In this Pathfinder Tales novel, Robin D. Laws has accomplished an interesting twist on RPG-based fiction. Not only is it in present tense, something that takes a little getting used to, but works nicely once you acclimate, but the protagonists are not “good guys” much less, conventional heroes. In fact, they end up butting heads with the typical heroic types.
Without giving too much away, the primary character is a con-artist extraordinaire. This con, however, is a little different. It seems nothing is worse for a good old con-artist than a plague of demons, so the bad guys are out to con the badder guys to return the world to a status quo where they can ply their grafty craft.
The story works well, and the characters are well portrayed and realistic in their motivations. They are also wonderfully varied and original; no cookie cutter fantasy types here. The plot is straight forward, with few real surprises, but it is not the rip that is the real story, but the people involved, their faults, foibles, addictions, loves, hates and personal madnesses.
My only real problem with reading The Worldwound Gambit was not anything to do with the writing, the plot, the characters or Robin’s wonderful story. The problem was with me…as a writer, not a reader. I had just finished editing a manuscript that was present tense, so reading a present tense novel was no great effort. The problem was, I switched over to another project, which was past tense, and I really got confused. I would find myself writing my past tense story in present tense, and would have to go back and edit… It was a bit of a struggle to keep my brain in one tense, since I usually write and read alternately to give my mind a little relaxation. In this case, all it did was get me frustrated when I sat back down to write.
The Worldwound Gambit is, as I said, a nice twist off of the conventional fantasy RPG road, and I’ll be looking forward to reading more from Robin D. Laws!