On a mysterious errand for the Pathfinder Society, Count Varian Jeggare and his hellspawn bodyguard Radovan journey to the distant land of Tian Xia, on the far side of the world. When disaster forces him to take shelter in a warrior monastery, “Brother” Jeggare finds himself competing with the disciples of Dragon Temple as he unravels a royal mystery. Meanwhile, Radovan—trapped in the body of a devil and held hostage by the legendary Quivering Palm attack—must serve a twisted master by defeating the land’s deadliest champions and learning the secret of slaying an immortal foe. Together with an unlikely army of beasts and spirits, the two companions must take the lead in an ancient conflict that will carry them through an exotic land, all the way to the Gates of Heaven and Hell and a final confrontation with the nefarious Master of Devils!
From fan-favorite author Dave Gross comes a new fantastical adventure set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
i put off reading this book for a long time, i admit it. i generally don't care for "mythic psuedo-China" settings, and care even less for stories written in the first person. i am, however, a fan of Mr. Gross's Forgotten Realms novels. i had also already read his previous Pathfinder novel, Prince of Wolves, but found the first person perspective with changes in points of view to be rather distracting and reading it was a bit of a chore, although overall i did like it. so finally, i picked Master of Devils up. to my surprise, i couldn't put it down. perhaps it was because i knew what to expect style-wise or perhaps my tastes have changed, but something just clicked in this book. no longer were the changes in points of view distracting, but they were a welcome change, keeping things fresh and exciting. in addition to the two protagonists from Wolves, Count Jeggare and Radovan, there was the dog, Arnisant, who i found to be a charming addition. i would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre.
This book is better than any Kung Fu movie I've ever seen. And I've seen a ton. It's got all the elements of Pathfinder that I love, mixed with martial arts and crazy kung fu fantasy goodness! FIrst book to blow my mind in a while. And to top it off, Dave Gross is a superb writer. It's not enough that I read fantasy, I want amazing writing. In Master of Devils, I got it.
Of all the Pathfinder Tales authors, Dave Gross (in my opinion) "gets" Golarion best. That said, Master of Devils has less Pathfinder feel and more of an Asian folklore vibe as he adopts a very different cultural and literary tone. While that works for this story, Tian Xia ends up feeling a little more real world than I had hoped.
Having Radovan and Varian separated again for (almost) an entire novel felt a little tired after Prince of Wolves. But I like the addition of Arnisant as a character in his (its?) own right and there was some good character development for both Radovan and Varian.
Gross also does an exemplary job of knitting "game logic" into the story without being too obvious.
All told, I think it's the weakest of Gross's Radovan/Jeggare novels, but still highly recommended.
Lots of things to like here, if you're fans of the adventures of Jeggare and Radovan. Not just a "fish out of water" tale for the pair from Avistan, I liked very much that each in his own way had to deal w/ an unexpected layer of adversity. By the end, I got a tangible sense that they had grown as characters. Especially Jeggare. In gaming terms, they've definitely gotten more EXP, and I hope that future tales about them reflect that.
I was a little unsure what to make of the 3rd main role--the wolfhound, Arnisant. I was afraid that was going to be the weak link for me. But it allowed the introduction to the kami spirits that had their own role to play in the storyline.
All in all, lots of fun. As another reviewer noted, though, I'm not sure the alternating 1st person perspective should be repeated for a 3rd novel (which I definitely hope to see).
Master of Devils again sees Radovan and Jeggare split. While Jeggare's story is a bit of a slow-burn, Radovan's had me captivated from the start and only slowed down at the point that Jeggare's picked up. What was especially cute was a third storyline running throughout the novel, told from the perspective of Arnisant, Jeggare's faithful hound. At the moment the three meet up, it was non-stop action. All in all a very enjoyable read.