S.E. Lindberg's Reviews > Into Bramblewood Forest

Into Bramblewood Forest by Grant Elliot Smith
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With this sequel, “Rathen” officially becomes a developed character and series. Highly recommend for fantasy & RPG fans.

Grant Elliot Smith delivers another intense literary-Role Playing Game (lit-RPG) inspired adventure with Rathen: Into Bramblewood Forest; here he continues his Rathen series with co-author Steven H. Stohler. This sequel can easily be enjoyed as a standalone adventure. Whichever one you read, you’ll be excited to read the other.
Rathen The Legend of Ghrakus Castle by Grant Elliot Smith Rathen Into Bramblewood Forest (The Rathen Series Book 2) by Grant Elliot Smith

My review of the predecessor, Rathen: The Legend of Ghrakus Castle holds true for this sequel; both are fun reads, having captain Rathen lead ~a dozen adventurers; as in the first book, the first 50% is the party gathering while they travel; the latter half delivering the real conflict.

Bramblewood unfolds super-fast and is surprisingly easy to read given the number of featured characters (~11 in the main party and ~4 antagonists--all of them have backstories and motivations). Presenting at a pleasant pace and delivering intense action while offering character depth is a testimony to the authors’ ability to unfurl balanced storytelling. The authors must be meticulous dungeon masters.

Adding a Lich to the party, and ensuring he had a central role in the plot to obtain the Book of Ziz, really provided a unique take on the typical RPG party. Listen below is Rathen’s party, each member you’ll get to know and route for:
- Rathen: middle-aged captain of the party, and his two buddies from previous adventures: Bulo (veteran gladiator) and Thack (half-orc hunter & bartender)
- Magom (lich spellcaster)
- Caswen (female healer,Order of Thandrall) and her guards: Marduke (male knight) & Dryn (female archer)
- Otherworldly humanoids Rendrak, Garrick, Bandark
-Apaca (Druid, needed to handle the trees in the titular forest)

Keeping it from a 5-star is the same melodrama that makes the tale enjoyable. There are instances of fast healing that deflate consequences of battle, but still reflect lit-RPG expectations; many subplots come across as artificial (i.e., including a few romantic relationships, and escape scenes) that develop fun tension but approach feeling forced.

Cover Art by Stawicki and Future Rathen: Longtime fantasy illustrator Matthew Stawicki provided another great cover. He has illustrated many in his career for Dragon Lance, Monte Cook Games, Milton-Bradley, Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast, Vivendi Games, and others.

I am committed to the third episode in the works, pitched as “The Battle for Korganis.”
Combing Stawicki’s website, it is touch to overlook a stunning related work which I hope/speculate reveals the next adventure, artwork called “Rathen’s Descent.”
image of Rathern’s Descent by Matt Satwicki
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Reading Progress

October 19, 2018 – Started Reading
October 19, 2018 – Shelved
November 14, 2018 –
4.0%
November 29, 2018 –
7.0%
December 23, 2018 –
13.0%
December 23, 2018 –
13.0%
December 27, 2018 –
25.0%
December 31, 2018 –
38.0%
January 1, 2019 –
50.0%
January 1, 2019 – Finished Reading
January 3, 2019 –
70.0%
January 6, 2019 –
93.0%
January 12, 2019 – Shelved as: reviewed-by-se

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