“ Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Author: Kate Novak, Jeff Grubb / Paperback / 384 Pages / Book is published 1989-03-30 by Penguin Books Ltd „
Azure Bonds is a fantasy novel set in the 'Forgotten Realms' which is a setting for the table-top RPG, 'Dungeons and Dragons'. For more information on Dungeons and Dragons or Forgotten Realms try Wikipedia as they have some really awesome pages there with as much information as you could ever need!
Azure Bonds begins with the novels main character, (a mercenary called Alias), coming to in an Inne. Alias has no memory of recent events, (although she remembers events from her more distant past), and has a strange tattoo on her arm. Alias decides that her fellow adventurers must have played a drunken prank on her and left her in the Inne to sober up. Alias soon discovers that she was found unconscious outside the Inne and begins her quest to discover what happened.
Before long, Alias is joined by three other adventurers, a lizard-type humanoid called Dragonbait, a Mage called Akabar Bel Akash and a Bard, (musician), named Olive Ruskettle. Each character is somehow drawn to Alias as they quest to discover the origins of the tattoos and fill in the blanks in Alias's memory.
The storyline within the pages is interesting and follows a set-up that any role-player will recognise but non-role-players won't be alienated by. The bad guys in this novel are excellently done and are genuinely sick and twisted individuals who are innately evil. I always love a good bad guy and this novel has plenty.
Role-players are again kept happy with plenty of RPG cliché and plenty of accurate game information which can easily be used to flesh out your own RPG stories and campaigns.
As with nearly all RPG based novels the relationship between the main characters is carefully explored and forms the majority of the story. The authors, (Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb), have done a good job of creating likable, believable characters that I actually care about. One of the main characters, (Dragonbait), doesn't speak and yet you get as full an idea of his personality as you do of the others which shows some skilful writing.
Despite the novel being exceptionally easy to read and written in a very informal manner it still explores some fairly weighty subjects like humanity and personal freedom but in a way that is easy to identify with and never complicated. For those of you who prefer your fantasy to be high brow and challenging then this one isn't for you but for a good story, great characters and an easy read then this is perfect.
A computer game for the Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST, C64, MS-DOS, Apple Macintosh and NEC PC-9801 was released called Curse of the Azure Bonds in 1989 by SSI.
You can easily pick up copies of this from Amazon for the princely sum of 1p + £2.75 shipping which I think is a bargain for such an enjoyable read.