The third book in the series, we get more information and insight from our semi-adventurers, as well as from some new characters. Newly added to our cast is Elora, an experienced Rogue, along with a priest of Grumble and Silas, a clerk in the Hall of Adventurers. While the majority of the story stays with our main group, we do see what is going on with the others as well.
There are some heavy themes in this story, and some heavy consequences. We delve into themes of religion, as Timuscor is still searching for a god to take him as a Paladin. He and the half-orc priest of Grumble have interesting thoughts on religion and Paladinhood. The gods treat mortals as they will, and Thistle is right to be wary of how his god wants to use him, but some of them do have a bit of mortal feeling in them still. There is an absolutely adorably sweet moment with Thistle and the priest, and man, if Hayes is looking to score with the ladies, he should just read them that passage. And if you thought you had a handle on what was going on, the continued presence of Mr. Peppers might throw you off a bit. But in a good way, because Mr. Peppers is awesome!
We also follow the paths of two gamer groups in the “real” world. Russell is still leading his group from the last book, and they are growing closer together. They are playing as a party, not simply a group working together towards a similar goal. The players think of how their characters would act, not simply how they would as people. We also encounter the asshats from the first book, the bloodthirsty and selfish Mitch and company. They have been kicked out of other gaming groups, but accepted a mysterious invitation from Jamie, a female comic book shop owner who lets them play as they will, but is extremely strict in staying with the rules.
Mr. Hayes is playing some sort of long game here, and we only get to see bits of it here and there. He also seems fond of throwing game-changing events and revelations into his stories, which make me only want to read more! Well played, Mr. Hayes, well played…
While all of his series are ongoing, I’m not sure if he’s currently working on the next in this one or if he’s working on other projects at the moment. (I mean, I know he’s working on other projects at the moment – dude’s crazy!) The point is, there is no set release date for the next in this series, so it may be a few years. Sad face.