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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Caveats first: This would rightfully be 3 1/2 stars in my estimation, but that's not an option here. Oh well...
Also, I'm a gamer too, so this book had some extra appeal to me, putting it at 4 stars solid.
That being out of the way, on with the review. I only found out about the Guardians of the Flame series within the past few years, so I'm a little late getting to the table on this.
Story summary: Group of gamers is transported to the world in which their game is set, and it's not just for fun anymore.
Doesn't sound too involving at first glance. But the way the story is told, that's what hit me. The people have a hard time separating themselves from their characters. There are mixed reactions about being in this new world among the main cast, and their reactions are acceptably realistic, bearing in mind that all theater requires the willing suspension of disbelief. There is the realization that things like dental care, emergency rooms and law enforcement aren't what we've come to take for granted, and that makes for an elevated sense of tension in many places.

Joel Rosenberg makes the suspension of disbelief easy for me. From James Finnegan, newly escaped from a life crippled by Muscalar Dystrophy, to Karl Cullinane, always lost and afraid of settling himself on any one thing, Joel gives a solid characterization for each person. There is no "Get Out Of Jail Free" effect, but rather a plausible progression and growth for the characters, requiring sacrifice and effort. Experience leads to good decisions, but experience can only be gained by bad decisions, and not every battle is won.
For non-gamers but fantasy fans, this story offers insight into the gamer mindset, and does a good job of explaining some of the whys and what fors.
For gamers, it can raise the question of why we create the people we portray.
In addition, I found it pretty entertaining, if more than a little dark. That suits me, but I wouldn't suggest this for anyone under the age of 14 (giving a PG-13 rating, am I? Interesting) or with a sensitive nature.
If you liked Glory Road (lot of Heinlein influence with Rosenberg), The Stand or role playing games, you will enjoy The Sleeping Dragon.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2003
Originally, I received this book from my parents who bought it from a used bookstore on a whim. Offhand I thought it was a generic fantasy novel and thus was of no interest to me. It sat on a shelf for about four months before I gave it a read. I wish I hadn't waited so long. This immediately became one of my all time favorite books. The best way to review this book is to break it down into parts.
Story: The story begins with seven college students and a professor gathering to play a game similar to Dungeons and Dragons. Little do they know that the professor will magically teleport the seven students to the very world the game takes place in, and they will possess the bodies and minds of the characters they played as. Perhaps a bit cliché, but it is so well executed that it feels completely original.
Plot: The plot progresses at a steady pace taking some time to allow for intriguing character development, and feels all-round satisfying.
Characters: One of the greatest achievements of this novel is the characters. They act and talk like real people, and just like real people, have a fair share of flaws. Some of which they acquired from their game persona. Kudos to Joel Rosenberg.
Overall: This is a must read for any fan of fantasy novels, and should be at least given a chance by everyone else.
Side Note: I think the reason Joel uses the phrase sitting "tailor fashion" so much is because he wanted to be politically correct by not calling it "Indian style," and because most of the time there just isn't anything other than the ground for the characters to sit on.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2001
As the author of Strike Hard (and an avid gamer), I found this to be one of the best fantasy-fiction books that I have ever read. Joel Rosenberg showed that he could easily blend two totally seperate worlds together into one story and have it flow with ease.
I have to admit that there are many things that "pushes" someone to take up writing. This book (and the whole Guardians of the Flame series) gave me the final push to start my own writing career.
Karl, Walter, Jason, James, Andrea, Doria, and Lou were easy to relate to, having spent my own share of weekends playing similar games. Their attention to their characters were great, and it was a detail that Mr. Rosenberg did not skimp on. Most people don't realize that when you are gaming, you really do care about a character that has been brought up from a total novice into something that is relatively formidable.
Another aspect that I really enjoyed was that Mr. Rosenberg stuck with the harsh realities of gaming. He did not, at any time, make it seem as if the characters were immortal or supermen. Characters suffered, died, and agonized, just like real people. Most of the books in this genre that I read are afraid to take a step toward seriously harming a main character because they develop a fear that it will detract from the story. Mr. Rosenberg tackles this with dignity in that he demonstrates a willingness to "tell it like it is."
This book (as well as the series) is a wonderful example of fantasy at its finest.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 1999
While someone else here has read this book TWICE, I have read it at least TWENTY times. It is fairly short as fantasy novels go, but packs an immense punch. Rosenberg does not fool around; he does not provide his readers with needless information about the trees or birds of his fantasy world. "The Sleeping Dragon" is instead about character development and motivation. Rosenberg's characters are vivid, lively, and life-like. Every time I read "The Sleeping Dragon" (probably the best of the series) I enjoy it more and more. In no other series that I have read, have the characters occupied my mind and excited my imagination to such a degree. After ten years of reading the series, James/Ahira is real. Karl's relationship with Andy is real. Thank you, Joel Rosenberg for such a treat. By the way, I no longer have my copy, as a friend I loaned it to, let another friend borrow it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2000
This was the first book that I picked up in an omnibus form from the SciFi book club way back in the early 80's..it sat on a shelf for a few months until I picked it up and entered a fabulous world of my favorite fantasy: becoming my roleplaying character! This fascinating book has some of the most colorful characters of all fantasy: Ellegon the wise cracking Dragon; Ahria Bandylegs, formerly a victim of Cerebral Palsy, now a powerful Dwarven fighter; Walter Slovotskey a handsome, develishly clever thief, and Karl Cullinane, the warrior himself. Pick this book up for no other reason than to read the witty, often irreverant banter between characters and to find out the secret; that the flame burns deep inside us all, and we either choose to ignore it or to let it totally engulf us. My copy is dog eared and well worn, lovingly taped and retaped....let your's be too.....
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 1997
I thank Mr. Joel Rosenberg for having written this wonderous book. Out of the Guardians books, definitely my favourite!
It was just a regular night of gaming at the Student Union, with Doc Deighton, Karl Cullinane, Walter Slovotsky, Jason Parker, Lou Ricetti, Doria Perlstein, James Michael Finnegan and newcomer Andrea Andropolous.
Until Lotana opened the first box...
...and Ahira found himself on the hillside outside the town of Lundeyll.
Rosenberg transports us to the various places that the characters go, from the Student Union to Bremon and to the Tabernacle of the Healing Hand Society.
Along the way, we are treated to some wonderful glimpses inside the heads of the characters. For example, Karl will refuse to own people and James Michael will refuse to be helpless ever again.
This book is a magical place, where modern life collides with dragons, magic and very real danger.
Read it. You won't regret it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 1999
I have read this book numerous times. I love everything about it . . . it changed the way I look at life . . . and gave me a hope that I have never had before.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 30, 2005
This is the book that got me back into reading. It is a wonderful tale of a group of college role-players who are transported into the world and bodies of the very game they were playing. The story has many twists and unexpected surprises. I would recommend the entire trilogy. The stories that appear later on in the series are hit or miss for me, but the original three are the best.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 9, 2009
I've known about this series for most of the 25 years they've been out, but never read them because a) there are certainly zillions of other fantasy series to read, many of which look much better and b) I distinctly remember a couple of my close friends in college slamming them. So I surprised even myself when I picked up the first three (I thought there WERE only three, but turns out the series has gone to ten as of 2008!) at a used booksale -- even for .25 apiece it seemed risky.

I'm glad I did, though; although this initial volume isn't anything truly great, it really does read like the AD&D (first edition I guess) campaign that it doubtless was based on. Sure the classes and races are changed about just a bit -- but only just a bit -- and there's nothing all THAT original about characters being aware that they're characters, or being transported from "reality" to "fantasy-land" -- but this hit the right chord for me somehow, and brought me back to my own RPG days in college better than a lot of finer pieces of prose might. And a point goes to Rosenberg for being "realistic" enough to kill off or seriously hurt major characters without seeming regard to whether his audience will like him for it or not.

Basically Rosenberg starts with a series of typical gaming geeks, one of whom is wheelchair-bound, and transports them to a magical, typically medieval European fantasyland, and then has them undergo a series of quests before they can return. Some expected drama - the formerly crippled player/character is now a strapping warrior dwarf and certainly has little desire to return, other characters don't want to go back, the players have trouble overcoming the personalities of the sometimes quite different characters they've been playing, etc. It's short, very readable, nothing exciting as prose but hardly incompetent either - if you're an old-school RPG geek who wants something light and frivolous, this is it. I don't know that I'll go through all 9 of the sequels, but I might end up checking out the next one or two, which is more than I expected to be saying.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2000
I borrowed this book 12 years ago in high school. I loved the series so much I have been looking for it for several years. The story line could almost be a fantasy for role players every where...Imagine the your professor casting this spell at your next gaming night.
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