Death’s Heretic is the latest novel in the Pathfinder Tales line written by James Sutter. James Sutter is the Fiction Editor for Paizo Publishing and has many design credits to his name for Paizo Publishing and short fiction published in Black Gate, Apex Magazine, and other publications. This is the first Pathfinder Tales novel authored by James Sutter.
This tale finds us in the desert land of Thuvia following Salim Ghadafar who is on another mission for The Lady of Grave, Pharasma. Salim has been tasked with discovering who had a merchant’s spirit stolen from the boneyard to prevent his previously arranged resurrection from working. Salim finds himself paired with the daughter of the slain merchant to track down just who is responsible and why they would do such a thing.
With the investigation starting in Thuvia we learn more of the nation and the life there before we are soon whisked off on a brief tour of the Planes. Here we get an excellent description of just how unusual the planes are and some insight into how the dead souls pass from one world to another. Meeting several planes dwellers who are all interesting characters in their own right we eventually find ourselves back in Thuvia hot on the trail of the culprit in this elaborate scheme.
Death’s Heretic is another great addition to the Pathfinder Tales line. I enjoy fiction set in various campaign worlds as they always offer another look at the world from a different perspective than typical gaming supplements. Death’s Heretic is no different, providing the reader interesting perspectives into the nation of Thuvia and certain planes themselves.
The main character, Salim, was an interesting and likable hero. With some mystery of his own at the beginning of the book we slowly learn more about him from his thoughts and people he meets. Eventually we learn more of his past as told by him further building depth to Salim.
Salim also has an unusual twist for one bound to a deity, especially for a fantasy world where deities have a prominent and obvious presence. I think the author only touched on the tip of some of these topics, but I would welcome seeing Salim again in the future and seeing more exploration of this topic.
Neila Anvanory, the woman who funds the investigation and assists Salim, is also an interesting character. Her Taldan heritage shows through at times, but proves quite useful during the story. Her switching between pompous employer and valuable ally is entertaining.
The pacing of the book was quite good. Keeping an investigative, but brisk pace to keep the reader engaged worked well. Dwelling in areas with enough detail to not feel rushed, but at the same time never pausing unduly letting the reader’s mind wander.
Overall I found Death’s Heretic a fun read. It read quickly with interesting characters and explored a part of Golarion I was not wholly familiar with which is always welcome. While I am not a huge fan of plane travel, it was done well in this book and even those sections were enjoyable to read.
4 out of 5 Tankards