Queen of Thorns is the latest novel by Dave Gross in the Pathfinder Tales line from Paizo Publishing.This is Dave’s third novel for the Tales line, along with numerous short fiction pieces that grace the weekly Wednesday fiction blog post on Paizo’s site. In fact Dave’s work kicked off the Pathfinder Tales line with Prince of Wolves and later Master of Devils.
The trio of books has followed the same pair of characters half-elven Varian Jeggare and tiefling Radovan along with their animal companion Arnisant. The first novel found the pair in the nation of Ustalav within the world of Golarion. The next novel found them in the far reaches of Tian Xia.
This third novel finds the pair having reached Kyonin in efforts to have Varian’s elegant red carriage repaired from a previous misadventure. This seemingly simple task quickly transpires into an exciting journey amongst a web of elven politics through Kyonin in search of the missing druid who originally crafted the carriage.
Opening with their arrival in the elven nation of Kyonin, the reader gets a brief history of the elven race in Golarion as the story gets rolling. During the course of this introduction the reader is introduced to several elves that will play a role as the story unfolds.
Varian and Radovan quickly learn the person they seek is missing, and has been missing, from the elven nation for some time by the human count of years. An assistant to the druid remains behind however and provides a lead to track down the missing druid. With a small contingent of other elves to assist, the pair head off into the forests of Kyonin to search for the missing druid.
Demons have been stirring in the forests of Kyonin plaguing the journey of the search party along the way. During the course of these travels we learn a little more about each of the characters in the entourage that accompany Varian and Radovan.
The search moves from landmark to landmark as the group looks for traces of the missing druid. The search culminates in an area thought to be forgotten by many elves as events come together for an exciting climax.
How was it?
The third novel continues to use the first person form, alternating chapters between Varian and Radovan. This alternating style took me a bit to get used to when I first read Prince of Wolves. In fact I would have even called it jarring to me at the time. This feeling passed quickly and I have come to really enjoy this alternating view. I attribute a lot of this to how the author really captures the feel of each character in their chapters. Each character has their own very unique personality and the author is able to convey this quite well in each chapter through speech style, mannerisms and thoughts. I now find myself looking forward to this writing style in each of the Varian and Radovan books.
As a regular reader of the Pathfinder Tales line, it feels like coming home to pick up another volume by Dave Gross. Varian and Radovan feel very familiar now and I look forward to the banter and mannerisms between the two as the story unfolds. Queen of Thorns continues to deliver in this regards.
The pacing of the story keeps a steady, engaging clip throughout. From gaining insight to the elves of Golarion as we are introduced to the other key players and as the story leads us from Kyonin landmark to Kyonin landmark as the journey unfolds to its culmination.
Overall I would consider Queen of Thorns my favorite of the three Varian and Radovan novels. Whether that is due to the author really hitting his stride with this set of characters or whether it be my eagerness to read more about this pair I cannot be sure. In either case Queen of Thorns is at the top of my list when it comes to novels in the Pathfinder Tales line.
5 out of 5 Tankards