Not surprisingly this book is very similar in format to The Plane Below, but whereas the Elemental Chaos book jumped right into specifics and rules for how to adventure in that plane The Plane Above begins with a bit more of an overview of what the Astral Sea is and why it exists. Just like the previous books it is almost 160 pages deep and contains 45 new types of monsters. The Astral Sea is presented as many things, including a former battlefield from the Dawn War, the home of the gods, the setting for the afterlives of mortal worshipers of the gods, and the home of native astral races such as the couatls, githyanki, maruts, and the quom. A relatively small amount of time is spent on the physical geography of the Astral Sea versus what was described of the Elemental Chaos and the Underdark, but that’s a good thing because the sea itself is relatively simple and the diversity of the plane comes from each individual island and dominion that sits in that sea.
The reason I had a negative reaction to this book at the beginning was because a lot of the early chapters contain references to things later in the book, which gave me a feeling of reading a glossary rather than a detailed supplement. I feel that the book probably could have been organized and set up in a better order. Many of these references are to specifics deity’s plans that are detailed later in the book in the section that pertains to that deity, so that makes sense and any problems I have with the book’s organization are easily outweighed by the awesomeness of the story ideas presented for many of the deities. For example there is a lot of detail given to Erathis’ new plans to reunite the astral sea by rebuilding the “Lattice of Heaven” that was damaged and mostly destroyed during the Dawn War. The book also presents some of Bane’s larger scale plans despite his ongoing battle with Gruumsh in their crashed together/merged dominions. Another overarching story that is mentioned several times in the book and detailed later on is the story of the god Lakal’s accidental death at the hands of Bahamut while trying to defeat a primordial named Nihil, which ties into the race known as the Quom and their backstory. In order to get a complete picture of the story, you have to read several different places in the book and put them all together, so at times it is hard to piece everything together from the book.