Baldur’s Gate 3 has absolutely blown up recently. And deservedly so. A rich game full of stuff to do, endless options to play your way, and some of the best writing in any game ever. It’s gone down as one of the best games ever made (literally, it is the highest rated PC game on Metacritic at the time of writing). It’s a fair statement to say that the Fantasy genre has never been so popular, and with that, we have also seen an increase and social acceptance of all things geeky, including the Tabletop Roleplaying Game, Dungeons & Dragons (and games of similar ilk). As Baldur’s Gate is based on and set in the world of DnD, it has a distinct feeling that evokes particular emotions in those that love this escapist genre. So, if you can’t get enough of rolling dice in Baldur’s Gate 3, then here is a list of books that all rolled a 20!
Drizzt – R. A. Salvatore
Starting with an obvious pick, Drizzt is a very famous Forgotten Realms Drow ranger created by R A Salvatore and debuting in the novel The Crystal Shard. He became a runaway hit and has since gone on to feature in 38 books and counting! Whilst that seems like a daunting number of books for a series, the various Drizzt books form multiple sub-trilogies and arcs, plus each book is about 300 pages long and easy to blast through, so you can pretty much pick up book one of any subseries and have a good time. You can get into this character by starting with either The Icewind Dale trilogy (the first published books with Drizzt as a character) or The Dark Elf trilogy (the first trilogy in the chronology).
Dragonlance – Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
This is the second big DnD book series that would be absolutely criminal to leave off this list, Dragonlance is another massive series split into easier to digest subseries. Beginning with the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy, Weis & Hickman spin a tale of secrecy, myth, legend, magic, dragons, hope & darkness, all against the engrossing back drop of the world of Krynn. An absolute legend of the genre.
Malazan Book of the Fallen – Steven Erikson
Oh look, another fantasy book recommendation list with Malazan as an entry… However, I think this is one time where this actually fits! Malazan is known for its deep worldbuilding, complex characters and MASSIVE scope. It also originally started out as a DnD style tabletop game created by Erikson and Malazan world co-author Ian C Esslemont, before being turned into a movie pitch before finally being adapted into the first book, Gardens of the Moon (possibly not in that order). But if you love the magic, scope, epicness and often dark side of Baldur’s Gate, give this immensely popular series a try.
Kings of the Wyld & Bloody Rose – Nicholas Eames
Want to read a book that feels like you’re running a new campaign with some old pals after years apart? Want it to also be an emotional gut punch right in the flabby bits? Then Nicholas Eames has you covered! Kings of the Wyld follows a group of mercenaries as they literally get the band back together for one last mission: save the daughter of one of the band members from a horde of oncoming monsters. We travel across a classic DnD style world filled with swords & sorcery, heavy metal inspired mercenary groups, characters that embody DnD classes like mages & rogues, and owlbears!
Gotrek & Felix – William King
Arguably the poster children for Warhammer Fantasy, Gotrek & Felix are a dwarf and human duo that go on various adventures throughout the old Warhammer Fantasy world, fighting anything from trolls, Skaven (angry rat creatures), daemons and dragons, plus a myriad other classic fantasy monster staples. And whilst I’d say these series of books are the most DnD in nature, pretty much anything from the Warhammer Fantasy Battle’s (or its newer iteration Age of Sigmar) bookish back catalogue could fit the bill. Shout out to the Blackhearts series by Nathan Long; if you’re looking for a fantasy take on The Suicide Squad, you need this series in your life.
The Winnowing Flame trilogy – Jen Williams
A fallen empire with a deep history and full of ancient magic? Check. A ragtag band of adventurers including a thief, a witch and a disgraced king? Check. Super cool animal companions? Check, check, check! The Winnowing Flame trilogy is Jen Williams’ master work, an incredibly fun read that will have you loving the characters and rooting for them from the get go, even if not everything that happens to them is happy…
The Bound & The Broken – Ryan Cahill
A series that goes from really good to absolutely incredible in just one, giant book, The Bound & The Broken is the biggest and best indie high fantasy series on the market written by someone named Ryan! We follow Calen, a small town boy who grows into something greater. Sounds familiar? Well whilst book one is a nod to all things that makes fantasy great, book two moves into it’s own territory with finesse and grace. And also elves, dwarves, dragon riders, and some of the most exciting action set pieces this side of Sanderson & Gwynne. Each book and novella in this series just seems to triple in quality, and it’s pretty good to begin with anyway! Start with the novella The Fall (which is free on Ryan’s website!) or book 1 proper, Of Blood & Fire, either is a valid starting point.
Lands of the Firstborn – Gareth Hanrahan
A series heavily inspired by Gareth’s own love of tabletop gaming (along with it being a nod to his TTRPG writing roots), Lands of the Firstborn, starting with The Sword Defiant, is his latest trilogy from Orbit books. A diverse group of adventurers defeated the Dark Lord many years ago, and now there are rumblings of a new threat, and it’s up to Aelfric to try to inspire his now world-weary friends into action. An epic tale of daring warriors, living weapons and bloodthirsty vengeance, this is Hanrahan at his classic/modern fantasy storytelling best!
The Coward – Stephen Aryan
Another story about a defeated evil and the world weary heroes that have to return to the field to fight it again, but this one has a twist; what if the stories of glory & heroism aren’t exactly what they have been made out to be? We all know a bard who has inflated the epicness of a story to insanely silly lengths, and this is a perfect cautionary tale for them!
The Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
I don’t need to elaborate on this one, if you’re unfamiliar with the granddaddy of fantasy by now then you need to stop what you’re doing and pick this up (or listen to the amazing Andy Serkis versions on audiobook).
Paladin Unbound – Jeffery Speight
Paladin Unbound is like a good old dungeon crawl, and evokes the nostalgia that could only come with a decent campaign. Class archetypes (druids, bards, paladins etc) team up to stop the return of an evil god. I mean, that is simplifying it a tad too much, and ignoring the deep and well fleshed out relationships between characters, Speight’s exciting writing and, of course, the engrossing worldbuilding, but with all that said, you’ll finish this and feel like you’ve experienced a true novelisation of a Baldur’s Gate quest!
The Blacktongue Thief – Christopher Buehlman
Have you ever wanted to experience an account of a DnD in first person from the POV of a very charismatic thief? What about a thief who messes up a robbery and now finds himself in the employ of a chivalrous knight on a quest to rescue a queen? Goblins, giants and other strange mythological creatures await in this genuinely fresh and unique tale.
The Ember Blade – Chris Wooding
Quite possibly the quintessential thicc-boi DnD type questing novel, The Ember Blade is a such a massive book that the blurb itself is about 250 words (which is mad considering that that is about 4 times the amount of words of a normal blurb!) The Ember Blade has been heralded by critics and bookish fans alike as being one of the greatest high fantasy novels ever written, and it’s sequel The Shadow Casket is equally as brilliant. I haven’t actually read this one yet, but I’ve just bought myself a copy so that’ll change soon!
Mortal Techniques – Rob J Hayes
Moving away from Euro centric settings to an Asian, samurai, anime inspired world, the Mortal Techniques is a series of loosely connected novels that are creative, exciting and gripping from the first page. Starting with Never Die, we are immediately thrust into a battle destined to be lost, before quickly being introduced to a strange boy with the ability to raise the dead and one quest: to kill the Emperor.
Ranger of the Titan Wilds – J.D.L. Rosell
Do these covers not just scream DnD adventure?! Rosell’s latest series, Ranger of the Titan Wilds, is a tale of betray and vengeance, friendship and wonder, as we embark on a quest with Ranger Leiyn “Firebrand” after she becomes the sole survivor of a devastating attack. Currently, two books are available in this trilogy, with the first being The Last Ranger.
The Four Pillars series – H.M. Long
If you’re looking for something that feel likes the cooler (as in bloody freezing!) side of Baldur’s Gate, I’m talking along the lines of Icewind Dale, then check out H.M. Long’s The Four Pillars quartet! Hessa, a banished warrior priestess, embarks on a journey of revenge after her village is sacked by raiders. The first book, Hall of Smoke, is steeped in Nordic flavoured lore, myth and themes, telling a rich and compelling story that is equal parts sorrowful and hopeful. Long has also gone on record to say that Skyrim was a big influence on this series, so that’s two incredible RPGs in one!
Godkiller – Hannah Kaner
In every good DnD campaign (and certainly lurking somewhere in the depths of the code of BG3), there will be a few dangerous deities looking to mess up your day. In Godkiller, our main protagonist Kissen looks to ruin the Gods collective days instead. How does she do this? By killing them of course! Joined by an eclectic party all with their own motivations, Godkiller is a truly exciting adventure!
The Eye of Eternity series – Mark Timmony
Honestly I don’t need to explain myself with this one, there’s a great big bone dragon on the cover, along with two guys fighting orc-like creatures, one a white-haired warrior wielding a massive spear and the other one has fireballs for hands! But if you want to know just how High-Fantasy, Classic-with-a-Modern-voice The Blood of the Spear really is, just know that it is full of prophecies, an ancient war fought by mages that nearly sundered the world in two, daemons, cosmic fuckery, and it is of an unfathomably massive scope! In short, it’s freaking awesome! If that doesn’t convince you, then you can always sign up for Mark Timmony’s newsletter (click here) to receive a free copy of the prequel novel, Starbinder, which is also equally brilliant!
Quite honestly, I could have had double the amount of books on this list (and more)! But are there any that you’d like to recommend? Drop your suggestions in the comments below or let me know on Twitter and I’ll add them onto this list!