First of all, I have to say that this book was incredibly useful and intelligent. And, for me (because I tend to struggle with most technicalities and figures) it was surprisingly delightful to read considering its specificity in measurements and calculations. Let me explain.
I had read Volume One of this series and found it to be extremely thorough, well-written, and versatile in its adaptability to one’s campaign. I expected “Castle Builder Volume 2: Manor Houses” to be the same. And, in a lot of ways, it is. There is the same painstaking attention to detail—down to the last gold piece for costs—as well as carefully documented maps and myriad suggestions to inspire you on everything from how to design the structure of the building (keeping its occupants and their possibly questionable character morals in mind), plan for its management, and even what to consider when planning its “curb appeal” in view of the building’s main purpose. As “Volume 1: Strongholds” of the series did, the book made me think of the edifices in whole new ways, and this volume is also easily applied.
What I didn’t expect from this volume is to have some real and hearty LOL moments. The author clearly enjoys his work, and through him, you enjoy the read even more so. What could be dry material when it comes to some of the minute details is peppered with tidbits of history, facts, and (my favorite) humor. The owner of one of the buildings in the book is a bit suspect, and apparently given to a bit of spying as his study can “also serve as a point for eavesdropping on an erstwhile private discussion in a ‘private’ space.” This gentleman (I use the term loosely, mind you.) is only happy to accommodate his patrons’ need for storage—“at a price.” I don’t want to spoil this for you, but as you continue to read, you meet other characters who are even more questionable. So, I found this book to be interesting and valuable from a game standpoint AND a real pleasure to read. Because of its versatility, its thoroughness in its explanations, and its engaging style, I recommend it for seasoned gamers and newbies alike. Everyone will gain something from the book because it is very original and meticulous without being too complicated, and because of its charm, it will entertain its experienced readers yet still be less daunting for newcomers. I certainly am looking forward to the release of the next volume in this outstanding series. I highly recommend both volumes and will be keeping an eye out for this author’s work.
[5 of 5 Stars!]