If you've looked at my "What I'm Reading" thingamajiggies over there on the side, you'll have noticed two D&D fiction pieces. You may also think, based on my past reviews of D&D fiction        that I'd be an unlikely candidate to be reading these--even my good reviews tend to be quite guarded. Ah, but therein lies the story. Let me explain.
First off, I really would like for gaming related fiction to be good. Despite many poor experiences in the past, I continue to hope for an entertaining read, and I do occasionally find one. The Paul S. Kemp books weren't terrible, and neither were two of the three Eberron novels that I read and reviewed above. I've had decent experiences with David Gross Pathfinder fiction recently, and I've had pretty good experiences with Black Library Warhammer and Warhammer 40k fiction as well. So, I guess, in spite of the many bad gaming fiction novels I've read over the years, hope springs eternal, and a few decently good ones are just good enough to encourage that perhaps foolish and vain hope.
That, and, I'm a sucker for a punchy piece of cover art. I originally got into the War-Torn series, links to reviews above, because of the Wayne Reynolds cover art. I got suckered into buying a couple of books at the book store recently for the same reason; the first two books of the Abyssal Plague series, which feature Wayne Reynolds cover art. They also feature names known for pretty good work--Don Bassingthwaite and James Wyatt--so I was hopeful. There's a third book (also by Bassingthwaite, I believe) due out in a few months, so I hadn't picked them up to read yet, but I was a little bit dismayed to find that there are preludes to them out there.
However... I was able to get both the novels that are part of the lead-up via Interlibrary loan, and the prologue novella is available as a free download (ebook and pdf). My Gates of Madness link to the side there is a link; after I take that down, you'll be on your own. Sadly, the names on the prelude novels are not know for their writing of great D&D novels; in fact, I don't know that they ever have done so. Bill Slaviscek is at least well known for his work as a game designer, but of course, that doesn't necessarily make him a good fiction writer.
However, one other thing attracted me to the concept--it's written in the unnamed "Points of Light" setting that is the default 4e setting, and which has started to develop enough cohesiveness to actually be a setting at this point. At first it was at best a micro-setting--the Nentir Vale area, plus some vague handwavey details about the world(s) beyond--but as more and more game material has been published, that's evolved. There's still not a setting bible (at least not in print; hopefully WotC have one behind the scenes) but there's quite a few details now. And these are the first novels for this new setting, so it's kinda fun to feel like I'm getting in at the ground floor on a new venture. Even if it has a rocky launch--and I'll be pleasantly suprised if it doesn't--then that's still kinda a fun thing in it's own right anyway.
Anyway, there's the story. I'm going to read the two prelude novels while I have them from Interlibrary Loan, and I'll probably read the prelude novella too, just because it's quick and easy and short. I probably won't read the main series, at least until the third book is out and I've bought a copy. So after these three prelude stories are done, I'll step away from tie-in fiction and read some "normal" fiction instead. In fact, I'm even contemplating stepping away from fantasy altogether and reading some James Patterson thrillers--I've got three or four on my bookshelf--and I've always been a fan of the notion of stepping outside of your genre and dabbling in others from time to time.