The foreword of this module talks about how the 'Curse of the Crimson Throne' adventure path was MADE around this module, and while it absolutely digs right into the 'plague outbreak in D&D' aspect, on the whole I found it a bit disappointing on the heels of Edge of Anarchy.
The beginning goes from uplifting (upon saving cute-little Brienna Soldado) to downright macabre (with the plague outbreak running rampant through the city). The thought that many of the NPCs that the group meets in Edge of Anarchy suddenly contracting plague and dying is upsetting to me (but I'm kind of a softie).
From there it sets up a series of missions that somehow relate to the PCs combating the plague. The PCs go through this weird arc of feeling empowered to feeling useless to feeling empowered again after a while.
About the missions. I didn't like the lack of choices in the were-rat mission. Most other missions in Curse of the Crimson Throne can be dealt with in many different ways. Not the were-rat one though. The sunken ship investigation was fine, but, again, not a lot of interesting choices for players to make. The mission where they investigate the corpse dumping has a good (if macabre) start, but the fact that it ends up with fighting vampires is just... weird to me.
Like, you've got this plague going on in the background, and there could've been some really great mission about a family member trying to get medicine for their family who is badly infected and sacrificing themselves. Or maybe an infected who is desperate to get back home. Or maybe a fire breaks out as someone decides to 'purge' part of the city. They could've put in these gut-wrenching moral decisions for the players, but instead I'm fighting vampires and were-rats. That's really where this adventure went from 5-stars to 4-stars for me.
Back on track about the missions. Dealing with the snake-oil saleswoman, on the other hand, was great, but the STAR of the missions is where you have to investigate this noble's mansion.
Oh-man...! I have to stop and dedicate a paragraph to the bit of the adventure where you investigate the mansion where there's an evil elf. When I read the setup for this mission, I KNEW it was going to be a blast, an it totally was. The part of the adventure about the Carowyn Manor? Just... AWESOME. So much fun!
The finale of the adventure, the Hospice of the Blessed Maiden, does require some creative thinking to deal with. This is mostly because players are tasked with interfering with the Queen's Physicians, a crime punishable by death. So, for them, finding a way to not become outlaws was crucial.
Finally, they go to the evil temple, which I thought was fine. Unlike Edge of Anarchy there isn't some huge cliffhanger ending, but coming out as the heroes who 'cured' the plague still was pretty great.
In conclusion, I don't know if it's a 5-star adventure, but it's pretty good. It does include a lot of interesting information on how to handle a plague in a Pathfinder world. Maybe I had my expectations set to high? But, I will say, the module is worth it for the Carowyn Manor mission alone. SO MUCH FUN!
I wasn't sold on this adventure until I ran it, but now, looking back at it? It was totally awesome.
First and foremost, the best part of this adventure is that it sets up a number of situations for your PCs to go in to, but it doesn't contain any expectations on HOW those situations will be dealt with, or what the CONSEQUENCES will be.
Early on, you have to deal with an orphanage run by a horrible man. But do you have to fight your way in? Could you sneak in? Do you bargain with the minions? It's all up to your players. And what's more, when the orphanage falls, what happens to the kids? Again, all up to your players.
And that's what really shines about this adventure, your players are really put in the driver's seat and what happens is all to do with what THEY want to do. Maybe they want to roleplay a fast-talking rogue who gets them through the situation? Or a magician who uses illusions to intimidate foes? Or a warrior who just kicks in the door? All acceptable solutions to the many problems contained herein.
Now, that said? DM's are going to have to do some work to really get this thing to shine. (One thing FOR SURE is you're going to want to make Trinia Sabor 5th level) It's on you to develop the characters and really create this city called Korvosa. But, the more you put in, the more the place just comes to life. Eel's End becomes a dark 'Las Vegas' kind of place with all kinds of characters. The people of the Shingles can be revealed as humble artisans and caring citizens and optimistic youths. And the orphans rescued from the evil Mr. Lamm can turn out to be the best, most affectionate side-kicks the PCs ever had. But, again, that's what's great about this adventure, it's on you. It would be impossible for the authors to put in all the details and nuances needed, so you'll have to roll up your sleeves and get creative, but you will be well rewarded for doing so.
In summation, this is a great adventure, because it's on you. It sets up a solid framework with a good story, but it puts you and your players in the driver's seat.
In this DM's opinion, this is BETTER than the continuation, Seven Days to the Grave.