Dungeons & Dragons: The Fallbacks: Bound for Ruin Review

If the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: Road to Neverwinter novel whet your appetite for D&D fiction (or more D&D fiction), the new novel, Dungeons & Dragons: The Fallbacks: Bound for Ruin will satisfy that urge. Both novels were written by Jaleigh Johnson, a veteran of Forgotten Realms' fiction (Mistshore, Unbroken Chain, and others). While the tone is slightly different than D&D:HAT:RtN, anyone who liked the former should enjoy this one.

DnD Fallbacks Bound for Ruin Novel.jpg

Meet the Fallbacks​

The Fallbacks are a new group of adventurers based out of Waterdeep, though they're so new, they don't even have a name until roughly halfway through the book. Tessalynde dreams of putting together a crew that will reach legendary status, and the young rogue has a good sense of what's needed and how to put together a plan.

For their first assignment, all they have to do is retrieve a spellbook from a lost temple, and Tess is fairly confident her team is up to the challenge – Anson, the steady warrior, Cazrin, the cheerful wizard, Baldric, a dwarf cleric who makes deals with the gods instead of tying himself to just one, and Lark, the flamboyant bard. They bicker a bit, as is the nature of most parties, but they're also all competent, with reasonable teamwork for a new group.

And, because adventurers are prone to adopt the most unlikely creatures, the team also has a pet otyugh. Each team member gets their own brief flashback, and Uggie is no different, explaining how they found and healed the injured otyugh, only to discover that the creature was grateful enough to follow them. The fact that they have interesting trash for Uggie to eat makes it all the better for everyone.

The book starts well into their retrieval mission, which succeeds despite a run in with a mindflayer who warns them against “the ruinous child.” Happy and successful, they head back to Waterdeep to meet their employer, turn over the book, and get paid.

Of course, it can't be that easy.

Not only do they find their employer is dead and no payment, but they're framed for the murder and forced on the run. Worse, the spellbook seems to be sentient and bloodthirsty. After they make it out of Waterdeep, they wisely decide to take the book to Candlekeep to seek guidance from the Avowed at the famous library. Needless to say, that can't go smoothly either.

Did I mention they're also being pursued by a lich and the Zhentarim?

Assemble Your Party​

Overall, I really liked D&D:TF:BfR. The adventure moves at a good pace with enough twists and turns that I didn't want to put the book down. The characters are engaging and very likable, especially Tess, who is the main viewpoint character. Baldric's deal making with the gods is interesting. Anson is a solid ally, but soon a subplot involving his family adds to his burden.

Lark's ego and flamboyance is more entertaining than annoying, which is good. He could have been tiresome otherwise. And Uggie is just adorable, though it helps that this is a novel so you don't have to actually see the otyugh's weird teeth and tentacles.

Cazrin was the one character that bothered me. The combination of the sunny, naive, overly optimistic disposition did not pair well with an obsession to keep and decode the spellbook, especially after certain things happened, which should have given her pause. Over time, she became less annoying, but was never my favorite character for personal reasons.

That said, it was nice to see the wizard act out instead of the rogue or the bard. Cliches get tiresome.

Should You Get It?​

This is supposed to be the first in a series of novels featuring The Fallbacks, and it's off to a good start. The ending definitely leaves room for more adventures, and I would enjoy spending time with these characters again.

If you like audiobooks. D&D:TF:BfR has an excellent production. Narrator Lauren Fortgang does a terrific job with all of the voices, distinguishing the party members well enough that you know who is speaking before the name is mentioned and appropriately creepy in different ways for the villains. It's a solid A and off to a good start for a new series.

Dungeons & Dragons: The Fallbacks: Bound for Ruin is available now.
 

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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

Dire Bare

Legend
Thanks for the thoughtful review!

I enjoyed this book also . . . don't have much to add to your review, your thoughts mirror mine fairly closely. I used to love the D&D novels that TSR/WotC used to crank out, and I'm now hoping this is the beginning of a return for D&D novels.

We had several D&D movie tie-in novels last year (one by Johnson), this book, the new Dragonlance trilogy, and a Spelljammer book later this year. And of course, Salvatore's Dark Elf novels never stopped!
 

Queer Venger

Dungeon Master is my Dad
If the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: Road to Neverwinter novel whet your appetite for D&D fiction (or more D&D fiction), the new novel, Dungeons & Dragons: The Fallbacks: Bound for Ruin will satisfy that urge. Both novels were written by Jaleigh Johnson, a veteran of Forgotten Realms' fiction (Mistshore, Unbroken Chain, and others). While the tone is slightly different than D&D:HAT:RtN, anyone who liked the former should enjoy this one.

Meet the Fallbacks​

The Fallbacks are a new group of adventurers based out of Waterdeep, though they're so new, they don't even have a name until roughly halfway through the book. Tessalynde dreams of putting together a crew that will reach legendary status, and the young rogue has a good sense of what's needed and how to put together a plan.

For their first assignment, all they have to do is retrieve a spellbook from a lost temple, and Tess is fairly confident her team is up to the challenge – Anson, the steady warrior, Cazrin, the cheerful wizard, Baldric, a dwarf cleric who makes deals with the gods instead of tying himself to just one, and Lark, the flamboyant bard. They bicker a bit, as is the nature of most parties, but they're also all competent, with reasonable teamwork for a new group.

And, because adventurers are prone to adopt the most unlikely creatures, the team also has a pet otyugh. Each team member gets their own brief flashback, and Uggie is no different, explaining how they found and healed the injured otyugh, only to discover that the creature was grateful enough to follow them. The fact that they have interesting trash for Uggie to eat makes it all the better for everyone.

The book starts well into their retrieval mission, which succeeds despite a run in with a mindflayer who warns them against “the ruinous child.” Happy and successful, they head back to Waterdeep to meet their employer, turn over the book, and get paid.

Of course, it can't be that easy.

Not only do they find their employer is dead and no payment, but they're framed for the murder and forced on the run. Worse, the spellbook seems to be sentient and bloodthirsty. After they make it out of Waterdeep, they wisely decide to take the book to Candlekeep to seek guidance from the Avowed at the famous library. Needless to say, that can't go smoothly either.

Did I mention they're also being pursued by a lich and the Zhentarim?

Assemble Your Party​

Overall, I really liked D&D:TF:BfR. The adventure moves at a good pace with enough twists and turns that I didn't want to put the book down. The characters are engaging and very likable, especially Tess, who is the main viewpoint character. Baldric's deal making with the gods is interesting. Anson is a solid ally, but soon a subplot involving his family adds to his burden.

Lark's ego and flamboyance is more entertaining than annoying, which is good. He could have been tiresome otherwise. And Uggie is just adorable, though it helps that this is a novel so you don't have to actually see the otyugh's weird teeth and tentacles.

Cazrin was the one character that bothered me. The combination of the sunny, naive, overly optimistic disposition did not pair well with an obsession to keep and decode the spellbook, especially after certain things happened, which should have given her pause. Over time, she became less annoying, but was never my favorite character for personal reasons.

That said, it was nice to see the wizard act out instead of the rogue or the bard. Cliches get tiresome.

Should You Get It?​

This is supposed to be the first in a series of novels featuring The Fallbacks, and it's off to a good start. The ending definitely leaves room for more adventures, and I would enjoy spending time with these characters again.

If you like audiobooks. D&D:TF:BfR has an excellent production. Narrator Lauren Fortgang does a terrific job with all of the voices, distinguishing the party members well enough that you know who is speaking before the name is mentioned and appropriately creepy in different ways for the villains. It's a solid A and off to a good start for a new series.

Dungeons & Dragons: The Fallbacks: Bound for Ruin is available now.
Ive picked it up and adding the upcoming Spelljammer novel to my kindle wishlist, thank you for the review
 

pukunui

Legend
Is there any tie-in to the upcoming Verna storyline in this novel? (I had imagined that the spellbook would turn out to be the Book of Vile Darkness, but it seems like that is not the case.)
 




Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
The whole thing about PC's adopting little monsters as pets is so... D&D of the mid-2020s. I kind of love it; but it does make it hard to run older adventures where the assumption was often "looks weird, kill it!" and "looked at us funny, kill it!" and "looks rich, kill it!"
 



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