In a village of the frozen north, a child is born possessed by a strange and alien spirit, only to be cast out by her tribe and taken in by the mysterious winter witches of Irrisen, a land locked in permanent magical winter. Farther south, a young mapmaker with a penchant for forgery discovers that his sham treasure maps have begun striking gold.
This is the story of Ellasif, a barbarian shield maiden who will stop at nothing to recover her missing sister, and Declan, the ne’er-do-well young spellcaster-turned-forger who wants only to prove himself to the woman he loves. Together they’ll face monsters, magic, and the fury of Ellasif’s own cold-hearted warriors in their quest to rescue the lost child. Yet when they finally reach the ice-walled city of Whitethrone, where trolls hold court and wolves roam the streets as men, will it be too late to save the girl from the forces of darkness?
From New York Times best seller Elaine Cunningham comes a fantastic new adventure of swords and sorcery, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
I had a rough start with this book. The book starts with two story lines each supporting one of two main characters, Ellasif and Declan. While the story lines gradually come together, at the beginning of the book the stories were far enough apart that I easily set the book down. As the stories came together, the book became more compelling for me to the point where I didn’t want to put the book down as the climax approached. After reading this book I think I’m more of a fan of the Varian Jeggare and Radovan Virholt multiple-main-character books by Dave Gross, where the two characters experience the same story, from different perspectives, with an occasional split between the experiences of the two characters. The supporting characters mainly added flavor to the setting and served as blunt plot tools and were therefore predictable and near stereotypical for me.
For example, Declan’s interaction with the necromancer in the beginning felt under developed. After finishing the book I struggled to recall the relevance of the events with Jamang other than creating some foundational elements for the sake of consistency later. For example, the animated books set the foundation for Declan’s magical art, which was a very creative idea, however.
Declan's ideas on the corrupting effects of magic could have been explored more and been a strong point of inner tension, however when magic was needed Declan had no qualms about tossing spells.The interaction with Skywing was the most interesting relationship and ended up having the longest staying power.
I think Ellasif’s opening sequence in White Hook hooked me, but I didn’t have enough time with Ellasif to jump forward fifteen years without questioning what happened during that time. Yes, this was all filled in later, but I had a rough start with both Declan and Ellasif.
The story has some great twists that I didn’t see coming until the end. I found the sequence with Ellasif and the Varisian caravan very entertaining.
As far as setting, I always enjoy when an author takes the time to try and represent Golarion as authentically as possible. In this way, the book provides additional value to me, a Pathfinder gamer, rather than providing only entertainment.
I was looking forward to learning more about Irrisen. I think, however, Liane Mericel did a better job depicting Nidal in Nightglass than the treatment of Irrisen here. In thinking about running a campaign in Irrisen, I found myself wanting to know more. Fortunately I found more of the character and soul of Irrisen in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Irrisen, Land of Eternal Winter. The book does bring in elements of Baba Yaga and her legacy and I enjoyed those references.
Irrisen is portrayed as cold, sophisticated, complex, civilized and yet full of beasts and monsters who would otherwise tear civilizations apart unrelentlessly. Using gaming terms, why would neutral evil winter wolves and chaotic evil trolls bend in servitude to the Jadwiga unless the Jadwiga were brutal in their power. The power and brutality that keeps these monsters in check is developed nominally and I was not convinced. In places like the Bone Mill, human thralls and goblins work away, two groups that seem routine for forced labor. Despite the fiendish references in the book, I did not see the correlations between Irrisen and the Hells, and I was unconvinced that the evil residents would be controlled by presence and power of the Jadwiga.
In sum, I found getting into this book difficult and I wanted more from Irrisen. In the end, Declan and Ellasif had won my support, but I found their development fragmented. The climax and resolution were satisfying. If you love stories in the Land of the Linnorm Kings, Irrisen, winter witches and Ulfen, you’ll enjoy this book.
only 90 pages into this so my initial thoughts on reading my first Pathfinder novel and my first fantasy novel for a few years. It's really entertaining so far. The author draws upon the richness of the Irrisien/Korvosa settings in really creative ways already; the personalities and quirks of the characters are well drawn; the writing style is brisk but not lacking in detail or description; the dialogue is witty and direct. and occasionally you read a passage and think 'did i just read that' and read the passage again. like 'your brother's body was tossed into a vat of urine and boiled for 2 days. the process dissolves the flesh from the bone. the resulting sludge was fed to the creatures that scour the sewers. his bones were added to those of camels and asses to create skeletal amalgamations - difficult to animate, but the results were amusing to watch' says a trainee necromancer in anger. This is creative, entertaining stuff.
I was very impressed with the story as I have been impressed with other novels she has written. I was impressed with the descriptive writing with an emphasis on the differing cultures encountered in the book. It gives you a greater sense of the setting of Golaron.
I like some of the tales novels but this one was by far the best. It draws you in and you can feel the cold frost and the darkness creeping up to the door.Are we going to see more of her stuff?If so tell me what it is so i can buy it immediately.
A classic tale of the hero setting out to rescue the fair maiden in distress. This book earns a PG MPAA rating from me. I would not think twice about giving it to a Jr. High reader. This book has a very strong female lead and a clueless male lead. There is definitely a "Coming of Age" theme to the book. I was impressed with how magic was described in the book. It holds true to the RPG ruleset of Pathfinder without requiring that you know the rules or how they work. It was a fun read. I would rate this as a Teen+ book, highly enjoyable to all ages above 13.