The first Forgotten Realms novel published by TSR (although the tenth or eleventh D&D novel, following the first two Dragonlance trilogies and some Greyhawk books; and Quag Keep, if you want to include that).
The End of the Beginning of the End Wizards of the Coast (formerly TSR) have ended their long run of Forgotten Realms novels in 2017. With the advent of their Red Box, ADnD 2nd edition, Dragonlance modules, Corebooks and novels, TSR was in full swing and was a money making machine. Douglas Niles was hired on to create a world for a new branch, TSR UK edition. Douglas had a fleshed out world, playable module with a ton of adventure ideas and two half written books, ready to go. His module was well received and reviewed so his half written books got the green light. This book was largely written to flesh out his creation of the isles, explore areas and show the possible campaigns one could have by playing his module. There's lots of adventure hooks here for people who did play at the time. He started playing DnD because she gifted him a module.
In May 1987, the first novel set in the new Forgotten Realms world was published. Darkwalker on Moonshae by Douglas Niles was a tremendous book at least, thats what I thought when I read it several times as a teenager. The book tells the tale of Tristan, the prince of a small kingdom on the Moonshae Isles, and his friends as they deal with the rise of a monstrous beast, Kazgaroth, that intends to destroy the land and the Earthmother, the goddess of their people. The setting was originally created by Ed Greenwood as a place to write short fiction in, and became the setting he set his campaign of the new Dungeons & Dragons game. The actual Forgotten Realms Campaign Set wouldnt come out until August 1987. It doesnt really appear anywhere else in the Realms, as far as Im aware.) Ultimately, despite its flaws, Darkwalker on Moonshae is an entertaining tale, and one I enjoyed rereading.
but if you're reading Forgotten Realms novels, that's not what you're looking for anyway.
Prince Tristan must rally his people against the threat of this ancient evil even as the Goddess sends her own children to combat the threat. The first Forgotten Realms novel ever published, Darkwalker on Moonshae draws on Celtic-inspired mythology. Apparently the novel was originally written for a different setting and the refitted to the Realms, and it shows. In places its surprisingly violent for a Forgotten Realms novel, with whole villages being put to the sword and rape alluded to, if not described. By the way, the Firbolg as described in Darkwalker on Moonshae are more like verbeeg or ogres than the magically powerful giant-kin described in the second edition Monstrous Manual. Though not terribly well written or greatly original, Darkwalker on Moonshae is a very successful entry point to the Forgotten Realms courtesy of its vivid worldbuilding and the sheer sense of mythology that permeates the novel. The sequel to Darkwalker on Moonshae, Black Wizards, was released in 1988 and is the third book on this epic journey across the Realms.
It has two of the great battle scenes in fantasy. I think that Darkwalker would be a great movie script.
Darkwalker on Moonshae, although it is a D&D book in the Forgotten Realms world, stands out as a brilliant modern re-imagining of Celtic myth and legend. As such, it reads much more like a stand-alone fantasy than part of a D&D world.
My erratic reading patterns stopped me enjoying this book as much as it deserved, although it wasnt deserving enough that I ever wanted to drop what I was doing to pick up the tale in favour of something else.