Montaigne considers herself to be the centre of the world, so whether you want to run an adventure set there or play a character who hails from there this book will provide ample resources for understanding the land and its people. Flamboyant and arrogant swordsmen, court intrigue and intense emnity with their neighbours to the south, Castille, mark out Montaigne as a country like no other on Théah.
The Introduction explains a little of the nature of Montaigne. Think Alexander Dumas' The Musketeers - swagger and panache, as interested in just how stylishly you take a villain down as you are in defeating him at all. Generousity and wit... but only if you can afford it, with a massive impoverished underclass who exist (in Montaigne eyes at least) to support the idle rich. OK, not completely idle, but they wave swords around as a matter of form rather than because it is their job to fight. This is the home of literature and art on Théah, the final bastion of culture. This is how they see themselves at the centre of the world.
First comes Montaigne, a chapter that explores the history and current state, opening with a piece of fiction concerning the current Emperor, which is continued throughout the book, an installment per chapter. We learn that the Emperor hates the Vaticine Church and shelters sorcerers from the church's wrath, and as an absolute monarch, what he thinks becomes state policy. It's a land where family is important, especially if you are noble, and some sample noble bloodlines are provided for those characters seeking a Noble Advantage to further their career. They can also serve as patrons and allies (or indeed, enemies). You can also read about notable places including the fifteen provinces. Culture (on which Montaigne folk pride themselves), science, the church and much more are also covered including a fascinating section on daily life that will aid in bringing the place to life in your game.
Next, Hero looks at some of the nation's most important individuals, with plenty of detail should the party encounter them. It begins with the royal family (where eles?) and runs through other notables, movers and shakers - nobles, military leaders and others, including some the nobles might use but would never invite to dinner. Patrons, perhaps, or employers... but not good people to get on the wrong side of, that is certain!
Then comes Drama. This is the rules section with new mechanics and additional rules for making Montaigne Heroes. This includes the Destiny Spread, a novel way to determine a character's stengths and weaknesses via a Tarot reading. There are also new rules for Porté magic, the 'signature' magical style of Montaigne. There's a couple of backgrounds to consider and several new Swordsman Schools - one based on street brawling, one primarily interested in firearms and one which teaches students to take advantage of whatever weapons come to hand! Montaigne-specific advantages, organisations and even items of equipment are also found here, and the chapter also includes with a system for Courtly Intrigue. This can be fascinating or completely boring depending on the interests of your players, but it's definitely a feature of life at the Montaigne court. There's an extensive section on the famous and fabulous Puzzle Swords, and a section on mass battles.
The final chapter, Style, comes in two parts. The first, of general interest, discusses how to play a Montaigne character to the hilt, useful to those who want to play one and GMs eager to have some memorable NPCs. The second part is aimed at GMs and contains assorted secrets and snippets of information, as well as full stat blocks for the people met in the Heroes chapter. There are new monsters, too, and a chart to help you through the mechanics of Courtly Intrigue.
Overall, this paints a compelling picture of Montaigne, a country where it's good to be noble and pretty rough if you are anything else. Wonderful background for characters, and an equally good resource for GMs whose adventures will take the party there.
[5 of 5 Stars!]