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Fast-paced adventure and great game aid


Beyond the Pool of Stars is a heart-touching story set in an often-overlooked corner of Golarion. While I have enjoyed many other Pathfinder Tales novels, this one was "close to home" because I'm running the Serpent's Skull adventure path as well as an Eleder-based revolution campaign. I was a little worried that it would follow the mold of Serpent's Skull and be a tacit endorsement of pulpy imperialism, but it was actually very complex and respectful. The main goal of the protagonists is to help a dying lizardfolk tribe reclaim its cultural heritage, rather than to e.g. loot a Mwangi tomb and sell relics. The characters - Mirian, Jekka, and Alderra especially - had depth and well-defined motivations, and when they were in trouble I was on the edge of my seat. This is a fast-paced narrative with complications in every chapter, and although it didn't quite have the unspooling motivations of Stalking the Beast, it was a bit more of a pageturner because I cared about the characters more.

One of the few things I didn't like about the book was the number of deaths! I won't spoil which ones, but some of them felt extraneous to the narrative - and they unfortunately didn't enhance the realism, because I'm running a game in the Mwangi Expanse and I gotta say we're not having that many casualties. Another beef is that Jekka and Mirian didn't get together, but I can't say I expected that.

I do need to commend Howard Andrew Jones on the realism of his lizardfolk characters. Their relationships with humans and each other are among the best parts of the book! And they inspired my own group of three lizardfolk in the aforementioned SS campaign. This book has been a great resource for both my campaigns and I fully intend to have the Raas salvaging family interact with my parties in the future.

Overall, this is my favorite Pathfinder Tales novel read so far. It's got great descriptions, great characters, and a compelling narrative.