I suppose I should start with a few things people not too familiar with the White Howlers and Werewolf: the Apocalypse. The Howlers were one of the sixteen werewolf Tribes in the game, originating from the ancient tribes of Northern Britain and Scotland, the Picts as they're commonly known today. Unfortunately the Howlers were the first of three Tribes that went extinct. Worse, while the other two Tribes died out the Howlers fell to the Wyrm, becoming the first Black Spiral Dancers. However over the course of WtA, who the Howlers were and the hows and whys of their fall has differed from book to book.
But those accounts were always by others, never the words of the Howlers themselves. Until now. Now we have the White Howlers in their own words.
Anyway, the White Howlers Tribebooks is laid out in typical WW/OPP fashion, opening fiction, Introduction, Chapters and Appendix. In this case the opening fiction is a comic revolving another a trio of Howlers and the dire signs they encounter. And again the Introduction is standard fare, discussing what's in the book and all that, ending with a thank you from the author, Jess Hartley, to all the W20 KS backers who made this book possible.
Chapter One and Two discuss the history and culture of the While Howlers respectively. It's told entirely in-person from Morag 'Memory of Stone', a Galliard of the White Howlers, on their final night she's been instructed by their Tribal Totem to speak all she knows about her people while they prepare for their doomed march into Malfeas, the lair of the Wyrm. Surprisingly while the history chapter talks about the Ice Age, or the Great Winter as they refer to it, the two major moments of Garou ancient history, the Impergium and the War of Rage are virtually ignored. In fact of the two, the Impergium is mentioned indirectly and only in passing. It would have been interesting to hear their stances on it. Aside from that one issue the history and culture chapters are great.
The history is largely divided between the vaguer pre-Roman Empire time period and after the Romans arrived in England and started making a mess of things for the Howlers. The former feels very epic and larger than life, giving the feel that the White Howlers did indeed have a long, rich history before the Fall came. The latter is much more detailed as it is the 'modern' setting for the book, the coming of the Romans to England and the downward spiral of the Howlers as they tried to drive them off. Reading through it and knowing that it will only get worse for them made it especially grim and sad. It actually reminds me a bit of the modern day setting for WtA, the Howlers fighting a losing battle against the Roman invaders who are ruining and corrupting their lands.
The culture chapter discusses things like the Kinfolk tribes of the Howlers, their views on the Breeds and Auspices, the Tribal camps and their views on the few other Tribes they had made contact with as well as the Litany.
Chapter Three is a discussion on the Pictish people and what life would have been like for them back then. They freely admit that there is precious little in the way records about them, the most they do have being Roman records. So again they set the book during the Roman reign in Britain to maximize what they do have. But there is a sense that the author did her homework on the historical material. Obviously she's not history professor or anything like that but its clear she made the effort to research what she could on the Picts and what their lives were probably like. I'm not a historian of Iron Age Britain either so I can't say how accurate the material is but it does a solid job at building the setting as well as painting the Howlers and their Kinfolk as more than just half-naked, woad-covered, kilt-wearing* wild men and barbarians.
*The book even acknowledges that the first recorded kilts didn't show up until the 1500's, over a thousand years after the Howlers fell.
This chapter also has the possibilities on bringing the White Howlers into the modern day. Unfortunately it is short, amounting to little more than three different ways, Spontaneous Rebirth, the Great Quest and Never Fell, discussed in what amounts to less than a page. Given that one of the selling points on the back of the book is "Ideas for using the White Howlers in a story set in the modern nights" this feels rather sparse. I wasn't expecting a whole chapter around modern White Howlers, as awesome as that could be, but it could have been a bit more there.
Chapter Four is all about the Gifts, Rites, Merits and Flaws, Fetishes, Talens and Totems of the Tribe. They're all pretty interesting and some of them I would like to try out in future, particularly those Gifts, Rites, Merits, Fetishes and Talens tied to ghosts and the dead. And not only do they give us the Lion, the Tribal Totem of the Howlers, but the other major totems of the Tribe and what happened to them after the Howlers fell.
Finally we have the two appendices, sample characters and legendary Howlers. The sample characters are all, again characters during the last age of the White Howlers. Its a standard spread, featuring five characters of each Breed and Auspice. Nothing out of the ordinary for a Tribebook. Though it is kind of strange to see Iron Age characters written up on character sheets with Science and Technology Knowledge Skills on them.
The NPC section is a mixed bag. One hand you get a Howler legend that disappeared during the Great Winter, a recent war leader who's been waging war on the Romans for years and Morag herself and they're interesting enough. But they're all we get which is disappointing. I would have liked to have seen a couple more characters such as the three Garou in the opening comic.
All and all a pretty good supplement for WtA with plenty for stuff for WtA Storytellers and Players to mine for their games. There aren't really any problems with the book save that there could have been more but what is present is quite excellent.
Is it worth picking up? If you're a WtA fan, definitely. Even if you never use the Iron Age setting in the book, there are ideas in the book that could be useful in your games. If you're not... well you probably won't find the Tribebook as useful but there are aspects of it that can be harvested for non-Werewolf Old World of Darkness and New World of Darkness games.
[4 of 5 Stars!]