Taint of the Black Brigade by Paul Crilley
Posted by travizzt on September 4, 2010
Taint of the Black Brigade by Paul Crilley- This is the second book in The Chronicles of Abraxis Wren series. The first book in the series is Night of the Long Shadows which is also part of the stand-alone novel series The Inquisitives. This series is set in the Eberron setting of the pen and paper role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. Paul Crilley has written two other novels. His first he co-wrote with Tiffany Trent called Oracle of the Morrigan, which is the sixth book in the Hallowmere series. His other novel is to be released September 2010 and is the first book in the Invisible Order series titled Rise of the Darklings. Taint of the Black Brigade was released in August 2010 and was published by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
About a year has passed since the events in Night of the Long Shadows and Abraxis Wren is bored. After solving the murder mystery and stopping an assassination attempt, Wren hasn’t had any investigative work. However, all that changes when Wren’s ex-wife, Lyra, shows up at his doorstep asking for help. Lyra witnessed the murder of a person she was hired to protect, which she is being framed for. She needs Wren’s help to clear her name and track down the real killer. With Torin, Wren’s friend and assistant, they go off in search of clues as to the identity of the mysterious killer. What they uncover is more than they expected.
1) Italicized Parts. At the end of some of the chapters, there was an italicized section that felt out-of-place. Even when it becomes clear the purpose of these sections, it still felt like there wasn’t a purpose to it. It didn’t really coincide with what was happening in the story and left me more confused than interested. Thankfully, these sections were only about half a page and really could be skipped.
1) Wren. Abraxis Wren is a great character, plain and simple. In Night of the Long Shadows he had this fun, humorous, and interesting way to look at things, which does continue into this story, only slightly downplayed. Instead, we are introduced into a different side of Wren, a deeper side. The way he feels towards his ex-wife wasn’t something I would have expected Wren to do. In fact, I thought he would have been more carefree and warm to Lyra. Instead, he is almost a different person. Sure, Wren still has his humor and goofy nature about him, but now it feels more like a mask or character he hides behind. The ‘new’ Wren surprised me by being almost cold to Lyra. Wren’s attitude may not seem so different if you look at the surface, but when comparing his interactions with Torin to his with Lyra, you can see the difference. However, the ‘old’ goofy and quipping Wren isn’t gone, that’s still there. But with this little added depth into his character he does become better. With that added depth, Wren is definitely one of my top fifteen Dungeons and Dragons characters.
2) Excitement. This story really delivers a lot of non-stop excitement. There are hardly any slow periods in the story, everything happens at a breakneck speed, which is perfect for a story like this. It almost makes you want to finish it in one sitting. The best way to describe how exciting the story is would be a cross between the mystery/ clue-finding in Da Vinci Code mixed with some humor from movies like Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead. Then throw in a bit of Michael Bay-esque action scenes (only you can follow what is happening) with a bit of a heist movie. It’s almost a perfect blend of genres. It just delivers the excitement.
3) Reappearances. This is a simple praises and more of a personal one. I’ve always been a fan when things reference the past. It was nice to see some of the characters that appeared in Night of the Long Shadows reappear and that their parts were irrelevant to the story.
1) Short. The story is amazingly short, at only about 278 pages. This is the shortest Dungeons and Dragons based story I’ve read thus far.
2) End. The end is a slightly anti-climatic, but it hardly feels like it. It’s not bad, but I did noticed that it did just kind of end without a big battle or a final showdown. But all in all, it still was exciting.
3) Cover Art. The cover art is interesting, but it’s extremely cliché. However, it’s cliché in the right way. But there is one huge issue with this cover. The banner over the top is horrible. The slate gray banner instantly catches your eye and makes you look past the cover. It’s horrible because it takes away from the great cliché cover. Instead, you’re more focused on the tab rather than the cover.
Taint of the Black Brigade is a great story with virtually no problems. While the italicized parts were confusing and my only issue, when it comes down to it, you can just skip them and it doesn’t affect the experience. Speaking of experience, this story is non-stop excitement. It’s full of mystery, suspense, and action. I hardly wanted to put it down for too long. As fast and exciting as the story was, it wouldn’t have been as good if not for Abraxis Wren. Once again, Wren steals the show and he gains some more depth as a character. You see Wren still be the goofy, comical self from Night of the Long Shadows, but now Wren grows beyond that. I would you should definitely pick up Taint of the Black Brigade, it’s a fun story with a great character and full of non-stop action.