Pathfinder Tales: Winter Witch

****( ) (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).

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Tales Subscription.

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This product is non-mint. Refunds are not available for non-mint products. The standard version of this product can be found here.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

PZO8501


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****( ) (based on 37 ratings)

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A Strong Second Entry in the Line

****( )

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.


***( )( )

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

*( )( )( )( )

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

***( )( )

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

***( )( )

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


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Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Awesome! :D

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
flash_cxxi wrote:
Awesome! :D

Can't wait!

BTW...

The description says, "Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription."

Needs to be fixed. ;)

Paizo Employee Senior Software Developer

Fixed.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Awesome

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Congrats Elaine! Now stop hiding behind that book on Facebook!


More fiction awesomeness!

Dark Archive Contributor

Hurrah! Can't wait to read the finished work.


Pathfinder fiction needs its own separate subscription.


Twin Agate Dragons wrote:
Pathfinder fiction needs its own separate subscription.

I'm pretty sure that's their intent ... months from now...

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Urizen wrote:
Twin Agate Dragons wrote:
Pathfinder fiction needs its own separate subscription.
I'm pretty sure that's their intent ... months from now...

Or sooner.


Yes, yes, yes, oh, fricking awesome, yes. And also . . . yes!

Spoiler:
Not, not my most eloquent post, but I'm extremely happy with this announcement.


Urizen wrote:
Twin Agate Dragons wrote:
Pathfinder fiction needs its own separate subscription.
I'm pretty sure that's their intent ... months from now...

The sooner it becomes available, the sooner I subscribe.

Shadow Lodge

Vic Wertz wrote:
Urizen wrote:
Twin Agate Dragons wrote:
Pathfinder fiction needs its own separate subscription.
I'm pretty sure that's their intent ... months from now...
Or sooner.

What pace do they expect the books to come out? 2-4/ year? or more than that?


0gre wrote:
What pace do they expect the books to come out? 2-4/ year? or more than that?

He mentioned it on a diffrent thread when I asked the same question. After the first initial two, they're looking at one every 3 months...

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

0gre wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Urizen wrote:
Twin Agate Dragons wrote:
Pathfinder fiction needs its own separate subscription.
I'm pretty sure that's their intent ... months from now...
Or sooner.
What pace do they expect the books to come out? 2-4/ year? or more than that?

After the first pair, which are a month apart, we'll be going to every three months or so.


Does happy dance of joy


wow, just wow

that will be the first fantasy novel I will be buying in years

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I like how you guys rewarded the authors that wrote for the Adventure Paths. Thank you for giving them the honor of starting off your Pathfinder Fiction line. You guys rock.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Zuxius wrote:
I like how you guys rewarded the authors that wrote for the Adventure Paths. Thank you for giving them the honor of starting off your Pathfinder Fiction line. You guys rock.

I'm pretty sure it's less reward and more a matter of working with people they know and trust instead of a bunch of unknowns.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

This is too awesome. I'm definitely subscribing to this.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Mass market paperbacks for $9.99? That seems a bit...steep, no?

Contributor

Way to go Elaine :D

and Way to go Paizo! :D

Shadow Lodge

DaveMage wrote:
Mass market paperbacks for $9.99? That seems a bit...steep, no?

I figure the money that I am not spending on Realms products can now go to these novels.=]


Todd Stewart wrote:

Way to go Elaine :D

and Way to go Paizo! :D

So, when will we see the first Planar Novel written by a certain Todd S. (wait, people could figure that out, let' call him T. Steward!)?

Paizo Employee CEO

DaveMage wrote:
Mass market paperbacks for $9.99? That seems a bit...steep, no?

It is a bit on the high end but not out of line with newer books, but it is where we needed to be to make these books a go. I wish we could have hit $7.99 but that just wasn't possible unless we could print a LOT of books. Here is to hoping that this line is so successful that on subsequent books we can print a LOT of books and lower the price!

-Lisa

Contributor

Lisa Stevens wrote:
DaveMage wrote:
Mass market paperbacks for $9.99? That seems a bit...steep, no?

It is a bit on the high end but not out of line with newer books, but it is where we needed to be to make these books a go. I wish we could have hit $7.99 but that just wasn't possible unless we could print a LOT of books. Here is to hoping that this line is so successful that on subsequent books we can print a LOT of books and lower the price!

-Lisa

From your lips (or would that be fingers?) to the gods' ears.

I'm glad Paizo chose the mass market format rather than the larger and more expensive trade paperback.

Contributor

Zuxius wrote:
Congrats Elaine! Now stop hiding behind that book on Facebook!

Why? It's a very good book, and quite appropriate to WINTER WITCH. ;)


Elaine Cunningham wrote:

From your lips (or would that be fingers?) to the gods' ears.

I'm glad Paizo chose the mass market format rather than the larger and more expensive trade paperback.

If it's fingers, it's eyes, too.


I'm looking forward to this. Elaine's story was the first Pathfinder fiction I actually read (having skipped over it in previous Adventure Paths).

As I grow older I find myself more finicky about the fantasy I read (which is a shame because I used to love everything, and I almost resent whatever it is that's changed about me). Nevertheless, her half-elven water druid was a real treat.

And Irrisen's a real winner in chpoice of location and topic!

Go Elaine! You won me over the first time, I have no doubts you'll do it again!

Dark Archive

Congrats, Elaine! Now, stop wasting your time on FaceBook and get to work... your fans are waiting! ;)


Elaine Cunningham wrote:
Zuxius wrote:
Congrats Elaine! Now stop hiding behind that book on Facebook!
Why? It's a very good book, and quite appropriate to WINTER WITCH. ;)

Wait: You hide your face behind a book on a page called facebook?

How very appropriate.


Hmm. Looks interesting. Something very bad is about to happen when someone selling what they thought were fake maps that they'd made up start bringing back satisfied customers wanting more such maps...
My only problem is lack of bookshelf space. Hmm, clear out some of the old Cormyr stuff to make space for this?

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

OMFG! sorry, hem can't wait! Elaine Is one of my all-time-favorite authors!

Dark Archive

Boerngrim wrote:
OMFG! sorry, hem can't wait! Elaine Is one of my all-time-favorite authors!

Me neither -- like yourself, I think Elaine's novels and short stories have been amazing! And her ability to write dialogue and believable characters of all walks of life is almost uncanny. I've immensely enjoyed her writing from 'Elfshadow' and 'Windwalker' to 'City of Splendors' and 'The Dark Tapestry' (to name just a few examples), and not only that, but they've also left a lasting impression on my GMing. Go, Elaine! :)

For a bug-lover from Osirion, you have a surprisingly good taste, Boerngrim! ;P


If one were to read both Winter Witch and The Witchwar Legacy, would you recommend reading them in a particular order? (I'm guessing that the module might contain spoilers for the novel...)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Yes...

The sooner you set up the subscription, the sooner I subscribe.


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

It won't happen today. Presidents' Day my shiny green ass...
;)


I need to see a subscription link on this ASAP!

Please and Thank you.

As a collector of RPG fiction I can't wait to sink my teeth into more Pathfinder lore.


Aaron Bitman wrote:
If one were to read both Winter Witch and The Witchwar Legacy, would you recommend reading them in a particular order? (I'm guessing that the module might contain spoilers for the novel...)

Don't worry, you may see some level of easter-egging between the two, but we'd never put spoilers for one in the other.


Thank you for the reply!

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Aaron Bitman wrote:
If one were to read both Winter Witch and The Witchwar Legacy, would you recommend reading them in a particular order? (I'm guessing that the module might contain spoilers for the novel...)

We haven't even outlined Witchwar Legacy yet and Elaine is still writing The Winter Witch. The two products (one a module and one a novel) both take place in the same nation at roughly the same time period, but deal with vastly different elements. I think it will be fun to throw some novel Easter eggs in the module, but you will not need to read one to enjoy the other, and you needn't approach them in a specific order.

Liberty's Edge

Where's the subscription option?

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

It's not ready yet.

Do keep checking back, please.

But don't wait too long...

Liberty's Edge

I can't wait. And $10 is great; to my way of thinking that's $5 for a hard copy and $5 for an ebook.

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is awesome!


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

It's not ready yet.

Do keep checking back, please.

But don't wait too long...

*HAW* *HAW*

*squeaky-squeaky-squeaky*

Look at that shine...

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Pathfinder Fiction Subscriptions are now available.


Zuxius wrote:
Congrats Elaine! Now stop hiding behind that book on Facebook!

Shes on facebook?

Holy ----!


I can't wait. Elaine's writing is fantastic and so is the subject matter!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

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

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