Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Anubis was a bad idea...

Bad attempts at puns aside, Andrew Bates's second installment of the Year of the Scarab trilogy, Lay Down With Lions, is a rather large improvement over the initial outing. (On the other hand, given some of the silliness in the first volume, one wonders if some of that came via play testing, because I can totally see a gaming group decide ramming a van through a security gate in broad daylight with armed security on site being a fabulous idea.)

Anyway, while this volume again focuses on Carpenter (the Risen), Nicolas (the Amenti Mummy), and Thea (the Hunter), we also introduce Beckett (the Vampire, who also would have been a better choice for Clan Novel Gangrel than Ramona), who's in Chicago doing research. Beckett gets sucked in to the current drama by virtue of the eldest Gangrel in the city, who offers to trade information in exchange for information about the Hunters. Now mind you, the eldest Brujah (Critias, who's a pawn of Menelaus) is convinced the new Hunters are in league with the Gangrel, but Khalid (the eldest Nosferatu), is aware of other things going on. (Evidently, Lodin is canonically dead in this. I forget how all that happened, since it was in the really old splatbooks.) 

So, anyway, Beckett comes in right about the time the explosion that opened book one, and promptly gets hit with Menelaus's Presence discipline that has him run all the way to Idaho. He comes back, after visiting a Mage in San Francisco, who provides him with an amulet that allows him to blend his aura in better to be less noticeable.

In the meantime, Carpenter has Sforza duct taped up like a mummy and user enchanted bands that more or less paralyze him. (Sforza designed these to hold Carpenter, so the irony is a bit thick here.) Carpenter does use some of his compulsion powers to get Sforza to open up about being one of the Undying. Which is fine, until Carpenter kills Sforza, who comes back in about 12 hours or so. (For the record, I read through the rule book once, about the time it came out. I don't really remember the mechanics.) Sforza manages to escape and set Carpenter on fire. His concern is more for the Heart, some object in a Canopic jar Thea currently has. Anyway. Carpenter comes back, goes and gets his fetter out of his ex's tomb, finds out his relic (a straight razor that crossed the Shroud with him) has a mind of its own, and goes after Sforza. (Really, one of the biggest truths about the Classic World of Darkness is that no matter how many world altering events are going on, supernaturally endowed characters will still pay more attention to personal grudges than anything that might advance the main plot.)

So, Thea and Jake in the meantime, are being hunted by various factions that want the Heart, including Sforza's gang and another gang that wants it for other ill defined purposes. They wind up being held by Critias's bully boys (and girls) in the Sears Tower. Who also wants the Heart, because Menelaus wants it. They've also destroyed Thea's roommate's will, making her essentially a puppet. End result, by the end of the book, several people go out 47th story windows, the Zombie gets the heart, and no one is happy.

I seem to recall that book three takes us to Egypt finally and everyone ends up having an English cozy moment where everyone gets revealed to each other. but we'll come back to that is another entry eventually.

Honestly, it was more fun revisiting Chicago by Night, which is likely why I enjoyed this book so much more.

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