Saturday, January 3, 2009

Review: Guardians of the Flame

So, with the object of providing greater content on my Blog, I though it may be good to give you all a taste of what I have been reading. I happened upon a series of books probably 20 years ago. The story was recommended by a friend who thought I would enjoy them as we were both gamers, mainly Dungeons and Dragons back then, and as the series was based on that, it was probably a good match for me.

The series of books was called The Guardians of the Flame and I actually obtained a compilation copy from my book club that packaged the three novels together as The Warriors. Well, to make a long story short, I read and loved the books and through an unfortunate moving incident, lost my copies of the novels. Recently, I have endeavored to find new, or used, copies of the books for me to read and enjoy again. As such I have succeeded and want to give you all a review of each of the books as I finish them. First up is a complete review of the first three novels, The Sleeping Dragon, The Sword and the Chain, and The Silver Crown.

The Sleeping Dragon: This story starts off the series by describing a group of friends who play a form of Dungeons and Dragons. Their group consists of college students and the game is mastered by a professor at the college.

The 'game' as they understand it however changes dramatically when they start playing one night to discover that they have been magically transported into the game world itself! This starts off a series of events that pit the players, now in the bodies of their characters, against the real life concerns of that fantasy world.

Everything gets further muddled as the have the skills and abilities of their characters, but the memory of their real life personas. This also adds intrigue as the characters, although have skills, have to concentrate on them initially to prevent reverting to their normal lives and making mistakes that their character persona wouldn't have made.

The author isn't careful with the characters either as it really is a no holds barred book in which anything can, and does happen.

Anyway, The plot of the Sleeping Dragon is that the players who are now in the fantasy world, need to escape which means they need to find the Gate between Worlds which is guarded by, yes you guessed it, a Sleeping Dragon. But it's not just any dragon, but The Dragon. The oldest one ever.

The Sword and the Chain : The second book in the series sees our heroes returned to the fantasy world. They are now 'stuck' there, or at least as much as you are when the only escape is by a no longer sleeping dragon.

Anyway, this book sees our heroes start to create a new life together as they also make a goal to fulfill a commitment to fight slavery in the fantasy world. This pits the heroes against large numbers of enemies, but also allows for some great character building as you come to understand the different characters and also new characters as they are introduced as part of the freeing slaves goal happens. You start caring for everyone and truly feeling for them when bad things happen.

Also this is the first book where we see how the main characters other knowledge is a benefit as they start to develop new weapons and fighting styles. Also industry starts to appear.

The Silver Crown: This is the last of the main series of books. In this book we see more of the politics of the world and even of the home environment the heroes have created. Also we see where the slavers have worked to even the playing field with regard to weapons. This has serious impacts on the world and the wars to come.

As industry is getting better, we start seeing how engineering or magic helps the common man even the playing field. We also see a constant struggle with the main heroes, and the inevitable loss of life that happens due to the war on slavery that they have started.

I don't want to give away too much from these books, as they are a GREAT read. I admit I am an avid reader, but I have been able to read all three of these novels in only about a weeks worth of time. If you enjoy fantasy, and you use to play Dungeons and Dragons, or are interested even a little on how these books turn out, I would wholly recommend you reading them. It may be hard to find copies of them as they have been OOP for some time, but check your used book stores for these wonderful little treasures. You won't be dissatisfied!

So, tell me if you have read these novels. I would really like to hear your impression of them. Also, what novels have you read that you would recommend for a good reading?


The Hammer said...


Just like you, I read these books about twenty years ago and lost them. In a moment of nostalgia a couple of months ago, I found and obtained a copy of The Sleeping Dragon! I was an old school D&D gammer and these books provide fond memories of my youth.

Nice to see someone else enjoy them as much as I did!

jlong05 said...

Hammer; Glad you liked my review, and also rereading the book. Are you going to try to find copies of the other books?

I am currently working on reading my way through 'The Heir Apparent'. It is taking a bit longer though due to the end of the Holiday break.

The Hammer said...

I will eventually. I really enjoyed the series. There aren't many books that I enjoy so much that I re-read them, but these were definitely favorites - I regret getting rid of them.

jlong05 said...

That was my issue also. I rarely re-read books. I horde them though and it was sad that I also somehow lost my original copies. In any case I did find replacements.

On another note. I never read past the 7th book, but discovered online what appears to be 3 or more additional books in the series. Did you ever read these also? I am curious if they were any good compared to the first books.

The Hammer said...

I think the last one I read was "The Warrior Lives" or something like that. As I remember it, the world believes that Karl Cullinane was dead, but suddenly there is evidence that he may be alive. Something like that - it's been a while. What were titles of those books?

jlong05 said...

To make sure I had a 'complete' list I did a wiki search and found this list.

1. The Sleeping Dragon (1983)
2. The Sword and the Chain (1984)
3. The Silver Crown (1985)
4. The Heir Apparent (1987)
5. The Warrior Lives (1988)
6. The Road to Ehvenor (1991)
7. The Road Home (1995)

8. Not Exactly the Three Musketeers (1999)
9. Not Quite Scaramouche (2001)
10. Not Really the Prisoner of Zenda (2003)

Books in bold I have read (and will be re-reading as I continue my nostalgic tour of this series). But the last three I never knew about. I will now have to find them to complete my collection.