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W20 The Poison Tree $3.99
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/27/2015 23:34:49

As the product blurb states, this is part of the W20 Kickstarter and it is great to see new products still arriving so long after the initial rulebook release. I read a lot of gaming fiction, and White Wolf has novels that sit across the quality spectrum. This novel is certainly one of the better ones that I have read and it shows that the author not only has a good grasp of the core concepts and game material, but a great love for the setting.

The main story is about a besieged Sept ruled by a Shadow Lord Elder. Even though the Sept is part of a greater area, the Elder has autocratically locked down the city, whilst playing political games with both the Garou Nation and the human world. His former Glory is enough to cement his position, but the city is falling steadily to the Wyrm. His daughter Ingrid is the main character and the daily war against the Fomori (and worse) falls to her.

The setting is well-imagined and I'd love to see Onyx Path follow the same 'enhanced fiction' route as Catalyst - that is, a novel that presents the story and then includes game statistics in the back for major characters, places, and items. The overall feeling of the city is one of creeping, inevitable doom - perfectly evoked for Werewolf. The sense of impending Apocalypse is portrayed through a confluence of events that overlap and interact meaningfully and add to the story. Intertwined are the character relationships, influenced by Rank and Tribe (there is plenty of prejudice against the Ronin and Metis that is not overdone) and the reader is treated to a view of the Garou Nation that is fractured by petty rivalries, personal grudges, and past hatred. There are a lot of small details included from the use of Rites, the portrayal of the Umbra, and even Spirit Weapons that I appreciated as they all worked to make the world more consistent with the game whilst at the same time written in a way that didn't feel like a retelling of a gaming session. When reading some game novels, I can almost hear the dice fall on the table behind the descriptions, but this is not the case here.

It is a setting that I'd like to see explored in further novels and possibly a short sourcebook, and I'd recommend this for any fan of Werewolf. Mike Lee's work has already been included in 'When will you rage? II', and if Onyx Path is to produce more novels, then he should be part of the regular mix of authors.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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W20 The Poison Tree
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