Pathfinder Tales: City of the Fallen Sky

4.30/5 (based on 27 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: City of the Fallen Sky
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Secrets of the Ancients

Once an alchemical researcher with the dark scholars of the Technic League, Alaeron fled their arcane order when his conscience got the better of him, taking with him a few strange devices of unknown function. Now in hiding in a distant city, he's happy to use his skills creating minor potions and wonders—at least until the back-alley rescue of an adventurer named Jaya lands him in trouble with a powerful crime lord. In order to keep their heads, Alaeron and Jaya must travel across wide seas and steaming jungles in search of a wrecked flying city and the magical artifacts that can buy their freedom. Yet the Technic League hasn't forgotten Alaeron's betrayal, and an assassin armed with alien weaponry is hot on their trail...

From Hugo Award-winner Tim Pratt comes a new fantastical adventure set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

400-page mass market paperback
ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-418-4
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-419-1

City of the Fallen Sky is also available as a digital edition on the following sites:

City of the Fallen Sky is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Its Chronicle sheet and additional rules are a free download (270 KB zip/PDF).

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Average product rating:

4.30/5 (based on 27 ratings)

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Rote adventure w/out heroes, but pick up the sequel

2/5


Bombs (and mutagens and extracts) away!

4/5

This was quite fun. I enjoyed the protagonist, the companions, the antagonists, et al. I also enjoyed the journey from Andoran to the Mwangi Expanse and stops along the way. Many of the PF novels take place mostly in 1 country or area (which is fine of course), so it was nice to have a meandering journey in this book. A plot-twist at the end w/ 2 of the main characters was well-done, and avoided a cliche ending, which was most appreciated.

Editing was pretty good (usually that's a pet peeve of mine in these books). Today I'm going to read the sequel, "Reign of Stars".


Inventive, Exciting, and Well-Written

5/5

NO SPOILERS

What a great book! I've read several novels in the Pathfinder Tales line, and City of the Fallen Sky is the best of the lot so far. I'm a big fan of Tim Pratt from his Marla Mason urban noir fantasy series, but I wasn't sure whether he would "get" Golarion and a more traditional fantasy setting. He does, absolutely. There's a real verve to Pratt's writing, an exciting energy that keeps the pages turning as the story builds. His characters avoid being of the cliche "stock" type, there's plot twists when you least expect them, and a surprising (and appreciated) amount of world-lore that helps develop the setting further.

SPOILERS

The protagonist of City of the Fallen Sky is an alchemist named Alaeron. Alaeron lives in Almas (in Andoran), having recently returned from a dangerous escapade in Numeria where he discovered several strange devices from the ancient crashed starship known as Silver Mount. Alaeron is well-rounded, three-dimensional character: fascinated by mysteries and technology, but with just enough common sense to keep him ahead of the threats he has to face in order to delve deeper into the secrets he hopes to uncover. In trying to help out a woman Jaya, Alaeron angers a local crimelord and both he and Jaya are sent under the watchful eye of a murderous street thug named Skiver to travel to the ruins of Kho (in western Osirion), an ancient crashed "sky city" from the legendary empire of Shory.

The adventure takes the three from Andoran to Absalom and from Absalom through various parts of Osirion. There are also well-integrated flashbacks of Alaeron's time in Numeria. The description of these places is fantastic, and I'll refer back to this book for an "eye-level" view the next time I run games that visit these locations.

The three main characters are all well-drawn, with Skiver being particularly memorable. Yes, he's a murderer, but he has this strange, alluring charisma which makes it hard for the reader not to somehow cheer for him anyway. And he's gay, and I always appreciate it when authors recognize that not everyone, even in a fantasy setting, is heterosexual. The major villains of the piece are also really good, with a Numerian bounty hunter named Kormak reminding one of the Terminator in his utter determination (and indestructibility), while a crazed Shory noble is hilarious and creepy at the same time. The book is very faithful to the game, so Alaeron (the alchemist) uses things like bombs, mutagens, and extracts just like a character from that class would in the RPG.

If the book drags for just a touch in the middle, it makes up for it with a fantastic final quarter. The ending is cinematic and exciting, and would make the basis for a great movie. Even the epilogue has a couple of nice twists, and sets things up for another book perfectly. If you can only read one Pathfinder Tales book, I'd suggest picking this one.


Awesome on Audible

5/5

I've been listening to this story for a while now on Audible. Excellent.


4/5


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Contributor

I just finished reading this, and I gotta say, I loved the idea of a science geek (and the idea of chemistry + magic as a scientific discipline is fine we me) as the protagonist is awesome. The sheer "absent minded professor" flavor of Alaeron is delightful. The way he gets sidetracked thinking about the whys and hows of the world around him, wondering about the properties of every bit of fungus and slime... I know people like this, worked with people like this... Love it!

I tend to focus on characters when I read, and the main three in this novel hooked me... Well done, Tim, and I hope we see more of Alaeron!

Grand Lodge

GeraintElberion wrote:

Tim Pratt won a Hugo for a sci-fi short story, which is better than I could do.

However, he does not appear to understand that alchemy is something other than modern science. This novel is littered with anachronistic language which undermines the story. Tim's writing is often cumbersome and disrupts his expression of ideas.

As such, this is simply, mechanically, the worst piece of writing I have seen from Paizo: far below that of Gross, Cunningham, Jones or Sutter.

** spoiler omitted **...

So long as I am immersed in a story, I would hardly stop to scrutinize the writing in such a way that it would not only take away from being entertainment (Fantasy Novel, ahem..), but instead become something similar to work. This book was great, I liked the characters, and most importantly, it entertained me. I didn't buy it expecting a new milestone in literature. There was absolutely nothing in this book to warrant such a review - especially for potential buyers, as you're throwing harsh accusations simply because it goes against what you would've wrote - but you didn't. Tim Pratt did.

Sovereign Court

Ametheus wrote:
GeraintElberion wrote:

Tim Pratt won a Hugo for a sci-fi short story, which is better than I could do.

However, he does not appear to understand that alchemy is something other than modern science. This novel is littered with anachronistic language which undermines the story. Tim's writing is often cumbersome and disrupts his expression of ideas.

As such, this is simply, mechanically, the worst piece of writing I have seen from Paizo: far below that of Gross, Cunningham, Jones or Sutter.

** spoiler omitted **...

So long as I am immersed in a story, I would hardly stop to scrutinize the writing in such a way that it would not only take away from being entertainment (Fantasy Novel, ahem..), but instead become something similar to work. This book was great, I liked the characters, and most importantly, it entertained me. I didn't buy it expecting a new milestone in literature. There was absolutely nothing in this book to warrant such a review - especially for potential buyers, as you're throwing harsh accusations simply because it goes against what you would've wrote - but you didn't. Tim Pratt did.

SO, my opinions are not valid because they do not match your expectations?

And you accuse me of being harsh?

Wowser!

The point you may have missed is that it did break my immersion, so maybe I am just different to you, and equally allowed to my opinion?

I actually find it really sad to see someone imply that fantasy novels should not be held up to the standard of other novels.

I didn't expect it to be a new milestone in literature and I don't think I have suggested that: so why would you suggest that I have suggested that? Isn't it quite rude to put words in another person's mouth just because they had a different response to a work of art than you did? I think it is.

I regard my review as honest, not harsh: Pathfinder Tales have already established a standard (Gross, Cunningham, Laws, Sutter, Merciel) and I don't believe that either City of the Fallen Sky or Song of the Serpent are of sufficient quality to stand up amongst the other books in the Pathfinder Tales line.

City of Fallen Sky is, to my mind, particularly poor. You may disagree but I think that the novel did warrant such a comment, which is why I wrote one.

You may note that I was gracious enough not to include my comments in an actual review, I don't think I was actually writing something comprehensive enough for that, but I stand by my opinions. They may differ from your own but such is life. We cannot all think and feel the same way, and the world would be a less wondrous place if we did.

Rather than pointing out that you and I read a book differently (which seems inevitable, us both being unique and richly complex human beings) perhaps you might support the novel by writing your own honest review? Rather than taking umbrage with me for seeing the writing in a different light to you.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I am about half way done, and I have to say this is a fantastic story. Kudos Tim!


It was a good read, but at times a bit wordy. I have super ADHD, and so I recognize it is difficult to hold my attention at times, but I could skip a paragraph or two at times and not miss a thing. I would totally recommend it, though
(can't figure out how to post to ratings)


I find it hard to believe that in a world like Golarion that they didn't develop the word adhesive a lot sooner than we did on Earth. Golarian is by necessity of design a very different universe from our own and only superficially resembles any epoch of real world history at best....it's almost improbable to me in such a world with real magic that we don't see a stronger and more exotic lexicon of descriptors than we ever have in the real world.

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