Pathfinder Tales: Plague of Shadows

****½ (based on 36 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: Plague of Shadows
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A Desperate Quest

The race is on to free Lord Stelan from the grip of a wasting curse, and only Elyana, his old elven adventuring companion and former lover, has the wisdom and reflexes to save him. When the villain turns out to be another of their former companions, Elyana and a band of ragtag adventurers must set out on a perilous race across the revolution-wracked nation of Galt and the treacherous Five Kings Mountains, bound for the mysterious Vale of Shadows. But even if they can succeed in locating the key to Stelan's salvation in a lost valley of weird magic and nightmare beasts, the danger isn't over. For Elyana's companions may not all be what they seem.

From sword and sorcery icon Howard Andrew Jones comes a fantastic new adventure set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

350-page mass market paperback
ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-291-3
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-333-0

Plague of Shadows is also available as a digital edition on the following sites:

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

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

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PZO8503


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****½ (based on 36 ratings)

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A Good Take on Classic RPG Fiction

****( )

NO SPOILERS

I have to admit I wasn't particularly looking forward to Plague of Shadows, the third book in the Pathfinder Tales line of novels. The blurb about adventurers banding together on a quest to retrieve a lost artifact sounded about as cliche "gamer fiction" as it gets. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. Yes, there are adventurers and there is a quest, but Howard Andrew Jones' writing is excellent and he manages to give each character enough spark so that they don't come off as cardboard-cut-out heroes. I quite liked the use of flashbacks linking two different adventuring groups together despite the passage of time, and the portions of the story set in Galt really made the country come alive (in a terrifying way). There's a big twist about 5/6 of the way through that I'm not 100% sure is justified, and there's a limit to how much originality can be added on to the "fantasy adventuring group" chassis, but I honestly enjoyed Plague of Shadows and would definitely read more Pathfinder novels from the author.

SPOILERS

I thought Jones did an excellent job portraying the elves of Kyonin and their condescending but charitable view towards the "Forlorn" (elves who grew up outside elven society). I thought his portrayal of the Shadow Plane was a bit bland, especially considering the major villain is a specialist Shadow Wizard; I didn't feel like there was enough detail given to explain why Arcil, and the cabal of Shadow Wizards that Elyana's old adventuring group fought, were so fascinated with the place. The story's biggest twist (SUPER SPOILER REMINDER) in having Vallyn be working with the Galtans to betray Elyana just wasn't set up well enough; a twist of that kind needs to have enough (cleverly hidden) basis before it appears so that the reader doesn't feel it just came out of nowhere. Last, I thought the ending was superb, with Elyana leaving so that she doesn't have to watch her love grow old and die; and Drelm coming with her was inspired.


****( )

Wow, I really loved this book. Great, party-based adventuring, moving characters, plot twists I did not see coming, and lots of excellent action scenes.

I read this last weekend and immediately hit its sequel this weekend. Elyana is a great heroine, and she had lots of company as far as engaging companions. I love how the author plays against stereotypes and 1-dimensional characters. The half-orc Drelm could so easily have been a caricature, and I appreciated his development (even more in the next book). That said, you know you've got a good writer when the ostensible "bad guy" turns out quite sympathetic. Redeemable, you might say.

Great stuff.


Stick with it!

****( )

Did not expect to love this so much from the sort of stilted (in my view) start. A lot of odd stuff happens all at once, and some (apparent) stereotypes/definitions put onto the characters that didnt make them seem very interesting. Could not have been more wrong. Its all sort of a set-up so you can see how much they grow and change, so you understand how difficult some of the choices they have to make are, lending them a great deal of force and drama.

I cant even begin to dissect the plot these characters traverse other than to say its a thrill-ride, and like most of what I call good books, it escalates and speeds up the farther you get into the book, until you are completely sucked in.

I think I saw this author has written several other works and I am going to hunt them down immediately.


****( )


:)

*****

The book was an excellent read. The characters were great, and I liked the plot twist near the end. You really get drawn into the story.


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Dark Archive

If I remember I will try and put a review together when I get some free time after the ones I am already working on. So maybe in 2-3 weeks are so. You might need to remind me though. :)

Contributor

Dark_Mistress wrote:
If I remember I will try and put a review together when I get some free time after the ones I am already working on. So maybe in 2-3 weeks are so. You might need to remind me though. :)

I'm writing in to remind you -- I sure would appreciate a kind word on Amazon.

And that goes for everyone here that's enjoyed the book and written in either this thread or in the official review section. There aren't that many Amazon reviews, and the percentage of lukewarm meh reviews is a heckuva lot higher over there.

Dark Archive

Howard Andrew Jones wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
If I remember I will try and put a review together when I get some free time after the ones I am already working on. So maybe in 2-3 weeks are so. You might need to remind me though. :)

I'm writing in to remind you -- I sure would appreciate a kind word on Amazon.

And that goes for everyone here that's enjoyed the book and written in either this thread or in the official review section. There aren't that many Amazon reviews, and the percentage of lukewarm meh reviews is a heckuva lot higher over there.

Oh yeah.. I did forget. I will try and get that up this week. If you don't see it with in two weeks remind me again. :)

Dark Archive

Reviewed here and on Amazon.

Contributor

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Reviewed here and on Amazon.

And I am grateful. Thank you for your help spreading the word. I remain delighted that you enjoyed it.

Sincerely,
Howard

Dark Archive

your welcome. Just hopefully people like the review. i really have no clue how to review a novel. :)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Dark_Mistress wrote:
i really have no clue how to review a novel. :)

Oh, it's simple! You just go to the Product Reviews tab and click "Write a review..."

(What? That's not what you meant?)

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Vic Wertz wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
i really have no clue how to review a novel. :)

Oh, it's simple! You just go to the Product Reviews tab and click "Write a review..."

(What? That's not what you meant?)

Hey thats my job to be a smart ass...

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
i really have no clue how to review a novel. :)

Oh, it's simple! You just go to the Product Reviews tab and click "Write a review..."

(What? That's not what you meant?)

Hey thats my job to be a smart ass...

Heh, person after my own heart


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I finally had a chance to start reading this, and I like it so far. The writing is good, and the story has me interested right from the get go.

Dark Archive

I was fortunate enough to get to sit in on a lecture Mr. Jones gave at my university on his research process for his other novel, The Desert of Souls, for a Medieval Studies lecture series. The lecture was great, and I bought the book and read it that night. Its a faced paced action bonanza and impossible to put down. I recommend it highly. I will probably be picking up Plague of Shadows soon simply because Desert was so good.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber

I know that there has not been a lot of activity here lately (and that I STILL need to get my butt in gear and start writing reviews), but this is (still) my favorite of the Tales. I would love to see more of Elyana and Drelm.

Also, I have been giving the Tales to my wife to read. She does not have any gaming background (not for a lack of trying on my part). She had no problem getting into the world for any of the stories. That speaks highly of the quality of writers that Paizo is courting.

-Aaron

Contributor

4 people marked this as a favorite.

"I know that there has not been a lot of activity here lately (and that I STILL need to get my butt in gear and start writing reviews), but this is (still) my favorite of the Tales. I would love to see more of Elyana and Drelm."

Aaron, thanks for the kind words. I have signed on to write another Elyana and Drelm book, so more will be coming your way!

I just have to finish a little more work in old Arabia first for my other series, and then I should be able to get started.

Howard


SWEET this just made my day. So any idea on release year for this new book. Think they might try to squeeze you in towards the end of 2012 or are we going to have to wait until 2013?


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Excellent news, Mr. Jones! Plague of Shadows remains one of my favorite Tales novels! Can't wait!

Contributor

I'm mightily pleased that this news made you happy. At this point it's not about Paizo squeezing the book into the schedule, but about me not having written it yet. I DO have a thorough outline, though, so when I sit down I won't be starting from scratch.

I'm supposed to turn it in Jan 2013. I will try to finish it sooner, but I'm also contracted to write a few more Arabian historical fantasies for St. Martin's, so whether or not I can get Elyana and Drelm in sooner depends on whether or not the muses are kind to me!

Howard

Scarab Sages

I'm so excited about this. Congratulations on getting a sequel.


I just added Desert of Souls to my Amazon Wish List and will drop STRONG hints to DW that this is a good birthday present. DW will like that it costs less than a rulebook. I enjoyed the sample that was on Amazon. I look forward to reading the whole novel!

Howard, Wayfinder is currently accepting submissions. Might you be interested in submitting a short story?

Glossary: DW = Dear Wife

Disclaimer: I am not associated, nor have any financial interest in Wayfinder Magazine.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Finished Desert of Souls on the way back from Prescott a few days ago. It took me a while to read, but was great. Definitely will be buying the next few pieces of fiction that HA Jones writes. Thanks for a great tale.

Just went to Amazon and noticed "The Waters of Eternity". Reading through the description it is not fully clear if there is content not in "The Desert of Souls". I'll acquire it if there is, just not clear at this point.

Contributor

Aaron aka Itchy wrote:

I just added Desert of Souls to my Amazon Wish List and will drop STRONG hints to DW that this is a good birthday present. DW will like that it costs less than a rulebook. I enjoyed the sample that was on Amazon. I look forward to reading the whole novel!

Howard, Wayfinder is currently accepting submissions. Might you be interested in submitting a short story?

Glossary: DW = Dear Wife

Disclaimer: I am not associated, nor have any financial interest in Wayfinder Magazine.

Itchy, I have my hands SO FULL with other deadlines right now I dare not try submitting to anything else right now, but I thank you for the info. I'll have to check out the magazine.

best,
Howard

Contributor

Kata. the ..... wrote:

Finished Desert of Souls on the way back from Prescott a few days ago. It took me a while to read, but was great. Definitely will be buying the next few pieces of fiction that HA Jones writes. Thanks for a great tale.

Just went to Amazon and noticed "The Waters of Eternity". Reading through the description it is not fully clear if there is content not in "The Desert of Souls". I'll acquire it if there is, just not clear at this point.

Hey, I'm really delighted that you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know.

"Waters of Eternity" is the same characters, but entirely different stories about them. Thanks for letting me know the description isn't clear. I'll drop the publishers a line and see about getting the write-up changed.

Thanks for the interest and support.

Warm Regards,
Howard

Contributor

Aaron aka Itchy wrote:

I just added Desert of Souls to my Amazon Wish List and will drop STRONG hints to DW that this is a good birthday present. DW will like that it costs less than a rulebook. I enjoyed the sample that was on Amazon. I look forward to reading the whole novel!

Howard, Wayfinder is currently accepting submissions. Might you be interested in submitting a short story?

Glossary: DW = Dear Wife

Disclaimer: I am not associated, nor have any financial interest in Wayfinder Magazine.

...and many, many thanks for putting more Howard Andrew Jones fiction on your birthday list, by the way!

I thought you'd be interested to know that I looked at Wayfinder this morning and I'm pretty impressed. I had somehow completely missed its existence. But then I've been buried in historical research for my Arabian series so deeply I haven't even been able to game.

When I started work on the first chapters of the next Elyana and Drelm adventure last week, I was surrounded by Golarion references and a couple of rulebooks, with nothing on Arabia in reach. Kind of a nice change. And I've started gaming again!

best,
Howard


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Howard Andrew Jones wrote:

I thought you'd be interested to know that I looked at Wayfinder this morning and I'm pretty impressed. I had somehow completely missed its existence. But then I've been buried in historical research for my Arabian series so deeply I haven't even been able to game.

When I started work on the first chapters of the next Elyana and Drelm adventure last week, I was surrounded by Golarion references and a couple of rulebooks, with nothing on Arabia in reach. Kind of a nice change. And I've started gaming again!

best,
Howard

Wayfinder is incredible, given that it is a free electronic magazine! I thought that Wayfinder 6 was the best yet. There are some incredible stories in there, and it's all volunteer.

I was excited to hear that you have started work on Elyana and Drelm's story! I know it will be a while before it sees print, but I'm looking forward to it. Once I finish Lord of the Rings, I'm thinking that I'll reread Plague of Shadows. If you are looking for a quick break from work, check out Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception, and Sacrifice—Valdia's Tale. It's only 99 cents. I found it an enjoyable story that takes place in Shadowsfall, a Plane of Shadows campaign setting that is being developed.

I am also glad to hear that you are gaming again! It's such fun. I am excited for the time when I can start teaching the game to my kids. That's a few years away yet.

Contributor

Aaron aka Itchy wrote:


Once I finish Lord of the Rings, I'm thinking that I'll reread Plague of Shadows. If you are looking for a quick break from work, check out Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception, and Sacrifice—Valdia's Tale. It's only 99 cents. I found it an enjoyable story that takes place in Shadowsfall, a Plane of Shadows campaign setting that is being developed.

I am also glad to hear that you are gaming again! It's such fun. I am excited for the time when I can start teaching the game to my kids. That's a few years away yet.

I'm thrilled that you liked Plague so well you're thinking about reading it again. You have just officially made my day.

I may have to check out the Plane of Shadows campaign -- thanks for the tip.

My kids are both old enough to play now, but they both seem to have a whole lot more homework than I had as an early teenager. They almost never have time to play. We got a few short scenarios in over the summer and two or three over Christmas break.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

When my friends who game (I seem to have more and more of them these days, must be the local college) ask me about Pathfinder or, more specifically, Golarion, one of the things I always do is hand over my Tales books, and Plague is definitely the most popular among the east Texas crowd. Very glad to see you're working on another adventure!

Contributor

David Devier wrote:
When my friends who game (I seem to have more and more of them these days, must be the local college) ask me about Pathfinder or, more specifically, Golarion, one of the things I always do is hand over my Tales books, and Plague is definitely the most popular among the east Texas crowd. Very glad to see you're working on another adventure!

Thanks for letting me know. These are the kind of things it's good to revisit on the days when you stumble across a snarky review...

Here's hoping you never have trouble finding friends to game with. I am very fortunate to have retained a good group into my 40s. One of our group has to telecommute via Skype, but it works because we don't bother with combat grids.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Howard Andrew Jones wrote:
Kata. the ..... wrote:

Finished Desert of Souls on the way back from Prescott a few days ago. It took me a while to read, but was great. Definitely will be buying the next few pieces of fiction that HA Jones writes. Thanks for a great tale.

Just went to Amazon and noticed "The Waters of Eternity". Reading through the description it is not fully clear if there is content not in "The Desert of Souls". I'll acquire it if there is, just not clear at this point.

Hey, I'm really delighted that you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know.

"Waters of Eternity" is the same characters, but entirely different stories about them. Thanks for letting me know the description isn't clear. I'll drop the publishers a line and see about getting the write-up changed.

Thanks for the interest and support.

Warm Regards,
Howard

Ordered! I hope they give you at least 3 bucks for it. :) But given the Kindle price was $2.99, that is probably optimistic. I'll try to read it soon. I have some chance given I am on a 3 day weekend. My 4 minute bus ride to work has been killing my reading opportunities.

Contributor

Kata. the ..... wrote:

Ordered! I hope they give you at least 3 bucks for it. :) But given the Kindle price was $2.99, that is probably optimistic. I'll try to read it soon. I have some chance given I am on a 3 day weekend. My 4 minute bus ride to work has been killing my reading opportunities.

Thanks, Kata. I hope you enjoy them!

I hear you about short commutes. On the one hand, you're lucky work is so close. On the other hand, without dead time it's easier to fill up the days with stuff that NEEDS to be done rather than grabbing some to to escape a little.


I'm actually in the process of Rereading this. I liked it so much the first time that I just had to give it a second read. It will be interesting to see, now that I know where things are headed, what details I missed the first time.

Contributor

mathpro18 wrote:
I'm actually in the process of Rereading this. I liked it so much the first time that I just had to give it a second read. It will be interesting to see, now that I know where things are headed, what details I missed the first time.

See if you notice anything distinctive about the way the bard speaks when he's working a spell. So far no one's commented on it.

I'll be curious to hear what else pops up. Hope you enjoy the read!

Contributor

Howard Andrew Jones wrote:
mathpro18 wrote:
I'm actually in the process of Rereading this. I liked it so much the first time that I just had to give it a second read. It will be interesting to see, now that I know where things are headed, what details I missed the first time.

See if you notice anything distinctive about the way the bard speaks when he's working a spell. So far no one's commented on it.

I'll be curious to hear what else pops up. Hope you enjoy the read!

Oh, he speaks in verse. I thought it was a nice touch and appropriate for a bard.


I was going to read this after I finished The Return of the King. However, I have set both aside to read The Desert of Souls. I just finished Chapter 2 on my walk home. I had to put the book out of sight when I got home so that I was not tempted to pick it up and read instead of spending time with the children.

Minor Spoiler:
I really enjoyed Dabir's consternation at Asim and Hamil mixing the coins together.

Contributor

Aaron aka Itchy wrote:

I was going to read this after I finished The Return of the King. However, I have set both aside to read The Desert of Souls. I just finished Chapter 2 on my walk home. I had to put the book out of sight when I got home so that I was not tempted to pick it up and read instead of spending time with the children.

** spoiler omitted **

Glad you're enjoying it. When I first outlined the book, Hamil was only in that first scene, but he was so much fun that I kept dropping him back in.


I finished Desert of Souls this weekend. I really enjoyed it! I'm trying to formulate my thoughts to put a review up on Amazon. I also started a thread to discuss the book on the books section of the messageboards.


Is there a way to get the PDF onto my kindle? I thought there was a way to view any PDF on a kindle but I can't find it in the user manual.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

While there are ways to view PDFs on your Kindle, for Pathfinder Tales novels, the ePub edition is a much better choice. As for getting ePubs onto your Kindle, many people have good things to say about Calibre.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Kata. the ..... wrote:
James Sutter wrote:

Just so everyone knows, our decisions about what books to publish are based largely on fan feedback AND sales numbers, so telling us what you like here (and in product reviews on Paizo, Amazon, etc.) and helping spread the word so that a particular book sells well are by far the most effective ways to make a sequel happen.

Though of course, sometimes we commission books specifically because *we* want to see what comes next. :)

This is definitely the most enjoyable of the three Pathfinder Tales and I have enjoyed all so far. Keep up the good work. I definitely would not mind seeing more of Elyana and Drelm.

Woohoo! I am reading more of Elyana and Drelm right now, or more accurately about an hour ago. Half way through Stalking the Beast.

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