Reviews

NameAuthorSeriesYearGradeBechdel Test?
Darkwalker on MoonshaeDouglas NilesMoonshae trilogy1987D+Meh
The Crystal ShardR.A. SalvatoreIcewind Dale trilogy1988C+No
Black WizardsDouglas NilesMoonshae trilogy1988C–Yes
SpellfireEd GreenwoodShandril's Saga1988C+Yes
Azure BondsKate Novak and Jeff GrubbFinder's Stone trilogy1988AYes
Streams of SilverR.A. SalvatoreIcewind Dale trilogy1989C–No
DarkwellDouglas NilesMoonshae trilogy1989DYes
ShadowdaleScott Ciencin (as Richard Awlinson)Avatar series1989CMeh
TantrasScott Ciencin (as Richard Awlinson)Avatar series1989C+No
WaterdeepTroy Denning (as Richard Awlinson)Avatar series1989BNo
Pool of RadianceJames Ward and Jane Cooper HongHeroes of Phlan trilogy1989D+No
The Halfling's GemR.A. SalvatoreIcewind Dale trilogy1990C–No
The Wyvern's SpurKate Novak and Jeff GrubbFinder's Stone trilogy1990AYes
IronhelmDouglas NilesMaztica trilogy1990D+Yes
HorselordsDavid CookEmpires trilogy1990A–No
DragonwallTroy DenningEmpires trilogy1990B–Yes
ViperhandDouglas NilesMaztica trilogy1990D+Meh
HomelandR.A. SalvatoreDark Elf trilogy1990A–Yes
ExileR.A. SalvatoreDark Elf trilogy1990B+Yes
CrusadeJames LowderEmpires trilogy1991AMeh
Song of the SaurialsKate Novak and Jeff GrubbFinder's Stone trilogy1991CYes
Feathered DragonDouglas NilesMaztica trilogy1991FNo
SojournR.A. SalvatoreDark Elf trilogy1991C–No
The Parched SeaTroy DenningThe Harpers1991BNo
ElfshadowElaine CunninghamThe Harpers1991A–Yes
CanticleR.A. SalvatoreCleric Quintet1991DNo
Red MagicJean RabeThe Harpers1991D+Meh
Pools of DarknessJames Ward and Anne K. BrownHeroes of Phlan trilogy1992FYes
Prophet of MoonshaeDouglas NilesDruidhome trilogy1992DYes
In Sylvan ShadowsR.A. SalvatoreCleric Quintet1992C-Meh

The grading system is entirely subjective, of course, but these are the rough guidelines I’m trying to stick to:

  • A: A solid, engaging, readable novel with good characters, a good plot, and writing that doesn’t get in the way too much. Something I wouldn’t be embarrassed to recommend to someone. (I’m not expecting any masterpieces here.)
  • B: A decent novel which doesn’t feel like a slog to get through, but which has distracting flaws that keep me from wholeheartedly recommending it.
  • C: A deeply flawed book that, while it may have had a few good characters or good moments, was still no better than a stereotypical trashy fantasy novel.
  • D: A novel where, after I finished it, I found myself wishing I could somehow get back the time I spent reading it.
  • F: A novel so bad that it affronts the very concept of literature.

The Bechdel Test is a simple gauge for the degree of gender equality in a story. It’s not a perfect metric — you can tell good stories that fail it and bad stories that pass it — but if a particular author has a tendency to repeatedly fail it, it probably means that they treat the female characters in their stories like living furniture. Fantasy novels from the 1980s and 1990s weren’t exactly a hotbed of representation for anyone who wasn’t a white male, so it seems like a useful metric to collect here.

Keep in mind that I will attempt to avoid spoilers for books that I think have some merit, but I’ll spoil the bad ones without mercy or spoiler warnings. On the remote chance that you actually care, read at your own peril.