Author: Chet Williamson
I actually enjoyed the story of the mad Dr. Victor Mordenheim, it was certainly a worthwhile romp that introduced us to some interesting characters. We get a good look at Victor, his arrogance, his story, and his game of chess with Adam. We are also introduced to the Krutzers, whom I personally love because we finally see people that go against the whole evil necromancer stereotype. We also get our first look at Ivan Draganov, a good example of Ravenloft's tragic heroes.
In the end the good doctor gets exactly what's coming to him as the saying "Be careful what you wish for" is proven once again, as the two necromancers give Mordenheim exactly and not exactly what he wants in the end. Chet Williamson did a great job with the Ravenloft setting and somehow managed to have a happy ending without ruining the gloomy feeling that permeates the dread realms. You certainly could do far worse then spending an afternoon poring through this book. On the whole, while this was not my absolute favourite Ravenloft novel it was certainly a very good one.
Paniayotis "Ravenharm" Kollias
This was a very rocky start for myself in the beginning few pages but the book more then made up for it by picking up and taking me on a trip to help me understand the types of characters that make up a ravenloft adventure. i would ask most to use this as a resource to better understand low level beginning characters, such as the Krutzers, and a high level character in the effect of draganov romping what would be otherwise known as a mid level campaign field i would have liked to see draganov and adam trade a few more blows. and a little less of the dr. the more i know that he is no better then "dr. venture" of the "venture brother" series the less imposing he is to me and the other gamers. less is more.
4 out of 5
Mordenheim by Chet Williamson was a long anticipated read. The work, insofar as it is a look into the souls of Dr. Victor Mordenheim and his monster Adam, is a success. The materialism of the doctor is well treated, being a central element in the plot. The doctor cuts an admirably menacing figure when threatening others with an eternity of torture on his medical table. The young couple from Darkon make, on the whole, a positive contribution to the story. Somewhat improbably, there are several significant contributions to Vistani canon. The weaving of the past and the present of the doctor and of his monster is effective, even skillful. And for the most part the novel has an agreeable flow to it.
There are, however, considerable problems. The work does not rise to the level of literature, recommendable independent of its place in Ravenloft canon. It is a shadow, literally and figuratively, of Frankenstein.
The work's description of ice flows, island geography, and frostbite do not ring true. Its treatment of lycanthropy arguably doesn't ring true either and is both too convenient and a distraction.
Two monsters, Adam and his maker, would have sufficed. Ivan Draganov is a worthy creation in and of himself, but it is doubtful that this was the place for him to make his appearance. Horg, in contrast, fits and his involvement with the Vistani was very engaging. Whether the Vistani were necessary at all is a legitimate question however.
The work makes incautious use of terms such as "China doll" and makes unhelpful references such as "saving millions", which tend to drag the reader out of Ravenloft. The work contributes to modernity creep in the Ravenloft canon. Modern medical theories and concepts are to be expected (although not necessarily in the mouth of Adam). Bullets, dual shot pistols, and rifles are not and have the misfortune, by contrast, of drawing the reader's eye away from the revolutionary work of Mordenheim. In fact, they even lend the work the faint perfume of a Western.
There was also something nearly Disneyesque about the magic book employed by the "necromancers". The pair are literally sorcerer's apprentices, yet wield and manipulate soul transfer magiks with an ease that would excite Azalin. The author does arguably hint that the book might be something of an artifact. Were one to try to establish stats for it, they could well be that it turns anyone literate into a 10th level sorcerer who is mostly focused on spells from the school of necromancy. Perhaps this was a missed opportunity to treat the moral hazards lying along the road of the white arcanist. In so doing the couple would have continued to play their role as reverse images of Mordenheim but more credibly so.
Finally, I am not persuaded that the work was edited with any great care as it seems slightly muddled from time to time.
I would give Mordenheim 3 out of 5 drops of blood. It easily outshines Death of a Darklord, but it is not in the same league as Scholar of Decay or Dance of the Dead.
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