Pathfinder Tales: Shy Knives

***½( ) (based on 6 ratings)

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A Quiet Place to Hide

Shaia "Shy" Ratani used to be a member of the most powerful thieves' guild in Taldor—right up until she cheated her colleagues by taking the money and running. The frontier city of Yanmass seems like a perfect place to lie low, until a job solving a noble’s murder reveals an invading centaur army ready to burn the place to the ground. Of course, Shy could stop that from happening, but doing so would reveal her presence to the former friends who now want her dead. Add in a holier-than-thou patron with the literal blood of angels in her veins, and Shy quickly remembers why she swore off doing good deeds in the first place...

From critically acclaimed fantasy author Sam Sykes comes a darkly comic tale of intrigue, assassination, and the perils of friendship, all set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

352-page trade paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-8435-5

Shy Knives is also available as a digital edition on the following sites:

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Tales Subscription.

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Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 6 ratings)

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****( )

I liked this for the most part. A wise-cracking antihero but one w/ some depth. Dark humor throughout. Some not unwelcome cracks at the fantasy genre in general, not to mention some hoary cliches of RPGs.

Editing was quite good (usually a pet peeve of mine w/ this line).

I read most of it w/ an intermittent smile on my face. I like a keen wit in a character, and the author supplied that in spades.


A very nice und unique tale

*****

Shaia "Shy" Ratani is a very interesting character and has an unique point of view with her sarcastic comments on what is happening. Her employer is fitting in being the opposite of her hired rogue, and the Taldane society is nicely done which its backstabbing and arrogant way of life.
I hope we'll get more of Sam Sykes soon!


Noire comes to Pathfinder

****( )

I like Sykes' take on what it means to be a certain type of rogue in the Pathfinder setting. Here we have a central character who isn't a hero, is thrust into a role she doesn't feel comfortable in, and who, in classic noire style, doesn't learn a damn thing.

I enjoyed the darker point of view he presented, especially a chance to see what makes a con artist tick. I enjoyed the glimpse into the Taldan crime syndicates and the corruption that is at the heart of the noble families.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and very much look forward to reading future works by Mr. Sykes.


Flawed, some basics missing

**( )( )( )

Pathfinder Tales had been on a bit of a tear lately. I've only read maybe 3 of the tales I didn't care for, and only 2 I would say were out and out duds, but this was definitely on the weaker end of the spectrum, more what I expect for "Franchise fiction".

Sykes has a potentially interesting character, but frankly his writing is not up to snuff. He can't resist a very snark adolescent flavour to his protagonist - it might be attempting to be clever but it comes off as clumsy and trying to hard. A kid's idea of what cool is, rather than actually being cool (like the effortless Radovan and Jheggare!).

Some of the scenes worked well but the pacing overall was a bit uneven and it didn't have the cohesive feel other tales have had for me. The world-building felt a bit one-dimensional, and I had trouble visualising the milieu.

There is potential here, but I'd think twice before buying another Sykes tale.


A bit light, but a fun romp.

***( )( )

Shy Knives is our first Tale from Sam Sykes. A solid romp with a lot of action, it is a fun read, but comes off a bit silly and a bit a shallow. That said, I'm interested in future stories from Sykes.


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Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I am intrigued.

Scarab Sages

Never heard of the writer. However, just a bit of research and I find he's the son of that chick who wrote the Outlander series. So, that's a strike against him.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Seriously?

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Aberzombie wrote:
Never heard of the writer. However, just a bit of research and I find he's the son of that chick who wrote the Outlander series. So, that's a strike against him.

Because most kids have exactly the same tastes as their parents?

Contributor

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Diana Gabaldon is an extraordinarily popular and well-regarded writer in her field. Describing her as "that chick" is reductive and insulting to say the very least.

And Sam Sykes is a fine fantasy writer.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Aberzombie wrote:
Never heard of the writer. However, just a bit of research and I find he's the son of that chick who wrote the Outlander series. So, that's a strike against him.

My my, how low have the mighty fallen.

Dark Archive

His first book is awful.
I just read a sample chapter.
Amazon.de has 43 ratings - 15 of them are 1 star and the average is 2 and a half.

Sorry, but i'll pass on this one - unless i read a sample chapter from it that really flashes me.

Scarab Sages

JoelF847 wrote:
Aberzombie wrote:
Never heard of the writer. However, just a bit of research and I find he's the son of that chick who wrote the Outlander series. So, that's a strike against him.
Because most kids have exactly the same tastes as their parents?

No. Because he must be made to pay for his mother's sin of inflicting my life with that damned book series, from which they made the TV series my wife loves to torment me with.

Yes, I know it's irrational.

I also wouldn't read his stuff because he's significantly younger than me.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Christopher Rowe wrote:

Describing her as "that chick" is reductive and insulting to say the very least.

I describe lots of people as "that chick". Some of them are even female.

Scarab Sages

Gorbacz wrote:
Aberzombie wrote:
Never heard of the writer. However, just a bit of research and I find he's the son of that chick who wrote the Outlander series. So, that's a strike against him.
My my, how low have the mighty fallen.

I'm mighty? This is news.

Dark Archive

Christopher Rowe wrote:

Diana Gabaldon is an extraordinarily popular and well-regarded writer in her field. Describing her as "that chick" is reductive and insulting to say the very least.

And Sam Sykes is a fine fantasy writer.

I don't think Aberzombie meant that as a sexist comment, even if it is a bit unfortunately chosen. To me as a guy from germany it sounds colloquiel.

And to my tastes Sam Sykes hasn't written anything fine that i know of.
That may change with this book or it may not.
If a sample chapter can pick my interest, i'll give it a shot.
The title could be better though.
It sounds very strange...

Scarab Sages

Marco Massoudi wrote:
I don't think Aberzombie meant that as a sexist comment....

Actually....

I like you. I think I'll add you to the List of People to be Eaten Last during the Zombiepocalypse.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

To be honest, this debate has just triggered my nepotism radar.

I worry about people who are clearly 'connected' and might not have had the same pressure to prove themselves.

Paizo have produced some very fine writers but, as a subscriber, my collection has four or five real stinkers.

So, I looked at some samples

Seems a bit wordy and pleased with itself but there is hope for the writer. That's a common flaw in a first novel.

Scarab Sages

GeraintElberion wrote:
.....there is hope for the writer. That's a common flaw in a first novel.

Plus, he's like...what?...not even 30. Shouldn't he still be leeching off his wealthy mom, instead of out there trying to make it on his own (so to speak). What they hell is he thinking, setting that kind of example for other young people?

Then again, REH had been a successful writer and tragic suicide by that age.

Contributor

I don't see what either the author's age or parentage to has to do with his work.

There have been many, many writers who produced extraordinary work before they were 20, much less 30. There have been many fine writers who were the children of other writers.

Sam's work is to your taste or it isn't. He's certainly enjoyed critical and popular success here in the States with his book from Orbit.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Christopher Rowe wrote:
I don't see what either the author's age or parentage to has to do with his work.

The age thing is personal preference. I find a lot of young folks these days to be annoying, and young writers seem adept at channeling what I find annoying into their work.

As for parentage, in this case it's once again personal preference (the specifics of which I mentioned up thread). Other than that, I could give two s$#&s less whether some famous writer's kid tried their hand at writing. Or any famous artist/entertainer for that matter. Talent does have a habit of running in the family on occasion. From what I understand, Stephen King's kid is a pretty decent writer.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

*sees cover*

Oooooo... I like!

Dark Archive

A halfling rogue and a centaur fighter?
Hm, odd couple.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Marco Massoudi wrote:

A halfling rogue and a centaur fighter?

Hm, odd couple.

Reminds about the pair from the old AD&D comic....though that was a dwarf not a halfling..though close enough.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

They don't look like a couple to me (At least not a healthy one).

Also I'm not sure the woman is a halfling, her proportions are more in line with a human, the megataur Dood might just be really friggin big.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

To me it looks that they are fighting each other. Which makes sense if the centaur is the Hellknight shown on the old Cheliax book and she is a halfling connected to the Bellflower Tillers. OTOH, in the background we see yurts--sooooo, maybe something set in Iobaria where centaurs are more numereous? *keeps fingers crossed*

Ruyan.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
RuyanVe wrote:

To me it looks that they are fighting each other. Which makes sense if the centaur is the Hellknight shown on the old Cheliax book and she is a halfling connected to the Bellflower Tillers. OTOH, in the background we see yurts--sooooo, maybe something set in Iobaria where centaurs are more numereous? *keeps fingers crossed*

Ruyan.

The Hellknight centaur was female I'm pretty sure.

The Centuar's armor and equipment, and the background do evoke an Iobarian feel though.

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
RuyanVe wrote:

To me it looks that they are fighting each other. Which makes sense if the centaur is the Hellknight shown on the old Cheliax book and she is a halfling connected to the Bellflower Tillers. OTOH, in the background we see yurts--sooooo, maybe something set in Iobaria where centaurs are more numereous? *keeps fingers crossed*

Ruyan.

The Hellknight centaur was female I'm pretty sure.

The Centuar's armor and equipment, and the background do evoke an Iobarian feel though.

I assume you're thinking of Mistress of Blades Maidrayne Vox, who is female. However, the one RuyanVe is referring to is probably the one on the cover of Cheliax: Empire of Devils, who is male.

That said, the Iobarian guess seems strong.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Kalindlara wrote:
Rysky wrote:
RuyanVe wrote:

To me it looks that they are fighting each other. Which makes sense if the centaur is the Hellknight shown on the old Cheliax book and she is a halfling connected to the Bellflower Tillers. OTOH, in the background we see yurts--sooooo, maybe something set in Iobaria where centaurs are more numereous? *keeps fingers crossed*

Ruyan.

The Hellknight centaur was female I'm pretty sure.

The Centuar's armor and equipment, and the background do evoke an Iobarian feel though.

I assume you're thinking of Mistress of Blades Maidrayne Vox, who is female. However, the one RuyanVe is referring to is probably the one on the cover of Cheliax: Empire of Devils, who is male.

Yeah, you're right, I was getting the two mixed up. My bad!

The Exchange

I like pretty cover art as much as the next person, but it annoys me that there is no product description/synopsis. Are people so darn impatient that you must put up whatever you have on the schedule without even a hint of what the book will be about? Surely in development there was something you could include -- does the story even have a protagonist? Who is it? What does "shy knives" mean? If you have that info, why not put it here or link to it?
The cover is evocative, but it really doesn't give many hints of who the the story will be about, just a possible hint it will involve Iobaria and at least one centaur. Not really enough for me to want to buy the book on that basis.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
RuyanVe wrote:

To me it looks that they are fighting each other. Which makes sense if the centaur is the Hellknight shown on the old Cheliax book and she is a halfling connected to the Bellflower Tillers. OTOH, in the background we see yurts--sooooo, maybe something set in Iobaria where centaurs are more numereous? *keeps fingers crossed*

Ruyan.

The Hellknight centaur was female I'm pretty sure.

The Centuar's armor and equipment, and the background do evoke an Iobarian feel though.

Over at macmillan.com I found:

"Shaia “Shy” Ratani is a clever rogue who makes her living outside of strictly legal methods. While hiding out in the frontier city of Yanmass, she accepts a job solving a nobleman’s murder, only to find herself sucked into a plot involving an invading centaur army that could see the whole city burned to the ground. Shy could stop that from happening, but doing so would involve revealing herself to the former friends who now want her dead. Add in an aristocratic partner with the literal blood of angels in her veins, and Shy quickly remembers why she swore off doing good deeds in the first place."

So, Casmaron is definitely in there...

Ruyan.

The Exchange

Found the link to the description: Macmillan description of "Shy Knives".
Is there a reason Paizo didn't put this information on the product info page above?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

ANOTHER NOVEL featuring a rogue/scoundrel-class as the main protagonist? Ugh, come on writers of novels for Paizo Publishing. You can do better than this.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Berselius wrote:
ANOTHER NOVEL featuring a rogue/scoundrel-class as the main protagonist? Ugh, come on writers of novels for Paizo Publishing. You can do better than this.

Antiheroes are much more interesting than holier-than-thou LG crusaders, sorry.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Gorbacz wrote:
Berselius wrote:
ANOTHER NOVEL featuring a rogue/scoundrel-class as the main protagonist? Ugh, come on writers of novels for Paizo Publishing. You can do better than this.
Antiheroes are much more interesting than holier-than-thou LG crusaders, sorry.

That doesn't mean it can't be done (as demonstrated by the upcoming Gears of Faith novel).

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Antiheroes are much more interesting than holier-than-thou LG crusaders, sorry.
That doesn't mean it can't be done (as demonstrated by the upcoming Gears of Faith novel).

Keren appreciates your faith in her, Berselius. Sadly, she doesn't have much to give you beyond a well-chewed dire apple! (Though I can say that Gears of Faith has a healer as main protagonist, and the LG crusader is not a generic do-gooder. No one who lived strictly by the book would ever be able to make it work with Zae.)

To get back on topic, I've worked with Sam Sykes for about five years, I have copyedited one of his novels and I've stood at a publisher's table selling books with him for many hours. I've shared meals and had drinks with him. And I didn't know until last weekend who his mother was. Writing-wise, he may have grown up with the publishing industry, but he does his own legwork and I think he does it well.

His first series, while wordy, is really a very thoughtful look at what an adventuring party is, and brings a fun, self-aware take to all the roles therein. The healer who says "What's the point of healing you so you can get yourself banged up again tomorrow," the rogue who's sneaky because he really doesn't want to fight, the mage who deals with physical consequences every time he casts a spell... They all analyze their roles in the great game, and deal with some interesting dilemmas about whether they accept those roles or not. It's meta in a way that I, as a life-long fan of quest fantasy, really appreciated.

It's not perfect, but I'd say give it a chance. I see what James Sutter sees in him. I haven't read the book, but I have faith that Sam's take on fantasy will be a fun addition to the Pathfinder universe.


any possible update on product description? since it's supposed to be available in a little over 2 weeks?

Paizo Employee Community & Digital Content Director

j b 200 wrote:
any possible update on product description? since it's supposed to be available in a little over 2 weeks?

Just updated! Apologies for the delay!

Dark Archive

Yanmass is a city of 6900 people lying at the eastern edge of Taldor and home to the "Taldan Horse", heavyly armored knights on horseback and also battle elephants! I wonder if that features in the novel?

That said, i hope for a sample chapter soon.

Creative Director, Starfinder Team

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Didn't see this thread until just now...

I hired Sam because I read his most recent novel, THE CITY STAINED RED, and thought it was not only hilarious, but perfectly captured the feel of adventure game fantasy. The titular city in that, Cier D'jaal, felt straight out of Pathfinder, and not so different in aesthetic from my own beloved Kaer Maga. So I hired him to write a book, and wow, am I ever glad I did! His protagonist is everything I wanted: a sassy rogue who actually made me laugh out loud at several points, with some really well done, interesting romantic relationships.

Is it the most Golarion-lore-heavy novel we've done? Not by a long shot—I'd say folks like Liane, or Wes, or Chris J. are probably better at digging deep into the setting lore and pulling out interesting tidbits. But in terms of the voice and the character, the tone of dark comedy, it felt like my favorite home campaigns. So I hope folks will give it a shot!

(And for what it's worth, not only did I not know who his mother was when I hired him, I think it's kind of crummy to bring lineage up when discussing an artist. It's why he and folks like Joe Hill use pseudonyms, and more power to them for trying to make a name totally divorced from their parents.)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

So, I'm only a tiny way into this and the narrator just seems horrible: smug and callous in equal measure.

Apparently, I'm supposed to warm to her because the guy who she tried to rob is unpleasant. But he's been quite gentle in his punishment of her crime, and being the least worst person is not very charming...

Anyone got any reasons why I should persevere? Or should I just move on to Liar's Bargain?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It is a bit of a Suicide Squad, Bad V Evil story. Shy gets some character development throughout the story. She's neither as smug or as callous as she seems at first.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Well, I got critics remorse and tried to press on.
Next thing that happened, she gave a servant a massive hard time in a really unpleasant, bullying way.

Not seen Suicide Squad: doesn't sound like my cup of tea

Dark Archive

Here is the sample chapter:

Sociality and Shackles

Personally i don´t like it, but maybe some of you do. ;-)

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