The story concerns two police detectives and a street bum caught up in saving the world against an invasion from a shadow world, in part by tracking down a murderer. Nothing terribly memorable, and marred by clunky writing.
I liked the magical bailiff's badge which not only serves as a passkey, but generates light, and there were some interesting tidbits about Guildsport, like the annual Ship Day. There are appendices of background information on the city, and game stats for the three main characters, making this book of more direct use to gamers than most.
The Bloodshadows background claims to be Fantasy Noir; if that's what you want, Glen Cook's Garrett stories would be a better bet.
A team of heroes is assigned to save the world, and various bad guys with their own agendas try to stop them. City of Pain had too many characters for a novel its length -- a team of over a dozen heroes, a band of seven villains, and numerous other characters. The author managed to give some characters enough motivation that their actions made sense, but most of them remained just names.
I never got a clear picture of what it meant to be a Storm Knight, the player character of Torg. Although the novel showed how the rules of different cosms interact (fantasy dwellers can still cast spells, but are less powerful outside their realm), it didn't seem to offer a whole lot of background information. It did provide a map of Berlin under alien occupation.
If you're interested in Torg, City of Pain could be adapted as a scenario. Otherwise, it isn't very compelling.
This review was written for The Gamer's Connection.
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