With shows like The Legend of Vox Machina and Stranger Things promoting it, along with the upcoming Honor Among Thieves releasing March 3rd of 2023, Dungeons & Dragons is more popular now than it was back when it first debuted. Thanks to modern media cultivating newer and newer players, the forgotten realms are overflowing with adventurers in search of glory.
As enjoyable as each session at the tabletop can be, sometimes wary adventurers just want to curl up with a good story. After all, that’s the reason many become Dungeon Masters. Wizards of the Coast has a full library of novels and anthologies under their massive belt, and any player from cleric to warlock can find a gripping tale of dark elves, enchanted gems, and dragon hordes to keep them entertained and perhaps inspire their next campaign.
10 Elminster: The Making Of A Mage By Ed Greenwood (3.81)
Book number one of Ed Greenwood’s Elminster series could be considered the Harry Potter of the Forgotten Realms series. Known as “The One Who Walks” and “The Sage of Shadowdale,” Elminster is one of the most powerful and legendary wizards in D&D lore, and his humble beginnings certainly have a certain flavor of the Wizarding World about them.
From young thief to practiced conjurer, Elminster rises from poverty to power in Greenwood’s iconic series. A touch more colorful and treacherous than Gandalf the Grey’s might have been, but every great spellcaster needs a compelling origin story before they can set out and achieve their feats of arcane wisdom.
9 I, Strahd: The Memoirs Of A Vampire By P.N. Elrod (3.94)
In all the halls of D&D lore, there is probably no villain as famous or infamous as the legendary Strahd von Zarovich of Castle Ravenloft. The primary antagonist of the iconic Curse of Strahd campaign, Strahd has been the bane of adventurers for years, but he also has several appearances in the Ravenloft book series.
Although the series begins with Vampire of the Mists, Elrod’s I, Strahd serves as the prequel to the events that take place in the Valley of Barovia. Fans of Netflix’s Castlevania series will undoubtedly appreciate this vampiric tale as Commander Von Zarovich submits himself to the dark arts and becomes the first vampire of the realms.
8 Dragons Of The Autumn Twilight By Weis And Hickman(4.00)
If there’s one place new adventures should begin their literary quests, they can’t go wrong with the iconic Dragonlance series. Beginning with Dragons of the Autumn Twilight, readers will be introduced to the world of Krynn and its gods, dragons, and heroes. Simply put, it’s a textbook case of essential high fantasy.
The first book in the original trilogy sees a group of adventurers known as the Companions led by the ranger, Tanis Halfelven, face off against a rising draconic threat led by the Dragon Highlords who seek to conquer the realm. Dark wizards, dungeons, a manual’s worth of monsters, and more are all part and parcel of this springboard into the Dungeons and Dragons novels.
7 Vox Machina: Kith & Kin By Marike Nijkamp (4.05)
An honorable mention, but one that comes at a time where Critical Role’s popularity is at an apex. A tale of shadowy deeds and cunning trickery, the novel tells the origin story of the elf twins Vex and Vax before they joined the ranks of Vox Machina, and explores how their involvement with a treacherous thieves’ guild known as The Clasp set their fates into motion.
In short, this is a novel of Vox Machina written for fans of Vox Machina, but even neophytes to the realm of Critical Role will find something to enjoy in this swashbuckling adventure.
6 Dragons Of The Winter Night By Weis And Hickman (4.12)
Following the events of Dragons of the Autumn Twilight, Dragons of the Winter Night sees the Companions of the first novel gathered together once more to continue their fight against the chaotic Dragon Lords of Takhisis. Unlike the first novel, however, the sequel is where the action starts to truly pick up.
A favorite amongst the Dragonlance fandom, the second part of the original trilogy sees a fellowship torn by war and haunted by a wizard’s disturbing visions. This change in tone and direction only further drives and defines the series to well-beyond its epic conclusion.
5 Dragons Of The Spring Dawning By Weis And Hickman (4.12)
The war against the dragons of Takhisis rages on in this third entry into the trilogy as the Companions continue to fight for the fate of Krynn. Armed with the arduously acquired Dragon Orbs, the party must ready their might and magic to square off against the demonic dragon goddess herself.
There comes a time in every campaign when the party of adventurers must ready their courage and defeat the big bad to close the campaign, and this novel is the literary embodiment of that concept. Takhisis isn’t just a five-headed monster like Tiamat, but a goddess of another plane of existence. It would take more than a few lucky nat 20s to take her down.
4 The Legend Of Drizzt: The Collected Stories By R.A. Salvatore (4.16)
If there is one name in the entirety of Dungeons and Dragons literature that every reader should commit to memory, it’s R.A. Salvatore. Credited with creating one of the most iconic characters in the franchise, Drizzt Do’Urden, Salvatore has written 37 novels surrounding the dark elf warrior.
This anthology serves as a sampling of Drizzt’s adventures for those who aren’t quite ready to commit to the great fantasy series. Twelve tales of the dark elf’s deeds line the covers of this collection, all exciting and equipped with Salvatore’s gift for a journey through the Underdark.
3 Dragonlance Legends Trilogy By Weis And Hickman (4.33)
For those who weren’t entirely satisfied with the conclusion of the original Dragonlance trilogy, the legends trilogy follows the continuing adventures of Raistlin the Mage and his warrior twin Caramon. Set after the events of the original three books, the Legends series, Raistlin’s quest for ultimate magical power leads him on a quest to seek to take the dragon goddess’s place in the pantheon of Krynn.
Naturally, his kind-hearted brother Caramon does all he can to stop him, but the wizard’s ambition knows no bounds. As powerful as he is, Raistlin soon learns that all magic comes at a price. Especially when gods and dragons are concerned.
2 The Icewind Dale Trilogy By R.A. Salvatore (4.30)
For many fans, the crowning achievement of R.A. Salvatore is The Icewind Dale Trilogy. The series not only culled forth some of the most enchanting adventures ever seen in the fantasy genre, but it was where the legendary Drizzt made his first literary appearance all the way back in 1988.
Consisting of The Crystal Shard, Streams of Silver, and The Halfling’s Gem, the trilogy was an icon of the Forgotten Realms series and helped put Drizzt and his companions on the map. Without it, fans might not even know the name of R.A. Salvatore.
1 The Dark Elf Trilogy By R.A. Salvatore (4.35)
All great stories have a beginning, and Drizzt’s began on a sacrificial altar of the Underdark. Born to a murderous clan of dark elves, Drizzt carves his way through the ranks of the drow hierarchy, unites with his faithful feline companion, and acquires his deadly pair of scimitars.
The prequel series to the Icewind Dale books displays Drizzt’s innate gifts as both a fighter and a stealthy rogue as he grows up and undergoes his training rituals in the underground Menzoberranzan. Watching him turn from the dark and sinister ways of his people to seeing the light of truth is both gripping and satisfying.
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Author: Zach Gass