Book Review: “Critical Role – The Mighty Nein: The Nine Eyes Of Lucien” by Madeleine Roux

 

Cover of "Critical Role: The Mighty Nein - The Nine Eyes Of Lucien" by Madeleine Roux.
Cover of “Critical Role: The Mighty Nein – The Nine Eyes Of Lucien” by Madeleine Roux.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “Critical Role – The Mighty Nein: The Nine Eyes Of Lucien” by Madeleine Roux! For those who are unaware of what Critical Role is, it’s a streaming show focused on tabletop RPG games, particularly Dungeons & Dragons. “The Nine Eyes Of Lucien” is from Critical Role’s second campaign in particular (the show is currently going through its third!). Here’s a quick summary so we know what the book is about:

“Lucien has always been able to spin a bad situation to his advantage. From his childhood on the dangerous streets of Shadycreek Run to his years living off the grid and learning blood magic from the Claret Orders, the charismatic blood hunter will find a way to get the upper hand.

When Lucien is on a job in the frozen wastelands of Eiselcross with his fellow mercenaries, a rough-and-tumble crew called the Tombtakers, fate leads him to a mysterious journal in the ruins of an ancient city. The book speaks of the Somnovem, nine beings who can grant Lucien power beyond imagining—if he is able to find them and free them from captivity.

Intrigued by this opportunity, Lucien pores over the journal—but the more he reads, the stranger things become. The nine whisper to him in dreams and waking visions. Time slips away, along with Lucien’s grasp on reality. And tattoos of red eyes begin appearing on his skin. . . .

With the ability to reshape the world within his grasp, Lucien ignores all warning signs. He has always bent fortune to his will, and nothing—not even death—will stop him now.”

Plot Development: 4 out of 5 stars

This book covers both Lucien’s development as it happens before the events of Campaign 2, but also during it as well. Granted, for those who haven’t seen all of Campaign 2 of Critical Role, this will also contain major spoilers for the Campaign itself. It does a great job of also covering Lucien’s origins and how he rose to power and formed the Tombtakers.

The pacing of the book does feel slow to develop in the first third, but picks up quickly after that. Additionally, those who already saw all of Campaign 2 will also know how this story ends. However, the book does lend into more of Lucien’s inner thoughts and his side of that story, which is something that no one would have access to knowing during the events of the main campaign. It also creates an oddly-satisfying negative character arc (one where the main character develops for the worse). It made me as a reader at least understand Lucien’s motivations and how he went as far as he did, even if I end up rooting against him at the end.

My main criticism of the plot’s pacing is that it’s quite slow at the beginning. Fortunately, it picks up more in the second half.

Character Development: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading Lucien’s character development. From desperately trying to make a name of himself and survive to being corrupted by the Somnoven into its puppet without realizing it, it was interesting to read how it changed him and his personality so much. I also enjoyed reading more of how he and the Tombtakers worked with each other. In a way, they were a tight-knit group of their own. Perhaps they weren’t as close together as the Mighty Nein (the main characters of Campaign 2) became. But they were close enough that I could see how loyal they were to each other and how those loyalties were tested by the events of the book.

It’s also implied, in the latter half of the book, that Mollymauk still exists in Lucien in some form. Both converse with each other through internal thoughts during this part of the book. For those unaware (and yes this is a major spoiler but needs explaining for context), “Mollymauk” existed during the time that Lucien himself was dead. After Mollymauk died in Campaign 2, the Tombtakers went to bring back Lucien into his body. However, even after Lucien was brought back, Mollymauk still existed in the back of Lucien’s consciousness. This was something that the Mighty Nein exploited during their final battle with Lucien.

This final battle is also masterfully included in the final parts of the book. The inner conflict within Lucien, fighting with Mollymauk while being affected by the Somnoven, is an interesting dynamic to read overall.

Overall, I’m rating this book 4 out of 5 stars!

If you enjoyed watching Campaign 2 of Critical Role, this will definitely be worth reading to learn more about Lucien. However, readers unfamiliar with the Critical Role universe and its second campaign will probably not enjoy this as much.


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