If you have read my reviews then you know that I give credit for creativity. Dungeon Born by Dakota Krout gets lots of points for originality and creativity. The story takes place in a Dungeons and Dragons type of world and the main character is … a dungeon named Cal. We learn how Cal came into existence, he was killed by a necromancer who captured his soul in a gem. And we follow his development as he slowly becomes self aware and makes friends with a wisp named Dannie.
There is a lot of world building and through the process of Cal “growing up” we learn about the magical system of the story world. It is based on “essence.” The more essence you can process the higher rank you are. Cal starts out drawing essence from soil and moss and at each level he gains more knowledge and power. Early on, Dannie finds a seed for a rare tree with magical properties, which helps to generate more essence. As Cal grows larger, some people discover him and begin exploring. One of those people is Dale, who becomes the other central character in the story. The action in the story is based on the competition between Dale and the other adventurers who go into the dungeon to find wealth and loot, and Cal who wants to provide enough incentive for them to venture into his depths so that he can harvest their essence. An entire town grows up outside of the dungeon. A priest comes to erect a church. The adventurers guild setups shop and so on.
I enjoyed the story because I played Dungeons and Dragons and other fantasy adventure games. I found the idea of the main character being a dungeon, the system of magic, and the system of interaction between people and the dungeon to be very clever and entertaining. One downside of the story was that there was a lot of time spent where Cal and the other characters where processing essence. While it made sense in terms of story and character development, it was a bit like describing sleeping. Yes, even heroes sleep, but the bards skip most of that and focus on the action. I listened to the audio version of the book and was saved from getting bogged down by the excellent job of the reader. There are 5 books in the series but you could enjoy the first one even if you didn’t continue with the other volumes.