||Outstanding book, and I've been messing around with it all day, building characters and enjoying the unusual class combinations and power sets that can be found within. So far I've rolled up some 1st level characters, 16th level characters, and experimented a bit with one of the epic paths, and found them all to have some well-thought out design principles.
This book is definitely better and more evolved than the first Forgotten Heroes book, benefitting from a year of insight and evolution for 4E. It has the following bits, for those looking for a run-down:
Necromancer - a variant on the classic, with emphasis on summoning powers (plays a bit like the summoner features introduced in Arcane Power). The summonings are of classic undead, and the class models the archetypal D&D necromancer fairly well, I think.
Spiritsworn - Anyone who's played too much Guild Wars will notice more than a passing thematic resemblance to GW's ritualist class (this is meant as a positive correlation with an MMO, I love GW!). The Spiritsworn is easily my favorite new class in this book, with the theme being a sort of necromantic fighter who calls upon the spirits for aid in battle. They like scythes, too. Very creative class, and I easily figured out some interesting power combos with the characters I built on it. I'll be using these builds as NPC allies and foes in my pending weekly game, as well.
Assassin - this is an interesting combat class, which I might call a "necromancer rogue" in how it appears to function. Not quite as exotic as the other classes, but it might give fans of the swordmage and avenger a new class to drool over. It uses a Study Point mechanic to give the assassin an edge over time, something I'd like to see in action, to see how well it works.
Deathwarden- this class surprised me, because I was expecting it to be some variant on the death knight, anti-paladin or whatnot, but it turned out to be a strange and interesting idea: a sort of defender-themed warlord type who has an uncanny ability to sense impending doom and uses this to his advantage to protect those around him. Probably my next most favorite of the classes after the spiritsworn, and a genuinely interesting concept with excellent implementation.
New Stuff: the book introduces a few new rituals of appropriate theme, some interesting and thematically appropriate feats, a selection of magic items (no new armor items though, a pity!) and I was especially happy to see details on setting up NPC versions of the classes in the last section of the book, along with precalculated charts of NPC stats for ease of reference. This is something, I will point out, that not even WotC can do right, forcing DMs to invent their own approach to NPCs in the PHB2 while waiting for a DMG2 release in September.
Presentation: 5/5 Clean and well edited; I've only caught one power so far that felt like it was missing something or needed clarification so far (spiritsworn Vortex of Souls Levevl 5 Daily -- the effect should be until the end of the encounter, I am pretty sure, although it does not state such).
Production Quality: 5/5 Nice graphics and layout, readable and (important) easy to print. I'll be picking up the actual print edition as well when I see it, but it's nice to have the PDF on file as well.
Overall Value: 5/5 I'm using this in my game tonight, and encouraging my players to mine it for new characters. Well worth the money invested, and these classes are interesting and different enough to have legs of their own. As an aside, aspiring developers for 4E who want to get a sampling of new class design done right from a 3rd party source should take a look at this! They did an fantastic job.
[5 of 5 Stars!]