Pathfinder Tales: The Crusader Road

4.40/5 (based on 19 ratings)
Pathfinder Tales: The Crusader Road
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Taming the Wild!

When the aristocratic Vishov family is banished from Ustalav due to underhanded politics, Lady Tyressa Vishov is faced with a choice: fade slowly into obscurity, or strike out for the nearby River Kingdoms and establish a new holding on the untamed frontier. Together with her children and loyal retainers, she'll forge a new life in the infamous Echo Wood, and neither bloodthirsty monsters nor local despots will stop her from reclaiming her family honor. Yet the shadow of Ustalavic politics is long, and even in a remote and lawless territory, there may be those determined to see the Vishov family fail...

From New York Times best-selling author Michael A. Stackpole comes a new novel of frontier adventure set in the world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the new Pathfinder Online massively multiplayer online roleplaying game.

400-page mass market paperback
ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-657-7
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-658-4

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The Crusader Road is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild.

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4.40/5 (based on 19 ratings)

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Great premise delivered on.

5/5

An exiled noble and her family have to carve a city out of a wild region near the River Kingdoms. I read the sample chapter and I was hooked. This is a very entertaining PF Tale and one of the best in the series. Stackpole writes likable and engaging characters. I would love to see a sequel to find out what happens next. Check it out, you won't be disappointed.


Excellent story well told

5/5

This is adapted from my review on GoodReads and doesn't so much deal with the Pathfinder Online tie-in. The star ratings on GoodReads are much more strict than standard (if you go with it as designed--and I do), so a four star there is easily a five star elsewhere (in case you notice the discrepancy).

---
The Crusader Road is a good choice to invite people into the Pathfinder Online setting and a strong tale well told. The story is a relatively simple one: the Vishov family (mother Tyressa, older teen daughter Serrana, and young teen son Jerrad) comes to the river kingdoms (sparsely settled lands open for settlement) to carve a place for themselves to escape shame visited on them in their home country. They have a group of loyal folks with them so it's not just the family, though the rest of the settlers are kind of faceless minions (one of the few weaknesses in the book, really).

In structure, the story could be seen as a mirror of the Kingmaker adventure path because it, too, concerns building a kingdom from nothing, making deals with established neighbors, and making peace (however uneasy) with the wild things (the fey, yes, but also a kind of gestalt presence that represents the wood itself) that have palpable presence. Fortunately, Stackpole is author enough to make this a tightly-paced story and infuse it with characters we come to care about.

The story mainly follows Jerrad as a coming-of-age tale as he morphs from the "mouse" he is in the beginning into discovering his own strengths—both of character and of mind. It helps that he's as diplomatic as he is intelligent and that he seizes the opportunities he finds to learn and expand as he encounters this land of danger and beauty. In the shadow of the heroic father who left on the crusades a decade ago, he has to find his own way to shine and learn that real heroes are measured by those they serve rather than those they defeat.

We get almost as much from Tyressa's perspective. She's the leader of the settlement, after all, and her actions carry the strongest, or broadest, consequences. She makes a commitment at the beginning of the story to remain with this community and bind herself and her fate to the region—even after her term of exile (20 years) is up. That's quite a decision up front, essentially giving up the long heritage of her noble family to settle in the back of beyond (and without any guarantee of success let alone prosperity). She's a wise leader, though, and that bone-deep commitment infuses her actions and interactions with neighbors, rivals, and enemies alike.

But my favorite transformation is Serrana who starts off the whiny favored daughter bred for court who finds herself transplanted wholly against her will and with no recourse. She yearns for "home" and wants nothing more than to hold onto hope of return. Her transformation is kind of quick, but completely believable and I just love seeing her blossom as the future leader of these people as she chooses to transform herself into someone they know they can trust. She gets the least screen-time of any of the other characters, but I still loved seeing her grow and develop.

Stackpole creates some major defining moments in the life of this settlement and those moments are important, meaningful, and competently earned. But he doesn't forget those quiet moments and personal connections and decisions that are as important in the life of the growing community. I loved how completely I was drawn into the story and how much I enjoyed being there with them.

I'm not sure how broad the appeal of the novel will be to those not interested in Paizo's Pathfinder setting, but I suspect it'd hold up well as stand-alone fantasy novel. Certainly, no prior knowledge or previous work is necessary to understanding the events or their impact on the characters.


Great right out of the gate!

5/5

Wow! This is one of the very best of Pathfinder Tales. I was captured in the first chapter and could not put this book down. Never a dull moment. I will be recommending this book to lots of people, and already have just a few chapters in. I want a sequel and/or more Pathfinder setting books from Michael A. Stackpole. His writing has some serious style.


A PFO centered review of The Crusader Road (Pathfinder Tales)

5/5

This review was written for the PFO boards - but I felt it might be useful here as well. I tried to keep it low on spoilers - it isn't 100% spoiler free.

Rating: 4.5 stars for story, presentation, being a good read (half a star deducted mainly for spelling issues)
As this isn't an option I settled for full 5 stars as I think it fits in nicely to the overall tales line - readers not aware of PFO might not even notice - while being a prefect introduction to PFO.

---

I finished the book just after midnight on Saturday - likely missing some urgent housework or guild business while reading. I enjoyed the book a lot. Given that it was a free pdf for Pathfinder Online Kickstarter backers at the Early Enrollment level I felt it might be useful to do a review that is PFO centric from a Tales Subscriber who has read all other books so far.

General: It isn't my all time favorite in the whole series - but it is a solid good read. I would place it in the better half of the series. If you like it depends on the kind of books you like to read. I still liked reading even the worst ranked (according to my taste) ones. The one downside I noticed for this book - I had the feeling there where more spelling mistakes/left out words than usual. I'm not a natural English speaker and not a spelling or grammar nazi - but I noticed a few sentences where a word was missing or off.

This out of the way I start with the PFO centric part. Pathfinder tales tend to be 350-400 page long softcover books that tell some heroic story in Golarion. Paizo controls what is written - so these books tie in nicely with the lore of Golarion and the pathfinder rules. Expect some artistic freedoms - but you often can recognize individual spells from the rules and at least in one instance I have read it in the tales first and saw a rule for it later - the riffle scrolls used by Count Jeggare.

The tales are not only tied in to Golarion. They deliberately try to further explore some (or multiple) regions of Golarion, one or more classes of the rule book and try to give the reader an idea how Paizo sees Golarion looking through the eyes of the various authors.

The Crusader Road ties into the launch (or near launch) of PFO alpha / Early Enrollment. As such the area explored is the River Kingdoms - or to be more precise - Thornkeep and the settlement of Silverlake.

The story starts with a meeting of Lady Tyressa Vishov - a noble from neighbouring Ustalav driven into exile - with Baron Blackshield - the ruler of Thornkeep.

I try not to give any spoilers here. But I felt this first chapter ideally sets the scene for a PvP game as PFO. Baron Blackshield is in the Thornkeep book (Kickstarter 1) a level 8 CN lycanthrope. He reminded me a little bit how Bluddwolf sometimes portrays himself here (I hope I don't offend him using this as comparison). But don't expect the Baron to 'play nice' just for the sake of it.

For me chapter 1 is a must read for all RP players who haven't realized PFO is PvP and not PvE. Get used to it - the River Kingdoms are rough. You either defend yourself or you suffer.

The story is mainly described from the view point of Jerrad - the 13 year old son of Lady Tyressa - with sometimes Lady Tyressa herself. So chapter 2 is a naive boy wandering into Thornkeep. I try not to give spoilers - just one word - Goblins.

What follows in the next chapter - and other chapters throughout the book is to show the need to make friends and allies if you want to survive. This is very fitting to PFO. If you think you can do it on your own - think again.

Various allies encountered are the strange and old druid women living on her own in the wood, the Murdoon clan - the closest neighbours to Silverlake, the fey, the local barbarian tribe called the Wolvemanes, the broken ones - failed crusaders turned bandits who have fled the Worldwound and have nowhere to go and turned to banditry just to survive.

Not everyone is a natural ally - some even start as enemies. But they all have one bit in common - the newly to be build settlement encroaches on some of their own interest or territory and they all are neighbours. As such all of these are faced with the problem of collaboration or fighting with each other for resources and/or land.

I think that mimics perfectly how Paizo sees PFO and the different settlements / the landrush. We are thrown into a competition for resources, interests - and we are tasked to work it out one way or the other. Collaboration as well as war are both options - so is destruction.

Back to the book - destruction of Silverlake surely isn't an option - there will be a happy end - a hard fought over one - but nevertheless. I'm sure Paizo would like the same outcome for most settlements - after all - they like a striving community and game - alas in PFO you won't have the guarantee that you will end up with a happy ending. Do the wrong decision - anger the wrong neighbour and it might end up badly with you.

So what about PvE? We have monsters as well as fights with them. The whole book manages to get away with just three !! types of monsters without being boring - wolves, goblins and ogres. Lets have a look how that foreshadows PFO. Oops - forgot goblin dogs - but they are close enough to wolves and I'm too lazy to check if GW has implemented them early or uses wolves as riding companions of goblins.

We already know that these three monster types are also what will be in the early launch.

Wolves are random predators roaming the wilderness. Expect to run into them occasionally. You might gather hides from them - but to a degree it is a warning not to go out on your own - oops - did I just drop a spoiler here?

Goblins are the enemy we love. They are unorganized, they are everywhere - and given the right incentive will attack you in sufficient numbers to be a challenge. They are the normal pests that add spice to the game through their antics. And they should give you fights to win.

And then there are the Ogres. The way ogres are described makes them the tough monsters, the early boss monsters. A single one easily fights a whole group of ordinary settlers and only multiple adventurers together or a true hero is able to defeat them.

What did I miss? Intrigue and backstabbing. If you have never played PvP then expect some amount of betrayal - sooner or later. We have this in the book itself - but I'm not giving a spoiler here to tell you who the evil schemer is who plans the downfall of Silverlake from the beginning while hiding behind a smile and cultured diplomacy.

Every poster here - to some degree - has an agenda. Just look at the bottom of this review to see one of mine.

For PFO this means - just because you find someone writing nice words here in the forum doesn't make him universal trustworthy if his/her interest and your own no longer align (off course with me the exemption). I hope and don't expect to see betrayal in PFO on the level shown in the book - after all - this is an artistic piece of work - but expect some of it to happen to you eventually.

So if you never read a single Pathfinder Tales book and want to play PFO - I really, really recommend that you read it ahead of Early Enrollment. If you don't like reading and are new to PvP and come from the table top environment then read at least chapter 1. Everyone will benefit if players have some more idea how Paizo sees their own creation in the lore of the Pathfinder Tales. Build on that lore - don't build against it whatever your own idea of your gameplay and settlement might be and you can be sure to enrich the world of PFO for everyone else.

Comments welcome.

---

This review was brought to you by Join Thod's Friends. There are many worthwhile guilds to join - and I will send you elsewhere if I feel you will fit there better. But I hope some readers who haven't decided yet where to go will at least have a look.


16 to 19 of 19 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | next > last >>
Webstore Gninja Minion

Announced for June! Cover image is a mockup and subject to change.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

1 - I recognise the name of this writer. ;)

2 - I had not read this when I made up the backstory for my Wrath of the Righteous character.

and 3 - Yay, sounds fun!

The Exchange

Searching the author's name in Amazon.com has revealed several very well reviewed books by him, which obviously spikes my interest. Seems like this book couls serve as a way for me to test if I like the style of this guy.

Very interesting.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Mike has long been one of my favorite writers, and I'm really glad we finally got him to do a novel for us.


Mike is one of my favorite writers and a friend. I can't wait to read it.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

My favorite star wars author doing PF Tales nice...


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Cpt_kirstov wrote:
My favorite star wars author doing PF Tales nice...

Don't forget Battletech, his Kerensky Trilogy is awesome.


This is awesome news!

Michael Stackpole is one of my favorite Star Wars authors (He wrote most, if not all, of the X-Wing books). I have read some of his Battletech books and they were also very enjoyable.

-Aaron

Dark Archive

will be buying this.


Squee! From the rumblings of Mr. Sutter, I may need to start subcribing to the Tales line...

Managing Editor

Kairos Dawnfury wrote:
Squee! From the rumblings of Mr. Sutter, I may need to start subcribing to the Tales line...

Always a fine idea! :D


Kairos Dawnfury wrote:
Squee! From the rumblings of Mr. Sutter, I may need to start subcribing to the Tales line...

Come on... Drink the Flavor-Aid. Everyone else is doing it!

I have not regretted subscribing. Never regretted it. In fact, if I were to choose ONE subscription to keep and drop all the others, I would keep the fiction subscription.

Webstore Gninja Minion

Cover image and description updated!


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
Cpt_kirstov wrote:

My favorite star wars author doing PF Tal

es nice...

They've been doing a re-read of several of the early Star Wars novels over at tor.com - with the Stackpole X-wing novels featuring quite prominently. (Kinda made me wish I didn't have to sell them so I could eat back in the day.)


I mostly like the cover. It's a touch more violent than normal (Goblin beheading!), but no worse than Skinwalkers. A bit more cheesecake than normal, but not nearly the level of cheesecake that Seoni presents.

I'm anticipating this novel. It should be fun!

Liberty's Edge

I do not like the cover, mostly because of the severed head. It just feels off to me.

As a backer and a subscriber, I'm only getting one copy of this book right? (It's been awhile but I seem to remember this being part of the print add on as well)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Pathfinder Tales subscribers who are getting this book as part of the Kickstarter should get one copy (and the cost of it should be covered by your Kickstarter pledge).


Vic Wertz wrote:
Pathfinder Tales subscribers who are getting this book as part of the Kickstarter should get one copy (and the cost of it should be covered by your Kickstarter pledge).

Well that's good to hear, I was worried that I would be getting two copies. Not that it's going to be bad to have two copies of the book of course . . .


I wonder if he can somehow shoehorn in an exploding fusion engine or two....... :P

Scarab Sages

Vic Wertz wrote:
Pathfinder Tales subscribers who are getting this book as part of the Kickstarter should get one copy (and the cost of it should be covered by your Kickstarter pledge).

I know it's still too early to be concerned, but my My Subscriptions page is still showing a price for the novel via sub, even though I'm getting it via the Kickstarter. Will that be updated before order spawning, or should I just mentally adjust? 8^)

Paizo Employee Customer Service Dire Care Bear Manager

Arazyr wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Pathfinder Tales subscribers who are getting this book as part of the Kickstarter should get one copy (and the cost of it should be covered by your Kickstarter pledge).
I know it's still too early to be concerned, but my My Subscriptions page is still showing a price for the novel via sub, even though I'm getting it via the Kickstarter. Will that be updated before order spawning, or should I just mentally adjust? 8^)

We're still working on figuring out the best way to do this.

Scarab Sages

Thanks, Sara Marie! I was more curious than anything.


Anyone know how prominent this tale will be in the PFO lore seeing as how its also a backer gift?


Looks like Belle from Beauty and the Beast has some goblin-hate.


Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

So, how many river kingdoms books does this make? 3, The other 2 I can think of is 1)Liar's Blade and 2) Stalking Beast. Need more Cheliax or Garundi


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I love the cover. Now that is how you treat goblins.

Though I am wondering how old are her kids...she kinda of young looking.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If this is anything like Michael Stackpole's other novels, it will be awesome!


I sort of love her expression. It seems so calm as if killing Goblins is a minor chore for her.


Really great book. Loved it being able to see a character grow.

Spoiler:
Was sad that Jerrad ended being a wizard. The build up of him learning from experience , becoming co-operative with the woods and Echo Wood being semi sentient was making me really hope he was going to be a witch that was bound to a location. But how the others developed I really liked. Hope we get to see more of Silverlake if not in a sequel then in a Scenario or AP.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Raef, I flagged your post for needing a spoiler tag in the third sentence. if it surprised you enough to be sad about it, than some people might not want to read it prior to street date


Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

Is there no ebook version of this book?

Webstore Gninja Minion

j b 200 wrote:
Is there no ebook version of this book?

The digital release will not be available until June 25th.


Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

ok, listing doesn't say that anymore. I was very sad, since I buy every single one of the Pathfinder Tales books for my kindle

Dark Archive

I was supposed to get a digital version as a Kickstarter backer. I've received my physical copy but not my digital.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Thought this book was fantastic. However, I think it's the first one I recall with so many formatting and grammatical errors. I'm just hoping that with the potential influx of new readers/subscribers who join the Tales world due to PFO isn't too severely affected.


j b 200 wrote:
ok, listing doesn't say that anymore. I was very sad, since I buy every single one of the Pathfinder Tales books for my kindle

Do you read it as a PDF? This is my first Pathfinder fiction as I got it through the Kickstarter. I got the paperback and the download, but I find the PDF is just too small to read on my kindle.


Kradlum wrote:
j b 200 wrote:
ok, listing doesn't say that anymore. I was very sad, since I buy every single one of the Pathfinder Tales books for my kindle
Do you read it as a PDF? This is my first Pathfinder fiction as I got it through the Kickstarter. I got the paperback and the download, but I find the PDF is just too small to read on my kindle.

You can use a free program called Calibre to convert the ePub to .MOBI format and read it on your kindle just like all the other books you buy on/through the Kindle.

@John Kretzer:

The Vishov kids are...:
a 13 year old boy and a 16 year old girl.


Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

I read them all on my kindle. I have every Pathfinder Tales novel so far, and haven't purchased a single hardcopy. As Itchy said, I download the ePub format and use Calibre to convert it to .mobi format. No problems reading it after that.


How big of an area is Silverlake?

Associate Editor

Gordrenn Higgler wrote:
How big of an area is Silverlake?

This is the one Pathfinder Tales novel that I didn't have an opportunity to work on, but I'll run your question past Sutter when he gets back in the office next week. My best guess is that Silverlake is like a lot of River Kingdoms in that its size and borders fluctuate in response to local events and politics. Sutter might be able to give you a rough estimate of its area at the time the novel takes place.

Managing Editor

Christopher Paul Carey wrote:
Gordrenn Higgler wrote:
How big of an area is Silverlake?
This is the one Pathfinder Tales novel that I didn't have an opportunity to work on, but I'll run your question past Sutter when he gets back in the office next week. My best guess is that Silverlake is like a lot of River Kingdoms in that its size and borders fluctuate in response to local events and politics. Sutter might be able to give you a rough estimate of its area at the time the novel takes place.

I don't think it's specifically spelled out, but pretty small. Remember, the settlement doesn't exist at *all* at the start of the book, so in the beginning it's nothing but tents and shacks and animal pens, and by the end it's... well, that would be a spoiler, I suppose. :) The buildings are mostly clustered close together for defense, where that makes sense, so all told, I think the actual *town* is probably on the scale of hundreds of feet across instead of thousands, with outbuildings and stuff beyond that.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Such a great book! This was the first of the Tales books I read, and just got 45 bucks in other ones because of it.

That being said someone need to light a fire under Mr. Stackpole and get him to typity typing on a sequel. I need more of the Vishovs, Murdoons, and Silverlake. :)

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

is there a PFS related boon with this book?

Dark Archive

SOLD OUT! :-)

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