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Friday, March 3, 2023

Review: D&D Honor Among Thieves: The Druid’s Call

The upcoming Dungeons & Dragons movie, Honor Among Thieves, has giving us a blessing, though whether it is from Tymora or Beshaba, I think you will have to decide. It was 2016 since we last got a novel in the Realms besides Drizzt. It is nice to be back in the Realms, but is it utilized to its full potential?

If you would like, there is a video version of my review found here.

The Druid's Call is a young adult novel telling us the prequel of the druid Doric who in the movie is played by actress Sophia Lillis. It is written by E.K. Johnston, a newbie to writing in the Realms.

Doric is a tiefling, a mortal with infernal blood. She was orphaned because of her obvious nonhuman traits, horns and a tail, and grew up in Neverwinter Wood. There she was raised by the wood elves. Her backstory is actually a bit more tragic, and this is told to us in special sections of flashback marked with different paper in the physical version.

Doric is not naturally built for the wood like her adoptive kin. She can’t seem to hunt for the life of her, even with her training as a ranger, but she gets an opportunity to prove herself when her and her friend Torrieth go to check out a disturbance. It turns out to be loggers and they encounter a bear who has gone without food because of these loggers. Doric has an interesting interaction her, one that leads her to becoming more in tune with the nature around her. 

In the trailer Doric appears shape-changed, called wildshape, as an Owlbear. I felt this novel satisfyingly answers as to why that is possible, but some will likely feel it does not. For those curious, the other movie prequel novel, The Road to Neverwinter by Jaleigh Johnson is a more direct prequel of the party of adventurers led by Chris Pines character.

In The Druid's Call character group is Doric, Torrieth, and Deverel. Toriath is good at everything and popular. Deverel is very optimistic and good hearted, even giving Doric credit where others would see an obvious failure. 

Later there is even a character that uses 3rd person singular pronouns as they/them. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen that in a novel. 

This is a D&D adventure and this one takes us south to Ardeep Forest near Waterdeep and involves the Emerald Enclave, not surprising based off its general status in 5e. We get a ton of races of characters, more than you normally get in Forgotten Realms novels, probably because the Realms have gotten a lot more colorful since 4e. 

The verdict for the Realms is that it doesn’t push a lot of boundaries for the Realms, no great amounts of lore utilized, but it was nice to be in the Realms again. Sadly, if you changed the place names around this could easily be set in any other generic fantasy world. I realize this is partially due to it being a young adult novel, but more likely it is because Wizards wants to sell you D&D, not Forgotten Realms. This comes as no surprise, as the Realms has been mistreated in 5e so far. I do not blame Johnston for this.

If you would like a YA novel that uses the Realms phenomenal ally and also happens to be in and around Neverwinter, try Brimstone Angels by Erin M. Evans.

Oh, and Simon who is another character in the movie appears in this book too. He is apparently a decedent of Elminster


You can track my current progress here.

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