Sunday, August 15, 2010

Review: Realms of the Dead (a Forgotten Realms: The Haunted Lands anthology)

Ed. Susan J. Morris, Wizards of the Coast, 2010

Not even the mightiest mage, working spells that remain utterly reliable, can hope to prevail against dozens of tireless, ruthless undead, who suffer no pain and can be distracted by nothing...

With zombies currently infecting almost every imaginable subgenre of fiction, from romance to Young Adult to action-thriller, it's unsurprising to now see them shambling into Media Tie-Ins. Recently the walking dead have featured in novels set in the universes of Torchwood (Bay of the Dead) and Star Wars (Death Troopers), and now provide the focus for Realms of the Dead, an anthology of tales set in the world of the popular Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game.

It should go without saying that the tales herein fall squarely into a swords-and-sorcery fantasy setting, with the undead of this world represented by such supernatural beings as lichs, wraiths, corporeal ghosts, and corpses reanimated by magic, and - as such - may not be to the taste of all zombie aficionados. Nonetheless, zombies (in all but name) are well-represented in these tales, and the stories themselves are well-written and engaging, featuring interesting characters and plots (this, I should add, being the opinion of a reviewer who is in no way a particular fan of traditional fantasy or of RPG).

In short, if you enjoy a little variety in your zombies, and don't mind the Tolkienesque tropes of elves, dwarves and dragons, then Realms of the Dead should appeal. On the other hand, if your love for zombies begins and ends with Dawn of the Dead, this may not be the anthology for you.