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Reviews of 'Spectre of the Black Rose'

Spectre of the Black Rose

by James Lowder & Voronica Whitney Robinson
The Terror of Lord Soth, Volume 2

Reviews of 'Spectre of the Black Rose'

Here are the visitor reviews we have of Spectre of the Black Rose. For more information about this title, please visit the item detail page.

Reviewer: The Red Dragon

Rating: Stars

TSR's gothic horror realm Ravenloft faces huge changes centering around Lord Soth. Will the former inhabitant of Krynn finally be free of his curse, or does an even darker fate await him?

Enjoyment: 5 Talons (I read it non-stop)
Continuity: 4 Talons (Only very minor discontinuity with other TSR/Dragonlance products, most of which were necessary due to multiple versions of previously published events)
Innovation: 4 Talons (Very good plot twists and surprises)
Art: 4 Talons (Possibly the best cover ever to grace a Ravenloft novel. No internal artwork except for the small icon at the beginning of every chapter)
Quality: 3 Talons (Standard paperback with a non-gloss cover)
Value: 5 Talons (Excellent story at an excellent price)
Overall: 4 Talons

Who this product is for: Ravenloft fans; Lord Soth fans; Dragonlance fans; those who enjoy gothic horror.

Who should avoid this product: Those that have not read Knight of the Black Rose; anyone that has not read the Dragonlance Legends trilogy; readers that do not know the origins of Lord Soth; people that enjoy "action" novels more than suspenseful ones.

Spectre of the Black Rose is the sequel to James Lowder's book, Knight of the Black Rose. Spectre takes places decades after Knight, and finds Lord Soth still trapped in the infernal realm known as Ravenloft. The book begins with the Death Knight's awakening from a spell-like daze, only to find his realm beset by traitors and rebellion. External forces like the domain lord Malocchio Aderre prepare to war against Soth's kingdom, while nightmarish figures of legend such as "The Bloody Cobbler" and "The Whispering Beast" rise to throw Soth's people into a state of panic. All this while Wild Elves and a woman known only as the White Rose attempt to bring about a revolution. Needless to say, it appears Lord Soth is in serious trouble.

The problem with such a brief summary is that, though it has few spoilers for the book, it doesn't do justice to the intrigue and writing contained within. Spectre stays true to the dark nature of Ravenloft, revealing layer upon layer of treachery that has built up within the Soth's realm during his mental absence. Its characters are well defined and original for the most part, avoiding the stereotypes that have appeared in some of the other Ravenloft novels. Plot twists abound, and those that are able to figure out the ending before reading the last two chapters will be in the minority. The book also contains events that will alter Ravenloft forever, thus making it a "must read" for all serious fans. In short, it is just extremely well done.

Those who remember Lord Soth's first Ravenloft book will also be pleased to see that the fates and futures of Magda and Azrael (both characters from Knight) are revealed. The years have changed them both in significantly, and fans of the two should enjoy their treatment in this novel.

The main drawback to Spectre of the Black Rose stems from its need for readers to have knowledge of previous books to fully enjoy it. Though new readers will by no means be lost (previous events such as Lord Soth's curse and how he got to Ravenloft are explained early on), they certainly won't understand the various interactions as well as someone familiar with the setting will. In fact, those that haven't read Dragonlance Chronicles, Dragonlance Legends, Lord Soth's history (either from Dragonlance Tales or the book Lord Soth), and Knight of the Black Rose probably won't fully understand the events that transpire at the end of Spectre.

All things considered, I'd have to say that Spectre of the Black Rose is by far the best novel featuring Lord Soth ever to be written. Ravenloft and Dragonlance fans alike will enjoy this work, especially the ending and the monumental changes that occur. I tip my hat to James Lowder and Voronica Whitney-Robinson for writing such an excellent book about one of Krynn's most admired yet least used villains.

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