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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3.90/5 (based on 41 ratings)

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Dave "Action" Gross

4/5

Dave Gross is back in his third (out of five) Pathfinder Tales novels with him on a byline. This one leaves nothing wanting other than more work from him in the future. Master of Devils has plenty of action and action is what Dave Gross does best.

The current book brings Chelaxian Count Varian Jeggare and his devil-spawn body-guard Radovan on a journey to Tian Xia in order to recover the husk of a wishing pearl that is left every twelve years by the Celestial Dragon. The journey is sponsored by the Pathfinder Society, but mostly seems to be an excuse to get their Venture-Captain/Count away from Absolam for a while.

The pair barely arrives at their destination and are immediately separated from each other by bandits. Varian ends up as a disciple at the Dragon Temple, where he begins a series of training that he never wanted. The situation places him in a most distressing subservient position as “First Brother of the Kitchen.” While he originally tries to get out of his un-agreeable discipleship, he eventually realizes that more can be done from his current position that he originally supposed.

Radovan also ends up serving an unwanted master. Burning Cloud Devil traps him in his diabolic form and uses the deadly “quivering palm” technique to force him to train in the ways of the martial artist in preparation for destroying the Celestial Dragon.

I’ve already mentioned that Dave Gross is a master of action scenes and that this book has lots of them. While I’m not an expert at all on martial arts or oriental culture, the flavor of the story is consistent with what I do know. I particularly liked the nine-tailed fox and the hopper. For small minor character that had maybe a page of lines total (none for the hopper) they were brilliantly three dimensional. Using Jeggare’s dog Arnisant as a periodic narrator was also a welcome surprise and pleasure.

There is nothing in this book not to like.

That said, I do try and leave little tidbits of the technical in my reviews and this book barely gave me anything to go on. There are three first person narrative points of view used in the novel. In the beginning, it is very clear stylistically who is speaking, but as the story progresses it becomes less clear. While I’m sure that part of this is because of how the different characters are progressing, not all of the change could be easily accounted by that.

Spoiler:
It was easy to envision a dog that could see color, but some of the intellectual leaps made by Arnisant seemed a little more than just character progression. While I’m sure that some of Radovan’s “New York” gangster style of presentation would lose its edge in a foreign country, I’m not convinced that he’d lose that much of it. Jeggare’s change seemed the most fluid and predictable as he went from haughty and arrogant, to someone less abrupt.

My second nit picky (and yes, I’m very much admitting that neither of these are problems that should discourage people from reading the book) problem I blame more on the editor than the writer. It is difficult for a writer to gauge exactly how a novel is paced when forced to read it again and again from the start to where he left off. Often it is left to the editor, as the first to read the novel from beginning to end just once to see the places where time is taken and the story is not advanced. Not only does this save the publisher money, but it also subtly increases the value of the product.

While not as bad as what was seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, this book could have benefited from a little bit of editing. Not much. Just a little. Less than 2 chapter worth, I’m sure.

To summarize: 4 out of 5 stars. Very good stuff. I’d expect that most people that enjoy fantasy in one form or another will find this an enjoyable book.

**edit**
I take back the first part of my spoiler.

Spoiler:
After thinking back over the ending with Arnisant, I really should have realized the parallel with Flowers for Algernon. The change in voice is warranted, it adds a lot to the novel.
I leave the review as it stands though so that people will know I'm not on such a high horse that I don't think I can possibly be wrong.


Flipflopping perspective annoying ... Again.

1/5

Not sure why anyone would think that changing first person perspective would be a good idea for a novel, but this author does it again. And this time its not just two characters that change first person but three, for triple the annoyance. Its really a poor choice for a novel, and it does not help that the characters are flat and uninteresting.


Make that 4.5 stars! Three wonderful stories in one!

4/5

Read my full review of both Master of Devils and Prince of Wolves here:
Review Double Feature: Prince of Wolves and Master of Devils


This is a Must Read!

5/5

I wrote a longer, spoiler-free review over on my blog, but I wanted to post part of it here because I love this book. It is everything you should want in an adventure story set in a Far Eastern land.

If you love a really good story, buy this book. If you love wu xia and Hong Kong cinema, buy this book. If you are a Pathfinder player/GM and you plan to run or play in Tian Xia, buy this book. Heck, I’m going to go out and buy this book, and I got a copy for my birthday!

Some days it is good to be a geek. The day I read this, that was a great day.

Master of Devils, everyone. You’ll thank me. But thank Dave Gross first.


Must-read for fans of Pathfinder, Martial Arts Cinema, Chinese literature

5/5

While reading the novel, I was reminded of something I couldn't quite put my finger on. Then it struck me: certain classics of Chinese literature, notably Journey to the West and the Water Margin- and that was well before there were slightly more overt reasons to think of them. The book does a wonderful job of capturing the feel of those works in the travels of its protagonists.

It's evident that Dave Gross is familiar with these and other sources of inspiration, as well as a host of other classic and newer kung-fu films. The references are fast, furious, and occasionally subtle. The trials and battles of the heroes strongly evoke the eastern myths and legends. I'm very, very impressed that the author was able to combine those sources with the world of Golarion and our returning protagonists in such a manner.

You don't need to have read the earlier Pathfinder works to appreciate the book. I think it adds to the experience, though. Varian, Radovan, and others grow and develop (almost included a spoiler here, but when you read it, you'll appreciate it), and I'm very much looking forward to seeing their further adventures.

I had a great time with this work- it's my favorite of the Pathfinder Tales so far, my favorite RPG-related novel so far, and a terrific book in its own right. I had to finish it in a single day, and I loved it. I'm planning to read it again in a more in-depth manner to try to puzzle out more of the references as soon as I have a chance. Great, great addition to any library.


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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, Pathfinder Accessories 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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