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Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review - Plague of Shadows

"Plague of Shadows" by Howard Jones is set in Golarion, the fantasy setting for the Pathfinder roleplaying game. It takes place in Taldor, Galt, and the edge of Kyonin. The story concerns what happens when a group of adventurers that had split up years  before end up fighting with each other over a magical artifact, the Crown of Shadows.

Elyana's old lover, a current noble of Taldor named Stelan, has been cursed by their old adventuring companion, a wizard named Arcil. Arcil wants the Crown for unknown reasons, and is willing to sacrifice Stelan to get it. Elyana is an elven ranger, and she leads a group of younger adventurers, including a half-orc warrior named Drelm, a mage named Kellius,  and Stelan's warrior son, Renar, on the quest.

Elyana and her band meet up with another of her old companions, a bard named Vallyn, and then proceed through Galt towards the Vale of Shadows, which holds the Crown.

I really liked the book, especially as a guide to the region. Galt is a really dangerous nation, very similar to France during the Revolution. Much of the story is centered around it, and I personally think the land is evil to the core, especially after reading this book.

The elves the heroes encounter are interesting, and not just pointy-eared humans. I like that they view Elyana as some kind of damaged orphan, since she was raised by humans and lived among humans most of her life.

There are a lot of combats in the book. They are well-written, and usually fairly short. It does seem that Elyana is almost super-powered at times, even though she doesn't come through the battles unscathed.

One thing I really like about the Pathfinder novels I've read to this point is that there are no world-shaking events. Adventures tend to be important for the small region, but don't affect the setting overall. I really prefer that, especially when compared to the old Forgotten Realms novels that made drastic setting changes every year.

For Pathfinder fans and fantasy fans, I'd rate the book 4 out of 5 stars. It's not perfect, but it is really good.

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