Written by: Eileen Sholomicky
In my last two blog posts, I’ve recommended books based on the martial and martial-spellcaster classes of Dungeons & Dragons. In the final installment of this three-part series, I’ll be looking at the final set of classes, one of which is my favorite: the spellcasters.
Though spellcasters may not be the greatest melee fighters, having lower hit point maximums than the martial classes, they’re no less important to your adventuring party. The spellcaster classes often serve as healers and arcane powerhouses who can turn the tides of battle. They can summon divine intervention or call down a hail of meteors, and some can even turn back time for critical do-over.
Before we get there, though, let’s meet the Bards. Bards are most known for their high charisma and musical talents. They may bolster the party morale with their Bardic Inspiration feature, which gives members an extra die to roll on ability checks or saving throws, or they can use the spell Vicious Mockery to deal psychic damage to an enemy and throw them off their game with a simple insult. If you find yourself charmed by the Bard class, then you’ll be enchanted by a book like Victoria Schwab’s novel This Savage Song, set in Verity, a fictional city divided between monsters and men. Kate Harker, the human embodiment of the Vicious Mockery spell with a bad attitude and a tendency toward ruthlessness, wants nothing more than to be monstrous. August Flynn, a monster who steals souls through song, just wants to be human. After Kate uncovers his identity and the two are nearly killed by a pair of monsters, they must work together—human and monster, united—to uncover the corruption at the heart of the city.
Clerics, meanwhile, often serve as the party’s primary healers. Sometimes viewed as the most “religious” of the D&D classes, Clerics often have a direct line to the deities of the world, summoning divine aid at crucial moments through the use of their Channel Divinity feature. Some common character arcs for Clerics feature a crisis of faith, such as the character arc of Kristen Applebees in Fantasy High, the first season of the D&D actual-play show Dimension 20, run by College Humor. This is just like the crisis of faith suffered by Benat, the crown prince of the fictional country of Argrid and one of the three main characters in Sara Raasch’s novel These Rebel Waves. Benat, Adeluna, and Devereux all have tense relationships with Argrid, a country ruled by its firmly anti-magic religion. A heretic, Benat is tasked with changing his country’s mind about magic. Meanwhile, former soldier Adeluna is trying to adjust to postwar life when a delegate from Argrid goes missing. She joins the search, enlisting the aid of the pirate Devereux. After a series of twists and turns, their paths cross with Ben’s, and things get more dangerous and deadly than any of them anticipated.
While Clerics get their powers from divine beings, Druids usually derive their magic from the natural world, and see themselves as extensions of nature itself. Their Druid Circle feature connects them to a specific aspect of nature, anywhere from stars to wildfire to grasslands. Those who find themselves connected to Druids may forge a connection with the novel Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo, which has been adapted for TV by Netflix and is slated for release on April 23rd. Shadow & Bone is about Alina Starkov, who discovers that she is a “Grisha,” a witch with special powers such as the ability to control fire or heal people. She is taken under the wing of the Darkling, known as the Shadow Summoner and one of the most powerful—and dangerous— of the Grisha alive.
Sorcerers‘ magic, meanwhile, comes from within themselves, perhaps from a blessed soul, or draconic magic somewhere in the bloodline, or the wild forces of chaos itself. Sorcerers have an ability called Metamagic, which allows them to bend and twist their magic to whatever they need. If you find yourself cozying up to the chaos of Sorcerers, and in particular the unpredictable Wild Magic Sorcerer, then you’ll be right at home with the novel Reverie by Ryan La Sala, which takes place right here in small-town Connecticut. After a mysterious accident, queer teen Kane Montgomery finds himself with amnesia and discovers that he has the power to enter the dreams of other people, in a state called Reveries. He and several of his friends, known as the Others, are tasked with controlling these dreams and seeing them to completion, lest they spiral out of control and spill into the real world. They are opposed by Dr. Poesy, a drag queen sorceress intent on bringing the Others down. One of my favorite books of 2020, it was delightfully absurd, and Ryan La Sala is a powerful new voice on the Young Adult scene.
Lastly, Wizards are the “nerds” of the D&D classes, deriving their magic from spellbooks and studying the old-fashioned way. Wizards are my favorite class, despite my never having played one (probably because I use D&D to be the things I am not, but I digress). Without their spellbooks, Wizards cannot do magic, reminding us all of the power of words and the importance of books. If, like me, you find yourself attached to the Wizard class, then you’ll fall in love with the narrative in Sorcery of Thorms by Margaret Rogerson. Despite its title, Sorcery of Thorns is the perfect book for Wizard lovers. The story follows Elisabeth Scrivener, an apprentice librarian who has grown up surrounded by magical grimoires. When these grimoires are damaged, they become hulking monsters of ink and paper called Malefics, and a saboteur unleashes one of the most powerful grimoires in all of the Great Libraries of the Kingdom of Austermeer. Accidentally implicated in the crime, Elisabeth must work with secretive warlock Nathaniel Thorn and his demonic servant to get to the bottom of the crime and clear her name.
And thus concludes this three-part series! Thank you for coming along for this ride. May your 20s be natural, and happy reading!