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Pathfinder Tales: The Redemption Engine

****½ (based on 10 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: The Redemption Engine
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by James L. Sutter

When murdered sinners fail to show up in Hell, it's up to Salim Ghadafar, an atheist warrior forced to solve problems for the goddess of death, to track down the missing souls. In order to do so, Salim will need to descend into the anarchic city of Kaer Maga, following a trail that ranges from Hell’s iron cities to the gates of Heaven itself. Along the way, he’ll be aided by a host of otherworldly creatures, a streetwise teenager, and two warriors of the mysterious Iridian Fold. But when the missing souls are the scum of the earth, and the victims devils themselves, can anyone really be trusted?

From acclaimed author James L. Sutter comes a sequel to Death’s Heretic, ranked #3 on Barnes & Noble’s Best Fantasy Releases of 2011!

ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-618-8
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-619-5

The Redemption Engine 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.

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Product Reviews (10)
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Average product rating:

****½ (based on 10 ratings)

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Another winner

****( )

As overall editor, Sutter is arguably the star of the Pathfinder Tales novels, and his debut was terrific. I'm pleased to report I enjoyed its sequel just as much, though I do look forward some for developed in the future.

Salim is sent to that hive of scum and villainy, Kaer Marga, tasked with tracking down a disparity in the accounting of souls. His adventure will take him all through the city, and below it - and through the domains of heaven and hell as well.

Sutter seems to reserve the most creative and fabulous settings of the Pathfinder universe for his own books, and The Redemption Engine is no exception.

Every location is stuffed full of interesting people, cultures, and scenery. Salim's whirlwind tour through half a dozen locales that could easily serve up a stand alone novel on themselves was delightful to me. I never knew what Sutter was going to through up next.

This sense of surprise persisted with the narrative. It would be a stretch to call The Redemption Engine a mystery, but there is a procedural element to it. Salim gathers clues, and pieces them together before a spectacular conclusion. I was never bored, even when the mystery was was clear to me because Sutter is always invested in his characters first and foremost. Even minor players get a back story and a sense of something bigger in their lives and the greater world. I enjoy it very much, particular Salim's sidekicks in this outing. Pathfinder again demonstrates its willingness to go beyond the familiar trope - I really applaud its comfort in depicting characters with alternative sexualities and cultures, and taking it seriously.

Which bring me to the, not flaw exactly, but weakness of the book. Salim has been a lone wolf for so long, and it does lend a more episodic sense to the book than warranted. Sutter works hard to give us a sense of how Salim is developing and changing, but I would love to see some regulars in the books, in the same way that Dave Gross has expanded the cast to great effect in his books in this universe. Still, this is a quible, The Redemption Engine is a great read, and Sutter sets the standard again.


Shallow Characters

**( )( )( )

After reading the excellent novels by Tim Pratt this story was a huge let down. With the exception of Salim the characters are very shallow and poorly done.

The agent of Pharasma who is competing against Salim is comically inept. Important locations such as the under city of Kaer Maga are squandered.


Buddy Cops from the Grave

****( )

Disclaimer: I have yet to read Death's Heretic, so some of the overarching themes of Salim's story are lost on me. I thought about reading it first, but after a conversation with James Sutter at GenCon about seeing people like me (aka homosexuals) in fantasy literature, he indicated that I'd probably be more interested in reading The Redemption Engine. I had read Sutter's serialized stories Boar and Rabbit on the Paizo blog. Those were our first introduction to Bors and Roshad. Finally, this review is intended to be spoiler-free, but that's really impossible unless the review is a blank page or just says, "This is a good book." (It is, by the way). So, while I've left out the plot points, you are going to learn a thing or two about the book. It is, to quote Emperor Palpatine, inevitable.

The Redemption Engine is at heart a story about coming to terms with who you are. Salim Ghadafar, a former officer in the Rahadoumi Pure Legion made a bargain with Pharasma, the Goddess of Death. Salim got what he asked for and in exchange he gets to be Pharasma’s immortal enforcer. Salim’s worldview remains staunchly Rahadoumi athiest despite finding himself as the servant of one of them. I’ll deal with the homosexuality issues later. For now, I’ll just say that it was refreshing to read a novel with gay characters that focused on self-actualization that wasn’t about the gay characters’ attempts to come to terms with living within their own skin. In this installation of Salim’s story, he’s off on a new mission for the Lady of Graves in Kaer Maga.

Salim spends a good portion of the novel trying to come to grips with his role as Pharasma’s enforcer. Pharasma’s power within him is colorfully described as being highly unwelcome. But when Salim can’t access it he feels barren and empty. Is he coming to terms with his choices? Regardless, he keeps his sense of humor. At one point while reading on a plane, I laughed aloud, stunning the guy in the seat next to me.

Read the rest of this review online at A Gaymer's Quest.


Weighed and Not Found Wanting

*****

If Death's Heretic can be said to be Sutter's treatise on order versus chaos, The Redemption Engine is his contribution to good versus evil. Extremely engaging, highly entertaining, a thorough mystery populated with intriguing and invigorating characters and lavishly-detailed locales. Makes me miss some good old-fashioned Planescape. And there's obvious improvement over his first novel in the series. Eagerly awaiting more from Salim.


A+, would recommend.

*****

James L. Sutter excels at fast-paced action and dialogue that feels more like an action movie than a typical novel. The Redemption Engine is even better in this regard than his first book, Death’s Heretic. This book continues the planar travelogue tradition of the first one, giving amazing descriptions of Heaven and Hell along the way. The description of Heaven was especially good—we’re used to descriptions of Hell by now, it’s comparatively easy to envision a horrible dungeon plane of lost souls. Envisioning a realistic Heaven is more difficult, but the Heaven presented here was as breath-taking and obnoxious by turns as I would expect a plane of Lawful Good souls to be.

If you’ve read Death's Heretic you’ve got a good feel for Salim’s backstory and what makes him tick. This book challenged that in some ways I really wasn’t expecting and left him in a place that felt realistic and left me hoping that another Salim book is coming so that I can see how he’s going to develop.


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