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Thursday, November 21, 2013

SPOILER FREE Book Review: Prince of Wolves (Pathfinder Tales)





Prince of Wolves
By Dave Gross

From the back of the book:
For half-elven Pathfinder Varian Jeggare and his devil-blooded bodyguard Radovan, things are rarely as they seem.  Yet not even the notorious crime-solving duo is prepared for what they find when a search for a missing Pathfinder takes them into the gothic and mist-shrouded mountains of Ustalav.  Beset on all sides by noble intrigue, mysterious locals, and the deadly creatures of the night, Varian and Radovan must use both sword and spell to track the strange rumors to their source and uncover a secret of unimaginable proportions, aided in their quest by a pack of sinister werewolves and a mysterious mute priestess.  But it'll take more than merely solving the mystery to finish this job.  For shadowy figures have taken note of the pair's investigations, and the forces of darkness are set on making sure neither mans get out of Ustalav alive...

Initial thoughts:
Since finishing "Nightglass" just prior to this one, I now have at least one book from the Pathfinder Tales to gauge this one off of.  I've always heard fans of the Warhammer Fantasy novels rave about the "Gotrek & Felix" series, although I never read them, my initial thought was that Jeggare & Radovan would end up being the Pathfinder equivalent of Gotrek & Felix.  With that in mind, the big question going into this one was: after finishing this one, would I want to read the next Jeggare & Radovan adventure?

The good:
First off, the characters were really well written.  They were each dynamic in their own ways, and the mixture of personalities just worked well.  They were believable as well.  The characters come from two wildly different backgrounds, and they definitely acted the parts through the whole novel.  The plot was pretty good as well, kept me guessing, several curves in there, and a few unseen surprises in there as well.  It also painted an interesting picture of Ustalav as well, and one of the things I always look for in a Pathfinder novel is whether or not I get a deeper understanding of the Pathfinder realm.

The not so good: (because nothing is perfect)
The first person perspective kind of threw me off a bit, especially in the opening chapters.  The reason being, it's hard to get into a new character when you read: "I did this..." or "I did that..." then the next chapter starts off the same way, with "I did this..." or 'I did that..." but it would be the other character this time around.  I found it initially a bit hard to figure which of the two characters was the "I", until I realized if one chapter dealt with Jaggare, then the next would be about Radovan's experiences.  Set the book down for too long (a few days, a week) and you could find yourself forgetting once again just who the "I did this..." would be referring to.  There were also some awkward instances where the character would be dictating, as if writing in his field journal, with the view of the reader as the recipient.  It never flowed well, and when it happened, it created some awkward situations as far as reading went.  Luckily, the author didn't keep it up through the whole novel, as I found it a bit distracting.  Finally, while I enjoyed the overall plot, it felt like several "mini encounters" that all came together for one big story.  I likened it to RPG storytelling, or something like the Pathfinder Adventure Card game where you move to a location, resolve an encounter, move to another location, resolve a new encounter.  It didn't bother me too much, but a few of those encounters could have been extended out, or fleshed out a bit more, even at the expense of losing one or two of those "minor encounters" in my opinion. 

Final thoughts:
All in all, I really enjoyed the book.  The characters were great.  I learned about Ustalav and the Pathfinder lore, and the plot was pretty unpredictable to say the least!  So, my initial question was: would I read another book featuring Jaggare & Radovan?  Well, my answer is a yes!  I'm looking forward to seeing if the author continues with the first person perspective he used in this one, and if there are any wonky, journal-like parts in the next one since he seemed to stop doing it about half way through this novel.  I'm looking forward to picking up "Master of Devils", the next book that follows these two characters!

5 comments:

  1. I have seen some really well done first person perspective books but I have found the best ones were ones that concentrated on one character or ones that at least put the character they were following as the name of the chapter so you could keep track of who you are following.

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  2. The epistolary device appears only in Prince of Wolves, and starting in Queen of Thorns (the third book) I also label the chapters with the POV character's name.

    In Master of Devils, there's a third POV character every fifth chapter, but again the pattern is symmetrical, so once you see what's going on, it should be easy to follow. (Also, the voices become even more different in that second book.)

    Thanks for the review!

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    Replies
    1. Wow, can't get more direct from the source than the author himself! I'm actually a bit starstruck to be honest. Thanks for the heads up regarding the POV switches in "Master of Devils" and "Queen of Thorns".

      Not to go all "fanboy" or anything, but I can't stress enough just how interesting and dynamic I found the characters. I'm definitely looking forward to picking up "Master of Devils" next, although I must admit, as a relative newcomer to the Pathfinder universe "Queen of Thorns" excites me the most, since it deals so much with Elves of Pathfinder.

      Again, I'm just in awe, so happy, and humbled that you took the time to not only read my review, but comment as well! Looking forward to more Jegarre and Radovan tales!

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  3. I have been too busy with other projects to finish the retrospective blog on Master of Devils, but one on Prince of Wolves is already up at my blog, www.bydavegross.com. You might find it interesting, and you might enjoy the chronology of Radovan & the count novels & stories.

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