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Pathfinder Tales: Skinwalkers

**½( )( ) (based on 3 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: Skinwalkers

Add Print Edition: $9.99

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by Wendy N. Wagner

As a young woman, Jendara left the cold northern isles of the Ironbound Archipelago to find her fortune. Now, many years later, she’s forsaken her buccaneer ways and returned home in search of a simpler life, where she can raise her young son Kran in peace. When a strange clan of shapeshifting raiders pillages her home, however, there’s no choice for Jendara but to take up her axes once again to help the islanders defend all that they hold dear.

From author Wendy N. Wagner comes a new adventure of vikings, lycanthropes, and the ties of motherhood, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-616-4

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

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Product Reviews (3)

Average product rating:

**½( )( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Dark fantasy invades the Isles

***( )( )

Thoroughly enjoyed Wendy N. Wagner's Skinwalkers. Quite different from the rest of the Pathfinder Tales. It felt far more sword & sorcery / horror than the almost comic-book level heroes (and protags) in many of the other books. It showed how characters would honestly react if encountering events like those from the Skinsaw Murders and Hook Mountain Massacre from the Rise of the Runelord adventure path. I liked the protag, her background and the society she lived in. Nice to read about the importance of familial and extended relationships as the character interacts with said members without them being casually mentioned all the time as part of the background or in flashbacks.

My biggest complaint with the book is it didn't feel like, well, a Pathfinder adventure. This is typical for me of many Pathfinder tales. As usual, the protag continues to be solo whereas most game sessions would have a party of adventurers. This is especially sad since Skinwalkers has one of the best setups to create a party. This, though, is a common complaint I have with virtually all Pathfinder Tales. (Exception: the excellent Worldwound Gambit by Robin D. Laws.) Also non-Pathfinder: the lack of magic. C'mon, not even a wand of healing? Those islanders are not that primitive! Skinwalkers could have been set in a myriad number of low-magic settings. Again, this is a common complaint I have with most Pathfinder Tales.

Otherwise, recommend Skinwalkers, especially if you're looking for some horror in your fantasy.


Enjoyable but violent

***( )( )

After the seeing the previous review, wondering how much might be truth and how much might be overreaction, and remembering how thoroughly I enjoyed Wendy N. Wagner's Mother Bears, I bought this book and raced through it. I figured it at least deserved a review of its entirety. I don't mind a bit of violence and gore – how bad could it be?

I got about halfway through and wanted to put it down. There's a handful of scenes – each hot on the blood-drenched heels of the previous – where the violence could definitely be seen as unnecessary (and perhaps gruesome enough to be worthy of an indication in the product description due to its departure in tone from the rest of the Pathfinder Tales line). It clogs up the page count a little too, not helped by the book's slow start. Jendara fights the local superstition almost as much as she does horrible shape-shifting raiders and other beasties. I just wanted people to believe her so the plot could progress.

It's more of a pity that people might put this book down after only half of it, as some of the scenes I most enjoyed were in the book's second half. When the threat is realised and the plot finally kicks into gear is when some of the best writing turns up. One location is an absolute blast to read about, and I hope gets further page-space in future Paizo content (perhaps PFS? One can only hope).

As for our protagonist Jendara; poor, poor Jendara. She almost has as hard a time of it as Lara Croft in the recent Tomb Raider reboot. I don't think she makes it through a single fight unscathed, and there's a lot of fighting in this book. Due to the prevalence of injury, and the lack of ongoing repercussions, I couldn't empathise with any violence done to her near the end of the book as it was expected rather than shocking.

Additionally, the book is sadly light on interactions between Jendara and her son, preferring to focus on her past – both distant and recent – and how it has affected her and everyone around her. It's not a bad focus, but I would've enjoyed more interaction between Jendara and her son Kran. Theirs is a unique relationship - especially in fantasy fiction such as this - and that would've been fun to explore further.

There's also a few minor issues that jumped out at me. Jendara takes off her "sweater" at one point. Another islander refers to "balsa wood" in a comparison. A character is knocked out with a blow to the head and is unconscious for an entire afternoon with not much in the way of ill effects.

On the positive side, I found this book very easy to read. The characters are identifiable and realistic in their behaviour. The description and setting is wonderful. It's not badly written by any means, just brought down by the overly-descriptive violence, squandered potential, and small fiddly problems. Not a bad first novel by any means.

Although it didn't live up to my expectations, I would still love another book with Jendara. I'm just more interested in the future adventures of her and her son than dwelling on her past.


Unnecessarily Dark & Graphic

*( )( )( )( )

I'm the type of person who usually, once I start reading a book, I can't put it down till I'm finished. Stopped reading this book less than half through, put it down, and was irritated enough to both write my first product review (first Paizo product I haven't liked), and to consider returning the product and asking for my money back.

I've read books of all types from light fantasy to dark descriptive stuff about serial killers, which I don't really care for, and I definitely don't expect that stuff from my gaming fantasy.

Some people like to play with books like The Book of Vile Darkness and Book of Erotic Fantasy, and I've drawn on those resources myself from time to time, but if that sort of thing becomes associated with mainstream pathfinder then I'm out.

Also, I look forward to introducing my kids to gaming as soon as they're old enough however not with this type of product.

People complain about the gay couples and the sex changes and such, but that stuff isn't hurting anyone, and is part of perfectly normal peoples lives. Violence, cannibalism and rape are not perfectly normal.

And while I do realize Pathfinder is a "violent" game, I've been playing RPG's for over 20 years and I've found that most people don't put much emphasis on how exactly their weapons hurt their enemies and such; let alone which parts of the body to cut for easy meat, debate over which parts of the body where cut of and which were gnawed on, an so on. In fact it seemed like more time was spent on messed up descriptions than advancing the story.

If I had had any foreknowledge this book would be this way I would have canceled my tales subscription, right now I'm debating canceling all of them.


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