As a D&D novel, this book presents us with much more than we would normally expect and consequently should be more readily accessible to one not familiar with the game or the Ravenloft setting, while at the same time satisfying fans of both.
This book is well-suited to the genre. It would be easy to imagine this as one of those 1960's black and white classic movies or TV shows. 'Baroness' tells the tale of a young noble girl who witnesses the execution of her tyrannical father after his failed conquest of a neighbouring feudal state. Baroness Ilsabet then begins a slippery descent into evil in her pursuit of revenge.
The characters are well rounded protagonists acting within a well-paced (abeit linear) plot that steadily gathers momentum towards its tragicly epic, darkly cinematic, and sadly inevitable conclusion (Ravenloft fans have the added satisfaction of seeing the birth of not only a new Darklord but an entire domain).
A definite time-honoured, easy-to-read 'page-turner' with its concise chapters and spiralling pace that should come highly recommended to all readers, including those approaching from yet a third route: fans of the good gothic-fantasy-horror novel.
Other Ravenloft books by Elaine Bergstrom include:
Tapestry of Dark Souls (and the short story 'The Weaver's Pride which serves as a prologue from the anthology 'Tales of Ravenloft')
The Dracula 'sequels':
Blood to Blood
The Austra series:
Daughter of the Night
And the stand alone novels:
After the Fall of Usher, Leanna
Possession of a Woman
The Door Through Washington Square
BoB is a fine novel, with a compelling storyline and a protagonist/villain you have to feel sorry for... for about half the book. Ilsabet Janosk is a great villain, and I finished the book with the question: what is she now? Kislova is also an intriguing domain, with interesting customs, perhaps once located in the Forgotten Realms (a reference to the Shaar being my only basis for that theory), and even though it takes 99% of the book to finally enter the world for which the book bears its logo, the means justify the end: this tale could not have been told any faster without maiking the book horrible.
My only complaint? It seemed to me that the author really wanted to make Kislova a domain and not a province, and got tired of waiting near the end, when a flurry of useless deaths and a contrived ending were all we received after 300 pages of well-crafted storyline to move the tale to its conclusion.
This in itself nearly ruins the entire flavor of the book, but it couldn't have gone on much longer without growing stale. In all, BoB is a good read, but one has to take the ending with a fine grain of salt to truly appreciate it.
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