Adventuring is a costly affair, and while the tolls are often paid in blood, gold can drain away just as quickly. The party’s trek out of Solium and across the lands of Alcatham has left them with only a handful of gold between them. Fortunately, they have drawn near Camnarael, Alcatham’s capital, where all manner of quests – and rewards – await. But all is not as expected in the capital. Unusual occurrences have been happening throughout Camnarael: figures in the shadows making unsavory bargains, attackers harassing innocent parishioners, and adventurers from all over the land gathering to partake in a Grand Quest offered by the royal family. Most curious of all are the rumors that speak of a strange artifact serving as the reward for this rare and legendary quest…an artifact that sounds just a bit too familiar to the former NPCs.
Author: Drew Hayes
Narrator: Roger Wayne
Running Time: 15 hrs 24 mins
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Audio Release Date: 25/01/17
My Rating of Going Rogue: 5 out of 5
I know, I know, I have dumped you into book three of a continuing series. In my defence, I listened to the first two long before I started blogging. To those unfamiliar with the series, the blurb will mean very little. But trust me, it’s one of the better blurbs I have read. Gives you everything you need to know, provided you know what it’s talking about. The cover art is wonderful. Absolutely love the dragon. It’s also kind of an advertised spoiler as to what the Grand Quest entails …
For those unfamiliar with the series; Spells, Swords & Stealth is basically a series about a group of friends playing their world’s version of Dungeons and Dragons. Except it’s set in both worlds (ours and the D&D world). It focuses on the idea that the game world is a very real world and the players are interacting with it, unknowingly, as they play along. I picked this up after blasting through Robert Bevan’s Critical Failures books and am oh so glad I did.
Where most books in this genre would focus on the adventurers and their mighty powers and skills, this book focuses on the NPCs (non-playable characters) found within games. Specifically a set of four. Thistle, a gnome, Gabrielle, the mayor’s daughter, Eric, the useless guard tasked with keeping Gabrielle safe and Grumph, an orc innkeeper. In the first book, a group of adventurer’s fall dead at their table after ingesting poison. These NPCs decided to take up the mantle of adventurers so nobody would question where the dead ones got to, thus keeping their little village free from investigation.
With these four unwilling heroes taking up the mantle of paladin (Thistle), Barbarian (Gabrielle), Rogue (Eric) and Wizard (Grumph), they set out on the path of the adventurer’s lifestyle.
I absolutely love this series. I love anything in this vein and as much as I thought I would love only Critical Failures and deem all others to be pretenders, I can’t say that about this. Drew Hayes has written something vastly different to Bevan’s Critical Failures (far more serious as opposed to lots of swearing and hilarity).
The pacing of this, and the two novels that preceded it, are flawless. I know that, in my positive reviews, I always try to find some negative to throw out there. But in this instance I can’t find a great deal other than it ended. I just felt myself getting lost in this other world and enjoying every minute of the ride.
If there is anyone reading this review that has ever had a passing interest in D&D or ANY game like it, I would highly suggest this series. The magic that links the two worlds is wonderful and beautifully done. The mysterious ‘Broken Bridge Publishing’ that keeps getting in touch and forwarding these new, rare, game modules to the main characters keeps the reader/listener in a constant state of curiosity.
The plot line moves along at a good pace with the author building up suspension about the ‘Grand Quest’ really well until the day the quest finally kicks off. Perhaps the only negative I can scrape together is that the quest itself did not feel as epic to me as it perhaps should have done. But it was still enjoyable and that is only a minor complaint.
Another thing I really like about the series is that you get to experience the growth of the characters, much like you’d expect to experience the growth of your own characters on the game board. I don’t want to go into too great detail as I am afraid of lacing it with spoilers from the previous books. All I can end with is that I can hardly wait until Drew Hayes gets around to writing more in this series.