I’m feeling updatey today.
This isn’t really going to be a review. I’ve skimmed through the book, but I haven’t read it in detail.
After skimming through it, what do I think? I think this book would have been a much better book if it had been released a year ago. Now it feels out of date.
Essentially, I think it is a direct sequel to the Complete Adventurer. It has support for the base classes in there: ninja, scout, and spellthief. (There also seemed to be a few Swashbuckler-oriented things in there.) This might be the first (and only) place I’ve seen WotC provide support for the spellthief. If you really like these classes, you’ll probably find this book useful. In addition, it has more of the same sorts of things found in Complete Adventurer: expanded alchemical devices, more poisons, tricky/useful equipment, and things of that sort.
There appears to be a lot of roleplaying advice on how to play a scoundrel of any class/alignment. I haven’t read it. I can’t tell you if it is worthwhile.
There are prestige classes, of course. It seemed like many (if not most) of these played off the skill tricks and/or luck feats introduced in the book. Unfortunately, I don’t really like those mechanics… so I’m not sure if these prestige classes will be worth anything to me at all.
There were several things notably left out of the book.
The book has no alternate class features. This would have been a great option. Most of the options in the book are skill-intensive and near-impossible for a character with 2 skill points/level to make use of. Putting some options in there for Fighters and Sorcerers and such would have been nice.
The book supports a limited field of classes. Warlocks and Hexblades scream scoundrel to me: being both charismatic and treacherous. I didn’t see anything that was geared toward either of them (and – with their limited number of skill points – they won’t be able to make use of most of the general options). Moreover, the book – as far as I can tell – ignores the existence of, perhaps, the most scoundrel-like (scoundrellious? scoundrelly? scoundriferous?) class out there: the Beguiler. I suspect, though, that it is more that the writers of this book were ignorant of the Beguiler at the time of writing, and the oversight was more of an overlap in writing/publishing schedules. This isn’t an excuse, though: I expect major D&D expansions to not only be consistent, but to build upon each other and fit together well.