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The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History Paperback – July 1, 2012
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Leopold Grace was not only a chairman of the famous Nova Alliance, an elite organization gathering America’s most prominent adventurers, vigilantes and superheroes, but also an ally and a former mentor of Mr. Reese’s most popular hero Max Davies also known as The Peregrine.
Mr. Grace was also an expert on supernatural, frequently aiding people like Occult Detective Ascott Keane, or Jethro Dumont/Green Lama, as well as fighting such supernatural powerhouses like sinister masked villain known as Doctor Satan.
Leopold’s relatives are considered to be one of the richest, and most influential families in Sovereign City, and Samantha Grace, a beautiful heiress to their wealth and legacy is also a well-known heroine due to being a member of enigmatic Lazarus Gray’s Assistance Unlimited.
During her adventures with the rest of the team, she thwarted schemes by mad scientists, supervillains, occultists, demons, monsters and abominations from beyond our reality, saving the world in process numerous times.
Samantha’s illegitimate half-sister, a former criminal Charity Grace is the current bearer of The Gravedigger mantle, making her a host to the power that through the ages changed men and women into a tool of supernatural force known only as The Voice.
Now, gifted with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, Charity punishes the wicked, slaying murderers, rapists, psychopaths, as well as madmen who tried to use magic or science to fulfill their warped ambitions, hoping that it would be enough to earn her redemption for all her former sins.
As such, it probably comes as no surprise, that I decided to take a look at “A Family Grace: An Extraordinary History”, a tome collecting all stories about this heroic family, and devoured it in mere hours.
As always with Barry Reese’s writing it was really entertaining, but at the same time left me wanting for a bit more… But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The tome itself is divided into three separate parts, or books as they are called, each of them focusing on the other parts of Grace Family… mostly, but I’ll get to that.
First one is called “The World of Shadows” and introduces us to a gentleman known as Eobard Grace.
He is not only a heir to the rich and influential family, but also an accomplished soldier and Civil War veteran, recently discharged from Union Army due to debilitating wound he acquired after being shot in the leg.
Eobard’s war experiences had caused him to seclude himself into his mansion, only interacting with his servants, and generally letting himself go, putting on weight, avoiding his barber, etc.
But everything changes the day he is visited by his beloved uncle Frederick, a man whom he hadn’t seen in years, but who practically raised him when Eobard’s father had died. Former soldier is overjoyed to see him again, but soon enough becomes rather worried.
Frederick Grace was always a bit eccentric as a historian specializing in the topic of the occult, and a director of the Museum of Pagan Antiquities in Salem, but things he said to Eobard made our hero question his uncle’s sanity.
Older gentleman claimed, that in the ancient past Earth was a place of magic and supernatural creatures, but at some point all of that was banished to the other plane, leaving humanity only with science and rationality.
But he had found something, that is a proof and one of the last remnants of the Age of Magic: A mysterious tome called Book of Shadows, that according to Frederick contains knowledge, and the power that is too dangerous to be left unchecked.
So, he asks his beloved nephew to keep it hiding within his house, but never to open it without his order, hoping that it would keep The Book safe while he conducts his research.
Despite his doubts Eobard agrees to do what Frederick had asked out of love and respect for him, but during the next few years is too occupied with current events to think about an old book, and nearly forgets about it.
In the meantime, his uncle is thrown out of his position of the director of the museum, and disappearing from the face of the Earth without a trace, as if he vanished into a thin air, despite Eeobard’s repeated attempts to find him, either by himself of hired detectives.
The, sometime later our hero receives a rather unusual letter from Frederick. Older gentleman claims that he is in grave danger, and if Eobard wants them to ever see each other again, he has to open The Book of The Shadows, and use it powers to find him, through the use of certain ritual.
Though skeptical, Eobard does as he was told, and is then overwhelmed by the unnatural darkness, that causes him to pass out. When he regains his senses, he immediately realizes, that the place he was transported to is not America, or any other location on Earth.
Now, armed only in his experience, wits and trusty old sword he used during his military career to survive in the alien world he knows nothing about, except the fact that it is rather dangerous, as he is attacked by an inhuman beast within minutes of arriving there.
After meeting a local warrior named Ferrian our hero is informed, that he was transported to a grim and horrible place ruled by the cruel beings known as The Shadows, ruled by the inhuman sorcerer called Uris-Kor.
According to the local legends Lord of Shadows is invincible and immortal, the only person who can defeat him, and bring freedom again is the prophesized savior called “The Man of Grace”, or Conqueror of Shadows.
As it turns out, Frederick Grace was thought to be that person, as he was a leader of the resistance against Uris-Kor’s tyranny, but some time ago his forces were defeated, and he mysteriously vanished, leading many of his followers to believe that he was killed by the immortal dictator.
But now, when another Man of Grace had arrived to The World of Shadows there is hope again. The strength of the legend and Grace family’s reputation bolstered by his uncle’s heroic deeds could make Eeobard a new leader of the resistance…
Problem is, that he has no plans on becoming a hero, mainly interested in finding his relative, and getting back to Earth… At least until he meets Aniloza, a brave, rebellious princess of one of the kingdoms conquered by Shadows, who tries to fight the oppression of Uris-Kor’s followers.
Instantly smitten by her courage and beauty Eobard starts to think, that the role of an legendary hero might not be that bad…
Problem is, that his enemy is lot more powerful than he thinks, and not all prophecies are fulfilled in the ways they are expected to…
That story kinda feels familiar, isn’t it?
I mean, a Civil War veteran who is transported to the alien world, then befriends a local warrior, falls in love in a brave princess and fights evil with his sword in hand… Yes, it is a dead ringer for the legendary “Barsoom Saga” by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
True, we exchange Mars for a planet filled with magic, supply trolls in place of vicious White Apes, change fierce Green Martians into Orcs, add some Elves etc., but the skeleton upon which the story was build is basically the same.
Eobard is rather similar to John Carter (Albeit without superpowers to rely on), Aniloza reminds the reader of Dejah Toris, though dressed a bit more conservatively, and Ferrian has a similar role to Tars Tarkas, despite being a human, not a four armed Green Martian.
Not that it is anything bad, as Barry Reese had openly admitted that “The World of Shadows” was intended as an homage to the classic Proto-Pulp series, and it actually does a really good job at creating the atmosphere that reminds the reader of those tales.
For example, it is written from the first person perspective, instead of the third person perspective as in majority of Mr. Reese’s stories, making it even more similar to the adventures of John Carter, Dejah Toris etc.
Actually, now that I think about, I only recall his later work on “The Dark Gentleman – The Judgment of The Shadow Court” to be written that way…
Also, as he did with Lazarus Gray or The Peregrine, Barry Reese only used well known elements as a base for his story, going in a vastly different direction than the materials he based his story on. We have drama, plot twists, world building and growing bonds between our heroes, so instead of carbon copy of John Carter’s adventures we have a variation on its themes.
Overall, a solid, and entertaining story, even if writing style is not as polished as in modern works of Mr. Reese, and his own, distinct style is clearly not yet completely formed. Still, his “unpolished” early work is still lot better than average, so there is really no problem with that.
Next story, “The Flesh Wheel” introduces us to the next generation of Grace family, no less brave and adventurous than Frederick and Eobard.
Action takes place in 1885, eight years after the events described in “The World of Shadows”. Due to mysterious disappearance of Eobard Grace lack of any information about his whereabouts , he is proclaimed legally dead, and thus his niece Miriam inherits his whole fortune.
Of course, in those times it would be inappropriate for a woman to be a head of such an old and respected family, even one as intelligent and independent as our heroine. Also, she is nearing thirty, which caused most of the upper society to consider her and old maid.
Fortunately, Miriam is planning to marry her fiancée, a respected historian named Ian Sinclair. But to his chagrin, she has one, rather unusual thing to do before entering marriage.
After reading Eobard’s papers she becomes fascinated with his tales about the mysterious World of Shadows, it’s incredible inhabitants, and heroic fight against the tyrannical Uris-Kor. Miriam strongly believes that her uncle’s memoirs are true, despite Ian berating her for that, and decides to follow his example, and visit the alien world.
Unfortunately the legendary Book of Shadows, which worked as a gateway between worlds had disappeared along with Eobard, leaving our heroine without a tool necessary to follow his footsteps. She urges Ian to find another so-called Blood Tomes, to use it as substitute for her uncle’s Book, which he grudgingly does, but it is not an easy task.
He is however rather motivated despite his disbelief in supernatural, as it turns out that, Mr. Sinclair is primarily interested in his bride’s fortune and social position, dreaming of using them to further his own standing.
And since Miriam had adamantly stated, that she would not marry him before fulfilling her dream about traveling to The World of Shadows this whole situation can ruin all his plans. Also, his skepticism is put on trial, when something clearly inhuman assaults him in his home, claiming that Eobard Grace is not dead, and that “The Flesh Wheel is turning”…
As it later turns out, something a lot worse than Uris-Kor and his monstrous allies had appeared in The World of Shadows. And this new danger can apparently reach Earth too, so Grace clan would have to save not one, but two realities this time…
“The Flesh Wheel” is a lot better than the first story, not that it was bad or anything, but it clearly shows Barry Reese’s growth as a writer, as he is not writing a homage to an older series anymore, but rather his own thing, which he does best.
His style is more defined now, narration more fluid, and characters are better fleshed out. Mr. Reese’s tendency of subverting old Pulp tropes also begins to show, as he turns the whole character dynamics one could expect from a story such as this on its head.
We have a daring, fearless adventurer, who relishes in opportunity to explore a new, exotic world, and a frightened damsel, who would like nothing more than returning to their old, comfy lives, and for most of the time is rather useless.
Basically, a classic set of character archetypes, used for years. So, where is the subversion I mentioned?
Well, here Miriam is the daring adventurer, when Ian fulfills the role of weak-willed, easily scared damsel… It makes their relationship rather fun to read about, and in a way quite fresh, despite the use of the old, and tired Tropes.
We also get rather interesting group of supporting characters, some old, like Ferrian, and some of them completely new, like mysterious, but powerful Korben, making the story even more lively.
Aside from likable (Or easy to hate…) characters, we also get Barry Reese’s trademark dynamic action scenes, bit of a horror and gore, as well as some additional information about the relationship between Earth and The World of Shadows.
Another good story, even though still a bit weaker than later stories by Mr. Reese.
Then, we get to the third part of the book, called “The Chronicles of Grace”, containing five loosely connected stories from the wider New Pulp universe created by Barry Reese.
First entry “The Great Work” is a classic Pulp horror with an atmosphere eerily similar to the famous Cthulhu Mythos by the legendary H.P. Lovecraft.
Our protagonist here is a rich, if a bit eccentric man named Felix Cole, who is related to the famous Grace family from Boston through his late wife Charlotte.
He is known as an accomplished scholar and in certain circles, as an avid collector of rare occult manuscripts, willing to travel to the most remote regions of the world in hopes of getting another priceless book for his collection.
His skills in repairing and restoring old tomes to their former glory are near-legendary, and had earned him a nickname of “The Bookbinder”. But his work is something more than just a hobby of the idle rich gentleman.
During his youth Felix had encountered a mysterious being looking like a human corpse crawling with countless cockroaches, that ordered him to bind a certain book. Due to his curiosity young man had read it, thus discovering Earth’s secret history as a domain of alien beings known as The Great OId Ones, and their inevitable return to destroy our civilization, and enslave humanity once more.
Frightened, but fascinated, The Bookbinder begins to search for other books like the one given to him by the Cockroach Man, and embarking on the quest of gaining knowledge contained in them, as well as preserving them, calling it The Great Work.
Then, another mysterious human-like entity calling himself Mr. Blackman has a job for Felix. Man (?) with hooved feet wants him to bind a legendary Book of Eibon in human flesh, taken from the young virgin. But to do so, the book itself has to be reclaimed from Himalayas.
Despite his better judgement The Bookbinder and his daughter Betsy travel to the half-forgotten temple in the mountains to find the book. But it would not be an easy task, because there are still things living there, that would think nothing of killing people, to protect their secrets…
As I mentioned before, it is very much like H.P. Lovecraft’s works, down to atmosphere, certain plot elements, and a rather unexpected twist ending. And since I love Cthulhu Mythos, how can I dislike “The Great Work”, especially with how well it had captured their spirit?
Next is the story titled “The Gilded Beast” featuring an adventure by Barry Reese’s most popular character, fearless vigilante Max Davies/The Peregrine.
It starts in 1942, opening with our hero battling a mad scientist called Doctor Blight, who uses steam-powered armor/exoskeleton contraption to commit his crimes. The Peregrine rather easily dispatches armored madman, and marks him with his infamous magical signet, but it soon turns out to merely be a warm up for the vigilante, because ghost of his father warns him of much greater danger.
Apparently an ancient supernatural being known as Syllithia had been hiding somewhere in Atlanta, slowly regaining it’s strength and building an army out of it’s half-human offspring. If it’s not stopped soon, they would become too powerful for any mortal to defeat…
Needing help, Max decides to turn to his old friend and ally, Occult Detective Ascott Keane, to use his vast knowledge of the supernatural to find the monster. Would he be able to uncover it’s hiding place, and defeat the monster before it would endanger the world?
The story itself is really short, only about 15 pages, but rather action-packed, and full of shout-outs to both classic Pulps with the use of Keane and Jethro Dumont/Green Lama and Barry Reese’s own works, as it turns out that Syllithia is a denizen of The World of Shadows, who somehow managed to reach Earth.
While ties to the Family Grace stories are symbolic at best, “The Gilded Beast” remains a very solid, entertaining read, and mere presence of my favourite Green Lama makes even better. Shame it is not a bit longer, but one should applaud the author for fitting as much entertainment into such limited space.
Next we have the story that radically changes status quo of The Peregrine, and his world called “The Diabolical Mr. Dee”.
During his years as a vigilante and adventurer Max Davies/The Peregrine encountered many extraordinary people, who shared his love for justice, and the desire to fight evil. But aside from his famous Nova Alliance, that had been slowly being disbanded after Doctor Satan had murdered it’s chairman Leopold Grace, his encounters with other heroes were limited to the short term team-ups, and information exchange.
So, Max had decided to change that, and took several younger, less experienced heroes under his wing, showing them the ropes of the vigilante business etc. Now, he is ready to take his plan to the next phase: Creating a team out of his protégés.
The Peregrine is in his 40’s now, and is quite aware that in a few years he may be too old to continue his work, so he had carefully observed his younger colleagues, encouraged them to work together, measured their potential, and finally had chosen four people to become members of the group he dubbed The Claws of Peregrine:
Sally Pence/The Revenant – First woman to be a heir of a century-old heroic legacy, and protector of Africa, using a legend of being an immortal wraith punishing the wicked, as well as her hard-earned skills to fight all forms of evil.
Nathaniel Caine/The Catalyst – Former British policeman and a newest man to possess the title of Earth’s High Mage, who is foretold to become a progenitor of new, evolved breed of humanity. In the meantime he uses his fabulous magical power to protect the planet from harm, both mundane and supernatural.
Rachel Caine/The Esper – Nathaniel’s wife and one of the most powerful psychics on Earth, capable of reading minds of others, as well as extremely powerful telekinesis, which enables her to act as both coordinator for the other team members, and a powerhouse on the field.
Vincent Frankenstein/Frankenstein’s Monster – Legendary artificial man made famous by Mary Shelley’s novel. Though cursed with unsettling, unnatural looks he is gifted with superhuman strength and durability, which makes him very useful during battles. But aside from his physical prowess, Vincent is also a highly intelligent man with a keen mind, which only doubles his usefulness for the team.
Together they could become a force to be reckoned with, but neither of them really worked in a team before, and soon all those strong, independent personalities start to clash with each other. But Claws of the Peregrine would have to learn to be a true team soon, because there is a great danger looming at the horizon.
In the 1942 an explorer named Daniel Cummings had led an expedition to Ethiopia in hopes of finding the lost city of Tegdaghost. According to the local legends inside of it is a key to gaining immortality.
Nobody really knows what did he found there, but he returned to America with a mysterious box, and gave it for safekeeping to the famous adventurer and occult expert, Richard Nova, heir to the founder of the Nova Alliance mentioned above.
Then, Richard gave the box to his friend and ally Max Davies/The Peregrine, warning him that the box’s contents can never fall into wrong hands, or the results would be catastrophic. So, when Richard is murdered by the Nazi sympathizers working for the mysterious figure known as Mr. Dee, our hero knows, that there is truth in his friend’s warnings.
It gets even worse when he and The Claws discover that Dee is a product of Third Reich’s sinister Occult Forces Project, that Max clashed in the past, which makes him something that is simultaneously more and less than human…
So… We get a story where The Peregrine basically creates a Pulp version of Justice League. Do I even need to say anything else, to emphasize how awesome it is?
Aside from all the action and always welcome curbstomping of Nazis, we also get to know some interesting characters, observe how they work together etc. which is also quite fun.
Only weakness of this story that I can point out, is the fact, that we got to see members of The Claws without any buildup, or preparation, while in The Peregrine’s books each of them got time to grow on reader, build their backstory etc.
There, we essentially got characters we already knew and liked banding together, which had a lot more impact than here.
It’s not bad, because I had no problem with the way characters were established, even before reading “The Peregrine Omnibus – Volume Two” that contained stories introducing them, but now I know “The Diabolical Mr. Dee” can be, and actually is even better, with prior knowledge.
As with the other stories in third part of the book the connection to the Grace family is minimal, though here those elements do have a significant impact on the plot. Plus get to see The Peregrine to interact with a member of the clan aside from Leopold, which is rather nice.
Then we have “The Black Mask”, showing us one of the possible futures of Barry Reese’s universe. It takes place in London, but this particular version of England’s capitol is rather different from the one we know. In this reality in 2006 Earth was enveloped by the supernatural cloud of darkness, later called Black Mass Barrier, that had cast our planet into an eternal twilight.
With the perpetual darkness magic had come back to the world, and along with it various supernatural beings, like Fae, werewolves, undead etc, had revealed themselves to humans, changing the society forever.
Our hero is Ian Morris, a young, but ambitious and experienced journalist somehow gifted with enhanced stamina by the Black Mass Event, letting him to sleep a lot less, than a regular person, which is of course rather useful in his line of work.
Another unusual thing about him, is Ian’s fascination with the so-called Mystery Men from the 30’s and 40’s, particularly the legendary Max Davies also known as The Peregrine, as well as the legacy he left behind.
One day, while making a documentary about Peregrine’s history he is unexpectedly visited by the elderly Max Davies, who somehow survived to the present time due to various supernatural events he participated in his youth.
Mr. Davies tells a story of his beginnings as a hero, and his motivations to the young reporter, but it is soon revealed, that he has a rather unusual proposition for Ian…
The story itself, while interesting on its own, it primarily serves as an introduction to the character of The Peregrine, arguably most famous and popular of Barry Reese’s characters, who made his author one of the stars of New Pulp movement.
While I knew the character before, I think it would encourage others not familiar with Max Davies, to look into the character, which is good, because The Peregrine is simply awesome
Though, I have to admit, that besides the fact that Black Mass Barrier is connected with The World of Shadows, and mentions of one of family Grace members it has very little to do with the main topic of this book.
If I had to nitpick a bit more, in my opinion this story would work better if it was put before “The Diabolical Mr. Dee”, as it would allow people unfamiliar with Max and his adventures to learn about the character’s backstory, but it’s just my opinion…
Fourth story, “The Four Peregrines” is a direct sequel to the one mentioned above
It all starts in the year 2012 , six years after the events of “Black Mass Barrier”. Ian Morris has continued the Peregrine’s legacy fighting all forms of evil found in the new, supernatural England, becoming a noticeable presence in vigilante community, and frequently joining forces with other heroes, for example occult expert Fiona Grace.
But his greatest trial is still before him…
One day he is visited by Nathaniel Caine, also known as The Catalyst, protector and High Mage of Earth, as well as an frequent ally, and close friend of the original Peregrine. Caine reveals that Mayan prophecies about the world ending in 2012 are true, and the only person who can stop it is Ian Morris…
To show The Fourth Peregrine what he would have to do, The Catalyst gives him visions of the past, and his predecessors battles to save the world.
Alongside Ian we first watch 1943’s team-up between The Peregrine and the famous Occult Detective, Ascott Keane to stop the sinister supervillain Doctor Satan, from using a Mayan tablet, that is said to be the key to ending the world, and remaking it in it’s user’s image.
One shudders to think what world could be created, if a callous murderer and sadist like Doctor Satan would be able to harness it’s power... But the villain repeatedly escaped the hands of justice, despite our heroes attempts at making him pay for his crimes.
What would prevail in the end: Peregrine and Keane’s determination, drive and sense of justice, or Satan’s devious, amoral mind?
Then, we travel to the San Francisco of late 60’s, during the times when The Peregrine’s name belongs to Max’s son, William. While young Mr. Davies is a rather successful vigilante, and works hard to uphold his family legacy, there is a rather big rift between him, and his father.
William has a rather radical, anti-establishment political views, which led to his involvement in the Hippie Movement, and is a firm believer in the ideas of “free love”, and “expanding one’s consciousness” through the use of various drugs, which does not sit very well with Max, who considers it frivolous and immoral waste of his son’s potential.
Then, unexpectedly Peregrine II encounters one of his father’s deadliest enemies: An immortal master criminal, occultist and scientist with no peers, Warlike Manchu. Seeing William’s potential, as he did with his father years ago, ageless villain proposes a partnership.
Having obtained the stone tablet, that was once stolen by Doctor Satan, Manchu decided that the new, improved world needs a qualified leader, a man of vision and will. A man just like himself… or William Davies.
Would the young vigilante be able to resist the temptation to destroy the old, corrupt world, just as he always wanted?
Finally, we travel to 1973 to see third Peregrine, Max’s daughter Emma, who alongside her best friend and adventuring partner Kayla Kaslov, daughter of so-called “Russian Superman” Leonid Kaslov, tries to extract Mayan stone tablet from one of the mysterious Devil Pits in the mountains of Brazil.
While finding the artefact is rather easy, getting out of the Devil Pit would prove a challenge even for Third Peregrine, because, as she soon finds out, it is not as deserted as it would appear at first glance. And being who lives there likes visitors only as a source of fresh meat…
As a bonus, we get a short glimpse at life of retired Max Davies, and a rather interesting dynamic of his relationship with Emma.
I am not going to lie, “The Four Peregrines” is a great story, probably my favorite in the whole book.
The opportunity to see The Peregrine’s legacy through the years is really interesting, especially because each person wearing the mask sees their role as a hero a bit differently.
Overall, it’s a really good story, as I already stated before, even if it is not really about Grace Family. As with the “Black Mass Barrier” it’s connections to the heroic clan are a bit superficial, just Fiona’s character, and mentions of World of Shadows here and there.
My other problem with this story as a fan of The Peregrine is the fact, that it left me longing for new stories focusing on the adventures of Max’s heirs…
But, is it really a flaw that it was good enough, to left reader wanting for more?
It’s really hard for me to properly rate this book.
On one hand it is made of prime quality New Pulp by Barry Reese, which made putting it down before finishing it rather hard. There are no weak stories here, even the first two from the author’s younger years are quite good, even if not up to his modern standards. It also can serve as a great introduction point for all who would want to sample this author's style.
On the other hand there is surprisingly little about Grace family for a book called “The Family Grace…”, and if someone is a fan of Barry Reese’s works, then he or she had already read about 60% of the text before. Do not get me wrong, those stories are great, and it was fun to read them again, but it was kind of disappointing, that only the first three stories were unknown to me.
I also feel there is a lot of untapped potential in history of Grace clan, which left me wanting for more of those stories. As I mentioned before, two heroines related to the adventurous family are already prominent heroines in Barry Reese’s books, so maybe it’s time for Fiona and Charity to follow their forefathers example?
So… Who would I recommend “A Family Grace: An Extraordinary History”?
Fans of Barry Reese probably already bought it, while people who are still new to his work should get a good feel of his skills, despite the flaws mentioned above. Could that book be better?
It sure could but it’s still good as it is. So why not to give it a chance?
As they seemed more fantasy oriented, I wasn't that interested in reading them, but as time went on, and other elements were tied in, I became interested.
In recent months, his timeline instead indicated a new collection of the "Family Grace" stories, so I hoped to see it. Finally, here it is!
For me, this is a collection of new and reprinted works. Some I have read, but others I have not.
Beginning the book are two long stories (novellas?) that comprise the original 2 "Family Grace" stories. These are more of 'sword & planet' type stories, or fantasies, where the main characters passes thru to another world connected to ours: the World of Shadows, which is a magical world. These 2 stories tell of the adventures of Eobard Grace and others of his family in this world.
In the first, Eobard comes over to this world, rescues his uncle, saves and loves a princess, and overthrows an evil lord. At the end he returns home (when you read the story, you'll understand why). In the second, several years later Eobard returns to this world with his niece (and her fiance) in tow to stop a trio of demons re-uniting the World of Shadows with our own. At the end they all decide to remain there.
The rest of the volume is taken up by several shorter works, many of which were included in Rook volumes. All of their original publications are noted in the introduction.
"The Great Work" is a short story originally from an issue of Wildcat Book's "Starling Stories". It has another Grace family member and their involvement with the horrors that exist in our world.
"The Gilded Beast" was intended for the Rook v3, but never saw print. This short story has the Rook, along with Ascott Keane (who fights Dr. Satan and has appeared in several Rook stories) along with the Green Lama. Here, the Rook deals with a creature from the "World of Shadows".
"The Diabolical Mr. Dee", from Rook v5, tells of the Rook's meeting with Eobard Grace, when he and some of his friend find themselves in the "World of Shadows".
"The Black Mass" (mistitled the "Black Mask"), from Rook v1, introduces the future 4th Rook and his lover, Fiona Grace, a descendant of Eobard. The barrier that separates our world from the "World of Shadow" has fallen, and we now see many of the magical creatures of that world (good and bad) in our own.
"The Four Rooks", from Rook v4, is a direct sequel to "The Black Mass". It actually spans over several years, and we see many of the Rooks past and present.
Also included is a version of Reese's timeline for many of his works. However, due to a formatting error, the titles of the works are not in bold. Also, the "Gilded Beast" is missing from this list.
For those who have read the Rook stories, this is a volume they should get, despite the repeat of some stories. Or, this can serve as a great introduction to new readers.
Only complaint I have about this edition is that the kindle version doesn't seem to have the illustrations of the solid copy. A minor irk, but an irk anyhoo...
Quoth the Raven