I realize this blog is dead, but I had top post this somewhere.
I am the proud owner of the BX Companion. This is a project i have been excited for for quite some time. I started my Old school treck with a BX/ Holmes crossbreed and although I have played much more BECMI, and LL then BX proper i still have a soft place in my heart for the games that got me started.
The first thing I noticed was the resolution of the cover. I'm not sure if it's the printers fault, or a problem with the original file, but it seems a touch blurry, which is a shame with such a beautiful cover piece. Luckily none of the interior art or text suffers from this problem (Becker was not exaggerating about the quality of art in this book, there is some great pieces in it.)
The book starts with a forward and introduction, which I'm sure are nice, but since i was trying to finish reading the book in time to write a review before heading off to work, I skipped it and went straight to the meat.
Companion level classes all get an expanded capabilities. I really like Mr Becker's approach to this. Fighters gain extra attacks, Clerics can turn more HD worth of undead and get extra spells. M-U's gain a bevy of new and powerful spells, and Thieves gain the ability to make traps, preform feats of acrobatics, and a acting / bluffing abilities. these are all nice additions that expand on other capabilities rather then simply improving existing abilities (for the most part.) Demi-humans can improve their combat prowess and saving throws at certain XP points as well. In addition all classes (except for Halfling) can expand their empires to Dominions. All very cool stuff, but as an avid Halfling player I am a little irked that my character will never become a great leader using the Companion rules.
Part three is on spells. I only skimmed this section as I rarely play a MU or cleric in BX.
Chapter 4 is really the most exciting part of the companion to me. Hazardous environments, new hirelings,mass combat, and a variety of optional combat rules. Once again however the Halfing gets the short end of the stick in the class based variable combat section (being grouped with the cleric rather then the fighter like other demi-humans,) but other then that minor gripe this chapter made the the whole book worth the price for me.
The mass combat system looks very nice, although I'll have to go through it in greater detail and digest it a little bit before i am ready to convert from BECMI's systems. However even from the quick once through I gave the section I think it might just make Zack over at RPG Blog II happy.
Part six gives us monsters. There is a lot to love in this chapter, everything from Bandersnatches and Wendigo to Land Sharks and Mutant Giants are given a write up. I really like how Mr Becker wen t out of his way to provide us with classical monsters with some staying power with out copy / pasting from other editions. There isn't one monster that feels like a random assortment of traits with an unspeakable name that plagued AD&D. I can't say enough how much this pleases me.
The treasure section looks pretty standard to me, but like the magic section I mostly skipped past it.
Part 8 was another great chapter. There are rules for what happens when a thief puts on Plate mail (something that was the cause of much irritation when I started playing,) Dwarves crafting magic arms and armor, ruling over Dominions, some great advise on making settings and adventures, and an optional bard class (but no class based damage :))
The book ends with a one page discussion on creating cosmologies and using them in play.
I've got to say all and all the Companion is a marvelous book (despite the Halfling hate,) and is a worthy addition to the BX line (BXC?)
Edit: I probably should have listed the address for the actual books somewhere: http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com/2010/08/first-print-run-finally-finished.html