"Nightglass" by Liane Merciel
From the back of the book:
In the grim nation of Nidal, carefully chosen children are trained to practice dark magic, summoning forth creatures of horror and shadow for the greater glory of the Midnight Lord. Isiem is one such student, a promising young Shadowcaller whose budding powers are the envy of his peers. Upon coming of age, he's dispatched on a diplomatic mission to the mountains of Devil's Perch, where he's meant to assist the armies of devil-worshiping Cheliax in clearing out a tribe of monstrous winged humanoids. Yet as the body count rises and Isiem comes face to face with the people he's exterminating, lines begin to blur, and the Shadowcaller must ask himself who the real monsters are...
First off, this was my first Pathfinder novel, so I do not have another novel from this setting to compare it to, or to use as a current "standard" in the Pathfinder books. That said, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game has really ignited an interest in the Pathfinder universe, so now I want to read the novels, play the RPG, and even the MMO when it comes out! That said, once at the bookstore, I couldn't decide which book I actually wanted to read. I narrowed it down to two options, and since I had my 3 year old daughter with me, I let her decide! I'm 99% sure it was the predominantly purple cover that won her over. I absolutely devoured this book! I'm not sure if it was the fact that I had just finished up two pretty large books (with small print) prior to this one, but I breezed through it at a record pace. I couldn't put it down, and was sucked in from the start! The first part of the book was surprisingly dark. Like "Hellraiser" meets "Harry Potter" kind of dark! My initial hope was to start to get a greater sense of the Pathfinder setting, and in that, I think the book succeeded...
The novel is actually split into two "books", and I was instantly sucked into the first part, which was about 150 pages. As I mentioned above, this section was a lot darker and "horror filled" than I expected, and gave the reader a big insight into what it would be like to be a Nidalese, a Shadowcaller, and to a bit of an extent, a Chelaxian. The writing was overall was pretty descriptive, and kept me engaged for both stories. Overall, the storytelling was good as well, although I do have a few minor points to bring up in that regards...
The not so good:
Remember how I said that the novel was split into two "books"? Well, I was really into the first section of book, but not as much the 2nd part. In some ways, the first section was just so good, that it was a "hard act to follow" for the second part. While the first part was extremely dark, the second part seemed considerably lighter in regards to the overall story. Don't get me wrong, the second part was still entertaining, but I felt like I was not completely done with first story. In fact, I would have LOVED if the second part was simply its own complete novel, and instead "Nightglass" just further explored the first section in much greater detail. n Then, there was the endings. (No worries, I won't spoil anything) The ending for the first part felt way too abrupt to me. It would be like watching a movie, only to have the hero just shoot the villain in the head at the first opportunity, end movie, roll credits! Hours of lead up and story, then BAM! Done. That's not to say it wasn't fully resolved, but I wanted more. The second part, did not suffer from the same issue. It felt like a full fledged story, from start to end, but it lacked some of the more "twisted" features of the first part that really drew me in, but still a good story on its own. Another gripe I had was that (if I recall correctly) there was a seven year gap between the first part and the second, which normally would not be a big deal, but the main character, Isiem, kept referencing events that happened in that gap, and that we the readers, did not get to see. It kind of bugged me after awhile, like perhaps the book should have been split into three parts instead of just two.
Don't let my few complaints scare you away from the novel as a whole, it was still an entertaining, and enjoyable book, but it left me wanting more! I really wish they would have taken this character's story and turned it into at least a trilogy, each with their own fully fleshed out novel. "Nightglass" could have expanded on, and fully covered the first part of the current novel. The middle, missing gap section, probably could have used it's own novel. The second section of the current book probably also could easily stand on it's own legs, with a few added pages to give it a true "full novel" feeling. All in all, it met my expectations, and managed to exceed them in several areas as well. I got a great glimpse into the nation of Nidal, the Shadowcallers, a brief bit into the nation of Cheliax, and some the deities that inhabit Golarion. If you are a fan of any of these, or you just want a little bit of dark horror in your Pathfinder novel, then I bet you'll enjoy it too!