The fine folks at Paizo definitely know what fantasy-lovers want, and they are not hesitant to deliver. When I think of fantasy, I think of sword-wielding adventurers and pitch-black dungeons…monstrous creatures and wizened mages…epic adventures and smoke-filled taverns…well, you get the picture. I would wager most other fantasy-lovers do, too. The Pathfinder Tales series is an engaging compliment to Paizo’s Pathfinder RPG series, and any lover of high fantasy will want to check it out immediately. THE CRUSADER ROAD is author Michael A. Stackpole’s latest entry into this collection. And while it is his first foray into this alluring franchise, I’ll bet it won’t be his last.
If you are not familiar with THE CRUSADER ROAD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of
When the aristocratic Vishov family is banished from their native Ustalav due to underhanded politics, they’re faced with a choice: fade slowly into obscurity, or strike out for the nearby River Kingdoms and establish a new holding on the untamed frontier. For Lady Tyressa Vishov, the decision is simple. Together with her children and loyal retainers, she’ll forge a new life in the infamous Echo Wood, and neither bloodthirsty monsters nor local despots will stop her from reclaiming her family honor. Yet the shadow of Ustalavic politics is long, and even in a remote and lawless territory, there may be those determined to see the Vishov family fail… From New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole comes a new novel of frontier adventure set in the world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the new Pathfinder Online massively multiplayer online roleplaying game.
Stackpole is no stranger to fantasy. In the 1980s, he designed roleplaying games for both the tabletop and PC formats. Later, he started writing fiction. He published his first books in the BattleTech series and then moved into the Star Wars universe. Shortly after that, he started in with actual fantasy and published many titles within the genre. As you can see, Stackpole has more than enough qualifications to publish a Pathfinder Tales novel.
THE CRUSADER ROAD is written well and fits perfectly within the Pathfinder universe. Stackpole’s prose flows smoothly, and the story he tells is riveting and engaging. I was consistently immersed within it and had no problems believing it was actually happening.
The characters are vivid and detailed. They are flawed, but believable, which makes them more likable. I particularly like Lady Tyressa Vishov, Jerrad’s mother. She is the epitome of strength in the face of overwhelming odds.
THE CRUSADER ROAD is a definite win for me, and I suggest you give it a read yourself. Even if you’re not already familiar with the Pathfinder realm, you’ll quickly learn it as you read this book. And then continue the adventure later on with future Pathfinder Tales, as Paizo is releasing several more very soon.