Tag Archives: Richard Lee Byers

Blood of Baalshandor

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Blood of Baalshandor by Richard Lee Byers. [Note: the only place I currently find this in stock is at Miniature Market. But, presumably, it will show up in the usual places eventually, such as Amazon]

Byers Blood of Baalshandor Arkham Horror

After five Arkham Horror investigator novellas there was a hiatus, and the Dexter Drake entry Blood of Baalshandor is the first to appear for two years. In format it resembles its predecessors: a slender hardcover of about a hundred pages, with a color-illustrated appendix on glossy paper, and a little set of promotional Arkham Horror: The Card Game cards for the Dexter Drake character.

I had high hopes for this one, because the Dexter Drake chapter in The Investigators of Arkham Horror was my favorite from that book. Dex is a WW I veteran and a successful stage magician as “Drake the Great.” His childhood interest in magic has led him to both his career in legerdermain and an interest in actual sorcery. The Blood of Baalshandor centers on his relationship with his “lovely assistant” Molly Maxwell (“the Exotic Morgana”), with conflict generated by his coming out of the closet with respect to his occultist beliefs and the phenomena that she is then subjected to. The early part of the book has a nice Ninth Gate (i.e. Club Dumas) vibe, as Dex and Molly attend an underground auction of occult books and paraphernalia in Arkham.

The Blood of Baalshandor is the second Arkham Horror novella by author Richard Lee Bryers (the first instance of a returning author in the series), and I liked it better than his earlier entry Ire of the Void, although that one was pretty good. It furnishes a lot of subjective details about the working of magic in the Arkham Files setting, as Dex uses spells cobbled together from loose pages of the Necronomicon invoking the demon Yaztaroth. [ . . . (hover over to read this spoiler) . . . ]

The cards set Dexter up as a mystic-class character with additional access to rogue-class cards, and a special ability that enhances his use of assets. Besides the signature cards Molly Maxwell and Yaztaroth, the story also alludes to various established elements of the game, such as the level-1 rogue card Lockpicks, a natural part of Dex’s escape artist kit. I’m very much looking forward to trying out a Dexter deck soon.

Ire of the Void

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Ire of the Void by Richard Lee Byers.

Byers Ire of the Void

The Ire of the Void novella supplies a narrative background for the Arkham Horror Files game character Norman Withers, an eccentric astronomer. The slim hardbound book is a good read over three or four sittings. As is generally the case for Fantasy Flight Games’ Arkham fiction, the horror-based stories tend toward more heroic plot lines, somewhat at odds with the cosmic pessimism of their yog-sothothery source material. In this case particularly, I was a little put off by the relatively happy ending.

The chief background literature for Ire of the Void is Frank Belknap Long’s “The Hounds of Tindalos” (1929) and its progeny. Author Richard Lee Byers goes a little way toward establishing the enigmatic “Tindalos” as the country of the Hounds’ origin, although he leaves a trace of ambivalence about that identification. (I fancy the idea that “Tindalos” was the name of the original human victim by whom knowledge of the Hounds entered arcane lore.)

In keeping with the format established in the Hour of the Huntress book about Jenny Barnes, this one has about a dozen glossy pages of appendix, consisting of images of documents relevant to the story, such as clippings and letters. The longest and most interesting of these is the journal of Jonathon Tane which among other things implies an identity between Carcosa and “Eibon’s Atlantis.” The tiny excerpt from an English translation of The Pnakotic Manuscripts is awful, showing (again) that the writers and editors of these books treat obsolete English verb endings as ornamental, deploying them without regard to person or number.

I dismissed the promotional Arkham Horror – The Card Game cards included in the previous volume of this series as adding little to the value of the book. In contrast, Norman Withers is an investigator character for whom cards have not otherwise been published, and he is an exciting and distinctive addition to the game. His deck parameters have him evolving from the Seeker class into the Mystic one, and his draw pile keeps its top card exposed. I haven’t yet played with a Norman deck, but I’m very much looking forward to it. [via]