Someone sent me a message today asking in what order to read the various books set in the world of Sularil. I thought instead of answering him directly, I would write up a reading order that makes the most sense to me as the author and creator of the fantasy world.
First off, the nine Sularil books fall into two general categories: D&D campaign novelizations and standalone novels. There are six books in the first category and three in the second, though the Ballad of the B-Team books sort of toe the line between the two categories. The Ballad of the B-Team does follow a D&D game, but the books were written significantly after the sessions themselves, so I was relying on notes to write the books. Contrast that with four book The Shields of Sularil series, the chapters of which I wrote the day after each game and then revised to help the narratives flow.
All right, with all that out of the way, here’s my preferred order.
The Storm Curtain was the first standalone novel I wrote in the land of Sularil. It takes place about 270 years before the events of The Shields of Sularil, during the history-defining Three Sisters War and creation of the Sularin League. Five of the characters in it (two dwarves and three elves) make cameos throughout the other books because they are long-lived peoples. Also, one of the main characters of the Shields is a descendant of two characters in The Storm Curtain.
Torniel, Book One of The Shields of Sularil comes next. We meet our heroes when they are basically Level 1 n00bs. But, hey, everyone has to start somewhere, right? This book chronicles their first four adventures and sows the seeds of many of the arcs to come. (This book covers D&D character levels about 1-5. If you are familiar with the “tiers” of D&D play, you will understand how the levels in the four book series are divvied up).
Next read The Jeweled City, Book Two of the Shields. The characters are growing in power and influence and are now in the secret employ of the Sularin League. Whereas Torniel confines most of its stories to one nation of Sularil, The Jeweled City expands out to other parts of Sularil and nearby countries beyond its borders, including Dragonclime and Starfall. (Levels 6-10.)
The Halfling Contagion, of all the Sularil books, has the least connective tissue with the others. This second standalone novel came about because I asked myself how the halflings came to Sularil, and I spun this story of of that question. It is set on the far side of the Storm Curtain in a small island cluster called The Seven Sovereigns. It place during a fantasy pandemic, though I wrote it three years before the real one. I put it here because in the previous Shields book, the party visited the halflings’ home of The Twenty Tatters, so you’ll recognize some names. Oh, this book also takes place about 800 years before the events of The Shields of Sularil.
True Sight, Book Three of the Shields comes next. The orcs of Ornak are on the move (you’ll remember them from The Storm Curtain). And the shadowy demons that we’ve heard rumblings of in the first two books are making their presence felt a little more, especially one in particular. Lastly, war breaks out in one country in the Sularin League, threatening to upset the league’s stability. (Levels 11-15.)
The Islands of Shattered Glass, the final standalone novel, slots in between the Shields numbers 3 and 4. It takes place across the Glass Ocean from Sularil, and characters from this novel show up in the last Shields book. So if you don’t want this one spoiled by Seven of Shadow read it first.
Seven of Shadow, the fourth and final book of The Shields of Sularil, comes in at position number seven. The Shields are at the height of their power, taking on the Seven of Shadow, or in the demonic language, Lashteroth. (Levels 16-20.) The Shields take their final bow in an epilogue at the end of this book, though some of them make cameos in the last two books.
Vampire Mist come next. The B-Team is called that because they kept hearing about the exploits of the Shields, whom they called the A-Team. So the name “B-Team” sort of stuck, and it describes beautifully the bunch of screw-ups that make of this team and the very silly people who played the characters in the game. Vampire Mist takes place during the events of True Sight, but I would wait to read it here. Also, a feature of the Ballad of the B-Team that I really like is that the villains get quite a bit of the narrative to themselves.
Planar Steel, the final (published) book taking place in Sularil, is Book Two of two of the B-Team. Their carelessness at the end of Book One drives the plot in Book Two. This book runs through the events of Seven of Shadow and then a few weeks past it, also ending with an epilogue about the B-Team characters. As a special bonus, the book contains a really funny appendix of the unedited notes of the final battle, taken by my friend Carrie (who plays Emric). The battle took three full sessions and the notes run like nine pages long.
There you have it. Nine books set in Sularil and the surrounding world. I have one more manuscript completed that takes place in Sularil, a prequel that is my favorite of them all. I’m not sure when I will publish it but its time will come.
I don’t have plans to write novels based on the current campaigns of the groups that were the Shields and B-Team (now called “Winging It” and the “Total Bomb Squad”). While Sularil is about the size of Japan, the new continents in the world they are exploring are more like the size of North America. I kept Sularil fairly small because I was a new DM. I made a lot of mistakes and got a few things right too. (Maybe someday I’ll write a post about the problem with “runegates.”)
In the meantime, please enjoy the nine novels that take place in my fantasy world of Sularil.
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P.S. My novella Highest Stakes, a memoir by famed vampire hunter Grem Axehaft (who shows up in The Storm Curtain, The Shields of Sularil, and Vampire Mist) is FREE if you sign up for my newsletter. Reading it doesn’t give anything away about the other stories Grem is in, except perhaps very minor spoilers for The Storm Curtain. You can sign up form my newsletter by clicking the button below.)