( The rating is done by Hogan )
The orphan girl Larissa Snowmane is a dancer aboard a magical equipped riverboat, that travels the waters of the Dark Domains, dealing in music and artistry. When the captain has to steer the boat into the Mists to avoid a capture, the crew and artists suddenly find themselves on the island of Souragne. On this island, the boat's show will soon become a show of life and dead, when the captain, hiding sinister secrets, brings aboard a chilling passenger. Soon Larissa find herself caught in her own destiny that is linked to the swamps of the island, and in order to survive and help her friends, she must dance with the Domain Lord himself!
Personal Opinion: The dark and dangerous swamps of Souragne is a perfect setting for the story to take place, its just the kind of swamp I always try to generate when playing. There are put much work into every character and the riverboat itself. Secrets are kept for a long time, leaving you waiting for the release. After Vampire of the Mists, Christie Golden has done it again!
Zhone Clieous killed his mother, and now the 18 year old Casimir wants revenge! To achieve such, he plans to expose the black curse which resides on Clieous, but not before having defeated the man in the Meistersinger contest. But Casimir soon finds out that curses are a two-edged sword. What are the mysteriously bard Harkon Lukas up to? And are Casimir himself able to prevent the curse from his own Heart of Midnight?
Personal Opinion: The story gets an interesting start, but soon the pace seems to slow down and you struggle to get through the book while Casimir struggles against everyone's help (including himself). Close to the end of the book it takes on speed once more, and comes to feature an interesting showdown and a great ending. Great descriptions of how the predatory minds of a Werewolf or a Wolfwere works!
In a book made of skin from a human being is written the perhaps mot horrifying tale of Ravenloft, the tale of Lord Strahd von Zarovich, vampire and lord of Barovia, and the book is written by himself! The tale goes back to the time when the mortal Strahd took possession of castle Ravenloft, and gives away the tale of his life up to the fatal point where his life changed, and ended! Then it goes beyond that point!
Personal Opinion: I must say I think Strahd von Zarovich one of the most fascinating characters in the Ravenloft setting, and in some other setting too. The book gives a great view of what brought him to that fatal point of his life, and what trials he went through when he discovered his undead nature. Even if he is a bloodsucking vampire, you cannot help to become fascinated by him. His IS evil, but he is also lawful, and you will understand his nature after this book.
After having betrayed the mortal woman Kitiara in the battle of Palanthas in order to make her become his immortal partner, Lord Soth suddenly finds himself and his unwilling Ghost servant, taken by the Mists and placed in the domain of Barovia. The proud Lord Soth soon clash with the darklord of the domain, Count Strahd Von Zarovich, but even if he won't admit it, he might have to join forces with the powerful Vampire in order to escape the Mists...but the Mists too have plans for the Undead Knight, and escape is more difficult than ever!
Personal Opinion: Finally we learn what happen to Lord Soth of the Dragonlance setting after the battle of Palanthas. Lord Soth acts like a force of nature, he do what he seems fit, not caring who stands in his way. But in order to travel the Domains of Dread, he must trust (not an easy task for an evil Death Knight!) in other, and suddenly finds himself a pawn in the plays of the Domain-Lords! Unique and interesting characters, even I think the role of the Ghost was a little weak.
Scholar Aurik Nuiken and his unknowing brother Dmitri, travel to the decaying city of Richemulot to search for magic that will help Aurik regain his beloved wife. But Ravenloft is indeed a realm of horror, and in the dark and dangerous bowels of the city, Aurik must face many of them if he wants to prevail. But most dangerous are the interest of the beautiful sisters who rule the city, and Aurik must soon face that he and his brother are in danger of being snatched up in conspiracies, spun by the all to real Wererats of the city!
Personal Opinion: The minds of Wererats are indeed twisted, and never before has so much been revealed about their society. They got their own mindset and way of living, and like to "play" with their victims. Our scholar (but with great knowledge about magic) must face the greatest challenge of Ravenloft. Not the monsters (though a Bone Golem and Wererats should be trouble enough), but the danger of loosing his mind! An intrigue-laden story I dearly recommend!
Wort is a hunchback and considered a freak by the world around him. Therefore he lives in the deserted bell tower of Nartok Keep. When he one day ventures out from the keep and saves a little girl, he is attacked and driven away as a monster. Its then he decides to become a monster, and with an ancient, magical cursed bell, those who wronged him are bound to regret. But Wort is only a small piece in the play of the world, and when ancient relics are brought into play, its up to Beauty and the Beast to bring down the power of the Tower of Doom!
Personal Opinion: The Hunchback of Notre Dame goes Ravenloft, and its not the version of Disney! Magnificent plots, but as a whole, loose ends are left for too long. The books gallery of characters though, are just perfect and proves that even in Ravenloft there are pure souls... except for those damned by themselves!
After having been an Elven Vampire for more than 500 years, Jander Sunstar finally sees beauty in a human woman named Anja, though she is mad. When she dies in his hands, he curses in rage against the man who caused her condition. His cry for vengeance is heard by the dark powers of Ravenloft and he is brought to the land of Barovia, where he become guest at castle Ravenloft, hosted by the then young vampire, Strahd von Zarovich, who wants to learn from Jander. But can Jander trust Strahd who's past might be involved in the death of Anja? And can Jander keep his own soul when confronted with the dark evils of the domains?
Personal Opinion: What are there to say? Jander is one of the most unique of all vampires and heroes of the Ravenloft setting (a "good" Elven Vampire?), and Strahd is perhaps the most throughout developed Darklord of the same! These two, together with the people of Barovia and other finely developed characters, gives us perhaps the best book of Ravenloft ever! If you want to learn about gothic horror in a fantasy world, then this one is a must!