Okay, anyone whose read many reviews for these books probably thinks I'm a shill for Onyx Path or something, but I do quite love these books... Well, I WAS fairly disappointed in that V20 Ghouls book. Anyway, this one is kinda amazing.
First off, the CONCEPT of Lore of the Bloodlines has been, like, over twenty-five years coming. The first of these vamires I remember seeing was the 'blood line' Salubri from the Players Guide back in '91, and then came the Gargoyles, Blood Brothers (sadly not in THIS book) and Baali from the '92 The Storytellers Handbook. After that, an explosion of bloodlines came, each with lovely hints and mysteries to explore. Not until now, though, have we received a proper look at these Kindred and Cainites – and even stranger identifiers to listen to these monsters – in a single book.
Know that ALL of the bloodlilnes are not in here. As a 'stretch goal' for the V20 Lore of the Clans Kickstarter, this book was funded in stages. The bloodlines that appear here are those that the backers were able to achieve, so the above-mentioned Blood Brothers, alas, didn't make the cut. However, the nine bloodlines we DID get are a very nice spread of posibilities from the entire run of Vampire: The Masquerade. I don't see the limited scope as a ding against the book so much as the ever-present 'wish I could'a had' chance to winge.
Good points: Well-written in character and out of character bits; evocative as well as informative art that fits the V20 aesthetic; and very consistent, polished presentation all combine to make this book a worthy addition to the line. These are the easiest to quantify, but there's more to love here.
My favourite part is how the presented information offers more new and myeterious content than even the gigantic Lore of the Clans did. Since there was no previous edition, the amount of apparent cut-and-paste (of ideas rather than literal, mind you) that we've seen in some other V20 books is very small here. Further, the book isn't afraid to contradict what we already know... or THINK we know. Bits from older books are as often called out as lies as they are mentioned as fact (Kiasyd with Necromancy, anyone?), and while oddities like those presented in, say, The Black Hand: A Guide to the Tal'Mahe'Ra aren't mentioned for the Harbingers of Skulls, nor are they outright contradicted. It's all presented more as the POSSIBLE than as anything required. Like when I first discovered the idea of bloodlines, this whole book feels novel., but the format like that of the Lore of the Clans makes it easy to use at the talbe and elsewhere. It's a familiar presentation of something new.
In all, I find this book a wonderful expansion of the World of Darkness that my vampires inhabit.
[5 of 5 Stars!]