Doric was abandoned by her parents in the woods when she was just a little girl. Luckily the wood elves found her and took her in. Since then, Doric has done everything she can to be useful. She figures this is the best way to assure that the elves don’t get rid of her as her parents did. When her guardian suggests that she study to be a druid, Doric jumps at the chance. Can she learn to master the ancient power of the druids and earn her place in the clan? More importantly, can she find what she most desires, a place she can truly call home? Meet Doric (Sophia Lillis) from the upcoming movie Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, coming March 31st, and learn her origin story in The Druid’s Call by E.K. Johnston.
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Random House Worlds for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of The Druid’s Call contains some spoilers!]
Doric – an abandoned girl searching for a home
Even in a world full of elves, orcs, barbarians, and other special species, Doric is special. She’s a tiefling. What is a tiefling? It’s a demon child born to human parents. Tieflings are considered unnatural, unlucky, and dangerous by many people but that’s just superstition. Unfortunately, Doric’s parents believed the superstitions. They left her in the Never Winter Woods to fend for herself, where she was found by Liavaris, a wood elf. The wood elves took her in without complaint.
Doric is so thankful for their acceptance and so terrified that they’ll change their minds and force her to leave, that she does anything she possibly can to help out. As she gets older she begins to train to be a ranger with her best friend, Torrieth. Doric does her best but she just can’t quite get the hang of being a ranger.
Eventually, her mentor, Liavaris, suggests that Doric try something new. She’s been watching her and thinks that Doric is meant to be a Druid. The clan doesn’t currently have a Druid so it would be incredibly useful if Doric became one. The flip side of that is that there is no one to train her and she will have to travel far away to the Emerald Enclave to learn her craft.
Doric has mixed feelings about this development. On the one hand, she will do anything to help the clan and secure her place with them. On the other, being sent away to train feels uncomfortably close to how her parents took her away from home to abandon her. Logically, she knows that there is a huge difference between being left alone in the woods and going off to train, but emotionally she is still torn.
A great big world in The Druid’s Call
Once it’s decided that Doric will seek out the Emerald Enclave, preparations are made for her journey. Because she’s never been outside the Neverwinter Woods, a few elves accompany her for the first part of her journey. Doric is grateful for the company.
She’s never interacted with humans, other than a small bit with her parents before they abandoned her. When they come to the first village that Doric has ever been in she gets her first taste of reality. It’s not as bad as she thought, but it’s not exactly good either. There are people who dislike her and avoid her, but there are others that are unbothered by her being a tiefling. This gives her good preparation for moving forward.
Once her companions leave her to return to Neverwinter Woods, Doric is truly alone and that scares her. She worries that by the time she returns to the Neverwinter Woods, the elves won’t want her anymore. And she isn’t convinced she can even find the Emerald Enclave. But she’s determined to find them, become a druid, and return to help her clan. Proving she belongs with her clan is her top priority.
A great story with an excellent message from the world of Dungeons & Dragons
The Druid’s Call is a really fun story. I mean, besides the horrible abuse and neglect that Doric suffered as a small child, that is. That’s not fun, but it’s not the focus of the story either. The focus is on Doric overcoming the scars that abuse left. She learns to accept herself and in doing so, finds she had a family all along.
Despite her beautiful message, Johnston doesn’t bog the story down with a bunch of sappy, overdone emotions. The story is exciting with Doric having all kinds of adventures. It’s through these adventures she comes to accept herself and the love of those around her. Specifically, their love of her for herself, not for what she can do for them.
It’s really beautiful when she realizes that the elves really care for her. It frees her in so many ways to truly be herself without fear. But as I said, it wasn’t done in a sugar, sappy way, which made it even better.
Great story for everyone, not just D&D fans
Dungeons & Dragons fans will surely love this story. It’s always fun to see a new form of a beloved pastime. But even those who have never heard of D&D will be able to fully enjoy Doric’s story. I myself have only a passing knowledge of D&D but it wasn’t necessary to know anything about the game. This is a great fantasy story that just happens to be set in the world of Dungeons & Dragons. This gave Johnston a preconceived set of rules, species, and locations to begin working in. That saved some of the groundwork of world-building. But the story was all hers and stands alone nicely.
One thing I can say for sure, The Druid’s Call got me excited to see Doric again in the new movie Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves when it comes out! Even if you don’t plan on seeing the movie though, I recommend checking out this book for an uplifting tale of self-acceptance mixed with an exciting adventure.
My Rating: 9/10
The Druid’s Call: A Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Prequel by E.K. Johnston is available now! Are you excited to read this novel? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out another book review, about building the best lair in D&D, How To Defend Your Lair!