Tuesday, March 14, 2017
I have to admit I wasn't particularly looking forward to Plague of Shadows, the third book in the Pathfinder Tales line of novels. The blurb about adventurers banding together on a quest to retrieve a lost artifact sounded about as cliche "gamer fiction" as it gets. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. Yes, there are adventurers and there is a quest, but Howard Andrew Jones' writing is excellent and he manages to give each character enough spark so that they don't come off as cardboard-cut-out heroes. I quite liked the use of flashbacks linking two different adventuring groups together despite the passage of time, and the portions of the story set in GaPlague of Shadows and would definitely read more Pathfinder novels from the author.
lt really made the country come alive (in a terrifying way). There's a big twist about 5/6 of the way through that I'm not 100% sure is justified, and there's a limit to how much originality can be added on to the "fantasy adventuring group" chassis, but I honestly enjoyed
I thought Jones did an excellent job portraying the elves of Kyonin and their condescending but charitable view towards the "Forlorn" (elves who grew up outside elven society). I thought his portrayal of the Shadow Plane was a bit bland, especially considering the major villain is a specialist Shadow Wizard; I didn't feel like there was enough detail given to explain why Arcil, and the cabal of Shadow Wizards that Elyana's old adventuring group fought, were so fascinated with the place. The story's biggest twist (SUPER SPOILER REMINDER) in having Vallyn be working with the Galtans to betray Elyana just wasn't set up well enough; a twist of that kind needs to have enough (cleverly hidden) basis before it appears so that the reader doesn't feel it just came out of nowhere. Last, I thought the ending was superb, with Elyana leaving so that she doesn't have to watch her love grow old and die; and Drelm coming with her was inspired.