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Blood Runs in the Family

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At long last, the fifth volume of the award-adjacent webcomic The Order of the Stick is here! Reunited and back doing that whole "saving the world" thing, Roy leads the team to the distant Western Continent, a desert land filled with scheming warlords, creepy death priests, dim-witted bounty hunters, and more—including some heavy-handed coincidences shocking surprises for At long last, the fifth volume of the award-adjacent webcomic The Order of the Stick is here! Reunited and back doing that whole "saving the world" thing, Roy leads the team to the distant Western Continent, a desert land filled with scheming warlords, creepy death priests, dim-witted bounty hunters, and more—including some heavy-handed coincidences shocking surprises for Haley and Elan! Can Vaarsuvius deal with What Went Down in the last book? Can Belkar pretend to be a contributing member of society? And what about Durkon? He's in this, too, right? All this and more in the mega-ultra-really-shoulda-planned-better-sized continuation of the OOTS story, Blood Runs in the Family! Here's what the book contains: All of the comics from #673 to #946—our biggest book ever! 11 all-new bonus comics scattered throughout the story. Quoth the Familiar, an all-new five-page illustrated poem showing the first meeting between Vaarsuvius and Blackwing. Durkon Turned Undead, the "lost" OOTS strip produced in 2003 as the third OOTS ever but hidden until now. A three-page recap of events to-date by Haley Starshine (with help from a little black bird). Ten pages of author commentary for you to flip past. Updated lettering on every strip with the swanky new dialogue font! A foreward by John Rogers, big-time Hollywood producer and writer of the official Dungeons & Dragons comic by IDW.


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At long last, the fifth volume of the award-adjacent webcomic The Order of the Stick is here! Reunited and back doing that whole "saving the world" thing, Roy leads the team to the distant Western Continent, a desert land filled with scheming warlords, creepy death priests, dim-witted bounty hunters, and more—including some heavy-handed coincidences shocking surprises for At long last, the fifth volume of the award-adjacent webcomic The Order of the Stick is here! Reunited and back doing that whole "saving the world" thing, Roy leads the team to the distant Western Continent, a desert land filled with scheming warlords, creepy death priests, dim-witted bounty hunters, and more—including some heavy-handed coincidences shocking surprises for Haley and Elan! Can Vaarsuvius deal with What Went Down in the last book? Can Belkar pretend to be a contributing member of society? And what about Durkon? He's in this, too, right? All this and more in the mega-ultra-really-shoulda-planned-better-sized continuation of the OOTS story, Blood Runs in the Family! Here's what the book contains: All of the comics from #673 to #946—our biggest book ever! 11 all-new bonus comics scattered throughout the story. Quoth the Familiar, an all-new five-page illustrated poem showing the first meeting between Vaarsuvius and Blackwing. Durkon Turned Undead, the "lost" OOTS strip produced in 2003 as the third OOTS ever but hidden until now. A three-page recap of events to-date by Haley Starshine (with help from a little black bird). Ten pages of author commentary for you to flip past. Updated lettering on every strip with the swanky new dialogue font! A foreward by John Rogers, big-time Hollywood producer and writer of the official Dungeons & Dragons comic by IDW.

30 review for Blood Runs in the Family

  1. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    It's kinda ridiculous how excited I was to see this book show up at my house. Yes, I'm a fan of OOTS. I read it faithfully online. I like it enough that I wrote an introduction to the third book: War and XP. But here's something you might not know. I think I've read my physical copies of this comic more than any other comic. Ever. If I was forced to guess, I'd say I'd read the first three books in the series, 30 times? 40 times? More? It's not like a carry copies around with me like Linus and hi It's kinda ridiculous how excited I was to see this book show up at my house. Yes, I'm a fan of OOTS. I read it faithfully online. I like it enough that I wrote an introduction to the third book: War and XP. But here's something you might not know. I think I've read my physical copies of this comic more than any other comic. Ever. If I was forced to guess, I'd say I'd read the first three books in the series, 30 times? 40 times? More? It's not like a carry copies around with me like Linus and his security blanket. But if I'm about to eat and don't have book handy, I'll happily grab one of the OOTS books. I'll read them before I go to sleep at night to settle my head after a busy day. What's more, I'll frequently end up staying later than I'd planned, despite the fact that I've already read them many, many times. I don't know why I'm so fond of it. It's fun. Funny. Witty. Clever. Geeky. But so are many other things I read and enjoy. I can't tell you why this one seems to be my go-to-story over these last couple years. But it is. It very is. So yeah. Highly recommended. But start at the beginning of the story. Seriously.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shadowdenizen

    4.5 stars. This was an enjoyable read, though I confess that "OOTS Fatigue" did set in by the end of the volume. Of course, I did re-read all 5 volumes in one LONG sitting, so that might explain it. 4.5 stars. This was an enjoyable read, though I confess that "OOTS Fatigue" did set in by the end of the volume. Of course, I did re-read all 5 volumes in one LONG sitting, so that might explain it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Appelcline

    After a many, many, many year wait, it's great to see The Order of the Stick back ... and to see that Burlew still has it. Volume 4 was fun, but as is often the case with getting-the-band-back-together arcs, it wasn't good as what surrounds it. This, instead, is another epic. There are a great new setting, great new characters, shocking reveals, and surprising action. Burlew does a terrific job of simultaneously expanding his world, torturing his characters, and continuing his ongoing plot. Anoth After a many, many, many year wait, it's great to see The Order of the Stick back ... and to see that Burlew still has it. Volume 4 was fun, but as is often the case with getting-the-band-back-together arcs, it wasn't good as what surrounds it. This, instead, is another epic. There are a great new setting, great new characters, shocking reveals, and surprising action. Burlew does a terrific job of simultaneously expanding his world, torturing his characters, and continuing his ongoing plot. Another dense, thick, and extremely readable volume. I hope I won't have to wait several years for the next one!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jana Brown

    Ah, the holidays. What a wonderful time to settle in and read OotS. I've been a fan of the strip since a friend introduced me to it online, but I love getting everything gathered into the books where I can consume big chunks of story all together. This volume focuses on what happens after the party is back together and headed to the Western continent. We deal a lot more with Elan's Dad (squee) and the Linear Guild as enemies here with the goblins and Xylon a force in the background. Not an insign Ah, the holidays. What a wonderful time to settle in and read OotS. I've been a fan of the strip since a friend introduced me to it online, but I love getting everything gathered into the books where I can consume big chunks of story all together. This volume focuses on what happens after the party is back together and headed to the Western continent. We deal a lot more with Elan's Dad (squee) and the Linear Guild as enemies here with the goblins and Xylon a force in the background. Not an insignificant force because they are the ticking time bomb that is pushing our heroes to deal quickly with everything in front of them, but still second seat as we lead up to a major Durkon book and then...the end. Wah. I love watching Elan grow as a person as he has to face the power of narrative in the wrong hands. He comes to understand that while stories may have a certain general shape and power that there is still place for free will and certainly more accountability than I think he'd taken before. If I have any complaint it's that the books are getting to the point of being rather heavy so I can't read them as easily in bed...but that's a pretty minor kind of thing, doncha think?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary Catelli

    The Order of the Stick #5. My how things have changed. In particular, I must warn there are spoilers ahead for the earlier volumes, even though this started a gag-a-day strip. It opens with landing on the Western Contient to warn Girard Draketooth of the danger to his Gate. After a few little incidents -- with a reminder that Haley wants this continent because she received a random note for her father telling her he was prisoner there -- they reach the location and start to search, knowing illusi The Order of the Stick #5. My how things have changed. In particular, I must warn there are spoilers ahead for the earlier volumes, even though this started a gag-a-day strip. It opens with landing on the Western Contient to warn Girard Draketooth of the danger to his Gate. After a few little incidents -- with a reminder that Haley wants this continent because she received a random note for her father telling her he was prisoner there -- they reach the location and start to search, knowing illusions are a peril. They find something. Bad news. Girard, it seems, really hated Soon and assumed he would be there in violation of his oath when they mentioned him. He left a message telling him it was the wrong location, and that he thinks Soon should have died in their final battle. And explodes. They deduce from the evidence that Xykon has the real location -- the liche wizard knows where he is but the heroes don't. And we have an arc describing Xykon and the rest of Team Evil in the erstwhile Azure City, and what plans are being made. Haley, Elan, and Vaarsavius are captured by bounty hunters, and the others come after. This leads, as the title might indicate, to finding long lost relatives. It also entails a deep political intrigue, some truly nasty spells unleashed on the Azure City resistance, dead bodies, a woman whose baby vanished along with the baby's father, illusions, gladiator games, Belkar meeting up with a dinosaur, the return of the Linear Guild, and much more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    James

    What more is there to say - I've kept up with series for over 900 syrups of course I love it! What more is there to say - I've kept up with series for over 900 syrups of course I love it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lissibith

    I wonder sometimes if it's possible for me to recommend this series too much. I don't think it is. But sometimes I worry I'm turning into *that person* who won't shut up about something long after everyone around them is sick of hearing about it. After the party is reunited at the end of the last book, this one starts with them heading off to the next gate. Haley has an ulterior motive to be happy about where they're going - this is the area her father was imprisoned in and she hopes to ransom h I wonder sometimes if it's possible for me to recommend this series too much. I don't think it is. But sometimes I worry I'm turning into *that person* who won't shut up about something long after everyone around them is sick of hearing about it. After the party is reunited at the end of the last book, this one starts with them heading off to the next gate. Haley has an ulterior motive to be happy about where they're going - this is the area her father was imprisoned in and she hopes to ransom him. But things get complicated when they find out that the power behind the throne in the Kingdom of Blood is none other than Tarquin, Elan and Nale's father (dun dun DUUNNNNNNN). This master of genre savviness at first seems to be a loving man who regrets being estranged from Elan - at least TO Elan - but everyone knows the man who raised Nale is probably not totally honest. Luckily, he IS awesome. While Haley and Elan are dealing with that, Roy and Belkar get arrested for failing to have the proper papers to be in the city and are added to the ranks of the kingdom's gladiators. Durkon makes friends with fellow cleric Malak, a priest of Nergal. And V attempts to reconcile himself* with the atrocities he committed during the last book. I love the way this book actually brings about pretty substantial character change for basically everyone, not least of which is Belkar. He's been faking character development for a while now, but in this book, it seems that seeing true self-sacrifice might actually have gotten through his sociopathic shell. V thinks he understands what he did in the last book and has started to make ammends, but his reaction to finding out how deep he actually made that rabbit hole is way more of a personal change. Haley faces her father and some of how his way of raising her did more harm than good. Elan... well, it's obvious isn't it? Even Roy gets in on the act, having to truly come to terms with the hardest part of being a leader. Most of the strips in this book are available for free online, but this book is SO worth the buy. Not only is it a high-quality book, but there are a few extra strips in there and the commentary from Rich, the author, are really fun to read even if a lot of the time it's stuff you might already know. So in short - Order of the Stick is awesome. * I know V's gender is unconfirmed. However, for the ease of discussion, I'm using the pronouns I see V as. Please feel free to substitute "she" or any gender-nonspecific term you prefer.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Col

    Not quite as epic as I remember it being over the course of 5 years, this was just as good on a reread as Don't Split the Party. While its structure isn't quite as interesting at a glance, and maybe it isn't quite as haha-funny, it achieved a much more even spread of focus on every member of the party. Roy back in the pilot seat, Haley getting some resolution to her kidnapped dad, V coming to grips with the massive consequences of her actions, seeing the fruits of Belkar's fake character develop Not quite as epic as I remember it being over the course of 5 years, this was just as good on a reread as Don't Split the Party. While its structure isn't quite as interesting at a glance, and maybe it isn't quite as haha-funny, it achieved a much more even spread of focus on every member of the party. Roy back in the pilot seat, Haley getting some resolution to her kidnapped dad, V coming to grips with the massive consequences of her actions, seeing the fruits of Belkar's fake character development, even Durkon gets a great stand-out scene. Elan's story is the big focus this time, even if Elan's story this time is about how this isn't Elan's story and he doesn't want it to be. Blackwing is a fun "addition", even if his connection to the party at large is still tenuous. Tarquin is a great addition to the villainous roster, a schemer like Redcloak, but without the noble goals or any conscience at all. All of his scenes are great, and his interactions with Elan are hilarious. I'm almost disappointed his story seems to wrap up completely in this volume, but the way he is "defeated" is too good to pass up. In fact, this whole volume has the air of closing out loose ends. (view spoiler)[By the end, the Azure City Resistance is crushed completely, Redcloak and Xykon are headed to the final gate, the Linear Guild is down to only Sabine and maybe Thog, and Tarquin is left behind probably for good. (hide spoiler)] And yet Utterly Dwarfed still manages to spend so much time on side-quest stuff... The battle that closes out this volume definitely rivals the battle for Azure City, if not in scale, then in complexity. The amount of manoeuvring, tide turning and surprise developments is off the charts. This is when OOTS' very simple style is its biggest asset. The environments and characters are so easily legible that no battle scene is too complex to grasp at a glance. As much as I begrudge the coming art "upgrade" in book 6, especially the coloured limbs, those increase the legibility yet further by making it impossible to confuse characters' limbs with background lines. Team Evil doesn't get much screentime this time around, though the little bit that they do get is gold. Redcloak gets one of his best scenes in the comic, and a powerful reminder of his ruthlessness. Monster in the Darkness displays the heart and mind that O-chul showed him he had back in Don't Split the Party, and which pays out further in Utterly Dwarfed. The bonus content is a little sparse this time, with the story of how V met Blackwing being frankly pretty boring. Burlew's commentary also seemed a little perfunctory, just sort of expositing exactly what he was trying to do with each plot development. The only funny anecdote I can recall is that Haley's potion of glibness scene was apparently one of the only scenes in the comic based on something that happened in an actual D&D game. The fact that this volume hardly adds on to the mystery of the planet in the rift is a little disappointing (the only new information is that Laurin can't sense fish in its ocean), and I consequently find it really, really hard to believe this comic is as close to ending as it supposedly is. It's looking like Utterly Dwarfed isn't gonna get to Kraagor's gate (though who knows, maybe it'll be dealt with via anticlimax), and the nature of the planet in the rift, the Snarl, and Thor's plan are all still hugely up in the air. I can still kind of imagine it ending at book 7, though given Burlew's long-demonstrated tendency to lavish attention on sidequests, a book 8 and another 10 years seem like a much safer bet.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brenton

    Blood Runs In The Family finds the Order Of The Stick embarking on a mission they had intended to fulfill quite some time ago, before a disastrous military engagement split the group apart and sent them careening off course. After a full books’ worth of adventures in which they dealt with the fallout of that lost battle, the OOTS are at last reunited and back on track - stronger, wiser, and more experienced. Now they navigate new climes, new cultures, and new enemies while trying to stay one ste Blood Runs In The Family finds the Order Of The Stick embarking on a mission they had intended to fulfill quite some time ago, before a disastrous military engagement split the group apart and sent them careening off course. After a full books’ worth of adventures in which they dealt with the fallout of that lost battle, the OOTS are at last reunited and back on track - stronger, wiser, and more experienced. Now they navigate new climes, new cultures, and new enemies while trying to stay one step ahead of their archnemesis. As always, I am continually impressed by Burlew’s gradual maturing of his characters over the course of the whole story. Most of the OOTS members, by this point, have had their own subplots that have driven significant character development, and all of them have leveled up and acquired better gear, and it is nice to see that reflected in the details, as characters make better judgement calls, deal with threats more effectively, and solve problems more wisely and decisively. They have slowly become a more cohesive group of adventurers, particularly after the lessons learned in the previous story arc. Which is not to say that they easily deal with everything that comes their way now; naturally, their challenges become equally as, well, challenging. While there is a lot of fun in this volume, I was on the fence with the extra bit of self-aware meta narrative happening within Elan’s subplot. While I can appreciate Burlew’s purpose in addressing the concept of Story and all the tropes therein, my least favorite jokes, at least earlier in the strip, were always the moments that broke the 4th wall, and some of this feels a bit too similar. That said, there are many standout action sequences (including a fantastic climactic desert battle), top notch monologues and quips, and exciting revelations along the way. Some old plot threads are satisfyingly tied off while new intrigues are presented, and the heroes are propelled ever closer to what promises to be a cataclysmically epic final act (whenever it comes - no rush!).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Adysnewbox

    This Order of the Stick compilation is a definite step up from the previous volume "Don't Split the Party." The biggest plus is, obviously, the Order is reunited and working as a team again! And "Blood Runs in the Family" has the feel of having been plotted out as a whole, without a lot of small side arcs distracting much from the main plot arc. It's true that the villains in "Blood Runs In The Family" are of the secondary type (Xykon & company only appear in a few short scenes!), but the main v This Order of the Stick compilation is a definite step up from the previous volume "Don't Split the Party." The biggest plus is, obviously, the Order is reunited and working as a team again! And "Blood Runs in the Family" has the feel of having been plotted out as a whole, without a lot of small side arcs distracting much from the main plot arc. It's true that the villains in "Blood Runs In The Family" are of the secondary type (Xykon & company only appear in a few short scenes!), but the main villain in this volume (General Tarquin, Elan's exquisitely Evil father) is a terrific addition to the strip and a wonderful character in his own right. We also, of course, see the return of the Linear Guild, for one more (probably?) conflict. The humor is more prominent in "Blood Runs" than in "Split the Party"; most of the jokes land better. There may be a BIT too much "daddy-issue drama" in this book for my liking, but thankfully it never overshadows the whole plot. Burlew's storytelling style has definitely broadened by this time, and I have the feeling that the final few published strip compilations will all be pretty hefty. Burlew just likes to ramble; at least he's rambling in service of a good story! "Blood Runs" has some very exciting action sequences, some very funny running gags; some very strong character development; some great sequences of high adventure; and even a handful of genuinely heartbreaking moments (MINOR SPOILERS something really bad happens to one of my favorite characters, which will have a major effect on the plot going forward). It's not a book that will be fully appreciated without reading the previous volumes, but it's definitely worth the journey it takes to get there.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Figmentlady

    The latest edition to the Order of the Stick graphic novels takes the party into the city of Bloodletting, where the bard, Elan, finds his missing father has become the ruling tyrant. As Elan is attempting to deal with the information that his father has an evil alignment, his twin brother returns to once more attempt to kill Elan. During all of this, Roy is still trying to lead the adventuring party into the desert where they must try to stop the Snarl from breaking loose from its prison and de The latest edition to the Order of the Stick graphic novels takes the party into the city of Bloodletting, where the bard, Elan, finds his missing father has become the ruling tyrant. As Elan is attempting to deal with the information that his father has an evil alignment, his twin brother returns to once more attempt to kill Elan. During all of this, Roy is still trying to lead the adventuring party into the desert where they must try to stop the Snarl from breaking loose from its prison and destroying the world. When the party's cleric is turned into a vampire and the wizard disappears into an angst-ridden imposed solitude after learning that she may have accidentally killed off a large population of the world with a Famillicide spell, the leader begins to feel the quest is hopeless. In a twist, the chaotic evil raging halfling actually pulls the party together when it's at its weakest and they strive on toward their final goal. Anyone who has played and loved Dungeons and Dragons would enjoy this humorous graphic novel series.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Miss Ryoko

    Holy moly it took me forever to read this book!!! I love the Order of the Stick... but the books keep getting bigger and bigger, and they take me much longer to read. Sigh... I was hoping this would be the last book but alas, tis not and who knows when book 6 will be out. I fear by then, I will not remember any of the story and have to re-read the whole series again :p Not that that is a bad thing, it'll just take me a whole year ;-) LOL - so perhaps I will have to be done with OotS until all boo Holy moly it took me forever to read this book!!! I love the Order of the Stick... but the books keep getting bigger and bigger, and they take me much longer to read. Sigh... I was hoping this would be the last book but alas, tis not and who knows when book 6 will be out. I fear by then, I will not remember any of the story and have to re-read the whole series again :p Not that that is a bad thing, it'll just take me a whole year ;-) LOL - so perhaps I will have to be done with OotS until all books are out and the series is over. I'll look forward to re-reading it all then! In the meantime, a coworker of mine has the two prequels and said I could borrow them since the library does not have them! Huzzah! (I realize this review had nothing to do with the book, but I don't have much to say since it took me two months to read it :-p )

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mary Pat

    Get some plot pay-offs in this one, and it's very satisfying. Some good character development, and some characters develop to be dead (and one definitely not coming back. That's always the danger in these worlds that allow for a Raise Dead or Resurrection.) A solid set-up for the next book. While you can read most of the strips for free online (the few not online provide extra entertainment, or a little extra rounding-out of the story), the book version has some good analysis of the story as it Get some plot pay-offs in this one, and it's very satisfying. Some good character development, and some characters develop to be dead (and one definitely not coming back. That's always the danger in these worlds that allow for a Raise Dead or Resurrection.) A solid set-up for the next book. While you can read most of the strips for free online (the few not online provide extra entertainment, or a little extra rounding-out of the story), the book version has some good analysis of the story as it progresses, and what Rich Burlew is attempting with particular aspects of the plots and characters. I have always found Rich's comments insightful, but one shouldn't read them until AFTER you've already read the story. I re-read this in anticipation of the next book release, Utterly Dwarfed, which is coming out soon, and I've already pre-ordered.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ines

    There was a bit of an arc fatigue settling in, but then all hell broke loose. That devastating twist with Durkon aside, I'm now legitimately scared of Redcloak. Xykon may be more powerful and while he's not stupid, he's not exactly the sharpest tool in the drawer, either (and he's just way too funny to take completely seriously unless he's pissed off). Redcloak, though ... This is how a ruthless villain should be - he won't waste resources, he won't take stupid risks and he'll never, ever stop un There was a bit of an arc fatigue settling in, but then all hell broke loose. That devastating twist with Durkon aside, I'm now legitimately scared of Redcloak. Xykon may be more powerful and while he's not stupid, he's not exactly the sharpest tool in the drawer, either (and he's just way too funny to take completely seriously unless he's pissed off). Redcloak, though ... This is how a ruthless villain should be - he won't waste resources, he won't take stupid risks and he'll never, ever stop until he's either dead or achieves his goal. That part with the Azure City resistance and then Tsukiko was epic. Brutal, but efficient. And smart.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andre

    I've been following the webcomic for years and it's done an amazing job of taking a metagaming funny webcomic (drawn using stick figures...) and making a "serious" work of it while keeping its funny tone. I look forward to every new comic and reading them in the book format, with the comment and a better flow as I do not have days (weeks) between panels, makes me appreciate them anew. I've been following the webcomic for years and it's done an amazing job of taking a metagaming funny webcomic (drawn using stick figures...) and making a "serious" work of it while keeping its funny tone. I look forward to every new comic and reading them in the book format, with the comment and a better flow as I do not have days (weeks) between panels, makes me appreciate them anew.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bryce

    This may be my favorite Order of the Stick storyline so far. Elan and V have huge amounts of character growth, there are battle dragons, Durkon faces a shocking reversal... and there's not much of Roy, who remains my least favorite character. This may be my favorite Order of the Stick storyline so far. Elan and V have huge amounts of character growth, there are battle dragons, Durkon faces a shocking reversal... and there's not much of Roy, who remains my least favorite character.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I have read this whole series more times than I can count, and it never disappoints. This book especially is just wonderful. Very funny, very moving. And the commentaries from the author are also great. I have learned so much about crafting a story from reading about his thought process.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    An entertaining read, but sad about Durkon.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joe Reddington

    Order of the Stick remains staggeringly good: a stick figure comic that can make me cry, laugh, and really illistrate how well you can make things grow if you keep them running. Always amazing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Spiros Kakouris

    I miss the old days where every page was a laugh-out-loud d&d joke, but it's still a very good comic with the occasional GOOD joke. recommended I miss the old days where every page was a laugh-out-loud d&d joke, but it's still a very good comic with the occasional GOOD joke. recommended

  21. 4 out of 5

    Loren

    Love Elan's father. Narrative combat :) Love Elan's father. Narrative combat :)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Harold Smithson

    I won’t lie: This was disappointing. The Order of the Stick was never an extraordinary series but it had a habit of improving with every arc, however incrementally. This is the first time the series got worse, and I’m unhappy to report that the decline is not only constant but also sudden and drastic. The sixth arc has just started but the comic’s self-referential jokes and fourth wall breaking have become even more prevalent and irritating. Making a villain who wishes to become a legend through I won’t lie: This was disappointing. The Order of the Stick was never an extraordinary series but it had a habit of improving with every arc, however incrementally. This is the first time the series got worse, and I’m unhappy to report that the decline is not only constant but also sudden and drastic. The sixth arc has just started but the comic’s self-referential jokes and fourth wall breaking have become even more prevalent and irritating. Making a villain who wishes to become a legend through manipulating a character into following a specific story structure is a cute idea, yes, but it’s a far cry from the serious drama that produced the webcomic’s most interesting bits and it’s not so rich in potential that it can sustain itself over the course of the strip’s longest arc to date. At the beginning of the story he’s involved in an interesting plot twist but by the end he’s become an unfunny parody of himself who not only can’t be taken seriously but is also just boring. There are a few interesting moments, but they’re small parts of a bland whole. Even the jokes have become less funny. There was never a point in time when The Order of the Stick was hilarious, but I still laughed now and then. Not so with the fifth arc’s second half. It was too self-referential and the fourth wall was broken far too often. Imagine a Calvin and Hobbes strip written like this: Hobbes: Hey Calvin, do you ever wonder why all our philosophical explorations take place in the woods? Calvin: I think it’s because the woods represent exploration, a part of the world that remains unfamiliar and sparsely populated, where the two of us can just be ourselves. Hobbes: Huh, I never thought of it like that. Calvin: It does take a genius to think of these things. Hobbes: You realize that gag has been milked dry, right? You’re not going to get any more mileage out of it. Calvin: Alternatively, the writer and illustrator could just be lazy, choosing to recycle old jokes and backdrops rather than trying something new. That’s what reading this arc felt like. Mocking clichés and flaws within itself without doing anything to resolve the issue that, hey, this is a bit clichéd and flawed, isn’t it? I’m not about to mark the webcomic down for hypocrisy, but I much prefer someone who distinguishes him or herself from the dull, clichéd writers than someone who simply mocks them, regardless of how clichéd their own works are. Not that I would know anything about being an unusual author. My pieces are usually clichéd and dull, perhaps more so than the works I criticize. It doesn’t help that I’m a hipster, giving relatively poor ratings to a very popular webcomic series that won’t be affected by this review either way. Maybe I should work on my own writing before I criticize someone else. Hell, what right have I to discuss pacing when I added a paragraph in which I mock myself to a review that didn’t require it? I think you see what I’m getting at. Getting back to the matter at hand, the fifth arc also suffers from the pacing problems that hounded the first two arcs. Namely, it just feels like a lead-in to the later arcs with very few plot threads wrapped up and even more opened. I would have liked some kind of closure, but Burlew has his plans. Nobody can say he doesn’t. Unfortunately they’re a bit slow to play out and his sense of humor doesn't appeal to me. Still, I did have some fun with this webcomic. I’ll stick around and see what happens.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    It’s hard to believe that a comic book with stick figures as the characters can be superlatively amazing. But it’s true nevertheless. Blood Runs in the Family is one of the better tales I’ve ever read. The “simplistic” art style masks a complex, fascinating story with three-dimensional characters, plentiful action, one of the best antagonists ever written, and the power of hope, love, and trust. The Order of the Stick has always been wonderful in the past, but in its fifth volume, it gains scope It’s hard to believe that a comic book with stick figures as the characters can be superlatively amazing. But it’s true nevertheless. Blood Runs in the Family is one of the better tales I’ve ever read. The “simplistic” art style masks a complex, fascinating story with three-dimensional characters, plentiful action, one of the best antagonists ever written, and the power of hope, love, and trust. The Order of the Stick has always been wonderful in the past, but in its fifth volume, it gains scope, depth, and gravitas, until it rivals some of the classics in its glory. Blood Runs in the Family takes the noble Order to the desert in search of one of the gates holding back the monstrous Snarl. Soon, however, they are embroiled in the affairs of the Empire of Blood, your typical oppressive dictatorship run by a very atypical villain. This villain is General Tarquin, who seems to see the scope of the story he is in, relies on tropes to keep his power, and just happens to have a personal connection to one of the Order. Soon, a frantic race occurs as the Order battles several factions to secure the gate before anyone else can get their hands on it. I’ve written that character development has been a focus of previous Order of the Stick volumes. Well, it certainly continues here. But more importantly, the character development that characters have received previously pays off big time. Characters benefit from their past experiences or are penalized by them. One particularly epic twist stems directly from the development that one of the Order received in the previous book. It’s welcome to have such continuity of character, and to have characters that actually evolve. Action is also extremely plentiful here, and both heroes and villains get a chance to shine. One of the more interesting things about the Order is just how effective the heroes can be. These are powerful people in terms of their physical might. Even Elan, the wacky bard, can be a prodigious swordsman at times. Most of the time, villains outshine heroes in terms of sheer skill, and it’s nice to see that the heroes can go against the villains evenly. Twists and turns are also quite plentiful. From the revelation of Tarquin’s true identity to the two stunning ending twists (one of which was freaking TERRIFYING), Burlew imbues his plot with a complexity and scope rarely seen. But he also makes sure never to let the plot get too heavy handed or serious, sprinkling the story with jokes. In the hands of a lesser writer, this would be awkward, but Burlew is certainly no lesser author. Blood Runs in the Family is a tale that can only be described as glorious. It is beyond the capabilities of all but the best writers, and truly shows how the medium of the webcomic can be one of the best mediums ever.

  24. 5 out of 5

    David(LA,CA)

    Not a great sign when what should be the next step of an ongoing quest feels like a side mission. It was during the run that this book collects that I stopped reading the webcomic. Having finished the book, I can't really point at any one thing that drove me away. Maybe it was the three month period where the creator was recuperating from an unexpected injury. Maybe it was a slight shift in tone towards being more serious in parts. Maybe it was the reason I gave at the top of this review. You so Not a great sign when what should be the next step of an ongoing quest feels like a side mission. It was during the run that this book collects that I stopped reading the webcomic. Having finished the book, I can't really point at any one thing that drove me away. Maybe it was the three month period where the creator was recuperating from an unexpected injury. Maybe it was a slight shift in tone towards being more serious in parts. Maybe it was the reason I gave at the top of this review. You sometimes hear about DMs that railroad their players to keep them on task for the adventure. This sometimes felt like the players were being railroaded into meeting some interesting new npcs the DM had come up with. Still, when I got past the section I had previously read (which was larger than I thought it was going to be), there were some jokes that got me to laugh out loud. I don't know if I'll go back and get caught up on the strips that have come out between the end of this book and now, but I'll probably keep an eye out for the next collection.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I love OOTS! I tend to keep up with the online version in spurts. Letting strips stack up for a week or three and then reading them all at once. I've read through the story arcs in this volume a few times, due to my schedule and the delays in online publishing from Mr. Burlew's injury. But even rereading them for the third time is just as much fun. I also really enjoy the personal notes and commentary he adds to the printed volumes. The grand scoping themes he intends are even more impactful whe I love OOTS! I tend to keep up with the online version in spurts. Letting strips stack up for a week or three and then reading them all at once. I've read through the story arcs in this volume a few times, due to my schedule and the delays in online publishing from Mr. Burlew's injury. But even rereading them for the third time is just as much fun. I also really enjoy the personal notes and commentary he adds to the printed volumes. The grand scoping themes he intends are even more impactful when delivered in such a simple format. On the surface this is a silly stick figure adventure story. But the peek behind the curtain shows how well thought out the story arcs are and makes me believe even casual readers would pick up on the themes. Definitely a must read for fans of fantasy in general, and for those looking for reading that is a bit more meaningful.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    The negatives--this particular story is longer than any of the other previous volumes, despite the fact that just as much happens. I think Burlew's desire to explore every separate plot thread and character arc is causing the story to become dangerously close to be bloated. It hasn't gotten there yet, but it feels possible. Additionally, while I normally enjoy discussions of story, story-structure and plot devices, I just didn't quite care for Tarquin's obsession with them, and their being such The negatives--this particular story is longer than any of the other previous volumes, despite the fact that just as much happens. I think Burlew's desire to explore every separate plot thread and character arc is causing the story to become dangerously close to be bloated. It hasn't gotten there yet, but it feels possible. Additionally, while I normally enjoy discussions of story, story-structure and plot devices, I just didn't quite care for Tarquin's obsession with them, and their being such a key element to the story. The positive--I'm still enjoying the characters and the story, and things move quickly despite the bloat. I'm still excited to see what happens to the characters and still want to find out the story ends. And there are still moments that make me laugh.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Ciarvella

    I love the Order of the Stick; the fact that I can read these strips online and still shell out for the book version should attest to its quality. And this one happens to contain my favorite of all the plot arcs thus far, so the included author commentary is an incredibly interesting edition. If you're a fan of the series, buy it and don't look back. If you're not a fan of the series, google it, get a drink, and set in for a long read (971 strips so far) and enjoy a years-long epic tale about D& I love the Order of the Stick; the fact that I can read these strips online and still shell out for the book version should attest to its quality. And this one happens to contain my favorite of all the plot arcs thus far, so the included author commentary is an incredibly interesting edition. If you're a fan of the series, buy it and don't look back. If you're not a fan of the series, google it, get a drink, and set in for a long read (971 strips so far) and enjoy a years-long epic tale about D&D humor, stories, tropes, and so much more.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Early on it took me some time to get into this comic/graphic novel (I'm grateful the humor moved away from D&D references), but by this point in the series I heartily enjoy it, and I think this volume might be the best. I think the story and character development (heroes and villains) and wit are wonderful. I am even a fan of the artwork- Burlew does a lot with stick figures. Reading the comic online as it slowly comes out is a major test of patience; in book form the story unfolds at a much mor Early on it took me some time to get into this comic/graphic novel (I'm grateful the humor moved away from D&D references), but by this point in the series I heartily enjoy it, and I think this volume might be the best. I think the story and character development (heroes and villains) and wit are wonderful. I am even a fan of the artwork- Burlew does a lot with stick figures. Reading the comic online as it slowly comes out is a major test of patience; in book form the story unfolds at a much more natural pace.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brian Rogers

    More wonderfulness from OotS. This one gets dinged down a little because it's overlong - Rich let his muse get away from him a bit and therefore some of the scenes go on a trifle, some of the challenges recur too many times, and other minor issues. They are minor (and to an extent justifiable given the personality of the main villain) but what is essentially a side quest takes up a little too much time. Still, if you're a D&D player, lay your hands on this. Well worth it. More wonderfulness from OotS. This one gets dinged down a little because it's overlong - Rich let his muse get away from him a bit and therefore some of the scenes go on a trifle, some of the challenges recur too many times, and other minor issues. They are minor (and to an extent justifiable given the personality of the main villain) but what is essentially a side quest takes up a little too much time. Still, if you're a D&D player, lay your hands on this. Well worth it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adam Hill

    An excellent continuation of the story and after 5 years of waiting it was great to catch up with the gang again. I'm not as fond of this book as I am of the last, but the writing and storytelling continue to be very strong. Now my decision is do I wait -like I did last time- for the next book or do I start reading it weekly from now until the end...? An excellent continuation of the story and after 5 years of waiting it was great to catch up with the gang again. I'm not as fond of this book as I am of the last, but the writing and storytelling continue to be very strong. Now my decision is do I wait -like I did last time- for the next book or do I start reading it weekly from now until the end...?

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