Author preview: Dungeons & Dragons authors highlight Thurber House panel

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From the August 8, 2013 edition

Settle in. Events of a catastrophic level, referred to as The Sundering, are happening in the Forgotten Realms — a world setting (not unlike J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth) within the Dungeons and Dragons franchise.

Six novelists are contributing fiction about this event, three of which — R.A. Salvatore, Erin M. Evans and Ed Greenwood — are coming to the Thurber House Columbus Museum of Art for a panel discussion about the new series.

“You can think of it like World War II,” said R.A. Salvatore, author of “The Companions,” the first book in the six-piece series on The Sundering. “For people who don’t play [D&D], they’re going to see a logical and consistent story of a huge story that’s going on. Just like writing a book about Europe transferring from 1939 to 1946.”

Although D&D novels (including The Sundering books) and games are both published by Wizards of the Coast, they operate as separate entities; the books can be read purely for entertainment, and are by no means guidebooks to gameplay. The novels also do not operate as sequels to each other, connected solely by the same setting and timeframe.

“There are many people who play the game and don’t read the novels. And many people who read the novels and don't play the game,” said Erin M. Evans, the author of the third Sundering book, “The Adversary,” coming out in December.

The Forgotten Realms is far from unfamiliar territory for some of The Sundering writers, namely the father of the setting, Ed Greenwood. Greenwood, who will be contributing the sixth novel in the series, “The Herald,” slated for release next summer, introduced the Forgotten Realms to the world in 1979. Since then, he has written more than 30 novels that take place within the setting.

Salvatore is no stranger to the fictional universe either, having spent more than 20 years writing novels set in the Forgotten Realms. Even after writing so much within the world, his new novel will surely be the most striking. 

“This is probably the most dramatic event in the Forgotten Realms since I’ve been a part of it,” Salvatore said.

Given this dramatic nature of The Sundering, Evans noted that there is something to be said about the human condition — how humans cope and survive in a period of strife. Evans wants to bring that to light in her novel.

“D&D gets a little bit of flack for being juvenile in a lot of ways, but there’s a lot of real stories germinating in these books,” Evans said. “I wanted to talk about the struggles of real peoples' lives. You’re still worrying about families, about relationships, how to make people not hurt so much when the situation is so bad.”