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Pathfinder Tales: Starspawn

***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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The Stars Are Wrong

Once a notorious pirate, Jendara has at last returned to the cold northern isles of her birth, ready to settle down and raise her young son. Yet when a mysterious tsunami wracks her island's shore, she and her fearless crew must sail out to explore the strange island that's risen from the sea floor. No sooner have they delved into the lost island's alien structures than they find themselves competing with a monstrous cult eager to complete a dark ritual in those dripping halls. For something beyond all mortal comprehension has been dreaming on the sea floor. And it's begun to wake up...

From Hugo Award winner Wendy N. Wagner comes a sword-swinging adventure in the tradition of H. P. Lovecraft, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

352-page trade paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-8433-1

Starspawn 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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Non-Mint: Unavailable This product is non-mint. Refunds are not available for non-mint products. The standard version of this product can be found here.

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PZO8534


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Product Reviews (3)

Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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I like Skinwalkers, but this book is really bad.

*( )( )( )( )

GOOD:
Chapter one and the wraparound-cover.

BAD:
The characters are really one-dimensional and underdeveloped.
Besides from Jendara, Kran, Vorrin and Korthrax, i couldn´t keep the others apart, because there is almost zero description of how they look.

UGLY:
The book has very few action-scenes, and they last mostly for one page, sometimes for two pages (The first chapter is the only exception).
Almost nobody dies, despite horrible enemies.
The worst thing is, the structure is similiar to "Wizard´s Mask", the only other really bad book in the Pathfinder series:
Somebody get´s lost during the exploration, the rest searches for them.
During that, someone else get´s lost and the others search for them.
During that, some others get lost and so on.

I havn´t been so bored reading a novel in a few years and i read a lot of novels. This sadly is neither a good Mythos Tale, nor a good Pathfinder Tale.


Starts with a tsunami, then things get tough

*****

Journey with Jendara and her family to an island recently surfaced from the bottom of the sea, with strange alien spires and vaguely tentacular architecture. What could possibly go wrong.

Jendara continues to be a great protagonist - capable of tremendous heroism, yet grounded by her love for the simple life and her family. They have never been challenged like this though.

Another thundering tale of adventure and horror in the Steaming Sea from Wendy Wagner. Don't miss it!


The Grassy Gnoll reviews Starspawn

*****

Originally posted on The Grassy Gnoll. This excerpt has been edited to remove some potential minor spoilers. The full review can be found here: The Grassy Gnoll | Book Review - Pathfinder Tales: Starspawn by Wendy N. Wagner

...

Starspawn picks up a while after the events of Skinwalkers (I’m not totally clear on the elapsed time, but I’m assuming a couple of years). Jendara Eriksdottir has settled into life in the island village of Sorind with her son Kran and her husband Vorrin (the brother of her deceased former husband), working as traders from their ship the Milady. Their new life is shattered when a tsunami hits the island, destroying their home (and the homes of many in the village), and a mysterious new island rises out of the ocean nearby. In the hopes of being able to rebuild their home, Jendara and Vorrin gather their crew together and go to seek their fortune on the newly risen land, not realising that it isn’t entirely uninhabited… I won’t say too much more, since I don’t want to spoil anything, but from this point on it’s a fast-paced and action packed adventure full of foul creatures, evil beings from other dimensions, and the titular starspawn itself.

Honestly, most of my thoughts from my review of Skinwalkers hold true for the sequel. The characters are still one of the best parts of the novel. That said, the secondary characters have been given more development this time around, which I'm very happy about. Jendara still gets the majority of the spotlight, since she's the main character, but there's a lot of time devoted to her relationships with other characters, and it gives a really good feel for those characters. I particularly enjoyed the family dynamic between Jendara, Kran and Vorrin. Kran is still desperate to prove himself, but he's also become more headstrong and willing to push back against Jendara's attempts to protect him. Vorrin is a loving husband, but he and Jendara clash on more than one occasion regarding their current situation, and what to do about Kran. Other highlights are Tam and Glayn, a male human-male gnome couple (at least I think they're a couple, and if they're not, then my head cannon says they are anyway); Zuna, the competent but standoffish (with Jendara at least) first mate of the Milady; and Sarni, a former thief that Jendara rescued and made part of the crew, resulting in her idolising Jendara and trying to be just like her. Each character has their own quirks and flaws, and none of them feel like a Generic Fantasy Character #10.

Much like Skinwalkers, this is a far grittier novel than you may expect out of an RPG tie-in novel. Jendara and her crew aren't magic users, so they're relying on their wits, skills, weapons, and not a small amount of luck to get them through the trials ahead of them. Their opponents on the other hand... well, there's no reason they can't have magic, either as innate spell-like abilities, or as actual spell casting ability. But it's not flashy, and is used in a pragmatic way, as a tool to accomplish their goals, as opposed to the usual high magic adventures (see Dave Gross' Varian and Radovan novels for example). Additionally, the physical violence is more in your face than in a lot of the Pathfinder Tales novels. As I said about the previous book, it's not a problem for me (quite the opposite really, I find it a nice change), but I can understand that it might put some readers off. Overall I'd say it's a little less brutal than Skinwalkers, but it has a few moments that really make up for it, including one particularly harrowing scene that, as well as being vividly described, hits on a pretty severe phobia for me, resulting in some genuine shivers of horror. Just to be clear, I'm not saying this is horribly graphic. It's no A Song of Ice and Fire or The First Law. It's violent, but not gratuitously so, and it's in service of the story, conveying the seriousness of the situation the characters find themselves in.

...

It's interesting to note that my main concern with Skinwalkers, that I was able to see the twist coming from quite early on, isn't really a problem here. Not because the twist is better concealed, I just didn't really feel that there actually was a major plot twist this time. That's not to say that everything is straight forward. There are lots of sharp turns and unexpected moments in the fine detail of the plot, and that's a good thing. What I mean is that the overall story doesn't really have a big moment that turns everything on its head. Rather, it feels like an archetypal Lovecraftian horror story, following the classic formula of "people explore ancient city, discover thing that man was not meant to know", though being Pathfinder, obviously it doesn't go too deep into the usual outcome of "and then they went insane due to the horror of it all", opting instead for the heroes, while being traumatised by the events, being big damn heroes nonetheless. But what else do you expect from a heroic fantasy novel? Anyway, this isn't a bad thing, in fact I think the story actually works better for it. Although I know where it's going, given that the book is called Starspawn, and actually features one of the damn things on the cover, it's the journey to get to that big finale that really matters, and that journey is a lot of fun. Without spoiling anything, I also loved the ending, because while things can't end in true cosmic horror story fashion, there's a clear and definite nod to the fact that there really are some things out there that are beyond stopping, and that it's just a matter of time until the "stars are right" and things really go to hell.

So to sum it up... Starspawn is everything I could have wanted out of a sequel to Skinwalkers and more. It pulled me in right from the start, and didn't let go. In fact I started reading it on a Saturday morning while having breakfast at one of my favourite cafes, then came home, sat down and didn't get off the couch until I'd finished it that afternoon. Wendy's literary style is, as always, engrossing and a joy to read, with smooth, easily followed combat, and character interactions that feel natural. There were a couple of surprising emotional sucker punches in there as well... I'll admit to tearing up at one or two scenes. ... Honestly, I can't think of anything I didn't like about this story. It does exactly what it sets out to do, in a well written and stylish manner, and with no wasted words. Rather than saying it's short, I'd instead say that it's exactly as long as it needs to be.


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