Pathfinder Tales: Song of the Serpent

3.00/5 (based on 14 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: Song of the Serpent

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A Reluctant Hero

To an experienced rogue like Krunzle the Quick, the merchant nation of Druma is full of treasures just waiting to be liberated. Yet when the fast-talking scoundrel gets caught stealing from one of the powerful prophets of Kalistrade, his only option is to undertake a dangerous mission to recover the merchant lord's runaway daughter—and the magical artifact she took with her. Armed with an arsenal of decidedly unhelpful magical items and chaperoned by an intelligent snake necklace happy to choke him into submission, Krunzle must venture far from the cities of the merchant utopia and into a series of adventures that will make him a rich man—or a corpse.

From veteran author Hugh Matthews comes a rollicking tale of captive trolls, dwarven revolutionaries, and serpentine magic, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

400-page mass market paperback
ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-388-0
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-389-7

Song of the Serpent is also available as a digital edition on the following sites:

Song of the Serpent is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Its Chronicle sheet and additional rules are a free download (246 KB zip/PDF).

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3.00/5 (based on 14 ratings)

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This was an entertaining novel.


I truly enjoyed reading this novel. I have read the first six novels in the Pathfinder Tales series, including this one, and I am working on a seventh book. I enjoyed reading this book as much as the others. Yes, there are some plot points that were a bit flat here or there (a typical enough symptom), but it was easy to read beyond those points into scenes that made up the difference in entertainment value. I felt that the storyline used Golarian lore just enough to bring that setting to life, but also managed to have interesting characters and story that transcended the setting (as do most of the other pathfinder novels that I have read). The book included dwarves and orcs in a novel way that gave it a fresh approach. The villians were sufficiently evil and the end scene, though somewhat unexpected, still held my interest and had me rooting for Krunzle in the end. Another reviewer claimed that Krunzle was an unlikeable character who had no agency due to a magical item that had control of him throughout the story. However, the dialogue between the sentient device and Krunzle made the control more like a negotiation rather than a loss of agency. It evolved into an alliance by the end of the book, and Krunzle's freedom was well earned. Cool story, thanks for the book.

A good introduction to Druma, a bit lackluster after that


Nicely unpredictable


I quite liked this. W/out spoilers, the cast of "main characters" is quite extensive and exotic, often playing against type (e.g., a bald, hairless dwarf).

The reveal of 1 of the puppet masters was cool, and I loved how the novel led back to very ancient aspects of Golarion's lore. And to things even older...

The main character, the protagonist Krunzle the Quick, is a rogue's rogue. You wouldn't necessarily want him in your party, but his adventures--and more frequently, misadventures--were fun to observe.

Generic, Poorly Plotted Fantasy



I've now read the first several books in the Pathfinder Tales line, and I'm sorry to say that Song of the Serpent is the worst of the lot. The novel has a few interesting ideas, but it's the most "generic fantasy" book in the line, with many somewhat cheesy setting elements seemingly closer to the very high-magic Forgotten Realms than to Golarion. The plotting is unsatisfactory, with vague mysteries standing in the place of cohesive story-telling. For almost all of the book, the primary protagonist lacks agency, which makes him a hard character to cheer for. The overall tone is a bit off, with some surprisingly gory scenes mixed into an often lighthearted story, and bits of world lore that just strike the reader as wrong, such as half-orcs being depicted as "not uncommonly cannibals." The conclusion is overlong and surprisingly boring for what should be a climactic, tension-filled moment. I don't want to be too uncharitable, as there are some fun scenes here and there and the direction the book takes is definitely unpredictable, which is a plus. The action scenes are fine, and the dialogue is passable. Still, on the whole, only completists like me should pick up this one.


The book is set in Druma, land of the merchant lords known as Kalistocrats. A thief named Krunzle the Quick is captured by a prominent Kalistocrat and forced to set off on a quest to recover the merchant's daughter, who absconded with a dashing but slimy knight. In order to ensure Krunzle's loyalty, the Kalistocrat has his personal wizard place a magical torc in the shape of a snake around the thief's neck: the snakelike torc is semi-sentient and able to choke Krunzle into submission should he stray from the path. This leads to the problem of Krunzle's lack of agency, as he spends almost the entire book as the puppet of this magical device which seems to come from out of nowhere (and is never satisfactorily explained in the novel). Anyway, Krunzle makes some friends along the way, such as a former slave named Raimeau (who receives an oddly-placed and unnecessary flashback chapter), a troll named Skanderbrog, and a dwarf named Brond. The "damsel in distress" (Gylanna) is portrayed well as a strong character who is very much her father's daughter. As Gylanna is rescued midway through the book, the overall plot is actually to retrieve something that was taken along with Gylanna: a mysterious magical item. The story really starts to break down here, as there's something about an incredibly ancient, incredibly powerful entity buried in a mountain that has led the heroes to this point to free it, etc. But it's all very vague in the end, with a long, weird ritual that simply ends unsatisfactorily with far more questions than answers. The book does integrate some Golarion world-lore (and is one of the few novels to this point to have an interest in dwarfs), but much of the book could take place in any generic fantasy land with little change. Even the main villain, an evil wizard from Tian Xia, is about as cliche as it gets. So as I said above, this is one to avoid.

Okay, but not great


Unlike some of the other reviewers I enjoyed the characters & I would like to see other stories with them in it, especially the pensive troll. It was the story line that bothered me the most.
It reads like the story has been forcibly superimposed upon a Golarion background and spliced to fit the world.
The explanation of the ending is unnecessarily convoluted. It could have benefited from some serious editing.

1 to 5 of 14 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Announced! Cover image is a mockup.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Well who doesn't want a snake necklace to choke them?

Henry Jones Jr.

Liberty's Edge

Decidedly unhelpful magical items?

Woot! Intelligent magical items! Right? Hm?

Is this the guy writing this? Booklist has called him Vance's "heir apparent."... Bought.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Thanael wrote:
Is this the guy writing this? Booklist has called him Vance's "heir apparent."... Bought.

Hugh Matthews is indeed a pseudonym for Matt Hughes.

Dark Archive

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Well who doesn't want a snake necklace to choke them?

I'd probably rather have a certain Succubus to choke me instead of a snake necklace. That way I could die a little happier.

Lantern Lodge

Is that placeholder cutoff cover representative of the cover? I hope not.

GregWeb wrote:
Is that placeholder cutoff cover representative of the cover? I hope not.
Ross Byers wrote:
Announced! Cover image is a mockup.

We are just about a month out from the release of the book. Any idea when we will see the final cover?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I've updated the cover image and description.

I like the cover. My 2 year old will be calling this "The Troll Book." As in, "Papa's reading the Troll Book."
The Core Rulebook is "The Dragon Book with people in it."
The APG is "The 2 Headed Dragon Book."

I am definitely looking forward to reading "The Troll Book." It will make a nice Birthday present, precious!

Dark Archive

So, there's going to be two novels in April?


Chris Ballard wrote:
So, there's going to be two novels in April?

Not exactly. Due to a problem on the printer's side, several of the books were significantly delayed, and we'll now be releasing one each in April, May, and June before going back to our normal bimonthly schedule. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Sovereign Court

Just finished reading this, I was underwhelmed.

Hughes is a capable author but this lacked wit or verve.

Krunzle was an unlikeable character and fairly dull: i've just read 300 pages about him and don't really know anything about him beyond him being a selfish male human thief. Eando Kline's tale was a group effort that trod similar territory with more personality.

I know that KAM is not to everybody's taste but at least he writes with panache.

This was crying out for Dave Gross' wit, or Sutter's development of character and relationships, or Jones' feel for group dynamics...

So, um, yeah... when's Mona going to write Korm and Aebos' full story?

Hey Paizo:

Is this book available on the mass market or not?

I prefer to buy books from either my FLGS or my FLB(book)S. However, the FLBS and their only distributor (Ingram Books, I suspect) both believe that this book is not legal for them to sell, regardless of if they can acquire it, before July 10. I asked them to look further into it and they refused because the data they have from the publisher (you, I presume) can only be updated by said publisher.

They simply wrote off of my story about the revised release schedule related to recent printing issues, as cited above by Mr. Sutter. They were about to lose my business entirely, however, I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt by presuming that they are just following the rules established by the publishing industry.

Please fix this date problem and get your book out the door to brick and mortar distributors, pronto!

And, no I don't want an ebook and I don't want to use Amazon, who claims to have the book currently available but with a 5/15 (where'd they get this?) release date.


Eric Concannon
Lander, Wyoming

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer


Thanks for letting us know—we'll look into it.

The official release date was April 25. We set our release dates on Wednesdays because that's preferred by hobby game retailers; bookstores prefer Tuesday release dates, so they usually add six days. Still, that would make it May 1, not May 15, and *certainly* not July 10.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Vic Wertz wrote:
Thanks for letting us know—we'll look into it.

We've poked the appropriate people to poke the appropriate data, and everything should be in order by tomorrow. Thanks again for letting us know!

Thanks for working on fixing this, Vic.

I'm stopping in to the book store today to check on availability, however I'm not very hopeful:

Amazon still shows a 5/15/12 publication date.
Barnes and Noble still shows a 7/10/12 publication date.

Follow-up: Looks like the distributor updated their records last night: it was "available" with a reasonably appropriate pub date (5/2), so the book is now on order. Hope to see it in a week or so.

Thanks again, Vic.

Dark Archive

I checked my local B&N today, and the still have it listed to be released on July 10th and weirdly has the author listed as James Suttur. I wonder if there is some blending going on? They wouldn't let me look at the Ingram database. Nevertheless, it is not on the shelves in Atlanta nor Greenville SC

Liberty's Edge

Starfinder Superscriber

Question about the end:

It was clear (to me) Chirk was a serpentfolk wizard of some sort-- unless I am wrong. The lily-headed serpent god-like think that Chirk was keeping hidden: is that something standard out of Golarion lore? I didn't recognize it, but was wondering if I should have. (Before we got there, I was wondering if we were going all Dark Tapestry and Lovecraft.)

I am not finding how to rate this book, but it was a wonderful read!

Webstore Gninja Minion

jewelz wrote:
I am not finding how to rate this book, but it was a wonderful read!

Click on the Product Review tab, then click on the "Write a Review" link.

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