BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A rogue-ish hero and his intelligent sword hire onto a quest. Their employers are looking for a lost relic, and our pair are looking for gold any way they can find it.
PROS: A charming and convincing partnership based on mutual respect and a healthy dose of witty banter.
CONS: Nothing earth-shattering or overly ambitious here.
BOTTOM LINE: This is the sort of Fafhrd-and-Grey-Mouser-style sword and sorcery adventure that I love and would like to see more of in RPG novels.
The Pathfinder line of RPG novels is doing a lot of things right. They’ve been publishing intelligent adventure novels that showcase their gaming system and their campaign setting in lush detail. They’ve hired a variety of solid, professional authors, and they’ve spread their tales among a wide variety of heroes instead of following one party for multiple books. The one thing that they had been missing–until now–was the particular brand of charming that I have recently come to love in Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Grey Mouser series. Tim Pratt has done an excellent job of capturing that spirit in this Pathfinder outing.
Dave Gross is the former editor of Dragon Magazine, Star Wars Insider, and Amazing Stories. By day, he is lead writer for Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, which reunites him with the beloved Forgotten Realms setting. Also for Realms, he wrote Black Wolf, Lord of Stormweather, and other stories and novels. More recently he’s written Prince of Wolves, Master of Devils and Queen Of Thorns for Pathfinder Tales, featuring the not-always-heroic Jeggare and his hellspawn bodyguard Radovan. Find more tales of Radovan and Jeggare online. Gross has stories in the recent or upcoming anthologies Tales of the Far West, Shotguns v. Cthulhu, and The Lion and the Aardvark. He can be found on his website as well as on Facebook on on Twitter as @frabjousdave!
SFFWRTCHT: First things first, where’d your interest in science fiction and fantasy come from?
Dave Gross: The library. And I’m not joking. My folks encouraged us to read at an early age, and then they let us loose on the library. That’s where I started discovering the horror, science fiction, and fantasy books I came to love.
In episode 163 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester and his rag-tag band of panelists, discuss:
Star Wars, Disney, Marvel, Timothy Zahn, The Thrawn Trilogy, Star Wars: Episode 7, the Star Wars Extended Universe, Star Trek, Pathfinder Tales, Tie-In novels, George Lucas, Stargate, The X-Men, the 501st Legion, Lucasfilm, Disneyland, Family Guy, Robot Chicken, Pixar, Disney Princesses, Disneyland’s overhaul / rebranding of the iconic Submarine Ride as the new “Gungan Undersea Extravaganza’, Marvel Comics, Joe Quesada, Terry Brooks, The Sword of Shannara, Triumph over Tragedy, Attack of the Show, Newsroom, Pirates 101, Baldurs Gate, The Jar-Jar Binks Live Action Generic Non-Traditional Holiday Special with guests Tinkerbell, Wolverine and The Incredibles, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Ship Breaker, The City’s Son, and Reboots…
To give people a taste of the Pathfinder Tales novel line, Paizo’s fiction editor solicits short prequels for the web fiction page. These stories allow us authors to show a glimpse of what happens to our heroes between books. I appreciate the opportunity to go darker or funnier or just a little different from the novels while showcasing the same protagonists.
I love them.
Paizo also posts chapter excerpts from the novels, often from the middle of the book, with glorious full-color artwork.
I hate them.
Well, I love that Paizo is showing off beautiful art and a sample chapter, but why is it never Chapter One? That drives me crazy! I wrote the chapters in order, damn it, and I think the first one is a pretty good introduction to the story. Why can’t that be the excerpt?
So I complain, as anyone who’s read my editor’s blog knows all too well. And he responds with perfectly reasonable-sounding explanations like, “We wanted to show off some action, because we like your fight scenes.” (That’s a dirty trick, the appeasa-flatter.) Or maybe he’ll say, “We loved this character and wanted an excuse to commission a painting of her.” (I loved her too, so I’m thwarted.)
But, damn it! I still want everyone to read Chapter One (and Two and Three) before Chapter Four. And so I keep complaining, and my editor keeps posting lists of things authors should never say to editors, and so it goes.
Read the rest of this entry
Fantasy novels based on a roleplaying game? You betcha. There’s no shortage of book series that
suck money from devoted fans tie in to popular gaming franchises, such as the novels that accompany World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Warhammer 40k, and, of course, Dungeons & Dragons. Paizo‘s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game introduces the world of Golarion which, as many fantasy worlds are, is full of monsters, magic, dungeons, piles of treasure, plenty of traps, and–most importantly–an endless stream of “adventurers” who got conned into believing that the best way to make a living is to throw themselves headlong into danger and pray they come out the other side with all their wiggly bits intact. With Pathfinder Tales, Paizo has unleashed a growing variety of authors on the reality they’ve created to see what stories they can conjure.
So how do game dynamics and rule books translate into novel-length plot and characters?
Pretty durn well, actually. So strap on those boots, grab your walking stick, and prepare to journey through three such literary concoctions from the Pathfinder Tales library. Oh, and you might want to make sure your first aid kit is freshly stocked with healing potions. Just in case.