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The story is a little bit messy and cliche but it's still fun for dnd lovers.
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This book is much worse than the last. I found the characters dull and undeveloped, the plot filled with deux ex machinas and well if it was an actual D&D book it would have broke the 'don't overshadow your players' rule. There are two characters who might be considered main characters and they are the only characters with any real development. And they might as well have not been there. They both got a deux ex machina to trigger (Multiple actually) and that is close to it.
It has some bright spots. The fight against the reptile and the first against the big bad were probably the best of the action. They didn't feel deux ex machina too badly and were actually a bit intense and interesting.And it really succeeded in making the threat feel real,overwhelming and plausible.
Unfortunately once establishing the threat as overwhelming and real, it got fixed by deux ex machinas which ruined it. Instead of the heroes actually solving the problerm through cleverness, skill and heroism, ugh.
But like the last book the actual brightest spot were the scenes involving the villain himself. Too few but its still nice to see the mind of a bad guy. In fact more than that the scenes focused on the villain were noticeably Superior in all aspects to the rest of the book. Better written, more developed, more nuanced, more entertaining, appropriately disturbing but with a believable depth. Imo the writer might as well not bothered with the adventurers and instead just focused the whole book on him with the party being seen through glimpses as he watched them through various means. Would have given the heroes the exact same level of development.