Thursday, June 1, 2017

Master of Devils [RPG]


Count Jeggare and Radovan, the stars of the first Pathfinder novel (Prince of Wolves) return in Master of Devils.  This time, instead of the gothic-inspired land of Ustalav, they're in the Asian-themed land of Tian Xia.  The new setting lends a *very* different feel to the story, as traditional Western fantasy tropes are replaced with even more fantastical elements drawn from Chinese and Japanese legend.  Despite the unfamiliarity of the setting, the story was easy to get into and featured some laugh-out loud humour.  The story is told from three points of view and drags a touch in spots, but there are some really clever action scenes to keep things interesting.  For fans of Jeggare and Radovan, Master of Devils offers some real character development.  Tian Xia could as well be a whole new Pathfinder campaign setting considering how different it is to the norm, making this novel a memorable entry in the line.


As in their first novel, Jeggare and Radovan get separated early on and stay that way for most of the book--something that could prove frustrating to some readers.  Jeggare finds himself effectively trapped as a new student at a martial monastery and has to learn a more physical way of life; the development here is done well and the reader gets a good sense that proficiency in anything takes time and work.  The incorporation of Vancian magic into fiction is often quite clunky, but actually serves an important plot point here.  Radovan, trapped in demon form, is forced to become the personal warrior for a powerful monk who wants him to kill a dragon!  Radovan has to travel the land and defeat various local heroes, and there's a fantastic encounter with a "drunken master." The weirdest element is that some of the chapters are told from the point of view of Jeggare's dog!  It's an idea that is unique and funny at first, but perhaps overdone.

The colorful, eastern-themed fantasy is less "grounded in reality" than western-themed fantasy is in Pathfinder, so the feel of Tian Xia is very different and may seem a bit goofy to some.  I liked it, but it can take some time to get used to it.  Overall, Master of Devils was a fun novel and (to my mind) better than Prince of Wolves.

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