Nicholas Bergquist's review does an excellent job giving an overview of what the product contains. I wholeheartedly recommend reading it if you haven't already. What I will focus on is the improvements this book has over the previous Forgotten Heroes installment.
Tavis and company most definitely improved greatly in producing this book. It both looks and feels better than Fang, Fist, and Song.
BETTER CENTRAL PREMISE: This is the foundation upon which the success of the entire book rests. In Fang, Fist, and Song, the central premise was a post-apocalyptic setting... the Ancients (bards and monks) and the Primals (barbarians and druids) were lost sects of society who emerged as major players because they were better equipped to handle the post-apocalyptic environment than the classes in the PHB. This weakened the connection between the four classes. This time around, however, the book focuses on a single power source, Death, and all the things associated with it (like final destinations, undeath and the combating of such, and whatnot). This single, stronger central premise strengthened the connection between the classes and allowed the design team to focus their energies on that single premise.
SINGLE, NEW POWER SOURCE: Admit it, Fang, Fist, and Song was really an exercise of getting the barbarian, bard, druid, and monk on the floor quickly since WotC wasn't going to do it for almost a year. Sadly, the Advanced Player's Guide and a multitude of fan works already had that covered. Tavis' team's efforts were viciously wasted. Plus, I didn't like the (woefully incomplete) exploration of the primal power source before WotC was ready to release details on it. If the team had made all four classes from the same power source and named that power source something else other than primal, I would have been happier. This time around, however, the team created a whole new power source and explored it deeply and religiously, free of the constraints of stepping on WotC's toes. The result is a gorgeous selection of classes that fills all four role niches. This makes the book a lot more useful to me.
- CLEANER FORMATTING: While Fang, Fist, and Song was readable enough, the formatting of the power headers killed it for me. The team fixed this in Scythe and Shroud by right-aligning the Class/Level designator to the right margin rather than left-aligning it to the center of the header. The power headers look a lot, LOT less crowded because of this. A minor adjustment, but one that I wholeheartedly appreciate.
Overall, the team did an excellent job on this book and I'm happy to have bought it. It makes an excellent addition to my "player's options" library.
[5 of 5 Stars!]