11486939Fourth in the Brotherhood of the Griffon quintet by Richard Lee Byers, The Masked Witches see Aoth, his lover Cera, his familiar Jet, and his ward Jhesrhi travel to Rasheman to try and replenish their griffon ranks.

The witches of the land has enspelled a pride of griffons from their homes in the high mountains, and are essentially putting them up for sale to the highest bidder, with the bet being whoever is the first to clear Rasheman of its undead infestation.

Rasheman has always been a unique land where the spirits often walk side by side with the flesh, but something is different this time. Yes it is an old land and like old lands it is built upon the bones of the cities and civilizations that came before it so it is not unusal for some restless dead to stretch their legs once in a while.

But this time, it’s more than just the odd restless dead.  Ghouls, wraiths, and vampires just to name a few are all walking the land of the living, in greater and greater numbers. Add the threat of werewolves and dark fey into the mix and you have something that even the mighty witches need help with.  So they put out the call that they have griffons for sale, and whoever aids Rasheman will get them as their reward.

This one feels a bit off to me.  It almost seems like the story is being pushed because of the characters and not the story.  Like Aoth and company uncover hints of an undead plan to take over the world, spearheaded by a mysterious force called the Eminence.  And in the first three books there was no mention of this Eminence or any undead aside from the dragons and troops that served under the dracolich.  There just does not seem to be anything to tie this story to the rest of the series aside from the characters.  I know there is still one more to go in this series, but I’m feeling right now that it might have been better if the Brotherhood of the Griffon was a trilogy rather than a quintet, and that Richard Lee Byers brought out this book and the last one as their own duology rather than part of the whole.

Still looking forward to the final installment, Prophet of the Dead, but! Until then we’re going to take a look at something I am super excited about. Another 5th Ed Dungeons and Dragons core rulebook, Volo’s Guide to Monsters is next.

30556352The esteemed loremaster Volothamp Geddarm is back and he s written a fantastical dissertation, covering some of the most iconic monsters in the Forgotten Realms. Unfortunately, the Sage of Shadowdale himself, Elminster, doesn t believe Volo gets some of the important details quite right. Don t miss out as Volo and Elminster square off (academically speaking of course) to illuminate the uninitiated on creatures both common and obscure. Uncover the machinations of the mysterious Kraken Society, what is the origin of the bizarre froghemoth, or how to avoid participating in the ghastly reproductive cycle of the grotesque vargouille. Dungeon Masters and players will get some much-needed guidance as you plan your next venture, traipsing about some dusty old ruin in search of treasure, lore, and let s not forget … dangerous creatures whose horns, claws, fangs, heads, or even hides might comfortably adorn the walls of your trophy room. If you survive.
Research has never been so dangerous!