May 25, 10
Read from May 17 to 25, 2010
The relationship to D&D is explicit (it's on the dedication page). Less obvious is the part Donald A Wollheim played in getting books published in affordable editions, introducing new authors, etc. It's not an accident that this is a DAW book.
It's an indication of Norton's prejudices that she set up a crude dichotomy ('law=good, chaos=evil'), and that neutrals are marginalized and often despised. I played only rarely, but I remember clearly that there were characters whose alignments were chaotic good or lawful evil. And as a person who felt ethically compelled to adopt strict neutrality, I don't much appreciate being defined as mercenary therefor.
Norton's personal distaste for quagmires (so extreme that dusty deserts are often described as less hostile) is revealed by her description of the land as 'poisoned'. It's not a criticism of a filter to describe it as dirty. And the characters are so stubbornly biased against marshes and their denizens that they are unrepentantly discriminatory against the 'lizardman', pretty much to the end. He doesn't comment on this, but you have to wonder what he DID think about such bigoted allies.
On a technical note, btw, I'm not sure if Gulth was a reptile (it's not clear from context), but if so, it's not a lot of use wrapping him in cloaks to keep him warm (unless they're electric cloaks). One of the reasons blankets work for homeotherms is that they keep the excess heat produced at such expense by the homeotherms' internal furnaces from escaping. Non-homeotherms usually require an external heat source to deal with cold. Or they just become torpid, or migrate or hibernate or suchlike.
Several conventions are routinely adopted. I've mentioned the absurdity of the idea of 'killing machines' before, and I don't regard them as more plausible if magically generated. But another convention I may not have mentioned before is the tendency to describe (often heavily) vegetated areas as lifeless unless they contain animal life; as if plants are not also alive. There are a few arguments against this latter convention (notably by the elf), but since the elf is not the viewpoint character, the convention tends to predominate.