The Grieving Tree, Dragon Below #2

The Grieving Tree - Don Bassingthwaite

After the climactic fight with the dragon Dah'mir, Singe, Geth and Dandra retreat to Zarash'ak to recover. With them for the long haul now are the half-orc Natrac who has his own secret past, and the young orc Gatekeeper druid Orshok. Best of all is the former Bonetree hunter Ashi who transformed from a leading stooge into an ally to the cause. Bassingthwaite has a tendency to treat all of his characters as opportunities, they serve a function to the plot, but at any time a casual encounter with an NPC turns into an important character. It makes the reader pay attention and adds depth to the world and the story.

 

I loved the time spent in the 'City of Stilts', Zarash'ak is the unofficial capital of the independent territory of the Shadow Marches. The story also leads on to the nation of Droaam, a nation of monsters. A clue in the oral tradition of the Bonetree people points the party into that nation to get ahead of Dah'mir's plans to free the powerful Daelkyr Master of Silence from its ancient prison. The threat of the Daelkyr and the close proximity of various planes of existence - some defined by elements such as air or fire, others by concepts such as dreams or madness - is well expanded upon.

 

Geth and Singe are beginning to trust each other, but their mutual past comes back to haunt them and there are secrets that must come out if their mission has any chance of success. Look out for new, unexpected allies. I don't want to spoil things, but I was especially impressed with the chilling development of the Lyrandar ship's captain as he's drawn further into the madness of the plane of Xoriat.

 

Give me ancient ruins and prophecy any day, this is still some of the best fantasy to come out of Eberron.

 

The Dragon Below

 

Next: 'The Killing Song'

 

Previous: 'The Binding Stone'