Nor Ogre Tears

I've got a soft spot in my heart for Alan Dean Foster.

I don't think anyone would accuse the man of being a great writer, but he was certainly a consistent workman and craftsman who could tell a decent tale. He could take a movie script and turn it into an engaging read, but was also a prolific writer with several series of books of his own, as well as one-offs and short stories. His "Why Johnny Can't Drive" was one of the listed inspirations for Steve Jackson Games Car Wars. Most of the other short stories collected into both With Friends LIke These and Who Needs Enemies were memorable. The Spellsinger books may not have aged well with maturity, but I still have several Flinx books on my shelf, and Nor Crystal Tears was a pretty solid first contact novel.

So, as Jon Mollison at Castalia House put it, it was interesting to see what he could do when handed the special snowflake dreck of D&D to work with.

The trouble begins right from the start. The first half of the story actually consists of a bar-fight to showcase how noble and strong the hero of the piece is. This being a D&D novel the bartender has to be a dwarf. The antagonists three brother ogres who don’t cotton to the hero’s kind around these parts, what with these parts being fit only for decent folk, of which the hero most certainly is not. Because he is a snow leopard Rakshasa. A sorcerous snow leopard Rakshasa. Who is, most strange of all, also a Ranger. With a sword with not one, but two personalities of its own, and personalities that don’t get along with each other. Oddity piled on oddity with even the passing mention of the patrons fleeing the impending barfight requiring a reference to an elf.

It’s all so tragically mundane in its everyday acceptance of the wondrous that it sucks all the magic and mystery out of the tale. When our Rakshasa does journey to the creepy strangeness of the blasted rubble filled battlefield, the alignment of the broken blades pointing at a central point carries no weight and no mystery. It’s just one more-light on the Christmas tree and conveys no more novelty than blades of grass or wind-swept sands.

While I haven't played D&D as much, from what I've heard from the people that do play it, it's even worse than Pathfinder at this aspect "everything is special". And much like compression with music sucks the dynamic range out, this sucks the dramatic range out.

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.