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on 22 October 2015
I was unsure about this book at first, worried that Dave Gross would be distracted by setting the story in Tian Xia. I needn't have been. Dave Gross's writing evokes the feeling of a classic kung fu movie in all the best ways, with a strong thread of humour and action throughout. The pacing is spot on, and the characters are colourful and interesting. A genuine joy to read.
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on 23 October 2011
This is an entertaining and rather pulpy fantasy-meets-eastern movie-clichee story. Written within the parameters of a PnP roleplaying world and rules system.

That sound like fun ? Or you don't care when the bolts and nuts of the underlying rules' structure shine through ? Good !

As I said, this is a very entertaining story, even if, once more, the feisty adventuring duo of Radovan and Pathfinder-Captain Varian Jeggare get split up again in the very first scene, and believe each other deceased for 95% of the remaining story... yeah, this has happened before, by the same author, to the same characters... "Prince of Wolves" anyone ? So far, so... by the flowchart ?
But it's fun, with snobby count Jeggare ending up indicted as a common monk (think Shaolin, not Benedictine), facing the rigours, hardships and shennaigans of "Hong Kong Movie" Martial Arts training, while down-to-earth Radovan fis himself entrapped to an evil "heroic adventurer" who will turn him into the greatest Martial Artist in Quian, Ever, period.... ....or kill him trying^^ Because, mastery fof the "two Quivering Palms" technique is great... unless you happen to have only one arm !
No clichee stays too outlandish, no plothook unsnared as the hapless duos tale unfolds, there are deadly ninja, sly and wicked courtiers, vile depraved martial artits, heroic eastern paladin-combos and riceballs ! Did I mention the hopping vampire and necromantic brides ?
It all ends with a grand finale featuring no less than the hosts of (chinese) Heaven, the Nine Hells, the assembled spirits of Nature and of course true unselfish love and a not-so-happy ending ! Hey, they even have the Shadowless Sword ! Fortune cookie anyone ?

Yeah, over the top, for certain. Logic takes a hike, even ingame (Pathfinder) logic at times...

Still it is an entertaining read, and there are so many movie allusions, low-blows and almost direct quotes, I dare you to find them all. Plus, it is very hard not to like the two (ahem three) protagonists, especially when one is being private to their inner monologue, with all of their foibles and self-awareness. Besides, we get part of the story told by a third protagonist, who's, ahm.. unique point of view lends much levity to the book and makes the saccharine-sweet finale far more, if sad fun than it ought to be.

Far from being perfect, this is a wild and fantastic yarn one will remember, if not for its literary value, then for its over the top villains. For a handful of quid, this is great buy. Of course, if you hate asian movies and fantasy, this is NOT the book to get^^
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