Pathfinder Tales: Winter Witch

3.90/5 (based on 37 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: Winter Witch
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Fury of the North

In a village of the frozen north, a child is born possessed by a strange and alien spirit, only to be cast out by her tribe and taken in by the mysterious winter witches of Irrisen, a land locked in permanent magical winter. Farther south, a young mapmaker with a penchant for forgery discovers that his sham treasure maps have begun striking gold.

This is the story of Ellasif, a barbarian shield maiden who will stop at nothing to recover her missing sister, and Declan, the ne'er-do-well young spellcaster-turned-forger who wants only to prove himself to the woman he loves. Together they'll face monsters, magic, and the fury of Ellasif's own cold-hearted warriors in their quest to rescue the lost child. Yet when they finally reach the ice-walled city of Whitethrone, where trolls hold court and wolves roam the streets as men, will it be too late to save the girl from the forces of darkness?

From New York Times best seller Elaine Cunningham comes a fantastic new adventure of swords and sorcery, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

300-page mass market paperback
ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-286-9
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-332-3

Winter Witch is also available as a digital edition on the following sites:

Winter Witch is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Its Chronicle sheet and additional are a free download (229 KB zip/PDF).

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A Strong Second Entry in the Line

4/5

NO-SPOILERS

Winter Witch was the second novel published in Paizo's Pathfinder Tales line. Written by veteran fantasy novelist Elaine Cunningham, the book is primarily set in Korvosa, Irrisen, and the Land of Linnorm Kings. It's a book with both urban and wilderness elements and features both arcane and martial protagonists. An interior map and surprisingly extensive glossary are quite helpful for newcomers.

Winter Witch isn't afraid to hold back on some of the mysteries it sets up until the end, and contains at least one excellent twist. It's well-grounded in Golarion-lore and its main characters and plot are interesting enough to give it a solid recommendation. The book would serve as excellent background to anyone running adventures in any of the areas where the book is set. Winter Witch may not be earth-shattering, but fans of the campaign setting will definitely enjoy it; I know I did.

SPOILERS

The two leads in Winter Witch are a mapmaker (and reluctant wizard) from Korvosa named Declan Avari and a warrior shield-maiden from the Land of Linnorm Kings named Ellasif. Ellasif's sister is a witch who has ended up in Whitethrone, capital of Irrisen, after a sequence of events that are heart-rending. Ellasif makes a deal that if she can bring a powerful wizard to trade for her sister, the winter witches will let the girl go. Thus, Ellasif tricks and lures Declan to travel all the way across Varisia with her on an epic quest, the real purpose of which he is none the wiser.

One of the parts about Declan I really enjoyed was his unconscious magic ability to manifest into reality things from his sketchbook. It's handled quite well in the book, and whether or not it has a Pathfinder RPG analogue, it certainly makes him distinctive and memorable compared to standard wizards. The differing cultures between Korvosa, Irrisen, and the Land of the Linnorm Kings are illustrated quite well in the novel and one can see how nurture and nature interact.

For a moment it looked like the ending would take place without violence, a surprising but not unwelcome way to resolve the storyline. Instead, the book has a more conventional (if tragic) ending to Ellasif's quest. Other readers are probably more clever than I, but I was completely blind-sided by a twist involving a supporting character's real identity. I'm still not 100% sure why Declan was seen as such an attractive prospect for a winter witch in Whitethrone, but the detail is small enough that it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book. Overall, a strong second entry in the novel line.


3/5

I wish we could do 1/2 star ratings; I'd give this 3.5 stars.

Not my favorite of the PF novels I've read, but still a good read. It took a while to warm up to Ellasif, who's ostensibly the main character, though I quite liked Declan (and his quasi-familiar, Skywing) from the get-go. Some of the secondary characters were quite nicely fleshed out as well.

As w/ all the PF novels I've read to date, I love how they flesh out Golarion more and more to me. This is half the reason I have a subscription, and read them instead of other fantasy novels, for the time being. I know people can look down their noses at "shared world" fiction, but I don't. I can only wish in some alternate universe, these PF authors were writing novels in my beloved Greyhawk setting, but hey, you can't always get what you want, as the song says.

I will say that if Elaine comes back to write another, I hope she writes a novel about the water druid (whose name escapes me) she first wrote about in that PF AP some years back. Excellent stuff, and I loved the character right away.


Just Not Engaging

1/5

This review is based on the review I wrote on Goodreads:

This was the second Pathfinder Tales book I read.I found the female lead to be thoroughly unlikable and I was completely unable to relate to her. The male lead was acceptable in a naif-ish way, but I haven't got a clue about how his quirk magic ability works in Pathfinder terms. I found the plot somewhat engaging, except when the female lead was taking action. The ending is best described as rushed, predictable and flat.


Not bad

3/5

Was an entertaining story. Sparked my interest in the Ulfen, but the ending felt a little flat to me. But again, not bad.


Not Bad

3/5

The god-level magic possessed by one of the characters doesn't fit with the world of Golarion IMO.


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Paizo Employee CEO

spamhammer wrote:
You know, it looks fine on the full-size picture, but that barbarian's fur just looks inappropriate at thumbnail size.

Don't worry, that isn't the real cover. It is just a mock-up. :)

-Lisa


spamhammer wrote:
You know, it looks fine on the full-size picture, but that barbarian's fur just looks inappropriate at thumbnail size.

He's a proud barbarian....


Cunningham - this is a definite must buy for me!

Awesome, can't wait!

Dark Archive

spamhammer wrote:
You know, it looks fine on the full-size picture, but that barbarian's fur just looks inappropriate at thumbnail size.

Some Tarzan actor, asked if he had any problems doing an entire movie wearing nothing but a loincloth. "Not really, it's long in front."

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Elaine, is this the slavic-themed novel you were hinting at some time ago ? I'm really happy to see this particular patch of Golarion in your care !

Contributor

Gorbacz wrote:
Elaine, is this the slavic-themed novel you were hinting at some time ago ? I'm really happy to see this particular patch of Golarion in your care !

Gorbacz, if memory serves, the novel I mentioned a while back was something else--a WIP with the working title, "The Princess and the Psotnik." It's something I started a couple of years back as a short story, and a friend whose opinion I greatly respect suggested that it worked better as the first chapter of a novel. Its roots are in the trickster stories of Slavic folklore as well as the Vasilisa and the "clever common man" tales.

But right now I'm all about WINTER WITCH, and there's a project (different publisher) in the pipeline right after that, so P&P will remain a short story for quite some time to come.

Diving back into work.....

ec

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

We have some good news—you won't have to wait until September for the first book in our Pathfinder Fiction line to arrive!

Dave Gross has turned in a fantastic manuscript for Prince of Wolves, and we've been able to adjust the release schedule so that his novel will now kick off the line at Gen Con Indy in August! Elaine Cunningham's Winter Witch will move to fill the October slot that Prince of Wolves previously occupied.

We've already adjusted subscriptions so that subscribers will receive Prince of Wolves as their starting volume in August, and Winter Witch will be shipped to them in October. Subscribers don't need to do anything... except count the days to August!

Keep your eye on paizo.com—we'll be unveiling final cover art for both of these novels in the near future, and in just a few months, we'll be announcing more books and authors for 2011!


Received the notice in my e-mailbox. Awesomesauce-Huzzah!


Wow, this was another nice surprise.

So, Dave out-paced Elaine? Her revenge now must be to write a novel twice as good! {Wrings handles in villainous anticipation}


Hi Elaine- it's Marcus.
Thrilled to see you over here, and am eagerly awaiting this novel!

~M

Liberty's Edge

Really looking forward to this one. Ellaine is one of the best authors I've ever had the pleasure to read.


Elaine:
I hope that work is progressing well. I don't know if you find mood music helpful to writing, but if so, as a belated recommendation, I'd like to put a word in for a couple of pieces of Tchaikovsky - his first symphony and the music for his version of The Snow Maiden. There are moments of the first symphony which for me are like walking through a snowstorm (if that makes any sense) with the music a whirling swirling flurry of white, and the Monologue of Frost from The Snow Maiden is the epitome of an icy coldness in music for me.
(On a more cheerful note, I find that Tsar Berendey's march from later in The Snow Maiden is one of the bounciest most fun short pieces in classical music.)

And I'm looking forward to Wayfinder #3 on the Channa Ti front...

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

We've updated the product image to reflect the finished product.


Vic Wertz wrote:
We've updated the product image to reflect the finished product.

This isn't the final cover text though, right?


Oh wow, I really like this cover.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

yoda8myhead wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
We've updated the product image to reflect the finished product.
This isn't the final cover text though, right?

Nope—the text is not final. (It's not inaccurate, though, except that the page count is probably low.)


Another great image by Jesper Esjing!

Silver Crusade

Really, really dig this cover.

I'm curious about whether or not the witches of Irrisen tend to rock the horns like the one on this cover. Reminds me of that Irish folk tale about the horned women.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Great cover. :)

Dark Archive

Nice new cover.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Feeling impatient...


Do we know when it will go out yet, finished prince of wolves the other day, after finally getting it, and I want more pathfinder fiction desperately...

Dark Archive

Zombieneighbours wrote:
Do we know when it will go out yet, finished prince of wolves the other day, after finally getting it, and I want more pathfinder fiction desperately...

It shows late Oct as the ship date. So my guess is in the next two weeks we should see the, it is about to ship email. But I am just guessing.

Dark Archive

On topic, Elfshadow was one of my all time fav FR novels. So i am really looking forward to this book. Not to mention Irrisen is the top area in Golarion I want to know more about.


Zombieneighbours wrote:
Do we know when it will go out yet, finished prince of wolves the other day, after finally getting it, and I want more pathfinder fiction desperately...

Almost finished myself - very much looking forward to this as well!

I liked Elfshadow fine, but Elaine really caught my attention with just how different Daughter of the Drow and it's sequels were.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
On topic, Elfshadow was one of my all time fav FR novels. So i am really looking forward to this book. Not to mention Irrisen is the top area in Golarion I want to know more about.

me too

I cant wait to see this area worked up more and those books were some of my favorite Harper books in that series

Paizo Employee CEO

We should have the books in-house this week, so it should go out with the next sub shipment which will be towards the end of October.

-Lisa

Grand Lodge

When will this be available on iBooks? I just looked for it and can't find it.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Krome wrote:
When will this be available on iBooks? I just looked for it and can't find it.

The previous uploads we sent them each took between 7 and 14 days to go live.

Dark Archive

UG! Ship order ship!


Vic Wertz wrote:
Krome wrote:
When will this be available on iBooks? I just looked for it and can't find it.
The previous uploads we sent them each took between 7 and 14 days to go live.

Will I be able to get a copy that works with my Kindle?

Grand Lodge

Xyxox wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Krome wrote:
When will this be available on iBooks? I just looked for it and can't find it.
The previous uploads we sent them each took between 7 and 14 days to go live.
Will I be able to get a copy that works with my Kindle?

The ePub version works just fine, it just has to be run through a converter. There is one called Calibre that is free and quite nice.


Andrew Betts wrote:
Xyxox wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Krome wrote:
When will this be available on iBooks? I just looked for it and can't find it.
The previous uploads we sent them each took between 7 and 14 days to go live.
Will I be able to get a copy that works with my Kindle?
The ePub version works just fine, it just has to be run through a converter. There is one called Calibre that is free and quite nice.

Ah, cool. I was afraid there would be DRM on the ePub that wouldn't let me convert.

I've been interested in the Pathfinder novels since I heard about them, but was reluctant to purchase them since getting my Kindle. I don't read many dead tree books any more and usually only purchase them to collect and hopefully get signed.

I'll pick up the ePub of this book when it's released. I'll have to get some of the other ePub Pathfinder fiction, too, since I now know it can be converted.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Xyxox wrote:


Ah, cool. I was afraid there would be DRM on the ePub that wouldn't let me convert.

All ePubs sold through the iBookstore have DRM: the same one the iTunes music store uses. However, ePubs purchased directly from Paizo do not contain DRM: they are watermarked instead.

Dark Archive

MerrikCale wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
On topic, Elfshadow was one of my all time fav FR novels. So i am really looking forward to this book. Not to mention Irrisen is the top area in Golarion I want to know more about.

me too

I cant wait to see this area worked up more and those books were some of my favorite Harper books in that series

'Elfshadow' was definitely one of my favorite FR novels, too, sharing the top spot with 'Cormyr: A Novel' and 'Evermeet'. I just loved the dialogue and how *alive* every character felt!

Having said that, I expect great things from Elaine in the future; may she write many, many more novels based in Golarion. :)

The Exchange

Thought it (like the first PF Tales) was great.

spoiler:
I agreed with every decision Sif made except one: I would have dragged the kid home. (I assumed 15 = still under guardian, i.e. not yet adult.) Sif didn't and her sister died what, a minute later? Not the call of the day.

BTW #1: What was up with what's his face being like "Why don't we all stop making decisions for each other?" Hello? She's a kid. Parents/Guardians make those kinds of decisions for those in their custody. It's the way it works. If your baby is sitting in the middle of the road, obstructing traffic, and when you go to pick her up, she starts crying in protest, do you leave her there because you don't want to utilize force on her, i.e. you want to 'respect her rights'? No, you pick her up and take her home. Liv could have gone back to Whitethrone when she hit 18.

BTW #2: Why didn't they resurrect her? "Sis, I really love you, but resurrect you? You're not even worth me entertaining the thought." lol

Dark Archive

I am about 1/3rd the way threw the book and i really really like it. I hope Elaine writes many more pathfinder tales.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
I am about 1/3rd the way threw the book and i really really like it. I hope Elaine writes many more pathfinder tales.

I see now that two subscribers have their copies...can anyone tell us all when does the book go on sale on the shelves of my FLGS? Both amazon and bn.com say it's due out in December and I know that's not right (at least, I hope it isn't).

Dark Archive

Eelario wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
I am about 1/3rd the way threw the book and i really really like it. I hope Elaine writes many more pathfinder tales.
I see now that two subscribers have their copies...can anyone tell us all when does the book go on sale on the shelves of my FLGS? Both amazon and bn.com say it's due out in December and I know that's not right (at least, I hope it isn't).

Well I don't have my book. I have the PDF of the book. I won't have the actual book until next week some time likely.

I would expect the book to show up in stores then. But that is just a guess. Normally about the time my books show up, they start showing up in the stores the same week.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

snobi wrote:

Thought it (like the first PF Tales) was great.

** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:

I'd say Liv was an adult by the standards of the tribe. Remember, Sif was ten and expected to be shooting goblins in the beginning of the book. Sif's only 25 by the 'heart' of the novel.

As to resurrection, I'd say a) such magic goes against her tribe (and maybe Whitethrone too) and b) novels often don't sport the raise dead option. (Aside, this was one of my grumblings about Waterdeep. Rich socialite family can't afford to spring for a Raise Dead?)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Eelario wrote:
I see now that two subscribers have their copies...can anyone tell us all when does the book go on sale on the shelves of my FLGS? Both amazon and bn.com say it's due out in December and I know that's not right (at least, I hope it isn't).

The official street date is today!

The Exchange

Matthew Morris wrote:
snobi wrote:

Thought it (like the first PF Tales) was great.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

spoiler:
Thanks! I buy those explanations. I guess I'm on the same page as Sif then re: all her decisions. I too would have assumed Liv needed saving, even if she was an adult. It took her a little while, but Sif eventually made the right decision and let her go, assuming 15 does = adult. And I figured the lack of a Raise Dead option was for novel purposes as it would take away some of the drama.

One other point. I like that the book presented Liv's option of staying in Whitethrone as a reasonable option, even though it wasn't necessarily a haven for 'good'. Life there might have been hard for others, but not for Liv. Glad it didn't get too preachy or make it so where only some really evil person would want to stay there.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

I'm just starting chapter 7. This book is making me very glad I subscribed to Pathfinder Tales from the beginning. I enjoyed Prince of Wolves, but I find Elaine Cunningham's characters very engaging and her descriptions are wonderful.

So far, an excellent Tale! :D


Vic Wertz wrote:
Eelario wrote:
I see now that two subscribers have their copies...can anyone tell us all when does the book go on sale on the shelves of my FLGS? Both amazon and bn.com say it's due out in December and I know that's not right (at least, I hope it isn't).
The official street date is today!

AH! I'm a day late! Be right back...

<sound of running feet fading into the distance>
...
...
...
<sound of running feet coming closer, followed by labored breathing>

I have it! No time to chat, reading to do.

Bye.

Dark Archive

I bought the first book by David Gross and I really couldn't get in to it. Don't know why but it didn't work for me.

I don't want to be put off the entire series but a bad first impression has left me a little wary of picking this one up. I've never read any of Elaine's other work, can someone point me to where I would find some of the short stories so I can see if her writing style works for me.

I'm not saying there was anything wrong with Prince of Wolves it just didn't drag me in personally.

Andy

The Exchange

Just finished this book. Really enjoyed it for the most part, though I have to say some of the thematic similarities to Prince of Wolves had me concerned for the first few chapters.

Specifically:
(1)The 'flip-book' magic items, created by a (2a)wizard who didn't want to be a wizard and was (2b)at least competent with a sword as well as magic. The brief mention of a (3)hell spawn child which I was afraid would be a major plot point, but was actually so minor that it never came up again... which is maybe even worse.

Thankfully these things pretty much faded into minor background matters by the midpoint of the book (Probably even before that). But that they were there at all felt like I was being force-fed certain concepts for reasons I was not aware of.

That said, I'll repeat myself. This is a really good book, looking forward to more from Elaine and the rest of the Pathfinder Tales authors.

Dark Archive

I finished it yesterday and really liked it. i didn't think it was as good as Elfshadow book by Elaine but it was still good. I do like the are that was the main focus of the book though.

spoiler:
I do hope one of the books has a witch as a good guy though and main character of the book. I would love to see a authors take on the APG witch.


Andrew Jackson 394 wrote:
I don't want to be put off the entire series but a bad first impression has left me a little wary of picking this one up. I've never read any of Elaine's other work, can someone point me to where I would find some of the short stories so I can see if her writing style works for me.

You can find a list of her works here, which include her short stories. Elaine is a very solid writer who has the gift of breathing life into her characters instead of giving us cardboard cutouts. I think one of Elaine's best Forgotten Realms novels was Evermeet. I really loved that one.


Andrew Jackson 394 wrote:

I bought the first book by David Gross and I really couldn't get in to it. Don't know why but it didn't work for me.

Andy

You and I are apparently in the minority view for that book...

...this one is IMO a better work. The narrative seems more consistent, and, for the most part, the use of magic is more in line with the rules (though see below). There were a couple of things that were just a bit too neatly/easily wrapped up at the end, though that's more or less expected with most light fantasy. It's a good read, and it got me sufficiently curious about the witch class to go back and re-read the description.

A couple of thing about the book that I did not like. First, it continues the trend of adding new (undocumented in game terms) magical abilities to the main characters.

Second, there are some major questions left unanswered or glossed over. However, I'm now hoping this is just the first book in the series with these characters, and that the next book includes some sort of search for answers to those questions.

Regarding pricing on the book: initially, I was moderately annoyed by the $10 price tag for a paperback that's not that long. However, as long as the price includes digital copy of the book, I'm okay with it. :)


Ross Byers wrote:
All ePubs sold through the iBookstore have DRM: the same one the iTunes music store uses. However, ePubs purchased directly from Paizo do not contain DRM: they are watermarked instead.

I just downloaded my first Piazo ebook (Winter Witch) which I pruchased directly from the Paizo website. When I try and upload the EPUB to Stanza on my iPhone, however, I get an error message saying the file contains DRM (hack-spit) and it cannot be read by Stanza.

So, *is* Piazo using DRM on the ePub books purchased from their website? I hope not as I won't be buying any more ebooks if they do. If not, does anyone have a clue what my problem might be?

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