoy it. Also enjoyed the dwarf brothers. Wonder what happened to Cadderly after the Second Sundering. Anyone heard any mention of the haunted cathedral of Spirit Soaring and the Ghost King since the 4E FR campaign guide?

The original Dragonlance trilogy has a special place in my heart because of Strom and his end. I admit to sniffling a bit.
I thought the Cleric Quintet was decent as well. I'm reading Starlight Enclave now, and so much seems to have happened to them all since I last read a Drizzt book (last book I read, they were all dead (Gauntlegrym) lol). So I looked at how many Drizzt books there were. 39 novels. Good lord. I'm not gonna read all those :D

But when I was looking things up, I do seem to recall Cadderly will make another appearance at some point, but I can't find where that was where I read that.
 

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