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Pathfinder Tales: Skinwalkers

***½( ) (based on 10 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: Skinwalkers

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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
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-617-1

Skinwalkers is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Its Chronicle Sheet is available as a free download (359 KB zip/PDF).

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

Product Availability

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ePub/PDF: Fulfilled immediately. Will be added to your My Downloads Page immediately upon purchase of ePub/PDF.

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Product Reviews (10)
1 to 5 of 10 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 10 ratings)

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Great First novel


I really liked this novel. It built suspense well. The characters were interesting. It was not perfect though. Normally I would give it 4 stars but it was her first novel so I rated higher. I can't wait to see more from her.

Let Me Hear Your Warcry!


As others have pointed out, this is quite possibly the most visceral, horrific Tales novel to date (beating out Nightglass and Nightblade in my books), and I loved it. Not just for the fighting, or the violence, but for the simple fact of how this story showcases what people are truly capable of when you piss them off. Especially when said people is a Mother and you endanger the people she cares for.

Highly recommended.

**( )( )( )

Skinwalkers is not the strongest entry in the typically reliable Pathfinder Tales series. A mediocre narrative marries to a heretofore unseen level of violence to produce a brutal, but somewhat flat novel.

Jendara is thrown back into her tumultuous past when a group of strange raiders attack her home and people. Can she solve the mystery behind these attacks and confront her own unhappy past?

This wasn't a bad book, but it was decidedly average. I felt like Wagner was always writing to a plan - but not in a good way - rather, chapters, incidences and twists all felt pre-decided, and that it was simply a matter of getting the characters in position for things to happen. It all felt a little rote to me.

This isn't helped by a dearth of characterisation. Jendara is fleshed out, but virtually no one else gets any flavour; they felt largely interchangeable to me. It doesn't help that, as a character, Jendara is pretty simple. Coupled with the simplistic narrative, I was left with what would have made a fine short story but really groaned under the weight of being a novel.

In addition the setting felt so homogenous - dare I say monotonous. The archipelago itself was boring to me, and unchanging, and the character's never got out of it except for a completely unnecessary diversion to an incongruous pathfinder library that seemed to exist only to pad the length.

Coupled with the grisly violence, which was gratuitous and failed to add anything, I didn't love this book.

If you are after a freezing setting in the pathfinder world, Elaine Cunningham's Winter Witch is a stronger book on all counts.

An engrossing and horror-filled first novel


One of the better novels in the Pathfinder Tales line so far. See my comments in the Product Discussion for more detail.

Review from the Grassy Gnoll

****( )

Full review posted at The Grassy Gnoll, excerpts posted here (snipped for length).

I think one of the biggest strengths of this novel is the characters. Credit where credit is due, Ms. Wagner knows how to write some believable characters. Jendara in particular felt very real to me. Her desire to change who she was, the demons of her past (both due to her life as a pirate, and other events in her life); the disgust when she starts to revel in violence again; the protectiveness she feels for her son; her strength in the face of adversity, even when she sometimes feels doubt; and her rejection of the traditional worship of ancestor spirits and clan totem animals… it all comes together to paint a vivid portrait of her in my mind ... Just as an aside, I was quite amused when I opened up my copy of Inner Sea Combat at lunch today and found Jendara listed in the section about notable martial characters of the Inner Sea region. For those that are interested, she’s apparently a level 6 Fighter, which based on her prowess in the novel sounds about right. I really like that they've tied her into the canon that way...

Something I’ve noticed a couple of people complaining about in reviews of this novel is the increased level of violence, and the lower than normal use of magic. Pathfinder Tales have, in general, been fairly high magic and haven’t had particularly graphic descriptions of violence in them, and some people didn’t seem to appreciate this shift in tone, which is fair enough. Different strokes for different folks and all that. That said, I’d argue the idea that it doesn't feel like a Pathfinder story. While magic may be common for Pathfinder gaming groups, with most groups having at least one caster, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be absolutely everywhere in the world ... That’s also not to say that there isn't any magic in the novel. Certainly it starts to pop up more and more after the halfway point of the story, just not in a flashy “fireballs and lightning” kind of way. I think the increased focus on the description of the physical combat and it’s aftermath actually worked very well for this story, since it focuses entirely on characters who are non-magical and have to rely on their wits, skill and strength at arms to get them through. I don’t feel it’s too graphic, especially not compared to some low-magic fantasy I’ve read. There’s the occasional scene where Jendara may go overboard, but it’s usually prompted by fear for the lives of her friends and family; other than that the worst of it is the descriptions of the state some of the bodies that are found are in. I’ll put it this way, it’s definitely no Game of Thrones.

The biggest weakness in the story for me? The twist midway through the plot. Not that it’s not well written, and it works in the context of the story, tying everything back together and making sense of a number of plot elements. The problem was that I saw it coming from very early on, around the time of the quarry scene. Now whether this is because it is an obvious twist, or because I just spend too much of my time on TV Tropes and have started to pick up on these sort of things faster, I couldn’t say. But rather than a moment of “Oh my god” shock, I got a moment of “hah, called it” satisfaction. Not a bad thing, just an observation.

In terms of writing style, I found the book to be clearly written, easy to understand, and engrossing. There are a couple of little oddities here and there, but overall it’s a slick read. Wendy N. Wagner has a good grasp of how to describe combat to keep it interesting, and does well with the interactions between the various characters as well. I read it in an evening, but given that I’ve been known to read up to two books a day on the weekends, don’t let that make you think it’s too short. The story is the perfect length. Long enough to get everything it needs to done, but not so long that it starts to drag.

So, would I recommend Skinwalkers?

Short answer: Yes, absolutely.

Long answer: Yes, so long as you don't have a problem reading a fantasy novel that doesn't contain huge amounts of magic (no healing potions here!), does contain (somewhat) graphic violence. It's not meant to be anything more than an exciting romp through the world of the Pathfinder RPG, and at that, it succeeds admirably.

1 to 5 of 10 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
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