marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Don't Split The Party

Don't Split The Party by Rich Burlew.  Volume 4 of Order of the Stick.

Spoilers ahead for the earlier volumes.

For once there is a preface by a character, and Burlew's introduction, but no foreword.  Usually he had a noted fantasy writer or something who was a fan write one.  This volume, he has a page about Gary Gygax and David Arneson, to dedicate the book to their legacy.  (This also has the two tribute comics.)

It opens with -- well, for two pages we have Belkar doing a Masterpiece Theater recounting the story thus far -- or rather a bunch of vignettes that most readers will recognize the source of, featuring him as the main character -- only for Haley to interrupt and give a brief but accurate summing up of the story thus far -- but it really opens with Roy on a cloud outside the mountain that is the Lawful Good afterlife.

His father is also there -- stuck there because of the Blood Oath that is not yet fulfilled, and which had passed to Roy at his death and is now on Julia's plate.  A deva arrives to evaluate Roy. . . .

After some afterlife stuff, Roy, surprised to find that months have passed, looks below (which takes some work) to find out that he hasn't be raised because Durkon, who can raise him, is on shipboard with Vaarsuvius and Elan and the Azure city refugees, while his body was recovered by Haley and Belkar, still stuck in Azure City with the Resistance.  As he observes in the Foreword, this book is about what happens when the motivating central character is removed.

Answer:  things fall apart.  In some respects this is more dramatic than War and XPs because it plumbs the characters' motivations and flaws.  Parts I didn't like because of characters acting idiotically, but that's my pet peeve, not an artistic flaw; it never happens in a scene except where you have to say that yep, that's exactly what that character would do in that situation.  They are not, at the end, fully developed and having overcome the flaws that will hinder their victory, but they have definitely worked on them.
Tags: fiction reviews: high fantasy, graphic novel/manga, role-playing games, series, webcomics

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