It's time for the second installment in the new blog series I started two months ago with Beyond the Pool of Stars, in which I explain why I commissioned each new Pathfinder Tales novel, and what made me fall in love with it.
This month, we're looking at Bloodbound, a book that's both harder and easier to write about than any other—because its author is none other than Paizo Editor-in-Chief F. Wesley Schneider!
Wes and I have been working together—and writing together—for more than a decade at this point. Fun fact: While Wes had previously published adventures with other companies before he started here, we both made our first adventure sale to Dungeon in the same issue—and the same adventure! We co-wrote "Shut-In" in Dungeon #128, and teamed up again on "The Lightless Depths" in the Savage Tide Adventure Path. Though creative differences on the latter almost resulted in parking lot knife-fights, I've learned a ton from him over the years, and I like to think he'd say the same for me. (Though probably not if I'm in the room—we have to maintain some standards.)
So when we started publishing Pathfinder fiction, I encouraged him to audition. It can be intimidating to try something new under the eyes of your colleagues—just because we work here doesn't give any of us a free pass to a novel, and we're often each other's harshest critics—but Wes persevered. He started out with a web fiction story, "Shattered Steel." Then he wrote the Pathfinder's Journal Guilty Blood (also starring Ailson Kindler) in the Carrion Crown Adventure Path. At that point, I knew without doubt that he could write an amazing novel, and told him as much.
I'll let Wes talk about the more than two years that passed between the final outline of Bloodbound and the completion of its manuscript, but suffice to say, Wes worked extremely hard on this book, and it shows. The dialogue is snappy. The landscape—Ustalav, of course—is lovingly rendered, providing the perfect introduction to the gothic cities and streets Wes has been building for years. The characters are fun and compelling—and not just the protagonists! The book focuses on Larsa (illustrated here), a royal investigator and dhampir, and Jadain, a young priestess of Pharasma, as they track down a deadly rogue vampire. As you might expect, their odd-couple dynamic is fascinating. (After all, Pharasma hates undead, but a dhampir's only part dead... right?) Yet my favorite characters were the side characters—the crotchety former adventurer Ailson Kindler, and the delightfully snarky, foppish vampire Considine. (Seriously, if you like characters like Seltyiel—or Wes himself, for that matter—you're going to love Considine.)
So now, many years after we first started talking about it, Bloodbound is out in the world. I couldn't be prouder of how the book turned out, nor of Wes for writing it (even if it does rob The Redemption Engine of the coveted "longest Pathfinder novel ever" award).
I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did—and if you check it out, please post reviews! Books live or die on the strength of their reviews, and this one deserves a long life (though as Considine shows us, undeath is pretty okay, too).
James L. Sutter