Pools of Darkness is a perfect representation of a style of fantasy associated with the time. A time when D&D was owned by TSR and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition was the latest game.
So this review comes with a fair warning that Pools of Darkness may not be for every reader.
Pools of Darkness leans into many classic tropes that may not appeal to some of the newer generations. But for older fans of D&D, that grew up in the 80s and 90’s, this book may very well be a winner!
Over-the-top monologuing villains? Check!
Classic heroes, that fit playable classes? Check!
A wide range of classic monsters “that be needing slaying”? Check! (Yes it has Owlbears!)
All in all, this is a light and fun read that will not challenge your faculties. Yet while the plot is simplistic and the characters generic, the story is a truly classic adventure. One where you can almost hear the dice rolling as the heroes take on all manner of evils.
The story revolves around two plot arcs. One is set in the city of Phlan. The city is “stolen” with magic from the material plane, by agents of Bane (God of Tyranny).
Transported to an underground cavern, assaulted by all manner of evil creatures, the citizens of Phlan, led by two heroes Shal Desanea (a powerful Sorceress), and Tarl Desanea, (a priest of Tyr, God of Justice) put up a heroic defense.
The second plot arc revolves around a group of adventurers led by an old friend, and former companion of the two Heroes of Phlan, Ren o’ the Blade. Ren joins forces with a new group of adventurers, questing to find the city and save it before it’s too late.
There are some small twists and turns but the plot is fairly linear without too many surprises.
Pools of Darkness is the catalyst that ignited my love for fantasy and will forever go down as one of my all-time favorite books. 5/5
Pools of Darkness is the second book in the Pools series and it is recommended you read Pools of Radiance first, another great read!
There is a third book in the series, Pools of Twilight. But I was not a fan of the story, which is set almost 20 years after Pools of Darkness. However, opinions vary so it may be worth reading if you want to complete the series.
If you are a reader that enjoys both D&D and Epic Fantasy, then The Tome of Syyx is the book for you!
Tasked with helping secure the future of the town of Sanctuary, four young adventurers soon discover that armies of orcs and hobgoblins are far from the only threats to peace on the frontier.
Ancient evils stir. Deals must be brokered. But can everyone be trusted?
Change of Fortune: A Fateful Force Origins Story, Prequal to the Tome of Syyx