As I have often said, a good tale needs three things to stand on its own, good characters, a lush and imaginative setting, and a well-planned plot. James L. Sutter has all of these things nailed down in Death’s Heretic, and on top of that, his writing style is wonderfully flowing his pacing is fast and fun to read.
Death’s Heretic, Pathfinder Tales novel set in the role-playing game world of Golarion, revolves around Salim Ghadafar, a reluctant solver of problems for Pharasma, the goddess of birth, death and prophesy. He is also an atheist, but in a world in which the existence of the gods is beyond doubt, that term means that he simply refuses to worship any deity. This makes Salim a very interesting character, and how he got into the position of serving a deity he refuses to worship is a tale in and of itself, and one that Sutter hints at first, then finally gives us. Without giving anything away (I loathe spoilers) suffice it to say that Salim is a tortured soul, bound into service, although he does, at times, enjoy his work.
Sutter does not pull any punches in this story, which is refreshing and breathes realism into the tale. He loves lush descriptions, but they are not onerous, and there is plenty to describe, as the characters go on a vast romp though many planes of existence. The fight choreography is excellent, the conversation is real without being stilted and the plot twists work wonderfully, without a single “Oh come on!” moment in the whole book. Highest recommendation for this wonderful tale.
One note: this is shared world fiction set in a gaming environment, so there are some assumptions that the reader has some familiarity with the setting. You could read and enjoy this book without having ever played the Pathfinder game, but having a look at some of their materials might make the experience richer for you.