Pathfinder Tales: Winter Witch Paperback – 9 Dec 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Most important of all - for a fantasy novel - it doesn't suck. I'm not a huge fan of fantasy novels, they're often over-long and turgid. This one is brisk, witty and has compelling characters. Props to the Authors for having good female characters who can kick ass and aren't caricatures.
If you like Pathfinder, this won't disappoint - it's not the most complex story in the world - but it is pacy and brings the setting alive.
It is written by Elaine Cunningham who some might know better from her books in the Forgotten Realms setting. It is a solid story with an interesting twist on magic. It features a love story and betrayal. I don't want to give away to much of the story to spoil it. If you are looking for some light fantasy and you enjoyed Elaines writing in the past then you likely will like this book as well.
If you just look for a good fantasy novel - give it a try. There is another book out already with Amazon - Prince of Woolves that plays in the same fantasy world. A thrid one - Plague of Shadows is also out but will take a few more days before arriving with Amazon. It should be available by the time you read this and the Prince of Wolves. More books are planned in this series - but you will have to be patient as the schedule right now is rather slow.
In case you are also a Pathfinder RPG player you will enjoy the additional background and depths in which areas like Irrisien are explored. You will get a more succinct description in the Golarion Campaign setting. But this will never give you as much of a feel for a land as a novel can give you.
I did dither between four and five stars. Four stars for the story - a fifth as it also helps me to immerse myself into the RPG world. This will be helpful if I should GM some scenarios in the cold north and I need to represent some Berserker clans struggling against the cold and the witches.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book is the second of the Pathfinder books. The first is Prince of Wolves, another intriguing tale, but not one that needs to be read for this one to be understandable. Both books are good, but this is the one that really gives me great hope for the Pathfinder line -- with books like this, I can easily foresee a shelf full of Pathfinder fiction in a few years.
This book focuses on two characters, Ellasif and Declan. Neither is your stereotypical hero-type. Ellasif is a barbarian woman, but is not the towering Viking chic nor the top-heavy, fur bikini-wearing woman envisioned in so much fantasy artwork. Declan fits the standard molds even less; he's a former wizard's apprentice turned cartographer.
Declan's quest starts off fairly straight-forward: rescue the girl. Ellasif's quest intersects his in ways that aren't immediately apparent, though we know she hopes to rescue her sister. As the story unfolds, we find out more about Ellasif's past, particularly the truth about her sister. We also discover that Declan has some interesting abilities of his own, including a unique talent quite unlike anything I've seen before in a fantasy novel.
You don't need to be a fan of the Pathfinder setting to enjoy this novel... But if you're not, this novel will likely make you want to know more about Golarion.
And you don't need to be a fan of Elaine's to enjoy this novel, either... But once you read it, you will be a fan of hers!
Wow. Good story! I'm going to keep my comments generic, both because I don't want to ruin it for anyone else and because my impressions don't rely too much on the specific plot points.
1) Characters. I really enjoyed them. All of them. I particularly like the fact that Elaine portrays the Ulfen people as being far more sophisticated than the usual barbarian/Viking stereotypes. Sure, Ellasif starts off as being a counterpoint to those stereotypes, but when we meet other Ulfen characters, we get an image of all the Ulfen people that goes beyond "big dumb warrior" trope. Anyone who wants to play an Ulfen character in Pathfinder needs to read this book.
I'm also glad to see that most of the characters actually have depth. I moved away from the Forgotten Realms and other RPG-setting specific novels years ago because I couldn't get past the feeling that the characters were paper thin. Most of those stories felt like the author was trying too hard to show how they could write a story in that particular setting, rather than writing a story about characters who happen to live in the setting.
Elaine doesn't do that. She didn't do it with Channa Ti in the Legacy of Fire Adventure Path, and she certainly didn't do it in Winter Witch.
The characters of this Pathfinder Tale are fully steeped in the lore of Golarion. They are children of the setting and, as a result, seem authentic, both as Pathfinder characters and as people.
2) Pacing of the story was well done. It felt a little rushed toward the end, but I think that may have more to do with the fact that I wanted to see more of the characters than an actual pacing problem. In other words, the story ended too soon. ;)
3) I found Elaine's descriptions of the setting very engaging. She provided just enough detail to give us a good sense of each location without overwhelming us with details. The story does entail a long journey, but she managed to describe the various sites without making it read like a travel log.
4) Overall...this was a really good novel and a great showing for the second in the series of "Pathfinder Tales." I want to read the sequel as soon as possible!