Hey guys — I know it’s been a long while without a post from me here on the Rogue Warden. My life’s been crazy hectic.
I’ve got a new career: I’m the lead designer and line manager for Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Wrath & Glory at Ulisses-Spiele and Ulisses North America. Along with that, I went and moved to Germany (I’ll be living in Idstein, not far from Frankfurt) to concentrate on the project.
In the middle of all that, though, I found an author who deserves some serious praise. The man’s name is Drew Hayes, and he’s quickly grown to become one of my all-time favorite authors.
I discovered his work when I found an interesting book series called Spells, Swords, & Stealth. It is a gripping fantasy tale that blends in a healthy amount of tabletop roleplaying game adventure in an engaging way. Interestingly, I started with book 2 of the series first, called Split the Party. I’m not sure how I got confused about which one was which, but regardless, I jumped into the middle of the tale rather than the beginning.
And it was damn good. Something I really appreciate about Drew Hayes’ writing is that he delves deep into establishing his characters’ motivations. You know what drives these characters, you know what makes them tick. In addition, Hayes picks some fascinating tropes to explore in greater depth, like “What makes a Paladin, a Paladin?” and “what would a Half-orc Wizard look like?” The barbarian character–the town mayor’s daughter–has a particularly unique arc.
So I finished Split the Party, moved to book 3, and read that… and it was also damn good. So I went back and read the first book, NPCs, to get fully caught up on the series. When I finished, I knew that Drew Hayes was an author that I wanted to follow.
Looking around on the internet, I located more of his work: the Super Powereds series. This was going to be different from his fantasy books, I could tell, but I wanted to check them out all the same.
I fucking devoured these books.
What I mean by that is I had difficulty putting them down. I had trouble finding out where I wanted to stop before going to sleep at night. These books are sinfully, radioactively good.
The Super Powereds series is about superheroes, but it is in a world that is very different than other superhero books I’ve read and enjoyed (such as Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart and related series). Drew Hayes’ superhero world is one that has some very interesting twists; what if there was a nation-wide agency devoted to dealing with superpowered individuals? What if being a superhero was a defined career choice with specialized academies to become certified? These are just some of the issues that come up in the Super Powereds world.
If I had to pick a short-hand to describe the series, I could say it is “Basically Hogwart’s for superheroes,” but that would not really suffice. Super Powereds is a series of books that explores the way potential superheroes are trained and guided towards their destiny as defenders of justice and protectors of the world. A better way for me to try and describe it would be this: Super Powereds is everything I’ve ever wanted to see in a story about training superheroes to do what they do.
There’s little else I can get into without spoilers, so I’ll wrap up with a brief summary of what makes Super Powereds so great. There’s an episodic nature to the books that keeps you guessing about what’s going to happen next. A cast of interesting characters (though the Super Powereds Wiki does come in handy if, like me, you sometimes lose track of who all the side characters are), and some blisteringly good subplots layered in throughout.
It doesn’t hurt that there’s a LOT of Super Powereds to read, as well. Three novels and two spin-offs are available, plus at least one more main novel in the works at Drew Hayes’ personal website.
If you like great books, check out Drew Hayes’ lineup. You’ll be glad you did.