Diran Bastiaan is a priest of the Silver Flame with a dark past and is travelling in the Lhazaar Principalities with his friend the half-orc Ghaji on a general quest to root out evil wherever they find it. In the city of Port Verge Diran runs into an old colleague and former lover, Makala.
Shortly therafter the city is raided by the Black Fleet - black ships that come in the night and take nothing but people - and after a fight with a vampire Makala is taken.
Teaming up with an elf woman, Yvka, with an agenda of her own (and a fast ship) Diran and Ghaji set out across the cold Lhazaar sea to find out the truth of the Black Fleet and to rescue Makala.
Despite the never-ending quest to save my girlfriend plot, 'Thieves of Blood' is an excellent adventure with elements of real horror. Eberron often touches on elements of the genre - but when you have rabid ghouls tearing people apart and vast quantities of blood magic, I'm going to look at the book differently. The Blood of Vol always have potential, but Waggoner nails it.
Diran and Makala's complicated back history as former assassins, Ghaji's reflections on prejudice, and great use of the settings own character without suborning the plot makes this a winner. Along with Yvka the addition of an elderly artificier and a Ravenloft-level traumatized halfing to the party make things more interesting. Makala, even as a captive, is allowed heroism, but I could have used more time with her and some more thought-out motivation for the female antagonist. This stands on its own well, but there's real potential for development as the trilogy moves forward.
The Blade of the Flame
Next: 'Forge of the Mind Slayers'