Pathfinder Tales: Called to Darkness

3.80/5 (based on 16 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: Called to Darkness
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Kinslayer

Kagur is a warrior of the Blacklions, fierce and fearless hunters in the savage Realm of the Mammoth Lords. When her clan is slaughtered by a frost giant she considered her adopted brother, honor demands that she, the last surviving Blacklion, track down her old ally and take the tribe’s revenge. This is no normal betrayal, however, for the murderous giant has followed the whispers of a dark god down into the depths of the earth, into a primeval cavern forgotten by time. There, he will unleash forces capable of wiping all humans from the region—unless Kagur can stop him first.

From acclaimed author Richard Lee Byers comes a tale of bloody revenge and subterranean wonder, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

400-page mass market paperback
ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-465-8
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-466-5

Called to Darkness is also available as a digital edition on the following sites:

Called to Darkness is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Its Chronicle sheet and additional rules are a free download (209 KB zip/PDF).

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Average product rating:

3.80/5 (based on 16 ratings)

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Excellent novel!

5/5

This novel shines in all its splendor. Undoubtedly, a homage to Burroughs and even to Verne, the characters are interesting to follow and I really liked how they change and mature throughout the history. On the other hand the atmosphere, settled in the Draklands, is highly evocative, and full of fantastic descriptions. The best Pathfinder novel so far. Highly recommended


Unrealized Potential

3/5

NO SPOILERS

Called to Darkness is one of those books that I wanted to like more than I actually did. It has a lot of elements that, taken in isolation, are really good: exciting action scenes, a strong female protagonist, a fascinating setting we've never seen presented before in Pathfinder fiction, etc. But unfortunately, I found that the whole was less than the sum of its parts. The plot sometimes drifts into shaggy dog story, with a "this thing happens . . . then this thing happens" approach reminiscent of a D&D campaign that consisted solely of random encounters and then a big battle at the end. It's not *that* simplistic, and there are definitely some redeeming features in the book. It's just one of those where you have to take the good with the bad.

A free short story prequel to the novel is available on the Paizo website, and it'd be worth reading before the novel: <http://paizo.com/store/pathfinder/fiction/tales/serial/inRedRuneCanyon& gt;

SPOILERS

This is a revenge story. In a fantastic first chapter, we see how almost an entire kellid tribe is gruesomely murdered (Game of Thrones style!) by a frost giant named Eovath that they had adopted (or enslaved, depending on one's point of view). The only survivor of the massacre is Eovath's "sister by adoption", a young, fearless warrior named Kagur. After recovering from terrible wounds, Kagur sets off after Eovath on a quest for vengeance, accompanied by the almost-elderly shaman (named Holm) of a neighboring tribe. Their pursuit of Eovath takes them on an epic journey, as the frost giant has been touched (metaphorically speaking) by Rovagug, the god of destruction, and he has some terrible, mysterious mission underground.

About a hundred pages in, I realized this was a book about the Darklands! (the Underdark, for Forgotten Realms afficionados) I'm not really sure how a creature the size of a frost giant is able to navigate easily through the Darklands, but his trail leads the heroes deeper and deeper through the stranger and stranger layers of the underworld. There's battles against wraiths, mysterious spores, a centipede brain mold thing (Seugathi), and more. Alliances are also made underground, first with serpentfolk in the market city of Sekamina (which was interesting to see represented in fiction) and then a tribe of orcs in a part of the Darklands called the Vault: a vast underground cavern that has its own ocean and even type of sun!

Eovath has made an alliance with a group of xulgaths (a sort of bipedal lizard) who reside in an ancient temple in order to make war on the various orc and other tribes that live in the Vault. So although the first two thirds of the book are a chase with several action scenes against various threats, the last third of the book is an exciting infiltration of the temple that eventually leads up to a massive battle scene between the opposing armies of xulgaths and orcs. It's done very well, and the epilogue is surprisingly sweet.

I think my disappoint with Called to Darkness comes from a few different reasons. I didn't fine the portrayal of the Darklands nearly as mysteriously exhilarating and uncanny as some sourcebooks made it sound. The characters of Eovath, Kagur, and Holm are all fairly one-note, with little range or depth. Many of the action scenes are unnecessary in terms of plot advancement and read like padding. I know one shouldn't have too high of expectations of RPG tie-in fiction, but I've read other Pathfinder novels by authors that could have done a lot more with the source material here.

So all in all, I'm definitely of mixed feelings about the book. I think it's still worth reading, but I wouldn't make it a priority.


Journey to the Center of Golarion

3/5

What I liked about the book: the ERB homage; the journey and struggles through the Darklands; at least starting off in a new area (the Realm of the Mammoth Lords); the blind Oracle sidekick; and a "villain" (Eovath) that was at least partly sympathetic and thus not one-dimensional; the Serpentfolk noble, Ssa.

I didn't dislike the protagonist, Kagur, but she seemed a bit one-dimensional, w/ little to no character growth throughout the book. Also, I struggled to enjoy the adventures in the Vault of Orv. The end was...abrupt.


3/5


Down the Rabbit Hole... If Rovagug was a cute fluffly rabbit

3/5

I'm not quite sure how I feel about this one, while on one hand I enjoyed the adventure and plot of revenge and all the strange and wonderful sights gleamed within it just never snapped me up. As the story goes on various parts and travels seem to lurch up or slog down hapharzardly. This seems to straighten out as it nears the end which has an excellent lead up and plays out wonderfully... For a point, then the ending just sort of happens more or less. Also while not a bad ending its not one I really cared for. I feel at odds that my favourite parts of the book are when the characters are dreamimg, from there they are more alive and more interesting than in all of the rest of the book combined.

Spoiler:

I was extemely let down by Eovath's death. It seemed like there might be a moment of, I don't know, something? Anything? Instead she promptly kills her brother and the whole thing is over. The book doesn't so much grind to a halt as it does slam into it.


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Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Announced! Cover image is a mockup, and will change prior to publication.

Dark Archive

Sounds like a interesting story.

Dark Archive

Richard Lee Buyers! Sweet lord I love his books... if his adventures are anything like his books, it will rock!

Silver Crusade

More Great White North love! Gimme!


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

It's a Darklands Western!

Liberty's Edge

Hmmm. Is it your standard Darklands setting or does it take place in one of the Orv vaults?

Dark Archive

Richard Lee Byers? Yes please!

Contributor

S. Werner wrote:
Hmmm. Is it your standard Darklands setting or does it take place in one of the Orv vaults?

Both!


The cover art for this book on the 2012 catalogue is different (and much better).Is that the correct one or another mockup?


That will be the first Pathfinder novel I will not buy.

Contributor

Fabius Maximus wrote:
That will be the first Pathfinder novel I will not buy.

Can you tell us why?


Liz Courts wrote:
Fabius Maximus wrote:
That will be the first Pathfinder novel I will not buy.
Can you tell us why?

I'm sorry if this comes across too harshly, but I think Mr Byers is an inept writer. I've rarely read something as boring as his dragon trilogy, and the one about Thay isn't much better. He did not manage to make me feel any connection with his characters, and the storylines were too predictable. I certainly hope you do not plan to hire Ed Greenwood, James Wyatt or R.A. Salvatore as novelists. That would be even worse. Paul Kemp on the other hand...

I've also become a bit disillusioned about the Tales series recently, because I think the more recent books suffer from a lack in editing and feel rushed. I was especially disappointed in Mrs Laws' and Mr Gross' second novels. Both wrote excellent first books, but they probably needed more time working on "Master Of Devils" and "Blood In The Streets", respectively.

I certainly don't expect literary masterpieces from the Tales - although "The Worldwound Gambit" comes close (I will probably get flak for that) -, but I want stories that don't read like they were shoddily cobbled together.

*sigh* Now I wrote more than I wanted to. Sorry about the rant.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Gandal wrote:
The cover art for this book on the 2012 catalogue is different (and much better).Is that the correct one or another mockup?

The image currently posted here is an early mockup. The image in the catalog is still a mockup, but it uses the correct artwork. The final cover should be up here in a couple weeks.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Fabius Maximus wrote:
I was especially disappointed in Mrs Laws' and Mr Gross' second novels.

Robin Laws is a Mr. too.


Vic Wertz wrote:
Fabius Maximus wrote:
I was especially disappointed in Mrs Laws' and Mr Gross' second novels.
Robin Laws is a Mr. too.

G&! d~#mit!

I knew that, I just automatically associate the name 'Robin' with a woman.

Sorry.

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC

Will this be another book with an antihero as the protagonist? I could go for an actual hero one of these days :)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

She's not an antihero... unless you feel that a character whose primary motivation is deadly revenge can only be an antihero.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
thebwt wrote:
Richard Lee Byers? Yes please!

X 2!! Richard is great!

Web Product Manager

Final cover image and product description are up!

Dark Archive

That's ... great art.


Realy pleased to see Richard Lee Byers name added to the Tales series. Had great time reading his FR novels.

Now we just miss a Paul Kemp and it will be perfect for me!

Contributor

Awesome cover art...I'm liking the small reptilian (dino) critter running along with her. Animal companion? Looking forward to this one!

Who is the cover artist, by the way?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

WANT.

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Chris A Jackson wrote:
Who is the cover artist, by the way?

Michael Ivan


It's interesting to see how people react to the tales line, but for me I've loved them all.

My favorites being Dave Gross' works.

Downloading to my nook now for reading tomorrow.


Just finished the book, and it didn't disappoint.

I now have some new perspective on the darklands, and the various layers.

All in all a great stand alone novel.

Contributor

TheChozyn wrote:
All in all a great stand alone novel.

Good to hear!

Do Tales subscribers get access to the downloads early? I've been patiently waiting 'til Wednesday.


Yea I had the PDF/epub when my order shipped on Tuesday at no additional cost. If you're picking up the novels here at Paizo.com there's no reason not to be a subscriber.

Still don't have the physical book in hand yet due to shipping delays.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I liked how the Oracle(s) were portrayed.

Having grown up on ERB, the vault warmed my pulp heart too

Contributor

TheChozyn wrote:

Yea I had the PDF/epub when my order shipped on Tuesday at no additional cost. If you're picking up the novels here at Paizo.com there's no reason not to be a subscriber.

Still don't have the physical book in hand yet due to shipping delays.

A little perk, eh? That's cool. I actually haven't been buying the physical books, just the epubs of the novels and short stories and novellas and so on. Can you subscribe to just the electronic versions of things?


Ahhh, sadly no, the subscriptions are only for the print products.


Matthew Morris wrote:

I liked how the Oracle(s) were portrayed.

Having grown up on ERB, the vault warmed my pulp heart too

Yea I kept getting a Land of the Lost vibe from the vault.

Contributor

TheChozyn wrote:
Ahhh, sadly no, the subscriptions are only for the print products.

I shall consider it nonetheless. Thanks for the info and for the early review!

Sovereign Court

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Some thoughts:

- This is the most action-packed Pathfinder Tales novel, apparently the darklands are pretty hostile places...

- Some of the set pieces create great mental images

Spoiler:
Frost Giant riding a triceratops into battle! Barbarian goes one-on-one with a T-Rex! Gibbering Mouther!

- The orcs are exactly how I imagine them.

- Oracle is spot-on.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Is it just me, or is the binding on this much, much cheaper than earlier Tales books? I just started reading my copy and the first 60 pages or so were barely attached to the binding and are about to fall out. Story's good so far, but I won't be able to read it a second time ...

Sovereign Court

tribeof1 wrote:
Is it just me, or is the binding on this much, much cheaper than earlier Tales books? I just started reading my copy and the first 60 pages or so were barely attached to the binding and are about to fall out. Story's good so far, but I won't be able to read it a second time ...

Mine is exactly the same as all of the others, you have probably just got a faulty copy.

Contact Customer Services, they're usually very good.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This is the first of the Tales books I have purchased. Construction quality was fine. Overall it was an enjoyable adventure yarn touching on themes of vengeance and community. Perfectly good read.

Oddly, the only 'frustration' I had was that I kept being drawn into thinking of it as an adventure/campaign setting background book and having all kinds of unanswered questions;

Spoilers:
What were the little 'beast men' that attacked after the serpentfolk market? Kobolds?
What would the stats on Eovath's breastplate be? And where did it come from?
What was the plant with the paralytic effect that they hid under in the vault? Some kind of giant venus fly trap?

And most vexing of all...
What were the bloody Elder Things doing building a giant multi-dimensional pyramid in Orv?

I don't suppose Paizo has ever considered including these kinds of game details with the stories? Or in some sort of followup material? Are the stories considered part of the 'same' Golarion as the game or are the authors allowed to take liberties that would be vetoed in true game setting books?


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Spoiler:
=spoiler for some of the questions in DBDunkerson's spoiler]The beastmen would be morlocks.

And the books follow the rules of the game, except where doing so would be absurd (for instance, it's presumably much easier for a low-level character to take out a high-level character in the books, seeing as in real life you don't have an increasing number of hit points)

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