I’d not read any of the Pathfinder Tales before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. Add that this is the third novel featuring these characters, and I could have found my self at a disadvantage.
Fortunately, Dave Gross, whose work I hadn’t read prior to this novel, does a good job of filling in what background details are needed as you go along.
The setup starts out fairly straightforward. Half-elf Varian Jeggare has never met his Elven father, but at one point in his life his father sent him a gift of a red carriage. That carriage was smashed in a previous adventure. Now he and his bodyguard Radovan have journeyed to the Elven kingdom of Kyonin hoping to find the carriage maker and get the thing repaired. Simple, right?
Uh, no, actually, it’s not. There are demons in the forests they must travel. Plus there’s the usual court politics and intrigue. Before it’s over, it will be a toss-up which is more dangerous.
I found this to be an enjoyable novel. Varian and Radovan are very different characters. Gross alternates their viewpoints from one chapter to the next. Of the two, I think I prefer Radovan. He has a more Damon Runyon-esque voice, while Varian, being a count, has a more blueblood tone. Both make interesting narrators. Radovan has the slightly cynical tone that appeals to me a little more, though.
The storyline is also interesting and entertaining. When Varian and Radovan set out to find the maker of the carriage, they’re joined by several members of the court. Each of the members has an agenda. And those agenda aren’t always compatible with each other.
There are several twists in the plot. While none of them were particularly surprising, they weren’t exactly broadcast in advance either. There are references to the previous books, but you don’t need to have read them to enjoy this one.
This was the first Pathfinder book I’ve read. I enjoyed it enough that I’ll be reading more. I’ll probably go back and read the first two novels featuring Varian and Radovan (Prince of Wolves and Master of Devils), although with the backlog I’ve got and the Sooper Seekrit Project, it will be a while before I get to them. If you like solid, gaming-based adventure fantasy, give this one a try.
I’d like to thank Jaym Gates for providing me with a review copy.