Thoughts on Darksun Novels



Jan 02, 2004 16:48:08
I am seeing a lot of thoughts on specific authors and books involving Darksun. I will share my thoughts, dodge the rotten cabbage and tomatoes thrown my way and ask for others to give their thoughts and defend them. No insults folks.

Verdant Passage (1-5)
Very good series. Set up the entire world very well with many good surprises (I still remember the revalation of Borys as the Dragon of Tyr). Characters were good depiction.
For weaknesses I found the "instant" power ups a bit wrong. Sadira and later others became gods (or at least instant epic level) but by going in the tower unscratched. The fact that a +5 spear killed a Sorcerer-King is a bit much. I try to tell myself it was his multi- level of Dragon transfortion but it wasn't.

Tribe of One (1-3)
I liked the way Sorak's multi-personalities worked. It was different (especially in DnD). It gave a bit of follow-up on Tyr after the death of Kalak which I liked.
Weakness- The forcing of the Villichi origins bothered me (still does).
What I liked the most was it have hints at the enigmas of Darksun's forces of good gathering. There will be a new Elven King (possibly Avangion) which has tons of stories to be explored and the first depiction (in novels) of an Avangion and just how hard it is to become an Advanced being. And one final great thing- Valsavis. Time to return him somehow...

Chronicles of Athas (1-4)
The ones depicting Pavel were okay. The first one was more of a mystery which I liked and explored what it takes to become a templar (in Urik anyway). It was okay but hinted at things.
Pavek and Hamanu's relationship was great. We got to see the softer side of Hamanu (Manu) come out for the first time. During this time they introduced a strange "New Race" other than Magnus.
1,2 and 4 were good enough to read but not as strong in direction as the previous series.
3....I hated this book the first time I read it. Absolutely hated it. Then when I read it a second time to create my timeline I came to appreciate it for what it was. It was not a Darksun book. It was a Psionics book. I don't care for him landing in Central Park at one point but what the hey...

Rise and Fall of a Sorcerer-King
The conclusion of the Pavek series begun in Chronicles. I loved it. sorry.
It gave more substance and reason to be for the Sorcerer-Kings. It gave background and history. Did the history jive perfectly? no. But it did say something that worked. One tool used by the Sorcerer-Kings was deception and the secret of their origins. They strove to hide history from commoners and nobles alike. This is why writing and reading is illegal and punishible by death.
The book also showed how the races were not "evil". It was Rajaat, crazed by his disformaty and the process of creating magic than pitted races against each other.

Okay, what are some of the thoughts out there on the books?


Jan 03, 2004 14:14:38
I'm just going to weigh in on Tribe of One.

They might have been nice books, but I'm afraid that I can't really consider them Dark Sun books. Not when the author utterly fails to do basic research on the setting. Copper coins? Elves riding kanks? No thank you.

Which is more or less why I utterly reject his interpretation of the Wanderer.
(In that respect as well ... I tend to dislike it when one author coopts another's characters ...)

Outside of this: Nobody knows who the Wanderer is. It's entirely possible that thee are many people who worked togeter to produce the WC. After all ... the Wanderer seeks to spread knowledge. A thing which is extremly threatening to the SKs, given how hard they've tried to supress it ...

So. I can accept that Sorak's Wanderer is a wanderer. I will not accept that he/it is the Wanderer.


Jan 03, 2004 16:16:20
I'm with Flip on this one. Tribe of one was not DS, in my opinion. Also, it's in the beginning of the WC that the Wanderer is a human with a reptillian arm. Go fig.


Jan 03, 2004 22:24:27
Tribe of One is best used for one thing, Hawke's Gambit. My players loved that when I introduced it into the game. And you just can't help but grin about a D&D character playing D&D.


Jan 03, 2004 23:40:41
The Tribe of One Trilogy was a good read, but not a good example of Dark Sun. It was like the author wrote a fantasy trilogy and just slapped some DS names in it.


Jan 04, 2004 6:39:57
Bleah, I know I am in the minority.

I always found the Tribe of One series a lot better read than some of the Chronicles of Athas books, though, despite the many contradictions the ToO series had. The ones about Pavek, Darkness Before the Dawn, and RaFoaDK, where the best Chronicles out there. IMO anyways.


Jan 14, 2004 12:10:59
I love Hawke's Gambit and it has been pulled out on many a character's trip to a casino. It's awsome, and we have all the tools we need lol

I liked the IDEA Tribe of One, but I really can't get past the angst.

"Oh woe is me, I have voices in my head, angst angst angst."
and then later
"Oh No woe is me, I am alone with no voices in my head anymore"

Please, get a life.

I liked "Rise and Fall..." Hamanu was my favorite DK after that.

Prism Pentad was good at the beginning but got steadily suckier. Sadira was an in depth NPC in one of our games, and a very good friend of one of my characters. A character who hated halflings from way back. The scenes where Sadira was on the run from the halflings had me actually stressing out. "Run, Sadira!! Why, you stupid halflings, if Naya was there, she'd give you a REAL fight. Run, Sadira!!" I even think I threw the book across the room.

But after that it kind of turned into a series of books about "The Angst of Being Rickus"

I don't care for Angst. Not in my novels, the kids I teach or players in my roleplaying group.


Jan 14, 2004 15:46:04
The Prism Pentad lurched about the place with no care for pacing, plot or believability - and yet somehow it worked. I loved it. It had this amazing feel about it that I found really transported me when reading it. Also, I just can't get enough of seeing Rikus make a monkey out of himself. I was really sad when the jozhal got squished - kept hoping for him to come back. Ho Hum.

Pavek was excellent. Never play a templar the same way again after reading his stories. Sorak was kinda cool - I liked the portrayal of the athasian environment and some of the ruins and the like but the characters made me want to slap them. It's clear from the start that he's going to get together with the villichi-girl. Do we really need to drag that out over all those books? Felt like reading the Malloreon at times (shudders). Bodach was cool, though. And Hawke's Gambit rules. It just does.


Jan 14, 2004 15:51:32
Yeah, I liked the portrayal of Bodach in those books too.

I still use the whole time gateway to the Green Age thing that's in that one tower.


Jan 15, 2004 7:37:46
I loved the Books, They added flavor, some of the ideas in the Novels are a tad farrrrrrrrrr fetched but still add something. My main Character "Tyravias Aratomas of Starvias House" is also Blessed/cursed as a Tribe of one. Very difficult to play or DM him at times. I'm writing a few stories regardind him and also the Kreen invasion, Dregoth's Still living Son, The line of Rajaat: his loves and children, and improving Saragar


Jan 23, 2006 10:38:40
I loved the Books, They added flavor, some of the ideas in the Novels are a tad farrrrrrrrrr fetched but still add something. My main Character "Tyravias Aratomas of Starvias House" is also Blessed/cursed as a Tribe of one. Very difficult to play or DM him at times. I'm writing a few stories regardind him and also the Kreen invasion, Dregoth's Still living Son, The line of Rajaat: his loves and children, and improving Saragar

Still want more of that


Jan 24, 2006 2:55:47
I've actually decided to go back and reread Prism Pentad again- haven't read 'em since '93 and I forgot most of it. Just finished book I, and my thoughts: Denning could have easily added another 100 pages or so. The ending of Verdant Passage was really rushed to me.
He gave us a good description of their trek to the forest and the dangers along the way. After they obtained the spear by crossing the Living Bridge, suddenly 4 days passed and they were back in Tyr. Another chapter on the trip back would have been good.
And the ending from when Kalak has the arena sealed to the very end was rushed as well. The 1/2 Giant guards rush Kalak into the Golden Tower, the heroes tell Tithian, 'Ya, you can be king', and then they rush in and kill Kalak in the span of 30 pages. Kalak dies, Tithian puts on the diadem and that's the end.
Really good book, otherwise. Ah well, we'll see when I get back into the other books... as I remember, Crimson Legion seemed overly long by comparison. My memory's a bit fuzzy, I was a bit liquored and I finished it after a wedding reception :D .


Jan 24, 2006 3:30:44
I reread the PP and Pavek books over christmas. The PP has aged badly IMHO and its flaws are apparent. Book 5 tends to jump all over the place for example. I found the Pavek books better than I remembered them. I also suspect Pavek would win the Drizzt Do'Urden award for fan favourite. He isn't even a anti hero. In his own words just plain Pavek. Also made the Templars more human as well instead of typical evil stupid carictures. The Elven general of Urik for example was interesting.

My favourite is probably Rise and Fall of a Dragon King. Despite what one thinks about continuity of the timeline it was very easy to read and I enjoyed it. Leaves no doubt in the readers mind that Hamanu is evil but examines what motivates him and gives him a personality. Also covers the cleansing wars and the transformation to a Dragon and I believe was the last DS novel published towards the end of the line. The ending of the book also seemed to "end" the line except for the few holdouts.

Either way after a 10 year absence I'm running DS again and are enjoying it more.


Jan 24, 2006 3:53:56
The Pentad was by far my favourites through the descriptions and creatures that were brought to life, plus it’s about the only series that does stick to the original box set. Some bits were dubious, one being the death of Kalak, but IMO the Heartwood Spear was an artefact created for that purpose. I don’t think the Psionic Artifacts of Athas did it justice (or many other items…).

‘The Tribe of One’ I’m with Flip. Similarly, I never felt the other books did the setting any favours through inconsistency and just not having a feel for it. Rise and Fall was better, but still not great.


Jan 24, 2006 4:30:23
I find that many of the Ds authors suffer from "immesurable power" syndrome, where one, two or many characters need to be super-powerful dragonball-z-like super-heroes who manage to "power-up" even more in the middle of the book.

I hated the fact Sadira become a "sun mage", whatever that is. It ain't natural. I hated Sorak from the start and his repeated and yet-repeated again woes and angst against his multiple personalities while at the same time he was uber-powerful dervish-dancer, had an artifact sword and immesurable mental powers that fell away a score of undead in a matter of seconds. Poor Sorak, I feel his angst. I hated the third chronicles book where two kids suddenly discover nuclear fusion and it gives them uber-turbo-powers, without even consulting the player's handbook. Ya right. Why doesn't my DM ever let me have 100+PP points extra while being 1st lvl psion?

The Pavek books are brilliant, Hamanu became my favourite SK too, and I started appreciating the fine points of being a templar.


Jan 24, 2006 5:56:32
The short stories that are included with some of the boxed sets and adventures are really good too.