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Title: Knight of the Black Rose
Series: Ravenloft #2
Author: James Lowder
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Lord Soth was the highest in the Order of the White Rose. He was brave, virtuous, courageous and was a paragon. Until he committed adultery with an elf maid, had his first wife killed and then in a paroxysm of jealous rage burned his castle down killing his elven wife and new born son. For hundreds of years Soth wandered the land of Krynn as the Black Knight, a cursed, powerful, undead being in the service of the dark goddess. Soth met a beautiful general and even though she died, Soth plotted to bring her back. His plans went awry when he and his seneschal were sucked into the alternate realm of Ravenloft.
Told of a portal that will let him escape, Soth attacks Count Strahd’s enemy, a vampire duke of another portion of Ravenloft. Surviving all attacks, Soth survives only to find the portal is a fake. It leads nowhere. He heads off into the mists to force his way out. The dark gods of Ravenloft present him with a choice, renounce his pride and return to Krynn once again as a warrior of Light, or hold on to his damnable pride and be the owner of the Red Rose, a new portion of Ravenloft. Soth damns himself and vows vengeance against one and all.
I had read a Forgotten Realms book by Lowder a while ago, the Ring of Winter and it did not impress me. Therefore I lowered my expectations, already pretty low from the first book, and I made the right choice.
The first book was about a noble sun-elf turned vampire but he was still a good guy fighting against Strahd’s machinations. In this book we have someone even worse than Strahd and I was hoping to see some anti-hero action from Strahd. Vampire versus Undead Power Knight. A clash of Dark Titans, powerful destructive magic unleashed across the land. Nope. Strahd is a manipulator and he doesn’t change. He gets Soth to do some dirty work for him instead of clashing with him.
Soth wasn’t bad for a villain. He’s powerful, motivated by pride, hate and lust and yet has never forgotten his origins as a Knight of the White Rose. Unfortunately, he’s also as flat as a pancake. He had a few instances to shine darkly but his power was wasted. I don’t know if I hope he returns as a nemesis to Strahd or not.
Considering that Ravenloft seems to grow at the whim of the unnamed dark gods’ whims, I have this feeling Ravenloft will soon be full up of ultra-powerful badguys, who do nothing. Somebody powerful needs to die and they need to die spectacularly. Killing off gypsies just doesn’t cut it.