Guardians of the Flame
This is my #1 suggestion for a few reasons. This is what would have really happened in the D&D cartoon, if it were not for kids. This is the story of a group of college kids that are placed into their D&D characters and have to survive in that world. The world they are placed into is brutal and harsh, and the combat is deadly. This is not about high adventure, but abject survival. Another advantage is that there are many of these books. If you enjoy them, you will have plenty to read. Lastly, they are cheap nowadays. They have a combined edition of the first 3 books for $9.99. One word of caution though, these books are brutal. Death, torture, sexual assault, and slavery are all in these novels, so please be warned.
You can find The Guardians of the Flame HERE.
Sword-Dancer Series: Books of Tiger and Del
These books were some of my favorite as a kid/teen. They are a different type of fantasy novel and the setting is interesting. Looking back, these books slightly dip into romance novel territory, but the fantasy content is great. Sword-Dancers are hired warriors that solve disputes between rivals without full on war. Both the protagonists, Tiger and Del, are Sword-Dancers, but from different backgrounds and methods. In the beginning, Del is from the North searching for her stolen brother in the sands of the south. She hires Tiger as her guide, as he is a former slave that knows the lands. Then the stories travel all over the world, with magic and adventure.
You can find the Books of Tiger and Del HERE.
The Kingkiller Chronicles
This might be a little better known since the author is a prominent figure in modern D&D. The first book in this series, In the Name of the Wind, was a complete breath of fresh air to me. My father-in-law actually gave it to me the first time I visited them in Maine. The story is told almost in three layers. There is the current day, with the main character telling his story. The past, with the character recalling his life. Then the legend, you keep hearing about legendary feats of the protagonist. It paints the picture of a beautiful world with its own rules and magic. If you have not, you should check it out.
You can find The Kingkiller Chronicles HERE.
Throne of the Crescent Moon
The only reason this is not a full recommendation is because it says it is book 1. It is a complete story, but leaves room to continue. There does not seem to be a future book coming. This is the story of a Ghul hunter in and fantasy Arabian setting. I think the story and the characters are amazing, and it puts you into a truly foreign culture. No goblins, no elves, but and great story.
To find Throne of the Crescent Moon go HERE.
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