As someone who spends most of his time living in the Pathfinder campaign setting, I think one of the coolest things about the Pathfinder Tales novels is their ability to give players and GMs a deeper understanding of Golarion. As GMs, we may have read the sourcebook on a region, but the novels give us a chance to see that place through the eyes of the people who live there, to get the sights and smells in a more immediate and visceral fashion. As players, the novels are even more important, as they represent a chance to get that feel for an area without reading an adventure or sourcebook full of spoilers. That's one of the reasons we included the Pathfinder's Journal way back in Pathfinder Adventure Path #1—so that GMs could hand those pages to their players and say, "Here's a story about the place you're adventuring in." Now that we have the novels, I wouldn't think of starting a campaign in, say, Nidal without pointing my players toward Liane Merciel's Nightglass as inspirational reading.
Which brings us to the newest Pathfinder Tales novel, Reign of Stars. While it doesn't follow the storyline of Iron Gods—no spoilers, remember?—this book is very much a prequel to that AP. Tim Pratt first introduced us to his ex-Technic League apprentice Alaeron back in City of the Fallen Sky, but this time, he's gone whole-hog and taken us on a tour of Numeria, complete with first-hand insights into the insidious dealings of the Technic League and the Black Sovereign. What's more, when developing both this novel and the Iron Gods Adventure Path, James Jacobs, Mark Moreland, Tim Pratt, and I all worked closely together to make sure that not only did the flavor of the various books match, but that characters and critters from the novel showed up in the Adventure Path and the Numeria sourcebook, and vice versa.
In short, I think we've created the perfect fiction companion to Iron Gods. So whether you're looking for something to read between sessions of the AP, or simply itching for robots and techno-rays from beyond the stars, consider giving Reign of Stars a shot! You can read the first chapter for free here.
Also, since we weren't able to run it last week, here's an awesome new illustration of the absentminded alchemist Alaeron himself, courtesy of Roberto Pitturru!
James L. Sutter