Off the Shelf

“Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor”

By Marcus Pan

Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth DrannorI’ve seen movies based on books and these usually aren’t as good as the book. More than usually actually – more like “always.” Nonetheless, it happens. I’ve also seen the other side of the coin – books based on movies. These have, in all cases I’ve read, been terrible – witness my Off the Shelf review of Rambo: First Blood Part II for evidence of this. Now we have a new genre – how many movies today have been adaptations of games, whether it be PC (where most start), X-Box, Gameboy…whatever. Games get ported to most available platforms and lately have been able to remain similar across them. And when they get popular, out comes the movie.

They’ve done it a lot: Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Wing Commander and the most recent example Doom. Typically, with the exception of Tomb Raider, most have done their fair share of sucking. Also movies have for some time become games as well: look at all the Star Wars sagas you can get now. But what about a game being developed into a book? Battletech has and, unknown to me until recently, so has Pool of Radiance.

Pool of Radiance is a classic game – developed by Strategic Simulations and TSR together, it was one of the best attempts at representing Advanced Dungeon’s and Dragons in a PC format. A lot of role playing games of the era fused hit points, experience and similar ideas into a progressive experience on PC – the Ultima and Bard’s Tale series were two of my favorites and some of those goes back more than twenty years. But the TSR/SSI contingent put out a series that wasn’t “D&D like.” It WAS D&D.

I didn’t play Pool of Radiance but for a few times. I did however play Curse of the Azure Bonds and beat that one down – though I can’t remember if this was before or after the Pool saga. I’ve been rambling too much about old computer games – it’s time we got to the point, and yes this does have a point, with that being the Off the Shelf review of Carrie Bebris’ Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor – the book.

Let’s recap: Movies from books, not so great. Movies from games, also not so great (a movie lacks the immersion quality of a game after all). Games from movies – usually pretty good (because you’re part of it now). But books from games…hmm. Books from movies are backwards and wrong. This is the first game-goes-book I remember reading and I have to say that I lump this into the same bad yuckiness as a book from a movie.

That’s not to say Carrie can’t write – just that she writes like she’s a teenager. I wrote a ton of adventure stories like this, based off of games I’ve played, and a handful were decent enough for me to keep decades later. The adventure is good, the story line quite good and it ties in flawlessly with Forgotten Realms’ milieu as it should, but it’s just told boorishly and amateurishly. It’s…fan fiction. Fan fiction isn’t typically picked up and published for good reason. That’s what the World Wide Web is for…

TSR, I guess, wanted to promote their new line as much as possible and one of the things they pooped out was Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. The only problem is while a good story, it was written down in such a manner that I’m surprised this has made it off of someone’s Myspace blog. Keep the games as games, is all I say.

"Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor" by Carrie Bebris
Copyright © 2001 by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
Distributed by St. Martin’s Press
US ISBN: 0-7869-1387-8
UK ISBN: 0-7869-2688-0

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