Sunday, July 11, 2010

Final Gate by Rich Baker

The Final Gate by Rich Baker is the third and final volume of the Last Mythal.

1. High Level artifacts in play? Check. The stakes in the game go beyond Myth Drannor itself as there is a nexus or master series of portals that a demon lord is trying to gain control of in order to massively expand his influence.

2. Sacrifices? Check. Not all of the characters have made it through all three books alive and most of them have not made it out unscarred or unchanged.

3. Epic Villains? It seems that each of the Monster Manuals for 4th edition picked a big bad to lead the cover and I'm assuming as a big boss for the final encounter.  Here we have much the same with an exiled demon lord branded by the High Elf pantheon leader himself coming to blows with many of the characters here in one way or another.

4. Trying it all together? The book relies on an artifact introduced in the first book and does a nice job of trying up various lose ends brought about by various factions and their actions in earlier books.

Final Gate makes the enemies foes that we want to see get their just deserts. They attack on a personal level and insure that the battle is not just one of good versus evil or right versus wrong but rather an event where there is a bit of payback desired.

It brings together events and characters from previous books in a way that flows organically and allows the reader to follow along on even some of the larger expeditions taken without losing the reader. Overcomplicating a plot can be the death of a good adventure. When its broken down into bite sized chunks, even if those chunks are quite large in and of themselves, as long as its defined, the party should be able to grasp it.

Its epic in scope. While the elves making a so called Return to the mainland is huge, the Nexus beyond that is an even bigger potential threat to everyone's way of life. The stakes have been raised in each book going from what might be the end of a Paragon campaign all the way through an Epic one.

Rich Baker does a great job of bringing numerous elements that at first appear to have nothing to do with one another, and indeed until this series was written, may never had had anything to do with one another, and shows the reader that the wider the setting, the larger the net and the greater the potential payoff.