Pathfinder Tales: Master of Devils

3.90/5 (based on 41 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: Master of Devils
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Journey to the East

On a mysterious errand for the Pathfinder Society, Count Varian Jeggare and his hellspawn bodyguard Radovan journey to the distant land of Tian Xia, on the far side of the world. When disaster forces him to take shelter in a warrior monastery, "Brother" Jeggare finds himself competing with the disciples of Dragon Temple as he unravels a royal mystery. Meanwhile, Radovan—trapped in the body of a devil and held hostage by the legendary Quivering Palm attack—must serve a twisted master by defeating the land’s deadliest champions and learning the secret of slaying an immortal foe. Together with an unlikely army of beasts and spirits, the two companions must take the lead in an ancient conflict that will carry them through an exotic land, all the way to the Gates of Heaven and Hell and a final confrontation with the nefarious Master of Devils!

From fan-favorite author Dave Gross comes a new fantastical adventure set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

400-page mass market paperback
ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-357-6
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-358-3

Master of Devils is also available as a digital edition on the following sites:

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

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Master Fu

4/5

Paizo doesn't cut corners or make a hash out of selling their campaign setting; this is particularly true with any major new contributions they bring to the setting - such as the continent of Tian Xia. Master of Devils complements the Jade Regent adventure path, along with the campaign setting and primer for the Dragon Empires.

The novel features Count Jegarre, his hellspawn bodyguard Radovan, as well as a slightly unlikely third companion, the hound Arnisant. Jegarre and Radovan's adventures have graced Pathfinder fiction in various forms previously - most notably in the novel Prince of Wolves. As such, avid followers of Paizo stories can enjoy the new exploits and developments in the characters, which lends the novel a certain degree of authenticity. The characters do not merely exist as cardboard cut-outs for the story, but have the luxury of depth and extended development.

The story itself takes place in Quain, a nation of heroes in the continent of Tian Xia - the Dragon Empires. The word "hero" needs to be taken with a pinch of salt (as the novel points out on more than one occasion) and is more intended to mean "warrior of great renown or infamy" - well suited to a nation of warrior monks. As such it should not come as a great surprise that a particularly powerful hero, who calls himself Burning Cloud Devil, creates the main impetus in the story. He uses the quivering palm strike to literally hold the life of Radovan in his hands and uses this to pressure the hellspawned to comply to his demands. At the same time Jegarre and the dog Arnisant each have their own story to follow with many characters and intrigues to fill the pages. All three characters ultimately serve their respective comrades in a way that draws everybody together for the climax of the novel.

The author chooses to tell the story from the first-person narrative; which can be slightly jarring to the reader when he switches between characters. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular character, either Jegarre, Radovan or Arnisant, and consequently narrates in the "I" perspective. Once this becomes apparent to the reader, the flow of the story becomes swift and quite enjoyable - as Dave Gross manages to believably inter-mingle the events between the three main protagonists in such a way that thoughts started by one character get completed by another in a different chapter. Seeing the metaphorical footprints of the various characters in the other characters' storylines creates an enjoyable recognition and makes for an exciting and believable story.

Another feature that draws comment and praise is the change in prose that the author introduces for each protagonist. The first-person narration is intimate and lends itself to a much deeper insight into the psyche of the characters that are portrayed when compared to other styles of narration. In this case the arrogance of Jegarre, the flippant nature of Radovan, and the simple canine thoughts of Arnisant each uniquely color and flavor the chapters in which the respective characters lead - but at the same time make it vividly clear that each of the characters is complete and complex individual. What makes this a particularly appealing proposition is that of introduction: all three of the characters are foreigners in the strange lands of the Dragon Empires. That means each of the three gets introduced and digests a different perspective of the quasi-Asian setting that Paizo has developed, and in the process the reader is naturally given access to these lands as well.

The story is strong and fast-paced, in spite of taking the time to flesh out the flavors and thoughts of a strange continent. I would have thoroughly enjoyed even more of Dave Gross' palette as he brings the world of Tian Xia to life without ever needing to tell the reader "hey, pay attention now, this is what the world is like". His rendition of the capricious Monkey King, his treatment of the disparate and sometimes truly bizarre nature of the kami (a form of spirit), and the sometimes unexpected wisdom of warrior ascetics, to name but a handful, truly colors a rich tapestry - and the subtle nature by which the author does this is worth emphasizing: the story flows naturally, in pleasant swirls and eddies and yet still carried along swiftly to its ultimate conclusion.

I've only had the pleasure of two books in the Pathfinder Tales range - the other being Death's Heretic. Perhaps I am biased, for my love of Eastern stories, but although both are very enjoyable stories, I favor "Master of Devils": the plot and characters are more complex and the various threads are interwoven more richly to produce a thoroughly satisfying story that I do not hesitate to recommend.


West Meets East in Golarion

4/5

The sequel to Prince of Wolves takes place in Tian-Xa (think a fantasy China/Japan setting). This book is heavily influenced by Chinese cinema, so you have monks that fly (like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and weapons that act impossibly (at one point cloth is used as a weapon). Fights (lots of these) are described very cinematically. This is a very fun book with some very strange characters in it. If I knew more asian mythology, I might understand them better, but that did not detract from my enjoyment or understanding of the book in any way. Under the MPAA rating system, I would call this book PG. It is appropriate and enjoyable for anyone from teens to adults.


Excellent addition, but poor physical quality makes it hard to recommend

3/5

Master of Devils by Dave Gross continues the story of Count Jeggare and his hellspawn bodyguard, Radovan in a fantastic tale of East meeting West. This time their travels take them to the far East (obviously) where the two get separated one again and become strangers in a strange land. Both enter martial tutelage, one at a monastery, the other alone under the strict eye of a master seeking vengeance through his newest pupil. The book is a quick read, containing quite a bit dialogue, that captures the oriental flavor of the setting well and translates it equally well to the reader. Normally my brain tends to shut down while reading combat scenes, but the descriptions of the battles contained within are amusingly reminiscent of the wire fighting martial arts movies that I love so very much. The narrative is written in first person and switches between three perspectives; Jeggare, Radovan, and their faithful hound, all with distinct personalities and styles. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, perhaps the most out of what has been written thus far, but I do have a notable complaint: There are several pages near the center of my copy where the ink is so light (perhaps the printers needed a change?) it was impossible to read a thing and I ended up missing some of the story and having to skip ahead to a legible portion of the book. Thankfully these pages were few and I was able to piece together what I missed. But, unfortunately, this necessitates that I drop my rating from good to merely average. I look forward to reading more from the author.


Thoroughly enjoyed it

4/5

Having seen some of the reviews about the changing of perspective like in the 1st novel, I was ready for the style of writing. I never had an issue with not being able to tell the difference since the style of writing changed with the person's or dog's point of view.

Another great read set in Golarion.


This one is going to collect dust.

1/5

This book is painful enough that I didn't bother finishing it. It's bad enough that the author keeps shifting back and forth between Radovan and Varian, but then you throw in the stupid dog, and it's just too much. It reads like a bad kung fu movie and is just as insipid. Don't waste your time.


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Dark Archive Contributor

Protoman wrote:
I loved this book! I ESPECIALLY love the appearance of my favorite simian demigod as I never get enough of him in any sorts of media. I've been wanting to read an asian-themed fantasy D&D story since I've started playing so I'm grateful you wrote it.

Anyone named Protoman is all right by me. Are you a fan of the band?


Dave Gross wrote:
Protoman wrote:
I loved this book! I ESPECIALLY love the appearance of my favorite simian demigod as I never get enough of him in any sorts of media. I've been wanting to read an asian-themed fantasy D&D story since I've started playing so I'm grateful you wrote it.

Anyone named Protoman is all right by me. Are you a fan of the band?

The band and the character.

I think I met you once in 2008. Played a LFR game at your place. Asian kid that kept talking too much lol

Dark Archive Contributor

Protoman wrote:
I loved this book! I ESPECIALLY love the appearance of my favorite simian demigod as I never get enough of him in any sorts of media. I've been wanting to read an asian-themed fantasy D&D story since I've started playing so I'm grateful you wrote it.

Also, I implore anyone who enjoyed the book to post a review here, at Amazon, Goodreads, Booksamillion, B&N, or anywhere you can spread the word about Pathfinder Tales. We're still in the early days of this book line, so the more word of mouth, the better for everyone.


I'm just about through this book and am loving it. Looks like Prince of Wolves is a must read for more of these characters, do they appear anywhere else? (Pathfinder...noob)

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Zelq wrote:
I'm just about through this book and am loving it. Looks like Prince of Wolves is a must read for more of these characters, do they appear anywhere else? (Pathfinder...noob)

Jeggare & Radovan first appeared in the Pathfinder Journal for the Council of Thieves Adventure Path (available separately in "Hell's Pawns"). "The Lost Pathfinder" serves as an introduction or prequel to Prince of Wolves. "A Lesson in Taxonomy" features a much younger Varian Jeggare (which originally featured in Wayfinder #4). Master of Devils has Varian and Radovan in a very different set of circumstances, and the "Husks" serial featuring this dynamic duo are in the Jade Regent Adventure Path volumes.

Hope that helps!


Liz Courts wrote:

Jeggare & Radovan first appeared in the Pathfinder Journal for the Council of Thieves Adventure Path (available separately in "Hell's Pawns"). "The Lost Pathfinder" serves as an introduction or prequel to Prince of Wolves. "A Lesson in Taxonomy" features a much younger Varian Jeggare (which originally featured in Wayfinder #4). Master of Devils has Varian and Radovan in a very different set of circumstances, and the "Husks" serial featuring this dynamic duo are in the Jade Regent Adventure Path volumes.

Hope that helps!

Immensely! A shopping I must go :) Thank you!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Out of curiosity, are we going to get a wallpaper of the cover art? Or did I miss one? ^_^

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

I finished this one a couple weeks ago, and I thought it was great. Especially

Spoiler:
"Radovan catches on fire more than anybody."

I freakin howled at that. But there are a lot of unanswered questions still about Radovan's nature. I'm wondering if
Spoiler:

the devil that occupied Radovan's space was a distinct entity and not a manifestation of his nature. In that case, killing a devil merely returns it to its native plane, with limitations on when it can return, correct? In that case, isn't it possible, and in fact likely, that Radovan may eventually encounter this being again, external to his own form, and the devil may want to renew the bond? Or seek vengeance of Radovan for letting him get killed. Even if this is not the case, there are still a number of questions about how the bond was formed in the first place. Or was this covered in the CoT AP fiction?

Anyway, the book was a lot of fun and I was sad to see it end. Thanks, Dave, for another great ripping yarn.

Dark Archive Contributor

Christopher Dudley wrote:

I finished this one a couple weeks ago, and I thought it was great. Especially ** spoiler omitted **

I freakin howled at that. But there are a lot of unanswered questions still about Radovan's nature. I'm wondering if ** spoiler omitted **

Anyway, the book was a lot of fun and I was sad to see it end. Thanks, Dave, for another great ripping yarn.

Thanks for the kind words! If you have a chance, it'd be great to see your review here and at amazon.com.

While there's a strong hint about the catalysing event in "Hell's Pawns," all of the information we have on Radovan's condition has come through the filter of his point of view. Since he doesn't have all the answers (yet), neither do we.

Master of Devils included some big hints of Radovan's unusual nature, and the next novel will include bigger revelations.

Much bigger.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Dave Gross wrote:

Master of Devils included some big hints of Radovan's unusual nature, and the next novel will include bigger revelations.

Much bigger.

Does the next book have a title and release date?

Dark Archive Contributor

JoelF847 wrote:
Dave Gross wrote:

Master of Devils included some big hints of Radovan's unusual nature, and the next novel will include bigger revelations.

Much bigger.

Does the next book have a title and release date?

Officially, not until Paizo announces them, but I'm told it's okay to say there is another book in the works with these boys.


Very much looking forward to it...

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Dave Gross wrote:
JoelF847 wrote:
Dave Gross wrote:

Master of Devils included some big hints of Radovan's unusual nature, and the next novel will include bigger revelations.

Much bigger.

Does the next book have a title and release date?
Officially, not until Paizo announces them, but I'm told it's okay to say there is another book in the works with these boys.

Darn, you saw through my clever ruse!

I hope that "these boys" includes all 3 point of view characters.


Well done Dave Gross - I've put up my review for Master of Devils, and I am certainly looking forward to more. I'd be particularly happy if you could offer another glimpse of the Dragon Empires in more than a passing manner in a future novel! (Who could resist reading about the Monkey King in action?)

Dark Archive Contributor

LoreKeeper wrote:

Well done Dave Gross - I've put up my review for Master of Devils, and I am certainly looking forward to more. I'd be particularly happy if you could offer another glimpse of the Dragon Empires in more than a passing manner in a future novel! (Who could resist reading about the Monkey King in action?)

Thanks for that well-written and gratifying review.

While I could write nine more novels set in Tian Xia, I don't expect the boys to return soon. If you haven't been following the Jade Regent AP, you can look forward to "Husks," the Minkai-based prequel novella to Master of Devils, appearing via the web store later this year. If you have been following Jade Regent, then you've got most of it already.


Thanks for the swift response! I've mentioned it in a thread with James Jacobs before, but perhaps you could directly pitch such an idea to Paizo: I think there is ample opportunity to pen a "bigger" story.

By that I don't mean something more epic or world-shattering (Paizo has repeatedly confirmed that they are happy with the degree of impact the stories have, and I agree wholeheartedly). I mean that there is room for a story so rich and complex that it requires not one but eight books to complete.

Perhaps, to me, the perfect example is Neal Stephenson's "Baroque Cycle" (consisting of the three volumes: Quicksilver, The Confusion, The System of the World). Many characters, complex relations, a fantastic story that conveys a tremendous sense of reality and insight into the psyche of the time.

Dark Archive Contributor

I share your love of long-form narrative and Tian Xia. If a lot of folks feel the same way and sales follow, who knows what might happen?

In the meantime, the boys' next adventure takes them to Kyonin, back in the Inner Sea region. And in case you haven't read Prince of Wolves, there's a tiny element of Asian fantasy in the otherwise Eastern European-influenced setting.

Have you read the Barry Hughart novels? That might satisfy your craving for more Chinese-influenced fantasy.


I'll keep my eyes open for them, thanks :)

Kyonin, you say? I think my ex will like that a lot.


Dave Gross wrote:
Also, I implore anyone who enjoyed the book to post a review here, at Amazon, Goodreads, Booksamillion, B&N, or anywhere you can spread the word about Pathfinder Tales. We're still in the early days of this book line, so the more word of mouth, the better for everyone.

I have posted my review on both Amazon (where I am a "Top Reviewer") and here. Thanks for the fun read!

The Barry Hughart novels are great. I highly suggest them.

Dave, in your last book, you put the name of the protagonist/narrator at the top of each chapter. Please continue this.

Dark Archive Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for the reviews, DrDeth.

I love Hughart's novels. It's a shame he hasn't written any more, giving up in despair with his publisher. Bridge of Birds remains one of my favorite novels.

In Queen of Thorns I started tagging the chapters with the POV character. It seems more important to do that when there are more than two, but I'm sure it's a permanent fixture.


Folks, here are some other ways to help a fave author on Amazon (and these mostly work elsewhere) besides the usual buy the books, and write a review:

1. If the book is not out yet, add it to your Wish List, even if you plan on buying it straight from Paizo.

2. If you find a good review, mark it helpful. This adds verisimilitude to the review, which helps the book. It also makes the reviewer happy.

3. Look for other books by the same author.

Dark Archive

Dave Gross wrote:

Thanks for the reviews, DrDeth.

I love Hughart's novels. It's a shame he hasn't written any more, giving up in despair with his publisher. Bridge of Birds remains one of my favorite novels.

In Queen of Thorns I started tagging the chapters with the POV character. It seems more important to do that when there are more than two, but I'm sure it's a permanent fixture.

Congratulations for your first sold out Pathfinder novel, Dave!

I'm sure the others will follow.
Anything new planned?


Absolutely brilliant, loved it.
So well written it was like watching an epic Kung Fu movie on a cinema screen.
Dave Gross is my new favourite author.
Let's hope for many more novels to come.
I have to say, Radovan reminds me a little of the Wolverine comic character, which is a very good parallel to have.

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