D&D General What Obscure/Lesser-Known Book Series Got You Into D&D?

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
The title is pretty self-explanatory, but I will elaborate a bit more just in case.

So, this thread is about us sharing book series that either helped you get into the hobby of D&D (by giving you a vision of what it was like, etc) or otherwise inspire your playstyle in D&D. However, these book series have to be decently obscure or lesser known. No obvious series like Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance, Conan the Barbarian, Percy Jackson, Chronicles of Narnia, and other obvious examples.

I'll start with three book series that fit my vision of D&D fairly well (or at least did when I started playing the game) in order to give some examples (if you happen to have read any of these series, let me know down below):

  1. Adventurers Wanted - I have never met another person (other than my cousin, who introduced me to it) that has read this book series. It is very obviously inspired by Tolkien's works, the first book is practically a rip-off of the Hobbit (a group of adventurers go to track down a red, fire-breathing dragon whose name starts with "S" and ends in "G" in order to kill him in his mountainous, ancient city lair and take his gold), but the later books are more unique and compelling. However, the style of the adventures and the characters are much more important than the bland main plot of the first book. I highly recommend this series, there are 5 books, (the author wanted to do 7, but unfortunately he had a stroke while writing the 5th and thus had to quickly rap up the series in a less than satisfying way due to a stroke-caused difficulty to write), the first three of which are very good IMO, and the last two are at least worth reading if you enjoyed the first three books.

    This series is aptly described by its name "Adventurers Wanted" contains an adventure shop where those with the skills of adventurers can learn about a diverse array of adventures and choose to sign an adventure's contract. How its adventures work is unique and possibly one of the best parts of the series. The series would be worth reading if only to learn more about its adventure contracts, how treasure gets divided amongst the party, and so on.
  2. The Books of Umber - This is another book series that I have never met anyone else that has read them. This trilogy of great books takes place in an in-depth fantasy world with awesome, unique magical creatures that are likely unlike anything else you've ever read/seen before, while also having some recognizable fantasy creatures sprinkled throughout (Sorceresses, Dragons, Giants, etc). I also highly recommend this book series, its overall plots are much more compelling than those of the Adventurers Wanted series and its characters are much more unique, compelling, and notable than those in the Adventurers Wanted series. If you like a bit of mystery mixed into your awesome fantasy adventure novels, this series is perfect for you, and is exactly what D&D feels like it should be to me; intrigue, horrible mysteries, fantastic creatures, and amazing characters with unique, yet relatable personalities.
  3. The Last Apprentice - This series is likely more well-known than the previous two (it got its own movie awhile back, although it bombed and has horrible ratings), but is nowhere near the popularity of the more obvious examples. This book series has a ton of books, 13 in the first series and 3 in the sequel series, which isn't including the 3 companion books. It has a much darker mood than the other two series, with an overarching theme of the series being a small force of Good against the hordes of Evil monsters and men, while also constantly forcing the characters to question where they draw the line between evil and good when innocent lives or the fate of the world might be at stake.

    This series embodies the feeling of "everyone is out to get us" that many, if not all, D&D parties experience on their adventures, as well as the feeling of getting way over your head and having to deal with world-shaking problems when the odds are heavily weighed against you.
Okay, those are the series that come to mind at the moment for me. I highly recommend all of them, and can't wait to hear what series are mentioned below.
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Mazes and Monsters by Rona Jaffe.

Well, the TV movie adaptation, though I would go on to read the novel it was based on about 20 years later. Some people curse the D&D panic of the early 80s. I think of it as the blessing that made it reach the circumference of my awareness and I couldn't wait to play!
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
It didn't get me into D&D: seeing other kids play D&D in a camp cabin is what got me into D&D. But what got me really captured by the fantasy bug early on, other than LOTR, was Phyllis Eisenstein's The Book of Elementals series. I am so deeply saddened to learn she passed away in December. I still hold out hope some day her already-long-completed third novel in that trilogy "The City In Stone" will some day be published.
 


When I was nine years old, I thrilled to the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the legends of the Norse gods and Beowulf. And of course, there was The Hobbit and Dragonlance. But those are all pretty common touchstones. To get to the point, I would put forward the following as my obscure Appendix N:

Thieves World - these anthologies were probably way ahead of what I should have been reading, but they instilled in me a love of seedy urban adventures.

Robert Aprin's Myth Adventures - if Thieves World was dark as pitch, these were light and fluffy like cotton candy. Fun, funny, and now that I think about it, full of dimensional travel, which to this day remains a favorite of mine, the Manual of the Planes being a perennial favorite D&D book whenever a new version is released.

Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet's Gnomes - the sense of naturalism, that Gnomes might actually exist, definitely informs my world-building - sometimes little touches count more for bringing things to life.
 

Wolfram stout

Adventurer
This is more parallel development than what lead me to D&D. LOTR got me into Fantasy, The guy that got me into D&D had a dad that had a HUGE library of Fantasy and Sci-Fi books from the 60s and 70s, which they graciously loaned me. Some of those books and others I got through the Sci-Fi Book club (5 books for .05) that influenced me early on:
The Fallible Fiend (Sprague De Camp)
The Complete Enchanter (De Camp again with F. Pratt)
Lots of Roger Zelazny (not only Amber series, but Jack of Shadows and others)
Myth Adventures and Thieves World
Chronicles of Prydain (which should not be obscure but probably is)
Vlad Taltos series (by S Brust)

And so many more. Ah, good times
 

Dioltach

Legend
I read pretty much all the fantasy that was around in the 70s and 80s before I started playing D&D, but more and more I'm finding that what's fuelling my enjoyment in D&D is the old S&S stories, plus Joe Abercrombie's First Law world, and some of the lesser known, dark fairytale-like stories from my childhood (the Goblin Railway, was that a book?).
 

thirdkingdom

Adventurer
Publisher
The Darksword series, by Weiss and Hickman. I read it before Dragonlance, and the "fourth" book in the series was this (in retrospect unworkable) rpg based on the series. It talked about these funny shaped dice and stuff.
 

Voadam

Legend
I was eight when I started D&D so stuff like Daulaire's Norse Mythology I remember being a big influence/inspiration. I had really liked monster and mythology oriented children's books as a littler kid. I was a big fan of Bill Pete's Drufus the Dragon and Professor Wormbog and the Search for the Zipperump-A-Zoo. I remember a short little children's book about trolls that was fantastic with lush illustrations. Around second grade I was really getting into Middle Ages stuff and I liked getting books out of the library about weapons and armor.

Most fantasy series, like the Chronicles of Prydain, was after I had started D&D. Daulaire is probably the closest to a series with the Greek Mythology one.
 


Stormonu

Legend
I was already playing D&D, but Fred Saberhagen's Book of Swords series (Book 1, Book 2, Book 3) ended up having a huge influence in my homebrew - both in the aspect of a set of mythic (intelligent) weapons and my deities (they are ascended mortals that can be killed).

I enjoyed Book 2 the most, due to the presence of the majority of the action taking place in a maze-like dungeon.

Never did get to read the follow-on books named for the individual swords.
 


Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Some book by some obscure British author. It had something to do with a ring and gnomes and angry birds. Barely finished it to be frank.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Actually, D&D got me into fantasy novels, not the other way around. My first real series was Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles
same here. I watched my older brother play D&D as a kid, and after playing myself, I was drawn to fantasy books, including one of my favorite series, the one you listed :)
 


Retreater

Legend
I inherited my older cousin's bronze age comics collection, including typical superheroes like Batman but also Disney comic strips like Scrooge McDuck.
Amongst the ads for mail-away junk like Sea Monkeys and X-Ray glasses was a spread for D&D, showing the miniatures and dioramas of dangerous dungeons, forbidden forests, and creepy caverns - similar to current day Dwarven Forge.
That lingered in my mind for years. I had a mom who wouldn't let me buy such stuff - I had to sneak to even watch the Saturday morning cartoon. Finally the day came when I got to read the Hobbit. And I tricked her into buying me the AD&D 2e manuals, saying they were basically art books for the Hobbit. (And they were even on the shelves of the fantasy section at our local bookstore.)
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I don't think there was a single book or piece of fiction that "got me into D&D." Growing up I read a lot of fantasy fiction like The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Prydain, but it was a friend of mine that got me into the hobby. He suggested we play it one day after school, and I was immediately hooked. Everything else I had read up to that point kind of...fed into it.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I'm going to add another series that I totally forgot the name of until today, Leven Thumps by Obert Skye. I also highly recommend this series, it has a ton of creatures that would fit right into the Feywild as well as having some of the strangest characters in a fantasy series that I have ever seen (trust me. Nothing's weirder than a magical, maniacally evil toothpick).
 

Keldryn

Adventurer
As a kid, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books. My mother used to get them for me at garage sales and flea markets.

One time, she found a similar type of book series, called Endless Quest.

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I think this particular one was the first that I read in that series, although at one point I had most of them. I didn't actually start reading any real fantasy literature until I started playing D&D.
 


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