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Pathfinder Tales: King of Chaos

****½ (based on 7 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: King of Chaos
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by Dave Gross

After a century of imprisonment, demons have broken free of the wardstones surrounding the Worldwound. As fiends flood south into civilized lands, Count Varian Jeggare and his hellspawn bodyguard Radovan must search through the ruins of a fallen nation for the blasphemous text that opened the gate to the Abyss in the first place—and which might hold the key to closing it. In order to succeed, however, the heroes will need to join forces with pious crusaders, barbaric local warriors, and even one of the legendary god callers. It’s a race against time as the companions fight their way across a broken land, facing off against fiends, monsters, and a vampire intent on becoming the god of blood—but will unearthing the dangerous book save the world, or destroy it completely?

From best-selling author Dave Gross comes a new adventure set against the backdrop of the Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

Download a free sample chapter by clicking here! (61 KB zip/PDF)

ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-558-7
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-559-4

King of Chaos is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Its Chronicle Sheet is available as a free download (397 KB zip/PDF).

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Tales Subscription.

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Product Reviews (7)
1 to 5 of 7 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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Demons, Danger, Destruction, Deviltry, Deception, and the Divine!

*****

After my less-than-enthused completion of Queen of Thorns, I was eagerly looking forward to King of Chaos for two reasons - one to get away from Kyonin and the elves, which as stated in my prior review I don't much care for and I think much of their culture hurt the actual story of QoT; and two, to get a look inside Oparal's head. I wanted to like the paladin so much in the prior story, but she came off too much like the Lawful Angry stick-up-the-anatomy paladins you hear so much complaining about on forums like these. I wanted Hinjo and got Miko Miyazaki, in other words.

King of Chaos remedied so much of that. Since the weak point of Queen of Thorns was, in my opinion, the cast, I'll begin there with this one then discuss the plot. The characters in this story are so much more interesting, more well-rounded, and above all much less frustrating, irritating, or plot-derailing.

Radovan is his usual awesome self, and we get a nice view into the nature of his fiendish heritage and the strange bond he has with his progenitors in this story. The one-liners and smart-aleck commentary never cease to amuse.

Varian plays up the best and the worst of the scholarly mage archetype, delving into magical theory with and against a Sorcerer and a Summoner and showing the ins and outs of research into dangerous heretical texts. We also get a little more of his Pathfinder background, an examination of his divided loyalties, and lo and behold, some great character development, both story-wise and mechanically.

Oparal returns, this time as a perspective character, and she has GREATLY improved as a cast member. While she's still stern, taciturn, and overly formal, it's far less frustrating and inflexible compared to how she was portrayed in Queen of Thorns. She even attempts to crack a joke with her soldiers in the first chapter - admittedly it's not a very good one, and she herself says so, but the fact that she tried is itself a testament to the character's improved presentation from the prior story. Tensions between her and Radovan still run high, but on more than one occasion it's Oparal speaking in his defense, something I thoroughly appreciate and approve of, and would have sadly never expected out of her as she was portrayed in Queen of Thorns.

Then there are the new, non-perspective characters. In addition to Radovan and Varian's hired mercenaries and Oparal's elite crusaders, each of which are fairly unique and get their own moments of awesome screen-time, even if small, there are two that particularly stand out: Jelani, a crusader sorceress, and Alase, a Sarkoran Summ... err, I mean "God-Caller" and Varian's hired guide, along with her eidolon Tonbarse. Both of these women were extremely entertaining and interesting to add to the cast, providing unique new perspectives on magic and the locales of the Worldwound, and interesting reactions to the main protagonists.

And now for the plot. VERY excellently written, and a thoroughly fitting successor to the prior three stories. This one hits my high points up there with Master of Devils in so many ways. I love the descriptions of the Worldwound, the nature of the fiendishly-tainted countryside, the broken culture, the demonic cults, and the sinister dealings going on as the cast - protagonists and antagonists alike - vie for advantage. I would almost go as far as to say that King of Chaos should be required reading for anyone planning to run, or maybe even play in, Wrath of the Righteous, as it introduces the Worldwound and its component organizations in such a thorough, descriptive way.

And the MAGIC!! There is so much magic in this book, and it's beautifully and thoroughly described. Wizards, clerics, paladins, sorcerers, summoners! All of them doing what they do best, and doing it well. I would recommend this book for just that on its own - an excellent literary description of how magic works from a first- and second-hand point of view in the Pathfinder/Golarion reality.

I highly recommend this book. Immensely so. If you, like me, were troubled or bothered by the presentations of the characters in Queen of Thorns, especially Oparal, fear not - this book makes up for it and then some. And if you weren't, it's a great story on its own, regardless. Very worth the five stars.


Not as good this time around

***( )( )

I went out on a limb and got Queen of Thorns a few months ago, not expecting much, and was blown away by how tight Gross's writing is. The characters felt like they actually LIKED each other, the mechanics made sense, and the party felt actually competent, rather than the usual bunglers that only make it to the end of the book by virtue of the fact that they were simply the ones that didn't die.

King of Chaos, simply put, isn't as good as Queen of Thorns. I think it's a testament to Gross's writing that his characters still felt like they actually cared for and liked each other, but everything else feels like it was just slapped together and given the go-ahead. Like another review mentioned, the conclusion is pretty anticlimactic, with numerous loose ends all getting tied up in just a few pages, the party itself generally fails every dice roll, spot check, and the body count soars in an unfortunately meaningless way. For instance, the book ends on a hopeful note that the survivors might rescue one remaining companion; that would be great, if like eighteen other people hadn't gotten offed so quickly that I was actually able to form some sort of attachment to any of them, much less the captured adventurer.

Even the mechanics fall way short; at one point, a sorceress who at the start of the book says she casts wind and ice spells later on claims she's useless for the task because she casts fire and sand spells. She leveled and traded all her old spells away without saying anything I guess? I don't know, it just felt sloppy. I like Gross's characters, I love what he does to flesh out the world, and I respect his ability to tell a great story. This one just doesn't measure up to what he's done before, I'm afraid.


It is a sad day......

*****

But I've finished reading this book. Did my best to try and make it last but, but it's all gone. And it's going to be ages until Radovan and Count Jeggare have another excursion.
But what a ride this was! Loved the tie-ins to the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path.
Superb way to give players some lovely background.
The addition of the third voice really worked well.
This series just keeps getting better :)
Brilliant stuff Dave!, and well wrangled James.


World Wound Colder Than Expected

***( )( )

The World Wound is a wicked place but this story left me wanting. Demon tales don't start my fire but I managed a flicker with David Gross' recent book, King of Chaos. Maybe that partly explains my lackluster opinion of the story; although I am working hard not to allow that personal penchant much credence when evaluating the book.

Pathfinder Varian Jeggare and bodyguard Radovan are as fun as usual. The relationship is campy yet deep. It continues to evolve as we learn new things about each of them. In fact, one of the best things about the story is the new things we learn about both of them. Their banter is always something to look forward to while the respect they have for one another is the foundation for their playful exchanges. The addition of a particular unicorn was more fun than a backward saddle on a camel. As a matter of fact, there are a couple new characters that I'm glad to see in Golarion. The book is full of new ideas and great additions to the world of Golarion.

Unfortunately, the story did not thrill me. At the risk of over simplifying the work Mr. Gross so obviously put into the story I'm going to summarize my experience of the book very briefly. The book boiled down to a quest for an item. After that it was fight-run-fight-sneak-fight-banter-fight-fight-fight. The item is found. Fight-fight-fight. The end was anticlimactic. Did you get there were a lot of fight scenes? Thankfully, those were often interesting but I wanted more of a story; mystery, a plot twist, or questions about what might happen would have made this reader more happy.

Clearly David Gross is an awesome writer and I absolutely loved Price of Wolves. Queen of Thorns, also by Mr. Gross, is next on my list to read and sits on my bookshelf ready to go. Apparently you should read his books in this order: Prince of Wolves - Queen of Thorns - King of Chaos. I messed that up but doubt it was the reason I feel so cold toward this book.

If it were mechanically possible to give this 3.5 stars, I would.


Another great R&V adventure

*****

Dave Gross does it again! Another excellent entry in the adventures of Radovan and Varian, and the Pathfinder Tales series as a whole. This time picks up about a year after the previous book, Queen of Thorns, and has R&V heading to the Worldwound, a land plagued by demons. Along the way, the re-unite with their companion Oparal, the elf paladin, who gets promoted this time around to a main POV character. It was especially amusing reading her views on both R&V. Not as amusing as the third POV character from Master of Devils, but still a good addition. In addition, Gross weaves in an interesting cast of supporting characters, while combining elements from past books and stories in a way still very accessible to a new reader.

While the plot involves seeking a rare tome of twisted magic that might be able to help close the portal to the abyss that the demons are invading through, the core of the story is really about pushing the main characters to their limits and having them discover hidden truths about their innate natures. At the end of the book, there are some major changes to the characters (while still keeping true to their personalities.) I eagerly look forward to the next book, to see how these changes are further developed. I'm predicting either "Emperor" or "Ace" as part of the title.


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