Having read Philip Athan's awful adaptations of the Baldur's Gate games, it was with much trepidation that I picked this title up. I was even more cautious bearing in mind the fact
that the PC game takes place almost entirely in dungeons and involves fighting similar monsters over and over again. Whilst the Baldur's Gate games give massive scope for an epic novel (and indeed film), Pool of Radiance RoMD certainly does not.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find that this book was a highly enjoyable read. It actually stuck very close to the story in the PC game (as it should as an adaptation) but rather than simply include fight after fight with hordes of orcs and undead, it picked out several confrontations, embellished upon them and made the protagonists vulnerable such that you did not expect them to just wade through them and on to the next bunch of enemies.
Through mainly the eyes of one of the group of six heroes, the story was told. Details of their backgrounds were included, at times their feelings and vulnerabilities were touched upon, each of their individual skills were utilised and discussed, and as the book progressed you wished that all would survive to a happy ending. Time was also spent describing the surroundings, enemies and objects which gave even more depth.
The use of potions,spells and magical items was also adapted well. Many are included in the novel, but in a way that properly treats them as being rare and precious. The wizards learn spells as they go along and from each other, and the descriptions of their use is subtle so as readers can themselves realise which spells from the game are being used without the writer stating the obvious. Healing, protection and other potions are used similarly.
I have given the book 5 stars because as an adaptation of a rather tedious (but nevertheless good-looking) PC game, Carrie Bebris has done a wonderful job. Her knowledge of the game's story is never in doubt, nor is her understanding of the core elements of RPG gaming : makeup of party,skills, experience, item finding, spellcasting, and other aspects that do not necessarily translate well to the written word. She has added depth through descriptive narrative and character interactions, and has done this without straying very far at all from the hack-and-slash nature of the game. Great stuff!