All this is just for chapter 2 and 3, that contain actual mechanical stuff.
- Centipede Clan: great to have some fleshing out of this minor Clan and I admit I don't know so much about it from AEG time, but they look cool. They provide 3 possible schools for the minor clan, and the book provides only one, which is fair, we have some guidelines on creating new schools now. The problem is that the Sun Sentinels, that for some bizarre reason have the shugenja AND bushi tags, even though they just mentioned that the Moshi do have a bushi school and it's a shugenja school with no access to invocations, except the ones given in the curriculum which is only Fire invocations, which would be fine, except that 9 pages ago, they mention how the Sun Sentinels are famous for their Air and Fire invocations. I guess someone failed on their proofreading check...
I had discussed this with others that had already given their opinion on the schools but now actually having the chance to read them, let's go through the other schools:
- Agasha Alchemist: a waste of a page. They are what the Yogo Wardmasters are but with potions instead of wards. Besides, the Agasha Mystic alredy have in their fluff, if not their mechanics, that they already use alchemy to fuel their invocations anyway, so having another Agasha school called Agasha Alchemist, is redundant to say the least. If this was an Agasha smith instead, to do a homage to the the Tamori...
- Asahina Envoy: another Crane Courtier school but at least they are not Doji. This school is actually interesting, providing another way to play an Asahina that is not a Shugenja and providing another way of playing a Crane Courtier that doesn't have to always deal in favors and gifts.
- Ishiken Initiate School: after almost 2 years of waiting we finally have the Ishiken. I gotta say I am actually surprised how interesting this school is compared to previous iterations of the Ishiken.
- Kaito Spirit Seeker: I like on this different aspect of the Kaito obligations. Really cool school.
- Kaiu Architect: another waste of a page. We have a Kaiu Engineer already, why have a Kaiu Architect. What are we going to have next Kaiu Surveyor? Kaiu Interior Designer? (which actually makes me think a Kaiu Shugenja/Sage based on geomancy could be a really cool school for them).
- Kitsu Realm Wanderer: a way better Kitsu School than the Kitsu Medic from Shadowlands. With an interesting fluff and interesting mechanics. Besides, they are from the only interesting family in the whole Lion Clan.
- Shosuro Shadowweaver: ooooh, look at me, I am so edgy I have 3 different tags and even though I have a misleading name, I don't have any Shadow Brand mechanics. Also, I am yet another Shugenja and Shinobi school in a clan where 6 out of 7 schools are Shugenja or Shinobi... It's interesting that they can work better inside obscuring terrain but their school ability is like creating a sphere of darkness from DnD on the battlefield and hope an adversary will decide to go inside? Granted, on Rank 4+ that's the entire battlefield covered in darkess but stil... As assassins, the Shosuro Infiltrator from the core works better than them, as Bushi, the Deathdealers are way more interesting, as Shugenja they have a different role than the Soshi, but still feels like a waste of a really good page for a better school.
- Utaku Stablemaster: another waste of a page. A school that feels like an NPC school or if someone wanted to play the Lone Ranger in a High Fantasy Samurai game... Guys, look, I can summon a ride when I whistle...
- The new advantages and disadvantages are really good and offer some interesting ideas for more.
- Ancestral Swords: I mean, I guess it can have some value for those that want to know what the equivalent to a DnD artifact could look like in L5R but they are more interesting for fleshing out their stories than their actual mechanics.
- Agasha Pattern: that would have worked amazingly with an Agasha Smith school in this book. Instead, I guarantee in the future we will have an Agasha Smith school that won't have this pattern because they won't reprint this pattern in that book.
- Techniques: lots of invocations. It would be nice if we had had some kihō as well, we could have definitely removed some schools to have 4 pages that could be filled with a dozen new kihō...
- Inversions are strange, which I guess was the intention. I like the way they use the dice, focusing on blanks which is like a really insightful idea.
- Places of power are really nice.
- The Bond with a Spirit title is awesome and creates some interesting storytelling hooks. The moon cultist title on the other hand, feels like something that an NPC would have and in this case, it could just be an NPC profile instead, also, it contains a typo where it says a certain technique is a kiho when it is a ritual.
- I am honestly disappointed that there's a single new NPC. I was hoping for more supernatural creatures being shown here.
Overall, I would give this book a 4 out of 10. I had so many expectations for it and waited so long that I feel cheated. I honestly don't have much hope for Fields of Victory AT ALL, after this book.
I sincerely don't get why we must have a school from every major clan in each new supplement and I would hope for more techniques, titles and creatures. I mean, the Shosuro Shadowweaver could have been a title that gives a Shadow Brand and would occupy half of a page. We have 4 schools that are slightly do-overs of previous schools or uninteresting that could have been used for kiho.