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Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes

****½ (based on 5 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes
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Hearts of Stone

Years ago, the dwarven warrior Akina left her home in the Five Kings Mountains to fight in the Goblinblood Wars. Now at long last she's returning home, accompanied by Ondorum, her silent companion of living stone. What she finds there is far from what she remembers: a disgraced brother, an obsessive suitor, and a missing mother presumed dead. Yet the damage runs deeper than anyone knows, and when Akina's brother is kidnapped by ancient enemies from the legendary Darklands, she and Ondorum must venture below the surface—and into danger as old as the stones themselves.

From debut novelist Josh Vogt comes a tale of love, redemption, and subterranean battle, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

400-page mass market paperback
ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-743-7
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-744-4

Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Sanctioned Content
Forge of Ashes is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild.

Download the Chronicle sheet — (395 kb zip/PDF)

Forge of Ashes is also available as a digital edition on the following sites:

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

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Product Reviews (5)

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 5 ratings)

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Great book, and best first 50 pages of any book I can recall!

****( )

Although I did not care for the endings *style*, this is a very strong book, and definitely worth 4 stars.

The writintg style is very fluid and easy going, and is just a pleasure to read. You will look up at the clock and wonder where the time has gone.

The characters are very interesting right off the bat and drag you in, and the action also gets you sucked in right off the bat! Mysteries are presented early, and yet the author has done such agood job of making you like the characters so quickly, youre hooked, and nothing feels forced. The first 50 pages of this work are really a study in outstanding writing and involving the reader extremely quickly without anything feeling forced. Very impressive.

The rest of the book is just solid and very good. Id normally go into more detail, but will just say for any Pathfinder folks out there, its a wonderful journey involving the Darklands, and you'll thank me for not commenting additionally!

This is hard to explain, but I liked the ending, but not its style. I can't really describe it any better than that without spoiling.

Do I like this book, ending and all, enough to reccommend it? Absolutely. It's a fine addition to the Tales series.


Great Adventure and Intriguing Characters

****( )

I'm always interested in Darklands adventures, something we don't get much of in the Tales line. More than that though, Akina and Ondorum are such an interesting pair that they really bring the story to life. Looking forward to more from Josh Vogt.


*****

I really enjoyed this book! The storyline was immersive, with interesting characters and a few surprises along the way. Looking forward to more tales with Akina and Ondorum in the future.


Great Novel!

*****

Really loved this one. I had a very hard time putting it down. The memorable layered characters really get you invested in the pulse pounding story.


Review from The Grassy Gnoll

*****

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

Full Disclosure: I was provided with an e-book of this novel by the author for review purposes. This has in no way influenced my opinion of the work, and this review is a full, fair and honest accounting of my thoughts on it.

Forge of Ashes is the story of Akina Fairingot, a dwarven beserker (in Pathfinder RPG terms, she's a barbarian) and her companion Ondorum, an oread monk under a vow of silence (oreads are one of the four races of humans with elemental power in their bloodlines, specifically earth). I won't say much more about the basic setup of the story, as the blurb covers it pretty well, but it opens with Akina and Ondorum approaching the dwarven city of Taggoret. Right from the first page I was able to get a good feel for the characters. Akina's banter and Ondorum's stony silence (heh, see what I did there?) really built a picture of them in my head quickly. Akina is very quick to anger, passionate, and easily frustrated by her companion's silence, while Ondorum is calm and collected, but feels guilt and a need for penitence. They seem to be almost opposites, but complement each other perfectly. Given how short Pathfinder Tales novels are, it's important to get a clear picture of your characters across to the readers as quickly as possible, and this is a perfect example of how to do that. Of course, there's still more to learn about our heroes as the story progresses, but the foundation for them is there, ready to be built upon as more details are revealed. While Akina is very clearly the main character, there are quite a few segments from the point of view of Ondorum, which, given his vow of silence, is vitally important to understanding him as a character, since it allows for a chance to hear his thoughts on the situations they're in.

Akina as a dwarven barbarian is a fascinating character, as it's something you don't see very often. Dwarves are more often than not shown as the stalwart fighter, controlled and steadfast. Reading about a dwarf who loses herself in the bloodlust and sometimes can't even tell friend from foe made a really nice change of pace, and allowed room for her character to develop as she searched for a form of peace from the rage inside herself. Ondorum as a monk isn't as unusual, since oreads as a race are described as introspective, calm and methodical, but he was still an interesting character simply because I'd yet to see a novel with one of the elemental races as a protagonist. The talk of his connection to the elements, and his struggle with his vow of silence and the (potentially flawed) reasons for taking it, as well as the wedge it was driving between he and his lover, make for a surprisingly deep character for a piece of licensed fiction for a RPG. That said, I've always said the characters are one of the strongest elements of the Pathfinder Tales series, and certainly I consider the series as a whole to be far superior to the licensed novels for other traditional fantasy RPGs.

I don't want to spoil the story, so I'm going to avoid talking about any really specific plot details. What I can say is that Forge of Ashes in no way lacks for compelling characters; intense action scenes for both the aggressive Akina bringing her berserker rage to bear on her opponents, and the methodical Ondorum practicing his controlled martial arts to deadly effect; villains that really make you hate them (though still managing to be sympathetic in at least one case); exploration of the subterranean dangers of the Darklands (one of my favourite parts of the Pathfinder campaign setting); and even manages to slip in a few heart-warming romantic elements. It's got a punchy pace, keeping the action flowing, and builds up to a couple of really great climactic confrontations. The ending was technically happy, but closer to bittersweet, and wrapped up the story nicely while still allowing for a sequel if Paizo decide to commission one. All of that adds up to a great novel, but if that was it had to offer me, I'd have given it a 4 out of 5... there had to be something more to get that 5th star...

So what was it? What made me give the book a perfect score? Put simply, it's the way it made me think about certain races and creatures from the setting in a new way. Often people who play a lot of games like Pathfinder will begin to think of even the sentient races that are said to have civilizations of their own as nothing more than monsters to be cut down. They don't really consider that the enemies have their own culture, their own traditions. This is true even of many who like a lot of story to their games, because they want their character's story, not the story of the random monsters they encounter along the way. So there's a few things I'd like to really highlight as having made me stop and think for a bit. Unfortunately there's a few too many potential spoilers in this part, so if you'd like to read that bit, you'll have to head over to the original post, which can be found here: Book Review - Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes | The Grassy Gnoll

I guess the point I'm getting at is that throughout the story, my expectations of how certain characters and creatures would behave and react was consistently subverted, making me stop and think about how those expectations were set. In turn it makes me wonder more about other aspects of the setting and how I might be wrong about them. Taking a wider view on it, it's actually an interesting thing to think about for real life as well, looking at what my assumptions and expectations about the world is and how they may be incorrect. Frankly, any novel that is, at its core, pulp fantasy that can make me think this hard about things has earned that 5 out of 5 stars.

A quick note on writing style. As I've found to be the case with most of the Pathfinder Tales authors, Josh Vogt's writing style is clear, descriptive enough to evoke a clear image of the scene without being too flowery, and easy to read. It's always a pleasure to read a novel that hits that sweet spot of not feeling like it's trying to club me into submission with overly complicated wordplay, while managing to not feel dumbed down. Essentially, it's the perfect style for this kind of fantasy novel.

Before I finish this up though, I've got one last thing to mention that made me really happy. The use of Forgefiends. I love those goofy looking horrors. They're basically evil metal constructs designed as walking torture/execution chambers... they've got a big mouth in their stomach, and they'll swallow prisoners whole then hold them in their hollow interior while they go and sit in flames, basically turning themselves into walking ovens, burning their prisoners to death. They're delightfully twisted inventions, and I always love seeing them (I even used to have a few minis of them floating around somewhere, I think they may have been sold with a bunch of other minis though).

So, to sum it up. Would I recommend Forge of Ashes? Well, I think it's pretty obvious from everything I've said that yes, I would. Looking back on it, I actually had nothing bad to say about it, and I can usually find something to nitpick. If this is a sign of what I can expect from Josh Vogt's writing in the future, then I'm ready and eager to read more, and I really hope that somewhere down the track there'll be adventure or three for Akina and Ondorum.


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