Master of Devils, a King-Fu Rollercoaster

Master of Devils (Pathfinder Tales)Master of Devils by Dave Gross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Master of Devils, by Dave Gross, long time successful game designer and author of Pathfinder Tales novels, has come up with another winner. This tale follows his two old favorite characters, Count Varian Jeggare and his devoted, if somewhat acerbic and downright inflammatory (especially when he’s on fire) bodyguard, Radovan in a romp through the Pathfinder world of Golarion’s far-eastern flavored realm of Tian Xia.
The action and intrigue never stop in this story. From the opening scene—You gotta love a novel that opens up with the phrase “Run for it!”—to the twists and turns of the end, you will be on the edge of your chair. It reminds me of every wonderful Chinese martial arts movie I have ever seen and loved. Gross builds the tale as a web of double edged lies and deceptions happing to both of the characters independently that really works beautifully. By the time you are halfway through, it is something you can’t put down, waiting for the next twist of the knife, the next unwilling act of slaughter prompted by careful falsehoods and paper thin promises. The pace is a steady ramp up from the get-go, and by the ending, you will be frothing at the mouth for the crescendo.
Another trait that makes Gross a top-notch RPG author is his ability to weave setting into the story to a level that the fans of this world feel that they are truly there. Gaming and gaming worlds are obviously this author’s stock and trade, and once again, he weaves a flawless tapestry that is so integral to the story, never onerous description, but rich and enveloping, you will fall in love with the world as much as the characters.
Without spoilers, I will let you know that there are already more tales with these two characters, so don’t expect either of them to die…maybe… This is fantasy, after all. Dave Gross has just released a new Jeggare/Radovan novel with Paizo, Queen of Thorns, and with the success and popularity of his work so far, I am sure there will be more. Additionally, you can read free web-fiction stories based in the world of Golarion by Dave Gross and some of Paizo’s other fine authors (past, present and future) on their Pathfinder Tales Web Fiction Page: paizo.com – Pathfinder® / Pathfinder Tales / Web Fiction .
Full disclosure: I am friends with Dave Gross, which may have biased this review…whether positively, is another question.
Fuller disclosure: I have a Pathfinder Tales novel coming out in April of 2013. Falling in love with RPG gaming, fiction and specifically Paizo’s setting of Golarion may have influenced my review, and certainly pushed me to approach Paizo for the opportunity to write for them. Therefore, my opinion of this novel line may be influenced by that love. That said, I believe you would enjoy this and other Pathfinder Tales stories without ever having played the RPG. Give the free web-fiction a read, and find out for yourself.

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