The Sleeping Dragon kindle –

CAPTIVES OF SORCERYIt began as just another evening of fantasy gaming, with James, Karl, Andrea, and the rest ready to assume their various roles as wizard, cleric, warrior, or thief But sorcerous gamemaster Professor Deighton had something else planned for this unsuspecting group of college students And the game soon became a matter of life and death as the seven adventurers found themselves transported to an alternate world and into the bodies of the actual characters they had been pretending to beCast into a land where magic worked all too well, dragons were a firebreathing menace, and only those quick enough with a sword or their wits survived, the young gamers faced a terrible task For the only way they would ever see Earth again was if they could find the legendary Gate Between Worldsa place guarded by the most terrifying and deadly enemy of allTHE SLEEPING DRAGON

10 thoughts on “The Sleeping Dragon

  1. Sebastien Castell Sebastien Castell says:

    The Sleeping Dragon had been one of my favourite fantasy novels as a kid. It's portal fantasy in the classic sense, with a small group of role playing gamers in our world suddenly finding themselves in a strange land that mirrors that of their game.

    When it comes to fantasy novels, rereading one's early favourites tends to bring about mixed feelings: the nostalgia of revisiting beloved characters offset by a sense of the writing feeling dated. That wasn't the case with The Sleeping Dragon, at least not in terms of questioning the writing.

    Joel Rosenberg had a wonderfully fluid style that ages incredibly well. I never felt as if his prose was over-the-top or out-of-date. Were he alive today, I imagine he could deliver some great Grimdark novels. He was also a writer who was unabashedly willing to put theme at the centre of his books. The Sleeping Dragon is about freedom, and that nebulous concept is made concrete in many different ways, from exposing how most traditional fantasy worlds involve slavery – sometimes slavery that's hidden beneath euphemistic language and concepts – to the idea that being free isn't the same thing as never having to make lifelong choices.

    I think this is what I loved best about the novel: Rosenberg made every character and every scene into an exploration of conflicting notions of freedom, and he does this without ever breaking the flow of a fast-paced and entertaining fantasy novel.

    Now, onto the aspect that gives me mixed feelings, or at least, needs consideration. Sexual violence and gender roles feature prominently in the book, and Rosenberg presents these in a way that is simultaneously self-conscious and yet I suspect will truly frustrate many modern readers. In one scene he'll show us the hypocrisy of the way in which one of his male characters views the woman he desires as if she's some challenge to be met or reward to be won. Rosenberg hits this point really hard and I still remember how, as a kid, it made me think twice about the way I and my friends talked about girls we were attracted to.

    However Rosenberg writes unquestionably through the gaze of his male characters, viewing rape as deplorable towards women, yet something that his male heroes are the ones to deal with, giving them the moral obligation to address by finding and killing the perpetrators. It's not an uncommon or even a negative sentiment, but never are we let into the viewpoint of the female characters nor are they given agency on this or other issues.

    There's a hypocrisy in me bringing this up, since my own Greatcoats series is told entirely from the viewpoint of one male character, and so this same phenomenon carries through in my own books. I think, however, that I owe Rosenberg a debt, because it was my memories of reading The Sleeping Dragon long before I ever started writing that showed me the importance of problematizing that distinctly androcentric viewpoint and to expose through other characters that the protagonist's view is both incomplete and distorted.

    I hesitate to even mention these things because, well, I simply lack the knowledge to give full and appropriate context to these problems. However I thought just ignoring them wouldn't be right either.

    I'll leave it this way: The Sleeping Dragon is one of my favourite books from the 1980's, one that had far more thematic resonance for me than most fantasy novels, and one whose author was willing to address gender issues within the genre even if the book itself still contained many of those problems.

  2. Shannon Shannon says:

    CONCEPT: A group of gamers are whisked off to an RPG world. After almost slaying each other as their new personalities take over, the group sets out to find a means of returning back to their homeworld at a place known as the Gate Between Worlds. (Holds promise and attraction to gamers in seeing how these fish out of water types react in their new setting.)
    MARKETING APPEAL: described below.

    SCORING: Superb (A), Excellent (A-), Very good (B+), Good (B) Fairly Good (B-) Above Average (C+), Mediocre (C ), Barely Passable (C-) Pretty Bad (D+), Dismal (D), Waste of Time (D-), Into the Trash (F)


    OVERALL GRADE: B (gamers/ B- (nongamers)

    DIALOGUE: This ranged from spotty to good. Some of the minor characters sounded alike and it was hard to tell the two thieves apart in the beginning. That may have been why one was killed off. Nobody stands out greatly but overall, it's a good job. They're all middle class college students so their speech patterns don't overlap that much. Probably the best one is the dwarf guy, who has a bit more of his own personality, whereas Karl and Walter do sound alike at times. I must say that everyone has different motivations and that shows but at certain points, some of the dialogue crisscrosses. One way that Rosenberg calls less attention to his similar dialogue passages is through a great deal of interparty conflict. The speakers are passable enough to tell them apart and then when we focus on the fact that they might kill each other and read their inner thoughts, we forget.

    MONSTERS: I can't really give this much of a score since it was all taken from a homogenous AD&D setting. Outside of AD&D abilities, like night vision and beserking, we learned little of the culture of various creatures. Probably glossed over since Rosenberg figured that most of his readers would be gamers from the AD&D setting. Still, detailing the different species would have been helpful to nongamers and for readers seeking out some type of context to the setting.

    EVIL SETUP: No real big foe. It was more a series of small obstacles. This could very well be a letdown for readers used to a big climax. Have to agree. However, check out the characters. While there was no great threat, the antagonists, at first, were the players themselves. See below (or above).

    SETTING: Again, this area was skipped over except to place components in the story that helped the heroes achieve their goal (i.e. a library with a map to locate the Gate Between the Worlds, the arena to get cash together for the trek, etc). The issues of slavery were done well though but this ties more into the theme and characterization matters.

    PACING: This story moves very well. Right off the bat, the group is heading for the gateway to get back to their own world. And, everything they do is pretty much to get supplies or means to get up there in the first place. One reason I didn't give it a better score than a B+ is because there wasn't a great need for the group to get to the gateway. Basically, they just wanted to get back home but half of them were dissatisfied with home so they were torn. Moreover, since you need to love the characters before you feel the suspense, it wasn't done as well as it could have been (see above). While I cared for the a couple of the characters (Karl and the dwarf), the rest were just icing on the cake with bits of character here and there. Finally, no one was chasing them and there wasn't a deadline so if they got slowed down it didn't end the mission.

    SURPRISES: There actually were a good deal of surprises in this story. Obviously, being whisked off and learning to adjust to the new world was a big set of surprises in its own regard.

    CHARACTERS: First off, this heading has some good points and some bad points on the characters. First, the good stuff: Rosenberg does an excellent job of internalizing the sudden problems with a RPG player becoming his character. In a sense, there is a test of wills. There are several times when some of the players turn into their characters, which creates problems. (REST CUT B/C OF SPOILERS)

    CONCEPT: This is an enticing idea and I believe that Rosenberg was the first author to adapt it well. Just about every gamer has wondered at one point what it would be like to be like the character he created. And, most gamers tend to get attached to their characters as if they were their children. This has a keen attraction to gaming types but I have to admit, that fantasy readers, who don't RPG, and first time readers interested in fantasy would find themselves disappointed. See, there are a number of issues in this story that only gamers would appreciate. For instance, trying to get a bunch of people, who are used to being independent, to work together and hammering out the personality differences. Understanding the gaming system and dice as it's explained in the beginning. Watching how a group of players combat their character personalities and bicker with one another as they try to adjust to these new circumstances.

    FLAWS: First off, some of the writing was too simple for my tastes. More detail on the setting would have been helpful, although I suppose the author could counter there was little to know since it was a new world. Non gamer types probably wouldn't like this book, b/c of the nuances I described in another section. As already elaborated upon, some of the supporting cast were mediocre at times. I would have liked to have known more about them even if it meant a 100 extra pages. There were a few parts where Rosenberg glossed over

    GRADE REASON: I am giving this a solid B. Partly because I'm a long time gamer and see the nuances in this storyline that only gamers would understand, and because I appreciate the challenges in writing such a story. I think I can excuse the lack of monster and historical settings, since this is based on an RPGing game which is known more for the goal and treasure and hack and slash than details. Well, most of them. Although it's much more sparse than typical fantasy books which number 600 pages and over, I found it to be an interesting book. Again, there was a mix of the medieval thinking with the 20th century thinking. I had to keep remind myself that the reason they talked like Americans in speech and actions was because they were americans. Major kudos to doing a fine job with a few of the characters, even though some of the others aren't detailed well enough. The whole idea of this fish out of water storyline and the adjustments made by the players are interesting. Moreover, the interparty conflict gives it a lot of texture and in the process, reveals the characters. One other thing I found interesting is the typical gamer stance of might makes right. There were several times when some of the players were getting ready to kick someone's butt or intimidate just because they were ticked off. Typical gamer philosophy and something to chuckle over. But again, you don't see that unless you are a gamer.

  3. Leelan Leelan says:

    This book is very deceptive. It reads at first like any other Dungeons & Dragons inspired rip-off --- at first. But then it becomes something deeper without your noticing it. In fact, the story begins with a bunch of college students starting to play a normal everyday D&D roleplaying session. But something happens when one of them opens a supply chest their character find waiting for them on a hill. SHAZAM! They are there! And they are their characters. All too quickly they find that in this world there are no saving throws. Magic is real, swords are very sharp, wounds hurt and death is final. To get home they have to make their way across the world they find themselves in and get past the oldest and largest dragon in the world. But getting there is, as they say, half the fun. This is a great beginning to a wonderful series!

  4. Mike (the Paladin) Mike (the Paladin) says:

    Really...2.5 stars a little better than just alright. I noted elsewhere that back a few years ago I read several books that really only had one thing to recommend them...they were set in RPG game settings...I have been a gamer since 1978. I suppose it warps the taste slightly when the book you're reading has a game reference (well except for Mazes and Monsters, we'd all have been better off without that one).

    A group of gamers gets flung into the world of their game...and the uhhh, well, fun(?) begins. Considering that the wizards spell books are destroyed right away and the kid who plays the thief brings a death penalty on himself ( real rolling new characters when you die here), things are not getting off to a good start.

    You might enjoy this, it might help if you're a gamer. You decide. I didn't follow the series.

  5. The Captain The Captain says:

    Ahoy there me mateys! I was trying to figure out what to read when I saw this old school cover in the hold . . .

    The First Mate and his siblings fondly remember this series from childhood. And well I am an easy mark for all dragon-related things. So I gave this a shot. And I had very, very mixed thoughts. Be forewarned, unlike me usual posts, there are spoilers at the end because of a need to rant. Continue at yer own peril . . .

    The book is set up in five parts:

    The Student Union
    And Beyond

    “The Student Union” starts out with a group of college age kids who play table-top role playing games in a club. I was never into that kinda gaming so it took me a bit to get into the novel. But of course the players end up transported into the game world which is actually an alternate magical universe. While the characters are rather stereotypical, I did find the students’ entrance and introduction to “Lundeyll” to be comical. From accidentally destroying their supplies, to having split personalities while coming to terms with the mingling of their real and character memories, the beginning of the magical adventure made me happy. Plus there were a few unexpected surprises.

    The third part when they are journeying to the great city of “Pandathaway” is where the story started to go off track slightly. This is where the love interest plotlines start to really kick in. While the good news is that women in this 1983 novel can and do choose to sleep with multiple sexual partners if they want to, the men sulk like whiny babies and get all macho and protective and annoying. It was a glimpse of things to come. However I did like the wonderful library in the city and Doria haggling in the market and we get to meet our first dragon. Arrrr! I loved the silly dragon and its use in the city. Made me laugh that the dragon in the book is described as brown with red glowing eyes. Doesn’t match the cover at all.

    After an extremely unexciting tournament (how can sword fighting be boring!) the group heads towards “Bremon” and the book enjoyment soured. Why ye ask? Because 1) it is just wandering with no real seeming purpose and more importantly 2) rape becomes a plot point. The strong men sit in a wagon and listen to the women being raped for hours. While it is certainly not graphic in the telling, it is completely irrelevant to the story and exists only to make the men feel revengeful, protective (after initially failing), remorseful, and so worse yet there can be a burden the men have to handle for the next segment. Sigh.

    So okay now that the strong women have been reduced to quivering husks now what? The men get revenge! Which happens off the page and ends up with a head in a bag. Huh? Then more boring traveling. Then onto the a place “guarded by the most terrifying and deadly enemy of all!” Which is the promised dragon of the title. Who DOES NOTHING. Seriously it really does sleep while almost all the characters sneak past it. This supposed first dragon, THE dragon, doesn’t even twitch when a horde of people go past him. Its whole purpose it to GUARD the gate. Some terror. Some deadliness. It wakes up just in time to spit some flame. A super boring dragon! Urgh!

    “And Beyond” that, the book got even worse. I won’t even get into it. I finished it because it was short and was remembered with fondness and I just didn’t get it. I guess I am too old and curmudgeony to suspend any real disbelief at the plot and only find meself disbelieving that this series is beloved by so many folk.

    I did have the first mate tell me the continuation of the plot in the later novels. I am mystified that there are any people who are fond of this and all I can say is that me head hurts and I will be avoiding them indefinitely.

    Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...

  6. Jim Jim says:

    I first read this when it came out in the early 80's, I think. It's a fun book. While playing D&D, a group of college buddies are transported to the D&D world. Stuck there, they play out their lives in an interesting mix of fantasy world with their 20th century personalities & knowledge. It was a fun read. There are quite a few more books following it. I read the first five, but then lost interest.

  7. Sarah Sarah says:

    I begrudgingly gave this book a three-star rating.
    I loved the story. Or, I wanted to.

    But at one point, the two female characters are gang-raped by the bad guys. No details except the men hearing the screams of the women. Yea. Thanks for that. Why don't all of the male characters ever get gang-raped?

    Anyways, beyond that, (view spoiler)[ one of the female characters goes completely catatonic after the rape, and the other one falls in love with our protagonist and they share a tender moment, and then in the next book, she's wifed to him and having his babies and largely absent from the entire story. Not a word about the rape or about how she's handling it or what. (hide spoiler)]

  8. Thomas Thomas says:

    Definitely in my Top Five fantasy books of ALL TIME, I say that with ZERO exaggeration...

    This is NOT a Tolkien-clone like Shannara. Yes it has elements Tolkien used, but the story is so damn original and refreshing it's shocking.

    There is nothing to say but READ THIS NOW. Amazing storytelling and flow, superb characters, just everything that makes Fantasy perfect.

  9. Lestat Lestat says:

    This was a great book. The concept of being drawn into the game is just the start. There is great character development that makes you want to see whats going to change with them from page to page. All around a great story with some interesting life lessons for people. I definitely recommend for younger readers who enjoy role-playing as the basic concept is every true gamers dream come true.

  10. Natashia Natashia says:

    This book has been in my collection for years and years. I have shared its brilliance with every reader I know. The characters are lovable, the world is believable, and the writing pulls you in from chapter one. Of the books I've read in my life, none would I recommend more than The Sleeping Dragon. (along with the rest or the series)