Knight of the Black Rose
Author: James Lowder
Summary: A novel following Lord Soth's arrival in Ravenloft to his Darklordship.
Knight of the Black Rose is one of the better Ravenloft novels of the line. However, it's one of the books that also seems to illustrate one of the weaknesses of the line. In this case, that the land is so obviously artificial that it's occasionally difficult to take the story seriously. Also, the flaw that by following a Darklord, you really don't have much to fear in the land of Mists.
The book features Lord Soth in one of his few appearences in Dragonlance or Ravenloft fiction. The character is immensely popular for the overwrought nature of his story (somewhat like Raistlin but lacking even his redeeming qualities). This book does something that the others do not though in the fact that they allow Lord Soth to finally cut loose and slaughter everything around him so that it's no longer IMPLIED menace but we actually know why people are terrified of him. Knight of the Black Rose is like most books of D&D in that it reads like a module in many places with a great deal of hack'n'slash. However, unlike most novels, the violence is well described and actually rousing to read. Lord Soth is an engaging figure in his stomping of the Demiplane and it has some of the thrill of a comic book where Superman is fighting Doomsday.
The rest of the work has some good inspirations for underdeveloped characters. Strahd is at his 'I am not a noble soul but a psychotic looney who pretends to be noble' best, we recieve some of the little work that describes Gundarak, we recieve some characterization on the Vampire Lord, and the character of Magda is one of the few amusing sidekick characters. James Lowder knows about making entertaining characters and that's something that a lot of writers could learn.
It's a great extension of the Third Book of the Test of the Twins and I endorse it.
3.5 out of 5.
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