- Adventures of Stratvs Collection: Short Stories of the Bloodlines Reforged Saga
- R.J. Hanson
- May 20, 2022
- eBook, Hardcover, Paperback
- Bloodlines Reforged Saga: Heirs of Vanity, Lords of Order and Chaos, Standalone
As I do, I make my bias’ known at the start of my review. I’m an admin on the official Facebook group (because), I run the official wiki for the saga. I’m a one-time beta reader for the Lords of Order and Chaos series (same saga, same world). I originally received these short stories for free via. R.J. Hanson’s newsletter and I purchased the eBook, which I used for my reviews of the 3 short stories. The Death of a City, The Birth of a Curse, Morosse, the Spike Thumb, Depths of Nolcavanor. A Brief History of Stratvs was originally a wiki-exclusive story, and as I said, I operate the official wiki. While I did receive a signed hardcover and paperback directly from the author, I’m reviewing this as a fan of the saga and not by request.
For me personally, this collection holds several places of interest. First off, as a lore-nerd and wiki editor, this is extremely helpful for me as I can now properly city page numbers and ISBNs on the official wiki for the saga. In general, this collection includes a lot of incredible bonus content, such as the original hand-drawn map of Stratvs and a version with capitals photoshopped in. It also features several bits of lore references in the books, such as the Code of the Cavalier and the Conduct of Shadow, which were previously only available on the official website.
While I think this is the ultimate companion guide to Stratvs, there are a few shortcummings. Due to the maps being printed in black and white, it can be somewhat difficult to make out details on the PC-drawn maps. As far as maps go in general, it’s not really made clear in the story “Death of a City, Birth of a Curse”, but the landscape of Stratvs was very different prior to the Battles of Rending, which take place directly after/in-between Death of a City. Unfortunately, a map of this setting has never been shared with the fanbase. I feel this book would have made an amazing debut for it. Secondly, I think the “Peoples of Stratvs” and “A Brief It History of Stratvs” sections could have used some additional formatting. it does get a little confusing at first, due to how it’s formatted, as it looks like a narrative, but most of it is small lore-info-dumps on the people’s of Stratvs, followed by the Breif History section.
Overall, I think this makes for an incredible reading companion for the Heirs of Vanity and Lords of Order and Chaos series respectively. But the short stories on their own make for a good starting position to see if the series is for you. The official website contains an “Author suggested reading order”. If you’re a fan of reading in timeline order, I would suggest; The Death of a City, The Birth of a Curse, Morosse, the Spike Thumb, Depths of Nolcavanor, Roland’s Path, Fires That Forge, Roland’s Vow, Bloom of Blood and Bone, Roland’s Triumph, Whetstones of the Will. For context, I would read Death of a City and Depths after Roland’s Path (read them a second time), and Morosse, the Spike Thumb before Fires that Forge (also, read a second time).
One of the strong points of these short stories and this saga as a whole is how re-reading the short stories or novels with context from the other stories in the saga is like a whole new adventure. You’ll end up spotting a bunch of references you didn’t catch the first time or you’ll better understand the context and importance of specific artifacts, locations, characters, etc. the second time around.
I really can’t recommend this collection enough, I think other fantasy authors should follow this example, and make their series more accessible for new fans and lore-nerds alike.