I was at one of my favorite places on earth the other day, The Book Barn back where I used to live in Connecticut. Mass market paperbacks are a buck so I’ll take a chance with something I might not otherwise grab off the shelf. I’ve sent plenty of misses right back to them. I was just about to leave when a bright orange cover caught my eye. EverQuest – Rogue’s Hour by Scott Ciencin was purchased purely on nostalgia. Played that game for years through high school and college and I’ve got some fond memories of it. Like my New England based guild having meetings at a casino and how we caused 1000% inflation on our server by cornering the commodity market. (Gamers, notice how the market doesn’t really allow you to do that in Warcraft, prolly thanks to us) Rot gut New Hampshire Brand Vodka probably burned away all the bad memories, but regardless, I was strangely excited to read this book. I mean… my last tie-in read was a good one right?
Back of the book time!
Deep in Qeynos’ Skull Alley, a dashing rogue bursts from the shadows and rescues a young woman from two brigands – only to find that he is the one in peril. Though he has no memory of anything before today, bloodthirsty assassins close in on him, targeting him for death. Armed with only his extraordinary blades, a cryptic note naming him “Rileigh,” and apocalyptic dreams of the Dragon of World’s End, the rogue embarks on a desperate quest to save himself by unraveling the tangled threads of his past.
He and a ragtag band of so-called allies – the beautiful, murderous half-elf Bronwynn; Connor, the fiery barbarian; the wrathful dwarf Underfoote; and Uaeldayn, the mysterious Erudite – journey to the pirate-infested reaches of the Barren Coast and the necromantic city of Paineel to stop the resurrection of a creature bent on destroying Norrath. Though the rogue can trust no one, his greatest foe may not be the dragon … it may be the man he once was.
To start with, factor out the nostalgia of this, Rogue’s Hour has a theme that shows up in a lot of my favorite books, amnesiatic protagonists. Rileigh starts out kicking ass and taking names without knowing how he came about this prowess he’s got for it. He subsequently gets himself rescued by Bronwynn. She’s a very interesting character, devious as hell and out for her own ends one hundred percent. She’s in and out of the storyline and I’m pretty sure she tries to kill everyone at least once. We’re actually given a bunch of her backstory and it’s got some nice layers to it. Murdering double dealer is all well and good, but it’s so much better when we’re told why.
Obviously, we’re not getting Rileigh’s backstory, but we do get a bit of Connor and Uaeldayn. It’s enough to keep them from being too flat but there’s a fairly large cast to this book that float in and out, both in terms of antagonists and POV characters. There was an ogre bounty hunter who I felt was somewhat unneeded. I think he was added in as some fan service that I just don’t remember. (The book is from 04, right around when I got out of the game) Connor has a wolf companion named Ironclaw. There’s a couple bits from the wolf’s POV which are some of the best in the book. He viewed his person, Connor, as a tiresome pup he needed to keep out of trouble. I wish there was more of that because it was delightfully written.
The large cast didn’t bother me though, even if there were some sacrifices made for the large crew. It kind of brought me back to an old school sort of fantasy where buckles get swashed, people get stabbed and quests get had. That’s the whole vibe I got out of Rogue’s Hour. It’s fast paced. It’s fun. Some swords and some magic, but never so much where they take away from Rileigh’s quest. I seriously had a lot of fun reading this book. Really way more than I honestly expected to.
And the strangest thing is that the fun wasn’t EverQuest dependent like I thought it would be. I remember Paineel and Queynos and swear to this day that I could find my way around Qeynos better than some places I’ve actually lived, so yeah, I enjoyed that part of it but I rarely felt that the fan service was heavy handed. I actually think that if you took the EverQuest name off the cover, most anyone could have a good time with this book. Some of the names are steeped in fantasy cheese, but if you get get past a couple of groaners, Rogue’s Hour is a solid read.