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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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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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Review from the Grassy Gnoll


Review originally posted on The Grassy Gnoll.

Pirate's Promise is the sequel to Chris A. Jackson's previous Pathfinder Tales novel, Pirate's Honor, which is up there with James Sutter's Death's Heretic and The Redemption Engine as one of my favourite stories in the series so far. It continues the story of Torius Vin, the pirate captain of the Stargazer, his lover Celeste (a lunar naga) and his crew of pirates. It also throws more focus on Vreva Jhafae, a returning character from the previous story. The story picks up shortly after the events of Pirate's Honor wrapped up, with Torius and Celeste planning on taking a holiday to visit an ancient site known as the Observatory, while Vreva returns to her home in Okeno and resuming her life there.

So, can this pirate live up to the promise that his first adventure held?

Well, I can happily say that Pirate's Promise is a fun read up to the high standard I've come to expect from the Pathfinder Tales series. There's character development aplenty for returning characters Torius, Celeste and Vreva, as well as the introduction of Zarina, an Inquisitor of Abadar, who I both hated to love and loved to hate. Fantasy novels often live or die on the strength of the characters alone, and there is no doubt that Jackson's characters are strong enough to support the story. It's also interesting as a rare example of interspecies love in fantasy, in that normally it's the humanoid races (humans, elves, etc.) that will end up in relationships. The relationship dynamic between Celeste and Torius is as fascinating as it was in the first book, and despite the fact that we're talking about a relationship between a pirate captain and a spellcasting giant snake with a woman's head, it's somehow very believable and sweet. Honestly, the relationships are one of the strongest points of this book. Vreva and Zarina's complicated relationship had me invested within moments of their meeting, but I'll say no more about that now as I don't want to spoil the fun for anyone who hasn't read it yet.

Of course even with strong characters to carry it, the book needs a story, and this one certainly holds up its end of the bargain. Clear, evocatively written action scenes brought all the excitement to life in my mind. The non-action scenes were just as well written, providing enough detail for me to get clear images of the characters and locales without getting bogged down in overly flowery language. The fact that I found myself gasping or muttering about the actions of the characters under my breath as I read through the book is a testament to the way the story was able to draw me in. I found myself cheering quietly when the heroes succeeded, staring at the page in shock when they suffered a defeat and, at a couple of points, nearly tearing up at the heartbreaking emotion in the scene (that last one isn't something I normally expect from a novel based on a fantasy RPG like Pathfinder).

The only problem I have, and the reason that I gave 4 stars instead of 5, is that I felt the story suffered slightly from a lack of focus. The story is split into two major plot lines, one of which could probably be looked at as two separate subplots. You have the trip to the Observatory, and Vreva's work as a spy in Okeno, which can be split further into Vreva's dealings with Zarina and Torius' role in her work. While the threads do tie back together nicely towards the end, and each of them was fascinating in their own way, it felt like each of them got sold a little short on time due to the need to keep all the separate parts moving forward. I almost wish the trip to the Observatory could have been its own tale, since it had two perfect antagonists ready to go. Likewise I would have enjoyed more development of Zarina and Vreva's relationship, and more time to explore Torius' role as part of the abolitionist movement. The need to wrap everything up and bring it all back together unfortunately resulted in the end feeling a bit rushed to me. From the close of the second act through til the end of the story, the pace slams into overdrive, and doesn't let up until the denouement. Not really a big complaint, given that the crux of it is "I found this stuff so fascinating that I wanted to know more", but I really do think the story could have benefited from either a little more length to allow more exploration of some aspects, or more focus on one major plot line, whether that was the Observatory or Vreva's work.

So to sum it up... would I recommend Pirate's Promise? Yes, I would, with no hesitation or doubt. Despite my minor quibbles, it's fun enough, clever enough, and full of swashbuckling adventures, romance and betrayal to keep me enthralled. Plus I love pirate stories, so there's that. I would say that I enjoyed Pirate's Honor more, but it's a close run thing, and this is definitely an excellent continuation of the story. I'm hopeful that Paizo will ask Chris to write a third book in the series, as it's most definitely left open for one.

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Originally posted on The Grassy Gnoll. Version posted here has been edited for length, and had some spoiler tags added.

As soon as the story started, I was sucked into the city of Kaer Maga. ... You get a really good feel for just how strange this city is based on how he reacts to it. After all, if it's weirding out a hard-bitten inquisitor who regularly travels to other planes of existence ... I think it's a pretty good indication that you're not in Kansas anymore. So much that the inhabitants of the city take for granted is strange and confusing to Salim, with full-blooded orcs wandering around freely, undead servants being accepted and allowed, and an area of the city ruled by freed slaves who somehow seem to have reconciled themselves with the fact that the rest of the city still condones slavery.

Perhaps the most effective moment in setting the scene was Salim's moment of, panic isn't the right word, but it's all I can think of, when he turns around and almost runs into a troll.

Fearing that the beast will cause massive damage to the crowded market, he goes to draw his sword, only to watch in shock as a merchant peaceably negotiates a price with the troll, who then guts himself, reads the merchant's fate in his own entrails, calmly stuffs them back into his body and walks away. That's right, the trolls are a valued part of society, acting as augurs and fortune tellers to those with the cash to pay them.
It's a nice touch, a way to show that the rules really are different here, and it leads me nicely into my next point.

As I mentioned in my review of Skinwalkers, I really like when they tie the Tales novels into the Pathfinder canon. And that's been done really well here. The troll augurs have been detailed before in the City of Strangers setting guide, and play a role in The Asylum Stone as well. The adorably cocky and charming streetwise guide, Gav, also appears in The Asylum Stone. I can't say for sure what else has been tied in, as unfortunately I don't currently have access to a copy of City of Strangers or my copy of The Asylum Stone, but I'm sure there's going to be plenty more bits and pieces to really drive home that it's not just some generic city that's been thrown together. For example, I'd be very surprised if Alaeh A'kaan and his spectacular inn, the Canary House, were not part of the city prior to this book. This kind of attention to detail definitely helps pull me into the story more.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Salim adventure if we didn't get treated to a veritable feast of strange and wonderful locations, and The Redemption Engine certainly doesn't disappoint. As the back of the book states, Salim visits both the idyllic plane of Heaven, where the Archons and Angels maintain order in paradise; and the fires of Hell, home to the Devils. Both of these settings are detailed beautifully, as are some other exotic locations that I don't want to spoil. As is usual, we also get plenty of exposure to the Outsiders of Pathfinder throughout the story. ... I think the way they were written actually gave some really good insight into what it means to be a manifestation of an ideology rather than a truly free-willed sentient being (yes, they can make choices, but they tend to act within their alignment and role more often than not). It was also really nice to finally get some, if not a whole lot, of information on how exactly the Aeon's go about their task of maintaining balance. Honestly, it was something I really didn't see coming, and I can't wait to work something to do with it into one of my games. There's also a very telling comment about the nature of those who go to Heaven, as opposed to Elysium or Nirvana (the Chaotic Good and Neutral Good planes).

When a character asks about why the souls are waiting in line to get into Heaven, the response is essentially "because those are the kind of people who go to Heaven".
It shows that people get what they truly deserve in the afterlife. The cunning and calculating evil go to Hell, the psychopaths go to the Abyss, the nihilistic evil go to Abbadon, and the reverse applies for the Good aligned in their final journey. This kind of look at how the planes works is much appreciated, as it gives a much better understanding of how the multiverse functions in this setting.

Discussion of Characters:
Now, on to characters. As I'm sure you've figured out, I adore Salim. He's a brilliantly written character, with wit, style and confidence justified by the fact that yes, he is good at his job. But he has his flaws, and that's why I love him. He can be over-confident, he's prideful, and his insistence on working alone gets him into trouble that could have been avoided if he'd just accepted the help he was offered. It means that there's room for the character to grow and develop, and he certainly does throughout this novel. I'm not going to talk too much about him though, because I'll never stop. So let's talk about a few of the other characters.

As I mentioned earlier, Gav the street guide from The Asylum Stone makes an appearance as Salim's guide. His sharp wit, layman philosophy, and fierce loyalty mixed with his natural charm make him an endearing character. He's ready to follow Salim anywhere he goes, because as far as he's concerned, it's the right thing to do. Maybe it's because he reminds me of someone I knew a long time ago, but I consider him to be one of my favourite secondary characters from recent times.

Roshad and Bors deserve a mention here as well. The sorcerer and fighter (I assume he's a fighter) are intriguing characters, with their close bond both to each other and, as the story progresses, Salim. Members of the mysterious group known as the Iridian Fold, they seem to be the real catalyst to Salim realising that he doesn't have to do everything alone, that he can have friends. I don't want to give too much of their story away, so I'm just going to say that you should really go and find out about their background in Sutter's new addition to the Pathfinder Tales webfiction, Boar and Rabbit, which takes place prior to the events of The Redemption Engine (part one has just been posted here).

Maedora is the other character I'd like to talk about. She's an interesting counterpoint to Salim, in that she basically performs the same role, from a different side. She's a powerful psychopomp, and like Salim cares for nothing her duty. Her only satisfaction seems to be making sure that the proper order of the afterlife is maintained, with souls going to where they belong. She also has an interesting dislike of Salim from the outset, apparently feeling that he is unworthy of the power and tasks laid upon him, no matter that he didn't want to take them up in the first place.

The interactions between Salim and these characters is filled with enough conflict, banter, tension, victories and setbacks to drive some excellent character development. It makes them feel like living, breathing characters, with their own worries and cares. I think part of this is the conversational way that they're written, the dialogue never really breaks into a formal style, keeping things sounding like a real conversation.

Okay, nearly done. Let's talk about the writing style. If my earlier comments didn't make it clear, The Redemption Engine is an action packed novel. Once it gets rolling, it rarely slows down, and it gets rolling early. That said, James Sutter's writing makes it easy to keep track of what's happening. There's no confusion about who's doing what, where the characters are headed, it's all very clearly written and easy to understand. Combat is well written and exciting, with the descriptions giving a strong mental image of the action. In regards to violence, I wouldn't say it's any worse than any of the other novels in the Pathfinder Tales series. There are descriptions of injuries caused by magic and blades, but none of it is gratuitous or overly graphic, just enough to make it clear that they're fighting for keeps.

I'm also a big fan of the way he manages to get across core concepts of the characters, like Salim's disgust at having to use Pharasma's power. Rather than state that Salim hates it, we get a descriptive element to it, where he likens the feeling of her divine power a taint contaminating him, like a mudslide pouring into a clear pond. Little touches like that are what make it such a joy to read.

Like Death's Heretic, it's one of the longer of the Pathfinder Tales, taking me most of a day to read. Death's Heretic took about the same amount of time for me, as did Chris A. Jackson's Pirates Honor and Ed Greenwood's The Wizard's Mask. So it's one of the meatier novels in the series so far.

So, to summarise. Would I recommend The Redemption Engine?

Short Answer: Yes.

Long Answer: Hell yes I would! Read it. Right now. Then tell me how awesome it is. Go on, I'll wait. In fact I might just reread it right now, in the hopes that when I'm done I'll look at the list of upcoming books in the series and see a third Salim story on there. It's got everything I wanted out of it. Angels, Devils, other miscellaneous Outsiders, plane hopping shenanigans, long coat (or robe) wearing clerics who kick ass and take names. Twisted plots and powerful magic. What more could you ask for?

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Review from the Grassy Gnoll


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

I think one of the biggest strengths of this novel is the characters. Credit where credit is due, Ms. Wagner knows how to write some believable characters. Jendara in particular felt very real to me. Her desire to change who she was, the demons of her past (both due to her life as a pirate, and other events in her life); the disgust when she starts to revel in violence again; the protectiveness she feels for her son; her strength in the face of adversity, even when she sometimes feels doubt; and her rejection of the traditional worship of ancestor spirits and clan totem animals… it all comes together to paint a vivid portrait of her in my mind ... Just as an aside, I was quite amused when I opened up my copy of Inner Sea Combat at lunch today and found Jendara listed in the section about notable martial characters of the Inner Sea region. For those that are interested, she’s apparently a level 6 Fighter, which based on her prowess in the novel sounds about right. I really like that they've tied her into the canon that way...

Something I’ve noticed a couple of people complaining about in reviews of this novel is the increased level of violence, and the lower than normal use of magic. Pathfinder Tales have, in general, been fairly high magic and haven’t had particularly graphic descriptions of violence in them, and some people didn’t seem to appreciate this shift in tone, which is fair enough. Different strokes for different folks and all that. That said, I’d argue the idea that it doesn't feel like a Pathfinder story. While magic may be common for Pathfinder gaming groups, with most groups having at least one caster, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be absolutely everywhere in the world ... That’s also not to say that there isn't any magic in the novel. Certainly it starts to pop up more and more after the halfway point of the story, just not in a flashy “fireballs and lightning” kind of way. I think the increased focus on the description of the physical combat and it’s aftermath actually worked very well for this story, since it focuses entirely on characters who are non-magical and have to rely on their wits, skill and strength at arms to get them through. I don’t feel it’s too graphic, especially not compared to some low-magic fantasy I’ve read. There’s the occasional scene where Jendara may go overboard, but it’s usually prompted by fear for the lives of her friends and family; other than that the worst of it is the descriptions of the state some of the bodies that are found are in. I’ll put it this way, it’s definitely no Game of Thrones.

The biggest weakness in the story for me? The twist midway through the plot. Not that it’s not well written, and it works in the context of the story, tying everything back together and making sense of a number of plot elements. The problem was that I saw it coming from very early on, around the time of the quarry scene. Now whether this is because it is an obvious twist, or because I just spend too much of my time on TV Tropes and have started to pick up on these sort of things faster, I couldn’t say. But rather than a moment of “Oh my god” shock, I got a moment of “hah, called it” satisfaction. Not a bad thing, just an observation.

In terms of writing style, I found the book to be clearly written, easy to understand, and engrossing. There are a couple of little oddities here and there, but overall it’s a slick read. Wendy N. Wagner has a good grasp of how to describe combat to keep it interesting, and does well with the interactions between the various characters as well. I read it in an evening, but given that I’ve been known to read up to two books a day on the weekends, don’t let that make you think it’s too short. The story is the perfect length. Long enough to get everything it needs to done, but not so long that it starts to drag.

So, would I recommend Skinwalkers?

Short answer: Yes, absolutely.

Long answer: Yes, so long as you don't have a problem reading a fantasy novel that doesn't contain huge amounts of magic (no healing potions here!), does contain (somewhat) graphic violence. It's not meant to be anything more than an exciting romp through the world of the Pathfinder RPG, and at that, it succeeds admirably.