At Gary Con in 2017, my first stop in the Dealer Hall was Black Blade Publishing. They’ve always carried what I’m most interested in, be it 3rd party OSR products, DCC stuff, or old zine style publications by Jobe Bittman, like Into the Demon Idol.
At North Texas, my con buddy and online gaming friend, Eric Hoffman bought a new fiction novel, Tales of Peril at Black Blade. It was a collected volume of Boinger & Zereth stories as well as collected essays by John Eric Holmes, the author of Holmes Edition Basic Dungeons & Dragons. I showed some interest in a conversation with Taco Jon and the rest, as they say, is history…
Jon sent me a review copy as I’d told him I was interested in beginning the process of possibly doing reviews. (I feel like this is a long prologue for a review…) So, long story short, I got the book and it was packaged for a monsoon or tank blast. It would have survived either. I finally finished reading it and the following in my first review.
Tales of Peril is edited by Allan Grohe, better known as grodog in the OSR circles. He’s got many writing credits and is Jon’s partner at Black Blade. The book is fanfic by a great creator of games at its heart. Boinger & Zereth were (are?) Chris Holmes, the author’s son, actual player characters. He has written stories about their adventures which include the Maze of Peril and the example dungeon, Tower of Zenopus, in Holmes D&D.
Now, I’m just a guy that plays old school games and does an OSR podcast. I’m not a historian like some folks and a few people, like Zach Howard at his blog, know all sorts of details about Holmes and his impact on the history of D&D. But I can tell you the stories are fan fiction that get better as they go, the essays are very interesting because of Dr. Holmes unique perspective of the industry at a trying time and all time low public opinion of D&D (the Satanic Panic). Overall, it was a fascinating look at a true luminary in our niche of a niche hobby.
4 out of 5 Beholders