Monday, November 12, 2007

The Grand History of the Realms

The Forgotten Realms is a fictional campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons game. It was invented in the 70s by librarian Ed Greenwood and has hundreds of books devoted to it. It may well be the best developed fantasy world in existence. Middle Earth is not nearly as well documented as the Forgotten Realms.

Not surprisingly, this world has an extensive recorded history. Wizards of the Coast has published a new book devoted to the timeline of the Forgotten Realms. It is The Grand History of the Realms by Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood.

A publisher description of the book reads, "The Grand History of the Realms chronicles the rich history of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, presenting a detailed timeline accompanied by essays from Elminster of Shadowdale and other Realmslore experts. Although not a game supplement, it serves as a handy reference guide for players and Dungeon Masters seeking information on specific historical events. In addition, the book features an exclusive Forgotten Realms short story by best-selling author R.A. Salvatore and new revelations for Realmslore aficionados."

Despite the description, I could not find the promised Salvatore short story. However, the book delivers by providing a detailed history of the Forgotten Realms. If you do not like history or fantasy worlds, stay away from this book. I think one will have to appreciate both to fully get wrapped into the fake history of this fake world.

The history of the Forgotten Realms often echoes the history of the real world. The Last Stand of Humaithira as detailed on page 34 is clearly an homage to Spartan King Leonidas and the Greeks from the Battle of Thermopylae. Of course, in the Realms, the Persians are giants!

This book is a hard read. The dates and side stories offer great detail but are not a flowing narrative. If you are unfamiliar with the Forgotten Realms, this book may be unreadable. However, the many historians out there with fantasy gaming backgrounds (tons I think!) may appreciate this book more than active gamers do.

1 comment:

Davey said...

I am a huge Forgotten Realms fan. I play the video games and read the books. I recommend reading some of the novels by Ed Greenwood on Elminster, RA Salvatore on arguably the most popular character in the realms, Drizzt, and the Baldur's Gate Series before actually reading "The Grand History of the Realms". It would also help to play some of the video games that were based on Forgotten Realms if you have not experienced the D&D games before.