I first bumped into Jonny Nexus at Dragonmeet way back in 2008. “Game Night? Sure, I’ll buy a copy.” Looking at the spider scrawl inside, I appear to have asked for a dedication for Sue so I could make the book a Christmas present.
Roll on to Dragonmeet 2015. “If Pigs Could Fly? Sure, I’ll buy a copy.” Squinting at the dedication, this time it’s made out to me. I must have learned from last time.
Dragonmeet 2018 comes around, like the well-oiled machine that it is. Jonny sidles up and asks “fancy a copy of The Sleeping Dragon? I have a top-quality advance reader copy I could send your way.” How could I turn him down?
So, The Sleeping Dragon has arrived and been read. It’s 50% bigger than the previous books at 300 pages so wasn’t a quick read – many years have passed since I could just hide away with a book for several hours at a time. I have finished it – a good sign as the shelves here have often become a limbo for books waiting to be picked up and finished (or just plain started in a number of sad cases).
The plot is that a band of heroes are brought together to save civilisation from destruction when the Sleeping Dragon awakens, as predicted by a similar group five centuries earlier. The prologue introduces the conceit that the main characters represent the five primary types in D&D – fighter, wizard, cleric, thief and bard.
The story does feel like how a D&D adventure may play out too – initially a group of strangers are brought together for a vaguely specified mission, obstacles are put in their way, foes are defeated, interspersed with periods of “I have no idea what’s going on” and “what do we do next?”, before the boss level conclusion and avoiding TPK.
Thankfully, it’s not a D&D adventure turned into a book. Those hardly ever work as the chance of players making their characters act in ways that tell a story which anyone not actually there would enjoy reading is approaching zero. Maybe it’s more an idealised version of how the person running an adventure dreams the characters would behave.
A disappointment was the imbalance between the characters. Although there are five on this adventure, they don’t seem to all contribute. The priest, and bard really don’t seem to do much of note except make up numbers before the grand finale, especially compared to the wizard. I would have liked to see more development or usage of their expected traits through the book.
The world the story is set in is similar to our modern world except magic powers devices instead of technology and Jonny uses a range of replacement terms for them. All the names derive from still-magical-but-lower-tech history, such as carpet for flying car, which is a nice touch.
Overall, I found frequent novel or amusing bits to keep me entertained enough to finish the book.