Three years ago, Wizards of the Coast breathed life into the shriveled, wheezing husk that the Dungeons & Dragons game had become. With few exceptions, their experience with Magic: The Gathering and their other product lines has proven to be a key element in their design of this newest edition of the D&D game, and Races of Faerun is no exception.
This book is an accessory for use with the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (which was very thorough and in this reviewer's opinion a tough act to beat). As usual, the Wizards have outdone themselves with an organized layout, quality artwork, and, most importantly, useful, enjoyable content. This book discusses the history, motivations, societal structure, and character elements of the major races on Faerun (elves, dwarves, halfings, humans, half-elves, gnomes, and half-orces), as well as some of the rarer and more obscure races (planetouched beings such as fey'ir, for example).
The histories are richly details and well-written, making them readable and understandable for all levels of player. Perhaps most interestingly, the histories also shed some much-needed light on the origins of many of the until-now-obscure special abilities of many of the races (for example,a nd most prominently, the preternatural resistance of elves to sleep and charm spells).
For players interested in playing these races, the effective level adjustment system is an innovative way to balance powerful races. This system trades power for advancement speed, slowing a more powerful race's level progression in exchange for special abilities and advantages.
If I have one criticism, it is the quantity of race-specific feats included in the appendix of the book. While scads of new feats are always a welcomed addition for the sake of diversity (and I know the book is called RACES of Faerun), some of these feats are extremely specialized, to the point where I believe they simply could have been included as special racial abilities, or made more general to allow other races to take advantage of them with the proper prerequisite training.
Overall, an excellent book, an excellent buy, and one of the many reason for Wizard's success with the new D&D game.