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The Verdant Passage (Dark Sun: Prism Pentad #1)

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,202 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
A new creed kindled from despair...

Kalak: an immortal sorcerer-king whose evil magic has reduced the majestic city of Tyr to a desolate place of dust, blood, and fear.

His thousand-year reign of death is about to end.

Banding together to spark a revolution are a maverick statesmen, a winsome half-elf slave girl, and a man-dwarf gladiator bred for the arenas. But if the peopl
Mass Market Paperback, 341 pages
Published October 1991 by TSR
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The Outcast by Simon HawkeThe Nomad by Simon HawkeThe Seeker by Simon HawkeThe Broken Blade by Simon HawkeThe Amber Enchantress by Troy Denning
Dark Sun World Books
6th out of 16 books — 15 voters
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Most Interesting World
180th out of 208 books — 236 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,866)
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Jun 05, 2011 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Denning really brings the Dark Sun world to life. I have seen Brom's art for Dark Sun and I knew of the D&D campaign setting, but I really didn't know a lot about the overall background of the world. This book acts as a great introduction to Athas and the city of Tyr. I look forward to the other novels in the series (5 in all). I, however, do not look forward to WotC refusal to use editors on their novels including ones that they have rerelased in a shiner more expensive version. Original pu ...more
[Name Redacted]
Overall, I found this book surprisingly enjoyable! It captured the feel of the Dark Sun setting (a brutal post-apocalyptic fantasy world in which unchecked magic has left most of the alient planet Athas a barren wasteland and sorceror god-kings rule the few remnants of cilization with an iron fist) admirably, the plot was legitimately interesting, and the writing was unobtrusive (ie: I noticed the story and characters more than the author trying to impress his readers).

I especially liked the wa
Apr 10, 2009 Skip rated it really liked it
I originally read this for background on a game world I DM'd for. At the time it was a refreshing read and twist on the normal AD&D tales of the time. I added storylines to our campaign based upon the writings of Troy Denning and when the next book \ module came out we had already played it (mostly). My players used to swear TSR was bugging our game sessions - and I admit, it was uncanny.

Years later after our group had split up, never to be heard from again, I re-read the series. It was just
Bob Jr.
Jul 21, 2014 Bob Jr. rated it liked it
Up front: I'm not a big fan of game-related fiction. I hated the Dragonlance books, for instance, even when they first came out and I was heavily into Dungeons & Dragons. In general the only books related to a game that I've really enjoyed have been Dan Abnett's books for the Warhammer 40k Universe (particularly the Inquisitor Eisenhorn series). On top of that, I completely missed 2nd edition Dungeons & Dragons, which introduced the Dark Sun setting. There are no fond memories for me of ...more
Ned Leffingwell
Jul 15, 2015 Ned Leffingwell rated it liked it
The Verdant Passage is the first book in a series that takes place in the Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting known as Dark Sun. I never played in a Dark Sun campaign, although this book piqued my interest in the setting. Dark Sun is in the dying earth genre of fantasy. When someone uses magic in the setting, they must take energy from a living source such as plant life. A group of ruthless sorcerers have used so much magic that much of the surface of the world of Athas has been turned into a ...more
Timothy D.
Sep 20, 2015 Timothy D. rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
I really wanted to like this book; I enjoyed the Campaign setting for Dark Sun before reading any of the novels. After a re-read of Dragons of Autumn Twilight I was surprised by how much I still enjoyed the story, the plot sped by and the characters were like meeting old friends again, with this rejuvenated love for pulp fantasy books I ventured into Dark Sun.
The races that are used are slightly different than the average fantasy novel, and mixed races appear more often than the full race, all
Dec 26, 2014 Josh rated it liked it
I was pleasantly surprised with this novel - it wasn't actually that bad for an RPG tie-in. Of course, Troy Denning has cemented himself as one of the main Star Wars authors, and the same quality shines through here even though this was only his fourth book. It still retains some of that media tie-in feel, but stands far above the average with solid writing and an interesting plot.

The novel really gives the reader a sense of the world of Athas without revealing too much - there's obviously much
Bruno Fernandes
Mar 24, 2015 Bruno Fernandes rated it liked it
Re-reading for my Dark Sun PF campaign. Excellent as a setting supplement.
Ian Anderson
Troy Denning paints a vivid picture of a human dominated world populated by a never-ending list of sentient species. He has an obsession with hybrids (Elrond has a lot to answer for) with human-dwarf, human-elf and human-giant hybrids etc (oddly, most occurring more frequently than the pure species). In addition to the humanoid sentient species there are more outlandish ones with turtle shells or antennae. Denning has taken a step further away from the usual Tolkienesque fantasy worlds (his half ...more
Jan 20, 2014 Slobodan rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The world of Athas is basically Australia. It's damn hot and if sunstroke doesn't kill you, then you'll die from some god-awful poisonous creature.

The Dark Sun novels were my short stint at taking up Dungeons & Dragons as a hobby when I was a young teenager. Going to my local book store, which also supplied all things 'nerdy', I was enticed by Brom's amazing and unique artwork for the covers. Thankfully the book has more merits to go on than a pretty picture.

The Verdant Passage is a quick a
This is the first book set in the Dark Sun campaign setting that I've read. I'm only somewhat familiar with the setting but I found it intriguing. It was a simple and quick read, with some notable flaws.

While the world of Athas deviates quite a bit from standard D&D fantasy, the plot does not. The setting is described in some detail, providing a glimpse of how life in Athas is different. But it feels like there's an assumption that the reader is familiar with Athas, and so leaves out explana
David Sarkies
Jul 09, 2015 David Sarkies rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to David by: Michael Driver
Shelves: fantasy
Slavery in the D&D Multiverse
6 February 2012

Well, this is the first of the Dark Sun novels (there are five in this series) and I am not really sure whether I have read them all. There was a time when I read a lot of the novels released around D&D worlds, but that was usually because a friend handed them to me and said, 'read this, it's good'. Well I did, and I did sort of enjoy it, but looking back on it from this point in my life I do actually wonder whether these books are really all
Feb 10, 2010 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading The Verdant Passage by Troy Denning, which is book 1 of The Prism Pentad. These are a series of novels written in the early 1990's by Troy Denning set the Dark Sun AD&D campaign setting. I've enjoyed books from the Dragon Lance and Forgotten Realms series, so I thought I'd try a book from this lesser know world.

I recently re-read Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King. In this book one of the characters makes the point that some books you read because of the words, and so
Percy Procrastinator
Mar 31, 2009 Percy Procrastinator rated it really liked it
This is the first book of the Prism Pentad, the first Dark Sun book series. This book was as good as I remembered it from over fifteen years ago. There were only two things that I thought weren't very good but the rest of it was quite good.

The two bad things are tied up in the DND 2E mechanics. Early in the book, it's painful as the author uses those mechanics to describe some spell casting. In general, the book suffers from the game mechanics of the time, as the author seeks to reconcile them
Paul Darcy
Jan 09, 2012 Paul Darcy rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
by Troy Denning, published in 1991.

I like a good fantasy novel, especially if it is set in a D&D world. Yeah, I’m a gamer too so I can appreciate the details of a fantasy story set in a game world. TSR used to publish many of these types of novels in the late eighties and early nineties.

This is one such novel set in the world of Dark Sun, a place devastated by magic long ago and populated by various mutated races (well I think they are) as well as non-traditional fantasy races - halflings an
Timothy McNeil
I last read The Verdant Passage in 1991 (so I was either 15 or 16). As I never got around to reading (beyond the first chapter) the last book in the series, I thought I might make the effort to start the series over again and see what my reaction would be to it some 20+ years later.

Denning does not do an appreciably good job of bringing the strange flora and fauna of Athas to life, or rather he struggles to find meaningful ways to describe but a few of the strange creatures (it helps to have h
Oct 04, 2010 Mark rated it liked it
I had pretty low expectations for this book. I gotta be honest with you, GoodReads members, I'm only reading this stuff because our D&D group is starting a Dark Sun campaign soon so I figured this would be a good way to learn more about the setting.

Anyways I was pleasantly surprised to find it a quick and enjoyable read. There's nothing very deep going on here (except for some polyamorous relationships) but the author does a good job with the archetypes he has. He also does a good job of ev
Stuart Langridge
Jul 25, 2016 Stuart Langridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been meaning to read this series for years; I was reading Dragonmagazine when the Dark Sun stuff got released the first time around. And it's interesting; I actually like quite a lot of the TSR books (a liking which started with the Dragonlancebooks, a long time ago), and Athas is quite a way away from your standard mediaeval Europe setting. There's a bit too much sourcebook in explaining the world, but it's not exactly the only TSR book that's guilty of that. I'll read the rest of the seri
Jeffrey Cavanaugh
Mar 11, 2016 Jeffrey Cavanaugh rated it liked it
Pulpy D&D fantasy at its best. Only here, the setting is a terrible, crapsack dystopia that can best be described as a combination of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Lord of the Rings if Sauron had won. Are the characters well developed? (HA HA HA!) No. Is the prose sophisticated? (Snort, giggle) No. Does it give you that hit of action-packed, adolescent hack-em-to-pieces fun that every guy craves? Yup. So, it's a guilty pleasure if you like this sort of thing. (or, maybe not so guilty)
Apr 26, 2016 Nicola rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Dark Sun was my favourite world as it was so different from any other fantasy realm but the books themselves were usually just 'middling to good'. Troy Denning is a competent but not an exciting writer. The reason this rates three stars rather than 2 is the setting. It's the first book and that lends it greater interest value.
Kyle K
Nov 26, 2015 Kyle K rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-dark-sun
Sorcerer King Kalak rules over the city state of Tyr. He is attempting an arcane magic that puts the entire population of his city at risk. A handful of slaves comprised of gladiators and a sorceress unite with a landed nobleman to win their freedom and salvation of the city.
Peter Greenwell
Aug 15, 2015 Peter Greenwell rated it liked it
Read this a while back, just adding it to the library. Book-wise, it's an enjoyable read and the Dark Sun milieu is appealing. There's nothing that goes beyond fantasy tropes with this book and if you're after weighty literature, then this isn't it.
David Schwarm
Jun 02, 2010 David Schwarm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark-sun
This was a fantastic introduction to the Dark Sun Setting.

The characters, even when a little clichéd, are awesome--all of them unique figures in a very unique setting. I enjoyed the female jousting more then I thought I would + I was very happy with the halflings portrayal.

The adventures around the world are notable because they really feel like standard D&D encounters--we do not spend a lot of time in dialog or travel--we show up at the trap and get it on. And on.

And ON.

The final battle is
Jul 13, 2013 Ann rated it it was amazing
There are two things that I've found wrong with this book. Firstly, the elves in this story, are the most unlikely typical elves I have ever read and any fantasy novel. I do not know how many elves would work or put themselves in service to any human king or any human kingdom for that matter. Also, we didn't learn a lot about the villain. In most fantasy novels, there are several pages about what the villain is doing, and what his plans are. And this one, the only see him in a couple of scenes, ...more
Jul 11, 2015 Nis rated it it was ok
Mostly read it for the Dark Sun background.
Feb 09, 2014 Thomas rated it liked it
Apr 05, 2015 Masterrabbi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I vivid look at Dark Sun, Troy Denning helps bring his world to life around 4 characters in an epic adventure. The prose is not too fancy, and the ups and downs of the story are engaging. However, the glaring spelling mistakes after this many printings is as harsh as the Dark Sun the characters live under.
Jul 20, 2011 Dale rated it liked it
I was just thinking about this book, and the rest of the Dark Sun Prism Pentad, today while I was musing on my blog about half-giants and small children and the similarities between them. Then I realized I had never added this series to my Goodreads bookshelves. Oversight corrected!

If you are remotely curious about what I was on about in my blog, here's the post: Parenthetical Asides.

May 31, 2011 Eli rated it liked it
For a reprint of a book written 20 years ago, you'd think the editors could have worked out a few of the more glaring typographical errors, but no. There are enough to have been distracting, and thus to have detracted from my enjoyment of the story.

About the story, it's what you'd expect from a novel set in a Dungeons and Dragons IP: light and quick, good but not great, essentially the mental equivalent a mid-day snack.
Jeff Cimmarusti
Jul 24, 2013 Jeff Cimmarusti rated it liked it
A good introduction to the world of Athas. Not particularly inspired for the plot, but still entertaining. Very heavily inspired by Conan the Cimmerian.

The world, however, is fascinating. It's interesting to see so many of the standard tropes of fantasy settings turned on their heads.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of dark fantasy.
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Other Books in the Series

Dark Sun: Prism Pentad (5 books)
  • The Crimson Legion (Dark Sun: Prism Pentad, #2)
  • The Amber Enchantress (Dark Sun: Prism Pentad, #3)
  • The Obsidian Oracle (Dark Sun: Prism Pentad #4)
  • The Cerulean Storm (Dark Sun: Prism Pentad, #5)

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