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Azure Bonds (Jeff Grubb and Kate Novak, published in 1988 by TSR)

 This book, the first in the Finder's Stone trilogy, has the potential to be a formulaic, dull "let's write up our D&D game" book. Luckily, it was very non-formulaic.

 Yes, it has a fighter-class, a wizard, a paladin, and a thief masquerading as a bard. But the fighter has no idea who she is, the wizard is quite atypical, the paladin doesn't enter into the story as such until the last few chapters, and the thief makes a very convincing bard.

 The tale follows the sell-sword Alias, who wakes up in a room in an inn with no recollection of how she got there, apparently having spent the last week sleeping off a bender, and with a set of magical tattoos on her arm that leave her baffled. As the story unfolds, the authors did a very good job in slowly revealing bits and pieces of not only Alias's past, but the connection between her and Dragonbait (a lizard-like being who bears tattoos on his chest matching the ones on Alias's arm).

 On the down side, the wizard does use material components (which are a unique feature of the D&D system), and it does distract slightly from the narrative when it's used. However, that is basically my only complaint about the story, and that's more personal preference than a slight on the story itself. And, more important, there wasn't really anything that made me go "Wait...what?"

 All in all, a good read...good enough for me to pick up the next book in the series (The Wyvern's Spur).

 I give Azure Bonds 3½ stars out of 5.

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