For all those who land up with mysterious tattoos

Azure Bonds - Kate Novak, Jeff Grubb

Okay, here is a half decent novel based in a Dungeons and Dragons world. Unlike some other books that will never be mentioned again, the computer game was based on the book rather than the other way around. However, once again, as the TSR money making machine churned on, two more books were released to turn it into a trilogy. Somehow I find some trilogies to be pretty poor, especially since the original book is written as a stand alone and due to its success the authors decide to throw something more into the mix. Works the same with movies to, and like movies, a successful trilogy can easily turn into a franchise. However, with this book, the franchise already exists.

The story is about a woman named Alias who awakens one morning to find that she has lost a lot of her memory from the night before and finds that there is an intricate tattoo on her arm (I wonder how many people can relate to that experience). She (like the said people previously mentioned) thought that she had a crazy night out and while drunk, decided to get the tattoo. However, as it turns out, these tattoos don't want to be removed (though I was going to raise the question of how one actually removes a tattoo in a medieval world, but it is also a fantasy world, so such things can be done). She also discovers that these tattoos exert power over her and compel her to do some pretty bad things.

In an attempt to discover the source of these tattoos she joins up with a mysterious Lizardine creature named Dragonbait, a mysterious southern mage named Ahkbar Bel Akash, and a halfling named Olive Ruskettle. Also popping in and out is a foppish minor noble named Giorgi Wyvernspur. Together they head off to find the source of these tattoos and the mystery behind Alias (and also an attempt to discover who or what Dragonbait is, and why he smells so much – it turns out that that is how he communicates).

This was a pretty enjoyable book, from what I can remember, and one of the better books coming from the franchise. Okay, as a teenager I did think that Alias was hot, but then I grew up and realised that she was basically a picture and something from somebody's imagination. Okay, the cover drawing was nice, but we then find out in the book that when she was made to wear that armour, she simply shook her head and wondered how it was supposed to protect her (it was ceremonial, so it wasn't). I could go further into details about freedom and choice as it arises in this book, but I won't. It is a Dungeons and Dragons book and it not meant to be taken seriously.