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A young, idealistic cleric of knowledge.

I got into fantasy novels in a roundabout way. As a child, I’d utterly loved the first Final Fantasy game, and spent hours pouring over the game guide looking at bestiaries and lists of spells and maps. When I got older I fell into comics and swapped some with my friend, who gave me a Forgotten Realms comic.

the cleric quintetThe next time I was at the book store and saw that logo, I knew I had to try it out. And while those first few Forgotten Realms books were of varying quality, one of them stood above the pack: Canticle, by R. A Salvatore.

In his foreword, Salvatore talked about how he’d planned a five-book series around a monk until TSR told him monks weren’t even in the second edition of Dungeons and Dragons, and then asked him to write a series about a cleric instead. His response wasFace it, the cleric is usually the guy who shows up last to the gaming table, a big, stupid smile on his face, saying, ‘Hey, guys, I want to play. What’s the party need?’ To which everyone replies, ‘We need healing. You’re the priest. Shut up and sit down.’”

But of course, it didn’t stay that way, the more he thought about it. A slow-burn character arc of a youth becoming a man and an agnostic’s spiritual journey. A character horrified by violence, one who thinks his strengths are weaknesses because they’re not the strengths of your typical hero, and his gradual realization that they’re far greater.

Cadderly Bonaduce was a priest of Deneir, god of knowledge, but he wasn’t the cleric quintetparticularly concerned with any of it. He loved books and inventing and he had a girl to kiss. He got to live in a massive library dedicated to knowledge and the gods thereof. He was supposed to take combat training and claimed that a yo-yo was an ancient weapon, mostly so he could play with it. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, after all.

His belief in Deneir, too, was one of a shrug. After all, he knew magic clearly existed in the world, so how was there proof that healing magic was divine in nature rather than just another spell? He wasn’t antagonistic towards faith, but he didn’t see the fuss.

A priest of Talona, goddess of poison, snuck into the library and tricked Cadderly into opening a potion called the Chaos Curse that would remove the inhibitions of the inhabitants, forcing Cadderly and his few friends unaffected to head into the catacombs and stop it.

There were five books in the series. The second, In Sylvan Shadows, put Cadderly and friends into an elven forest to repel the same forces that had attacked his library. The third, Night Masks, was a fantastic culmination of his journey to that point, a true epiphany as Cadderly turned from questioning novitiate to true believer, while also contending with powerful assassins. The fourth was Cadderly taking the fight to the villains, entering their fortress, and facing them down. And the fifth was as close to a horror novel as the Realms ever did, as former ally turned traitor Kierkan Rufo became the unliving embodiment of the Chaos Curse and desecrated the library they had both grown up in.

the cleric quintetAnd it had an absolutely perfect ending.

Now, back then I did not play D&D—I didn’t have any of the sourcebooks, nor did I know anyone else willing to play. But when I started? You’d best believe I played a cleric first, and it’s the class I come back to most. And my current character in D&D, the one I’ve been playing for years and well over a hundred sessions?

A young, idealistic cleric of knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

Purchase Your Copies Here

Canticle by R.A. Salvatore

In Sylvan Shadows by R.A. Salvatore

Night Masks by R.A. Salvatore

The Fallen Fortress by R.A. Salvatore

The Chaos Curse by R.A. Salvatore

 

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