Charrette, Robert N. 1953–
CHARRETTE, Robert N. 1953–
PERSONAL: Born 1953, in Providence, RI; son of Norman L. and Mary C. Charrette; married Elizabeth R. Johnson, 1978. Education: Brown University, B.A., 1975. Hobbies and other interests: Medievalism, paleontology.
ADDRESSES: Home—Herndon, VA. Agent—Don Maass Literary Agency, 157 West 57th Street, Ste. 703, New York, NY.
CAREER: Freelance graphic artist, 1975–81; Fantasy Games Unlimited, New York, NY, art director, 1981–82; freelance sculptor, 1982–84 and 1986–; Ral Partha Enterprises, Cincinnati, OH, staff sculptor, 1984–86; freelance writer, 1975–.
NOVELS; "BATTLETECH" SERIES
Wolves on the Border, FASA (Chicago, IL), 1989.
Heir to the Dragon, FASA (Chicago, IL), 1989.
Wolfpack, FASA (Chicago, IL), 1992.
NOVELS; "SECRETS OF POWER" TRILOGY, BASED ON THE "SHADOWRUN" GAME
Shadowrun: Never Deal with a Dragon, ROC (New York, NY), 1990.
Shadowrun: Choose Your Enemies Carefully, ROC (New York, NY), 1991.
Shadowrun: Find Your Own Truth, ROC (New York, NY), 1991.
(With Paul Hume) Bushido, Tyr Gamemakers, 1975.
(With Paul Hume) Aftermath!, Fantasy Games Unlimited (New York, NY), 1981.
(With Paul Hume) Daredevils, Fantasy Games Unlimited (New York, NY), 1982.
Land of Ninja (supplement for Runequest), Avalon Hill, 1986.
(With Paul Hume and Tom Dowd) Shadowrun, FASA (Chicago, IL), 1989.
NOVELS; CHRONICLES OF AELWYN SERIES
Timespell, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1996.
Eye of the Serpent, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1996.
Wizard of Bones, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1996.
Never Trust an Elf, ROC (New York, NY), 1992.
A Prince among Men (novel), Warner/Aspect (New York, NY), 1994.
Just Compensation, ROC (New York, NY), 1996.
The King beneath the Mountain (novel), Warner/Aspect (New York, NY), 1995.
A Knight among Knaves (novel), Warner/Aspect (New York, NY), 1995.
Initiation to War, New American Library (New York, NY), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Robert N. Charrette's novels are frequently based on role-playing game systems. The practice of publishing novels to complement these gaming systems is fairly common, but Charrette is unusual in that he has also designed the games upon which his books are based. His role-playing games have very detailed background information on the imaginary countries' geography, politics, religions, and inhabitants. They codify the ways that magic and religion can be used and limit players' actions and power. "This has two effects on the novels. First, it should make them more consistent, at least in theory, since the background is so thoroughly developed before the books are written. Second, it means that many of the readers will be using the books either as inspiration for their own games or to clarify rules. Hence, an issue such as how a particular spell should be cast, or how much of an effect it can have, assumes great—perhaps disproportionate—significance to the core consumers of these fictions," explained a writer for St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers.
Charrette's first novel, Wolves on the Border, was published in 1989. It was the first installment in his "Battletech" series. His next series, the "Secrets of Power" trilogy, was based on the universe in the game "Shadowrun." In 1994, Charrette issued his third trilogy of books, beginning with A Prince among Men. This novel plants its readers in a bleak, futuristic world monopolized and run by computerized corporations. But this tightly controlled world faces a convergence with another world ruled by magical forces. The novel's protagonist, John Reddy, is a college student living with his widowed mother and working as a night watchman in a museum filled with medieval items. One of the museum's "artifacts," it turns out, is King Arthur, who has been slumbering since the sixth century; he is freed in order to gain possession of the sword of Caliburn and help defeat the forces of evil. After Reddy witnesses Arthur's awakening (with the help of a sorceress) he is drawn into the strange struggle of the elves, demons, fairies, corporate executives, private detectives and secret service agents, fighting each other for dominion of Reddy's totalitarian, highly technological society.
A Prince among Men received a number of favorable reviews from critics. A contributor to Publishers Weekly expressed doubts about the novel's character development, but asserted it "offers a heart-pumping ride as the world of humans and the Realm of Faery head for collision." Carolyn Cushman in Locus felt the book was paced awkwardly, but conceded that "there's considerable promise in the idea of a punk Arthur wielding a semi-automatic in a futuristic world." That particular plot element received kudos from Pamela A. Todd in Voice of Youth Advocates, who declared: "Arthur's interlude as the leader of a street gang, complete with leather, chains, and semi-automatic firepower, is inspired!" She predicted that older adolescents "will devour this one when they hear about it."
Reddy appears again in the second book of the trilogy, A King beneath the Mountain. He is joined by an ancient mummy-god of the Aztecs, who is awakened by the futuristic Mitsutomo Corporation. Although the mummy is more powerful than Reddy or his faery associates, they must find a way to defeat it or see the world plunged into darkness. Todd praised A King beneath the Mountain as a worthy follow-up to A Prince among Men, but discussed her concern that the novel, with its many morally dubious or complex characters, "confused the playing field even further." She concluded, however, that "readers will still be rooting for John Reddy and eager to see him discover more about himself."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Locus, August, 1994, p. 35.
Publishers Weekly, July 25, 1994, p. 47.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1994, p. 284; October, 1995, p. 230.