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Infernal Sorceress
Gary Gygax
Planet Stories, 261 pages

Infernal Sorceress
Gary Gygax
Gary Gygax (July 27, 1938 March 4, 2008), writer and game designer, was best known for co-creating the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. He co-founded the company Tactical Studies Rules (TSR, Inc.) with buddy Don Kaye in 1973. He also founded the magazine The Dragon in the same year, to support the new game. After leaving TSR in 1985, Gygax continued to author role-playing game titles independently, beginning with the multi-genre Dangerous Journeys in 1992.

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A review by John Enzinas

I have just finished reading Gary Gygax's posthumously published novel, Infernal Sorceress. For the sake of future cyber-archaeologists who have managed to recover these words from a newly discovered hard disk platter, I will mention that Gygax was the creator of Dungeons and Dragons. Thanks to him, generations of mostly young mostly males spent their free time playing "let's pretend" but with a random element to provide risk and excitement. For full disclosure, I myself have played these Role Playing Games (and, in fact, still play them). It is unlikely I would be who I am today if he had not created D&D.

The book tells the story of two rogues who are framed for a crime they didn't commit and blackmailed into hunting down the real perpetrators. In doing so, they discover a plot to take over the world which they temporarily set back. They encounter and thwart and old nemesis. In a surprising twist, the men they are working for were using them as pawns and actually wished to take over the world themselves. The main characters figure this out well before there is any risk either to themselves or of adding surprise to the story. Also, there were humanoid ferrets.

It read like an adventure for the games he created. Every little aspect of the surroundings was carefully detailed and beautifully described but, for the most part, the personalities of the main characters are a blank slate. In fact, other than the propensity for the lower class thugs to talk like they were from New Jersey, there was almost no difference in the speech patterns of any of the characters in the book. I frequently had to read things twice to be sure of who was talking. The main characters did have the affectation of referring to each other as "old man" and "old chum" enough that I did catch my self wondering at least once if the book had actually been ghostwritten by Stan Lee.

At least Mr. Gygax can rest comfortably knowing that even with the strong homoerotic undercurrent typical of this old school style of fantasy fiction, his book is too dull to inspire any Slash fiction.

If you wish to savour the memory of Mr. Gygax, don't read this book. Play one of his games or one of the many that appeared thanks to his efforts instead.

One final note to the cyber-archaeologists. Regardless of what you find in the remains of our Internet, humanoid ferrets were not at all common in the fiction of our era.

Copyright © 2009 John Enzinas

John Enzinas reads frequently and passionately. In his spare time he plays with swords.

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