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- Temple of Yellow Skulls Review
I knew going into this book that it would be picking up where Mark of Nerath left off in terms of overall plot and cast. Not because I finished it (Mark of Nerath), but because I read the preview blurbs for Temple of the Yellow Skulls. I just hoped that if anyone could make me give two shits about the, Don could. While he is usually pretty good in this regard--and I highly recommend The Dragon Below trilogy (as well as the trilogy that follows that)--I felt that this one just wans't up to par. To be fair I really don't fully blame Don for this, because it's not his story with his characters, which is the cause for most of my grievances with the book.
For the most part, the pacing and writing was alright...except for the parts where monsters were referred to directly as brutes and soldiers. That, and at least one part where Hakken tells the other people he's delving with to "save their most powerful attacks for later", like he's telling his fellow players to not blow their encounter and daily attacks. It would be one thing to tell a spellcaster to not use their highest level spells, but to basically tell a rogue and fighter to save their "special moves" for later? I think it would have been better if he'd told them to try not to exhaust themselves too soon, or something like that.
The big problem with the book were the characters. I didn't like anyone in Mark of Nerath, and nothing changed here. On the plus side, the main cast gets cut down to a more manageable 3-5 (depending on where you are in the book). Mostly it's Albanon, Shara, and Uldane, others come and go, and no one sees any development. As before, Albanon is continuously derided by everyone for basically no fucking reason. Anytime he says or does anything, he gets called a moron, or someone suggests that he "actually use his goddamned brain". Usually its Splendid, though when Kri shows up he happily joins in to keep me guessing why exactly Albanon hangs out with all these assholes.
This book would have been a lot better if the characters had changed, or we got some depth or history out of them. Anything to connect me with them and make me care. Hell, I would have been happy if Splendid had shut the fuck up, or Albanon blasted her with a magic missile. As it stands, we don't know anything about them, and they barely have any identifiable personalities (well...except for Splendid's inability to say anything nice). That being said, I think Don did a fair job with what he was given: I'd give it a 6 out of 10.