Let me begin by saying this: This is what I wanted Shattered Dreams to be.
Not only does it wonderfully present the possibilities for a campaign in a time-period that I believe is seriously underrated, it also fixes a lot of the problems that I have had with the Lost Breeds in WtA lore.
Welcome to the Savage Age!
The book opens with a short story connected to the Kitsune, or rather to their progenitor Fox. I might have prefered a story focusing more heavily on some actual heroe of the time the book is set during, but it is still good writing. Next we get an introduction to the setting that really tries to sell it to the reader. For me being a huge stone age fan as it is it only makes me happy to see someone describe the potentiall of this time so passionately. All well and good, lets get into the meat of the book!
Accounting for the Dead
This is the big section of the book, covering a number of Lost Breeds of Fera along with one brand new created specifically for this book! These are:
Khara: These Bastet of sabertooth stock have already been covered by the writers in their book "Tribebook: Khara". This section is a summarization of some of the information from that book along with some additional information and Gifts. I will say more about the Khara in my review for that book later, but all in all, a good write-up for an interesting Breed.
Apis: Now this is probably my favourite part of the book! The were-aurochs have always been the Changing Breed I have disliked the most. They just seemed like something created to be a sad story about how Garou are arrogant, destructive brutes, instead of being a well-thought out Breed with a legitimate purpose amongst the Fera. Not so here. Here the Apis are given the justice they deserve, becoming visionaries and bringers of change. Their gifts reflect this with a lot of focus on social interactions, as well as some pretty nice combat gifts. I cannot stress how much I love these new Apis and really hope I will get a chance to play one of them in a game.
Grondr: The boar-changers are an interesting concept that are framed in this book as the original main Wyrm-hunters of Gaia. Their culture, society and history is given more depth here, along with some nice gifts to build a concept that is equal parts brutal fighter as it is cunning cleanser of wyrm-taint and even a little bit of a trickster.
Anupu-Ba-El: This is the new Changing Breed presented in the book. The Anupu-Ba-El are jackal-shifters, here portrayed as the ancestors of the Silent Strider tribe, whom during the War of Rage choose to join with the original wolf-shifters as the "Garou Nation". I love this concept of the Garou having a multi-species origin. It makes the great variety of garou tribes seem more plausible and makes the War of Rage a more nuanced story. I also like the concept of the Anupu-Ba-El as keepers of the spiritual balance of the world, with a gradual shift over time to focus on Death and the spirits of the departed. Their gifts suits them perfectly as proto-Silent Striders and as shamans.
Neanderthals: This section made me very curious when I saw it. I will admit that these cousins/ancestors of ours have a very special place in my heart and have for a very long time captured my imagination. It made me very frustrated in the Shattered Dreams book that the neanerthals were given so little thought, with the section regarding them seemingly only consisting of the writer reading J. Aules Clan of the Cave Bear and copying everything said about the neanderthals there into the book (while Aule is a great author, her first book is several decades old and lots of new information has emerged about these humans since then). Not so the Savage Age! Here these ancient humans are presented properly, going into detail about how to play a neanderthal character and how they relate to the different Fera. I love that the neanderthals have been given their own gifts, setting them apart from Homo sapiens characters. While some of the information given about them might be debated, it has more to do with what current theories you choose to follow, rather than out-dated information (as with Shattered Dreams). All in all, a great section!
Playing in the Savage Age
Here the reader is given a more thorough presentation of the setting, with everything from Palao-ecology, human cultures, languages to a small bestiary of different animals to appear in your game. It also contains how to create a character in the setting, with new abilities and also a nice system with specializations depending on what breed you pick (Beast, Metis, Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals). All in all, a very nice introduction that will hopefully inspire both players and game-masters alike!
And that is all! I cannot stress how much I recommend this book to anyone who likes Werewolf the Apocalypse and is interested in a game set during the Stone Age. You will not be disappointed! The only real down-side to this book is that it is too short. I can only hope that with the sales from it the writers will be encouraged to continue this series, as from what I have heard there is even more to come!
[5 of 5 Stars!]