First you should know where I'm coming from before you get into my review. I don't like the Toreador. Or I should say I don't like they way they are usually portrayed. But I liked this book. It really showed the clan as being something interesting that I wouldn't mind playing, and gave me some good ideas for the Toreador characters in the chronicle I'm working on. Well now for the in-depth review.
Everyone else seems to start with reviewing the art so I might as well be a conformist. Appropriately enough for the Toreador book the art is pretty good. None of it was horrid like I've seen in many other books, but most of it is fairly average. There are some rather nice pieces that add to the feel of the book rather then act as a placeholder. So the artwork gets my seal of approval.
The opening fiction is well written, but just seemed to lack a point, as well as being hard to follow. It does tie in with a bit later in the book and provides a nice look at some African Kindred which is a refreshing vacation from all the American/European vampires shown everywhere else.
The first chapter provides two different in-character takes on Toreador history. The first is the more standard look all through history with some alternate creation stories as the highlight (such as Caine sireing a pair of lovers before sireing the well known three of the second generation, and the Toreador Anti being Ishtar). The second is a more modern perspective by the character from the opening fiction with a focus on where art is going and the effects of modern society on the Toreador. Both are well written, although the second seems to be written more by a modern American then the African Ancila who supposedly wrote it. Both provide some nice ideas in different areas and the take on art in the modern world is a very nice addition to a book about the clan of artists.
The second chapter is split into three in-character segments and a small disciplines section. The first section is just the standard angst of being dead stuff. It's well done but says nothing new to anyone familiar with the game and could easily have been left out. Thankfully it's short. The second is an overview of Toreador society and mindset. Again it's well written, but this one is thankfully full of useful info that really gives life to the clan. This is a long section and quite probably the best part of the book. Next comes the standard stereotypes section giving opinions of all the other clans and various other critters in the WoD. Unlike the other stereotype sections I've seen this one goes a bit in depth and has some really cool insights. Finally this chapter has a short list of new discipline powers. For you LARPers out there they all contain MET rules as well as tabletop. They are all well balanced and have a good "feel" to them.
The final chapter contains the templates and notable characters section. I'd have to say that these are the best templates I've seen in a Vampire book. All are well written and interesting characters. If anything they provide a nice assortment of types of characters, and helps put down the old Torie stereotype. The notables are well done as well. I particularly like the revenge artist.
Overall the book is very well written and has some very nice ideas as well. It's right up there with the best Vampire supplements such as Ghouls: Fatal Addiction. I'd highly recommend this to anyone playing a Toreador, or who wants to add some depth to the Tories in their game. I really found little that was truly BAD about it, just a few bland parts and very minor complaints about older characters seeming too young in attitude.
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)