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 and James Lowder (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 Night ParadeScott CiencinThe Harpers1992B–Yes
Night MasksR.A. SalvatoreCleric Quintet1992C–No
The LegacyR.A. SalvatoreLegacy of the Drow1992B–No
The Coral KingdomDouglas NilesDruidhome trilogy1992C–Yes
The Ring of WinterJames Lowder The Harpers1992A–No
Realms of ValorVarious authorsAnthologies1993B–No
The Druid QueenDouglas NilesDruidhome trilogy1993C–Yes
Crypt of the ShadowkingMark Anthony The Harpers1993CNo
The Fallen FortressR.A. SalvatoreCleric Quintet1993C–Yes
Prince of LiesJames Lowder Avatar series1993A–No
Starless NightR.A. SalvatoreLegacy of the Drow1993CYes
Pool of TwilightJames Ward and Anne K. BrownHeroes of Phlan trilogy1993DYes
Soldiers of IceDavid CookThe Harpers1993B+Yes
ElfsongElaine CunninghamThe Harpers1994B+Yes
Crown of FireEd GreenwoodShandril's Saga1994D+Yes
The Chaos CurseR.A. SalvatoreCleric Quintet1994C+Yes
Siege of DarknessR.A. SalvatoreLegacy of the Drow1994B–Yes
The Ogre's PactTroy DenningThe Twilight Giants1994C–Yes
Realms of InfamyVarious authorsAnthologies1994B+Yes
Elminster: The Making of a MageEd GreenwoodElminster series1994C–Yes?
The Giant Among UsTroy DenningThe Twilight Giants1995C+No
Shadows of DoomEd GreenwoodShadow of the Avatar1995D–Yes
King PinchDavid CookThe Nobles1995B–No
Once Around the RealmsBrian Thomsen1995No.Not relevant
Cloak of ShadowsEd GreenwoodShadow of the Avatar1995DYes
MasqueradesKate Novak and Jeff GrubbThe Harpers1995BYes
Daughter of the DrowElaine CunninghamStarlight and Shadows1995CYes
The Titan of TwilightTroy DenningThe Twilight Giants1995D+No
All Shadows FledEd GreenwoodShadow of the Avatar1995D+Yes
War in TethyrVictor MilánThe Nobles1995D+Yes
Curse of the ShadowmageMark Anthony The Harpers1995DYes
Realms of MagicVarious authorsAnthologies1995CYes
Escape from UndermountainMark Anthony The Nobles1996D+No
Murder in CormyrChet Williamson 1996B–No
Tangled WebsElaine CunninghamStarlight and Shadows1996BYes
Realms of the UnderdarkVarious authorsAnthologies1996CYes
Sword PlayClayton EmeryNetheril trilogy1996C+Yes
The Veiled DragonTroy DenningThe Harpers1996C+Yes
Silver ShadowsElaine CunninghamThe Harpers1996AYes
Cormyr: A NovelEd Greenwood and Jeff GrubbCormyr Saga1996B–Yes
Passage to DawnR.A. SalvatoreLegacy of the Drow1996BNo
The Mage in the Iron MaskBrian ThomsenThe Nobles1996No.Not relevant
Murder in HalruaaRichard Meyers1996C–No
StormlightEd GreenwoodThe Harpers1996C–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 significantly 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.