Dungeons and Dragons: Forgotten Realms Omnibus
This is a quick word association game. 80's, Dungeons and Dragons, whiney elves, oblivious paladins, almost racist ninja-like Asians, tiny wise cracking thief, lecherous old wizards. Now, if most, or all these words make you happy in your brain or pants, I would say this review is worth your time, because basically, all that dorky goodness is what you are going to get.
So, here in lies a massive tome, jam packed with so many tropes, your head will either explode with joy, or cringe in terror. There is not a great deal of originality in this volume (except the conclusion, and oh boy is that a DOOZY!), so if you are not one to enjoy dragons and faeries and the like, this is not your jam.
What we have here is a book about your standard role playing group, we have your fighters, healers, mages, thieves, and just for giggles a pretty righteous ninja gal. They go on a series of ridiculous adventures, saving villages, plundering dungeons, and just generally existing in a magical world full of whacky things. The writing is about as deep as a puddle. It really is just your standard fantasy trash, and it is a fun read. Just don't expect anything of lasting depth, or any significant bolstering of the IQ by the time you get to the book's conclusion. The writing duties are taken on by a handful of folks; really, the volume appears to be the masterwork of no one mind (as evidenced by the RIDICULOUS conclusion), so this winding tale of dwarves and fairy folk is not a finely mapped Tolkien-esque tale. Writers include Jeff Grubb, Barbara Kesel, Jim Lowder, Dan Mishkin, and Kate Novak, and the book reads a bit like several roleplaying sessions jammed into one volume. It does really invoke, in a sense, a sincere roleplaying experience, in both in pacing, and manic change of direction.
The art changes nearly as many hands as the likes of Rags Morales, Michael Collins, Dave Hoover, and Dan Reeve, tear through this fantasy world, and in spite of so many hands involved in the crafting, it manages to actually remain fairly consistent in character and world appearance. The designs (beyond the standard trope characters) are pretty fun. The shine really picks up in the final arc of the story, because it seriously is just way out of left field, but every issue does seem to pack a fair amount of detail. Armor designs, costumes, monsters - they all are keen interpretations from the monstrous menagerie offered by the D&D compendiums. So visually, it is a fun, if quirky, ride, but due to so many hands mimicking one another's style, it is really hard to pin-point a definitive artistic direction mapping this world out for us.
In summation, you should know if this is the kind of book you want to read before you pick it up. It's a dense volume of tropes and fun story telling, but nothing that will blow your mind, while the visuals are fun and true to the world page after page.
2 out of 5 for the non-roleplayers
4 out of 5 for the dice throwers.