30556352I was so excited for this book, and I was not disappointed.  Volo’s Guide to Monsters did surprise me a little but it totally delivered on expectations.

Volothamp Geddarm is a well-known traveler and storyteller in the Realms world.  He has gone to many places and has written guides and books on what he has seen and done, so I was excited for what he would come up with in this Guide to Monsters.

This is just fantastic.  The first chapter deals with monsters we know and hate such as ilithids, beholders, kobolds, orcs, goblins and goblin kin to name a few.  It’s an in depth look at their culture, their habits, the different subsets and even maps of their homes and lairs.

The second chapter is all about the new player races for 5th Ed. The Kenku bird race, the Tabaxi cat race, Aasimir, Fribolgs, Goliths, and Tritons each get their own time in the spotlight, as well as little side notes if you want to create a monstrous character such as an orc or bugbear.

There are a few new backgrounds and subclasses, but after that it’s mostly an addition to the Monster Manual, with statblocks for some new creature and monsters from the beginning of the book.

And funny! You have got to read the little side notes and annotations between Volo and Elminster.  Hilarious.

Honestly the only thing that surprised me about the book was the form of the narration.  I thought it would be like Volo was talking to us, describing all these things about all these different monsters, but it feels more like standard third person.  Not at all bad, and it did not detract from the book in any way, just not what I was expecting.

All in all I am over the moon with this.  To the point that I actually own two copies of it, one with the standard cover and one with the fancy special edition cover.

And now it’s time for something fairly different.  Going completely away from the Realms and jumping straight into medieval fiction with Taming of the Queen by Philipa Gregory next.

25106926Why would a woman marry a serial killer?

Because she cannot refuse…

Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives – King Henry VIII – commands her to marry him.

Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn’s trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent.

But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and a published author, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry’s dangerous gaze turns on her.The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy – the punishment is death by fire and the king’s name is on the warrant…