Summary of the Novels

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So, I'm considering picking up and reading the re-released novels (the Prism Pentad?), but I've heard mixed reviews.

On the one hand, I've heard that they contain a good description of life on Athas, and a good description of Athas in general.

On the other hand, I've heard that they are a train-wreck of metaplot which changes the setting as presented in the original box (which is equivalent metaplot-wise to the DSCS) in bad ways.

What are the thoughts of those who have read them? In which novels do the "bad" metaplot events occur? Could I (for example) read just the first two, to get a good overview of the setting and what life on Athas is like, and avoid the last three?
They are a good read. The final book's railroad runs off the track a bit - but only as much as the War of the Lance series changes the Dragonlance setting.

The DSCS is not equivalent to the original box set, but it actually takes into consideration the events that take place in the first book. You have nothing to lose (but 10 bucks) if you pick up the first book.

The second, third and fourth books are also excellent.

If you get that far, you might as well read the final book... just take it with a grain of salt.
i found all 5 pretty cool and there's good bits in all of them.  it just depends on how hung up you think you might get on that info after you've read them.  when i read them i hadn't run my players yet so i constructed my own liberation of tyr with my players as the main protagonists but incorporated most of the historical stuff that came in the novels.  however, after my crew had liberated tyr they went a totally different direction than the novels because they didn't read them as i had.  so in the end it all turned out fine.  the problem was that at the time every module and adventure was pretty much being written with the prism pentad metaplot in mind, so i was constantly having to write my own stuff.  at the end of the day i was both thankful that i had read the pentad and wrote my own campaign material due to my players' actions. 
I have no idea why wizards decided to start at FY0 instead of like FY15 or 30.  FY0 ALREADY BEEN DONE!  BEEN THERE DONE THAT.  FY 10-30 years into the story is a much more interesting point in time.  The remaining SK's are working in overdrive to make sure they wont suffer the same fate as Kalak and to gobble up the remaining power/cities left SK's less after Rajaat's brief revival.

You have 2 SK's that are virtually on the edge of godliness, that are words apart alignment wise.  Humans have learned the art of Sun magic would could possibly help heal the world.
Thanks everyone for the replies. Sounds as if the Prism Pentad isn't actually as bad as it's made out to be, so I'll go ahead and check it out.

The Sorak (Tribe of One) trilogy was really the best Athas (and DnD) books I have ever read.



This reply has me intrigued... I wasn't aware there were any books other than the Prism Pentad - thanks for pointing that out - I'll see if I can find these ones anywhere (though it's unlikely as I think only the Prism Pentad is being reprinted).
I have no idea why wizards decided to start at FY0 instead of like FY15 or 30 You have 2 SK's that are virtually on the edge of godliness, that are words apart alignment wise.  Humans have learned the art of Sun magic would could possibly help heal the world.


And that's why. Much of the excitement surrounding Dark Sun was that it was so raw. After a few novels and metaplots, Athas possessed a narrative momentum that made the actions of players less relevant.

It's fundamentally a reset on a setting that was (depending on one's view) getting bloated with metaplot and legacies. It's the same reason Christopher Nolan restarted the Batman franchise rather than create Batman 5: Batmans Returns Darkly With BatGirl, But Oh No There's Killer Moth! (played by Nathan Lane). Rather than keeping all the weight of previous iterations, they gave us a fresh start. The blank slate can be enjoyed by previous players who want to spin Dark Sun canon their own way, and by newcomers who want to build their own world.
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I have to say that I felt the Lynn Abbey books were the best as far as story and characters.  I know not everyone agrees with that, especially Rise and Fall of a Dragon King.

Verdant Passage was a decent read that really introduced me to the setting.  The "weird metaplot" stuff doesn't really get into overdrive until the third novel.  The second one is basically just learning Rikus is a huge chump when it comes to trying to lead others in battle. 
Ok, so according to wikipedia, the following novels were released:
  • Prism Pentad - Troy Denning
    1. The Verdant Passage

    2. The Crimson Legion

    3. The Amber Enchantress

    4. The Obsidian Oracle

    5. The Cerulean Storm


  • Tribe of One - Simon Hawke
    1. The Outcast

    2. The Seeker

    3. The Nomad


  • Chronicles of Athas - Various Authors
    1. The Brazen Gambit, by Lynn Abbey

    2. The Darkness Before the Dawn, by Ryan Hughes

    3. The Broken Blade, by Simon Hawke

    4. Cinnabar Shadows, by Lynn Abbey

    5. The Rise & Fall of a Dragon King, by Lynn Abbey



I think I have a reasonably good feel for the Prism Pentad, but could someone please post a brief summary, including if there were any significant meta-plot advances/elements, and rating for the other series/books? Which are good, which are bad/forgettable, which contain big world shaking changes?
I have no idea why wizards decided to start at FY0 instead of like FY15 or 30 You have 2 SK's that are virtually on the edge of godliness, that are words apart alignment wise.  Humans have learned the art of Sun magic would could possibly help heal the world.


And that's why. Much of the excitement surrounding Dark Sun was that it was so raw. After a few novels and metaplots, Athas possessed a narrative momentum that made the actions of players less relevant.

It's fundamentally a reset on a setting that was (depending on one's view) getting bloated with metaplot and legacies.



I would hardly call 5 books 'bloated with legacies'.  Darksun canon is pristine when compared with Starwars, Forgotten Realms, StarTrek, etc.

Did Drizzt and Eleminster make players in FR look like chumps?  No, the world is ****ing huge.  There are plenty of places and stories where players can shine in a post FY campaign setting in Darksun.

FY0 is unoriginal and inspired.  Its already been done.  Post FY campaign is where the real action and dynamic story is about to unfold.

Sorry, lvl 1-3 heroes arent going to be killing Kalak anytime soon.
Many people did not like the Tribe of One books, the trilogy and the loner sequel, yet it does describe very well many of the elements of Athas, like the desert, forest, Tyr. It makes really good inroads on Tyrian politics, better in fact than what Denning presented in the books following The Verdant Passage, and it transforms Salt View from a poorly usable secret slave village into an interesting stop for all travelers and caravans with deep pockets. 

Remember that all Dark Sun novels, whether you'll end up liking each's story or not, help bring alive Athas in your imagination. They're all worth the read.
Many people did not like the Tribe of One books, the trilogy and the loner sequel, yet it does describe very well many of the elements of Athas, like the desert, forest, Tyr. It makes really good inroads on Tyrian politics, better in fact than what Denning presented in the books following The Verdant Passage, and it transforms Salt View from a poorly usable secret slave village into an interesting stop for all travelers and caravans with deep pockets. 

Remember that all Dark Sun novels, whether you'll end up liking each's story or not, help bring alive Athas in your imagination. They're all worth the read.



Yeah, I agree. You will probably end up having a strong (positive or negative) opinion on the metaplot story, because it completely changes the lore as presented, but in terms of giving texture and details to the geography and cosmology the books are better than most TSR manuals.
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
I have no idea why wizards decided to start at FY0 instead of like FY15 or 30.


Clearly.

Why Wizards Decided to Start at FY0

Old Dark Sun or New Dark Sun?


Rich: One of the big questions we hit early on in the process was how Dark Sun 2010 should relate to the 2nd Edition product line. Over the course of its five-year run in the ‘90s, the world of Athas evolved tremendously; Troy Denning’s Prism Pentad novels revealed great secrets about the origins of the world and brought the rebels of Tyr to a climactic confrontation with the sorcerer-kings and the Dragon itself. Game products expanded the known world to places such as the Last Sea, the Jagged Cliffs, and the Crimson Savannah. Should our new Dark Sun books pick up where 2nd Edition left off? Advance the timeline by centuries, as the 3rd Edition Dragon Magazine article did? Or return to the world’s beginnings, re-envisioning Athas for a new generation of gamers?


Rodney: There was also the question of information overload. Trying to do everything in one or two books would shrink the space we had to cover each topic. The original 1991 boxed set devoted only a paragraph or two to most topics (even the city-states only got a page or two), so we knew it could be done. At the same time, we also knew we were going to want to include lots of new mechanics to make sure the 4th Edition game system could be adapted to a different play style–one that felt like Dark Sun but still had the familiar trappings of D&D.


Rich: We kicked around the options available to us off and on through several design meetings, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each one. A clear consensus soon emerged: We all felt that the best, purest, most captivating moment of Dark Sun’s previous run was the moment in time presented in the original 1991 boxed set. The 1996 set that captured the events and developments of the Prism Pentad—half the sorcerer-kings dead, rain falling in the Sea of Silt—felt like it had wandered into a place where it wasn’t quite Dark Sun anymore. So we settled on the idea of producing an “ultimate” Dark Sun, returning to that golden moment of the original set. The events of the Prism Pentad may unfold in your new Dark Sun campaign more or less as they did in the novels, or they might not. This is a world where the exploits of Rikus, Neeva, Sadira, and the rest are only one possibility among many.


Rodney: While the things that followed the original Dark Sun boxed set had many interesting ideas, I think most Dark Sun fans can agree that there was a certain magic to that first set that really captures the imagination. It wasn’t just that it was different, it was also that the world had a really great foundation for some compelling stories. One of the big philosophies that we try and embrace with D&D is that it’s the players that should be the heroes of those stories, so we try to avoid metaplots too much. The Prism Pentad and follow-up material explore one way those stories could unfold, but those of us that used to play Dark Sun all had our own stories of the way things played out, with ourselves as the heroes. We wanted people approaching the 4th Edition Dark Sun books to get the same sense of magic that we all got when opening that 1991 boxed set, and then to go on to tell stories with themselves as the stars.


That all said, there are plenty of neat things from those later products that were just too interesting to pass up. I’m looking at you, Dregoth. So, we did some cherry-picking of things to add to our version of the setting.




The Sorak (Tribe of One) trilogy was really the best Athas (and DnD) books I have ever read. I miss you uber powerful multiple personnality disorder dude!

Sniff sniff sniff...




Unfortunatly I do not share your enthousiam... It's one of the worst novels serie I have ever read. Did you see when Hawke manage to cut/paste entries of the Monsters manual?
The Siltskimmer Page - www.siltskimmer.org
Ok, so according to wikipedia, the following novels were released:
  • Prism Pentad - Troy Denning
    1. The Verdant Passage

    2. The Crimson Legion

    3. The Amber Enchantress

    4. The Obsidian Oracle

    5. The Cerulean Storm


  • Tribe of One - Simon Hawke
    1. The Outcast

    2. The Seeker

    3. The Nomad


  • Chronicles of Athas - Various Authors
    1. The Brazen Gambit, by Lynn Abbey

    2. The Darkness Before the Dawn, by Ryan Hughes

    3. The Broken Blade, by Simon Hawke

    4. Cinnabar Shadows, by Lynn Abbey

    5. The Rise & Fall of a Dragon King, by Lynn Abbey



I think I have a reasonably good feel for the Prism Pentad, but could someone please post a brief summary, including if there were any significant meta-plot advances/elements, and rating for the other series/books? Which are good, which are bad/forgettable, which contain big world shaking changes?





Wow, that's all that was released? Garage sales do rule, as I found them all at one a couple of months ago. Had to throw the final Prism Pentad away due to mold, but the rest were fine. I've only read the first Prism Pentad book, but I'm enjoying it. Then again, I'm just a big fan of most of Troy Denning's work, anyway.
Kalak is already dead at the start of 4E, So players at levels 1-3 don't need to worry about killing him. But starting from that point lets players put their own spin on all subsequent events. Less battles and plots to keep track of. Simpler, easier, and it allows the DM more storytelling freedom and gives players chances to take control of the setting. It's not that the adventures of Rikus and Sadira and Agis where 'bad', but it allows players a chance to define the setting. Maybe your players could be the ones to kill Borys of Ebe (Ur Draxa) Maybe it will be your mage who becomes the Sun-Wizard.


A part of me loves Sorak and his multiple identities and his telepathic, sterile, human girlfriend/wife. *sob*
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