This book has the laziest, cheapest writing I've ever encountered. Be warned, I'm going to give some spoilers so if you don't want them, stop reading at my spoiler warning after this paragraph. I can only imagine that the better reviews have to do with the nostalgia of reading this book as a kid or in playing and enjoying the PC game, which is why I read it. Before I launch into specifics, let me give you a spoiler-free analogy about why this book is so stupid. Think of any fantasy story you've ever read and replace the main hero with Superman. Every time the hero encounters a challenge, replace what actually happened in the story with Superman realizing that he's freaking Superman and just punching the dude through his face. Once or twice he might melt the guy with his heat vision, for variety. That's basically Pool of Radiance.
*MAJOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW*
Every major encounter the characters struggle with is solved in the cheapest, laziest way possible. Oh, an army of orcs at Sokol Keep? Level it with the Staff of Power. Oh crap, the gnolls are about to overtake them! Level them with the Staff of Power. Yarash and his twisted forces are getting the better of them, oh no! You guessed it, blow everything to bits with the Staff of Power. FINALLY, the authors destroy that stupid staff because even they have SOME shame, and what does Shal do in her next deadly encounter, with the wights? Pull out a Wand of Wonder of course. An unimaginable army of undead is about to kill them all? Tarl prays to Tyr and Divine Intervention destroys all the undead and heals everyone. WTF? This level of cheap nonsense hurts my brain. Finally, they encounter Tyranthraxus, the powerful archvillian of the story. They engage him, it's a difficult battle, and when things look their most grim and our heroes are about to fall, how do they overcome the lead villain, a powerful dragon? Shal has a Ring of Wishes of course, and wishes him dead. Boom goes the dynamite. Game over. Could've just done that on page 4 and saved us all some time.
This is the worst writing I've ever seen and I can only recommend this book to people just learning to read, or with exceptionally low IQs. Lord of the Rings it certainly is not.
Oh, and pet peeve, how many times can you possibly use the phrase "It adds a measure" of strength/ability/power or whatever in one book? I recommend a thesaurus.