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Item - Against the Giants

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Series: Greyhawk Novels — no. 7
Author: Emerson, Ru
Date: July, 1999
Kveto's Thoughts:

Around the turn of the century, in honour of the 25th anniversary of D&D, TSR decided to novelize some of their classic adventure modules from the late 70s/early 80s. It was a good idea if anything. They started with Against the Giants, which comprised 3 modules from the G (for giants) series: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, and Hall of the Fire Giant King.

It starts out with a bit of promise with a vicious raid on a village in which the POV character, Llors', father and villagers are slain, establishing the giants as horrible foes. He then joins what is basically a suicide mission to invade the giant's lair. The party is composed of your standard mages, paladins, rangers, etc. Unfortunately, none of the characters have much personality, the same problem Ru Emerson has in the later Keep on the Borderlands.

From there the book goes downhill as the party has repetitive encounters with giants, that, unlike in the early chapters, turn out to be complete wimps. Although I have read the modules this is based on, I have no idea how closely it matches. Dungeon crawls are great for pick a path style books, but really suffer in regular prose. As this would be mainly written to appeal to nostalgia buffs, it suffers. Maybe if they had provided us with a map of the encounters it would have been easier to follow.

Each lair leads to the next, in shorter and shorter encounters, the final lair comprising a single chapter. Most egregiously, the big dramatic reveal from the final lair is needlessly spoiled about 40 pages in.

While it doesn't work as a novel, it could have been a decent gamebook, maybe with a choice of going to one of the three lairs, rather than trying to squeeze in all three. The original modules knew better than to attempt that.

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