For someone who has never read any FR novels what are recommended as a primer for running the 5E modules? I intend to read the guidebooks but prefer pointers to novels that best capture the "feel" of the realms.
I have been gaining a lot of benefit from reading the Sundering Novels. Though some novels such as "The Companions" have only been interesting to me because I previously read the "Drizzt series", the other books, have been very helpful to me in understanding the game world. Various factions and groups are well demonstrated allowing me to better understand the modules when I have ran them.
- "The Adversary" and "The Reaver" gave me insight into the Red Wizards of Thay.
- "The Adversary" gave me good insight into the Harpers
- "The Godborn" gave me good insight into the rivalries between the Undead and the Demons/Devils
- "The Godborn" gave me good insight into the differences between the various evil gods, such as Shar, the Mask, and Baal etc.
If you can find other books that cover the 7 main factions in the module that would also likely be helpful. Those factions are :
- The Harpers
- The Emerald Enclave
- The Zhentarim
- The Lord's Alliance
- The Order of the Gauntlet
- The Red Wizards of Thay
- The Dragon Cult (Though it's important to know how they have shifted their focus in Tyranny of Dragons)
Since it has been announced that the next major story line will involve the "Elemental Evil", I suggest reading some of the old modules such as:
- The Temple of Elemental Evil
- The Pool of Radiance
I've also found that reading the modules from the playtest era has also been really helpful in getting more of a feel for the characters, motivations, and events happening around this time.
- Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle
- The Vault of the Dracolitch
- Scourge of the Sword Coast
- Dead in Thay
The Drizzt Do'urden series can also be good inspiration for how a party can work together, starting with the Crystal Shard.