Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lair's Blade by Tim Pratt



Liar's Blade
Written  by Tim Pratt
Pathfinder Tales
Published by Paizo
$9.99 paperback
$6.99 Kindle
400 pages

The Pathfinder RPG is fortunate enough to have numerous New York Time Bestsellers writing for it. They've expanded the setting from its original roots with numerous entertaining tales including Liar's Blade, written by Tim Pratt.

You can check out his website here, http://www.timpratt.org/.

This is the first book I've read by Tim so I had no expectations going in. Liar's Blade introduces the reader to Rodrick, a bit of a rogue and con man, and his talking blade, Hrym, a long sword made of ice with command over numerous abilities related to ice.

Unlike two normal characters in a fantasy setting known for its heroes, as Pathfinder is, these two are, well, con men.

It's not that they can't fight. Rodrick is no Conan mind you, but he gets by. And the sword itself is very powerful, almost too powerful as one wonders why the characters often don't just do X or Y, but they'd prefer to take things easy and to do things the easy way.

As I read, I noticed that the titles of the chapters were an homage to Fritz Lieber, one of the founders of the whole sword and sorcery genre. Titles like "Sword and Ice Magic" for example. Several such to be found throughout the novel.

It's a great touch.

The story starts when the duo are hired by Zaqen, a sorcerer of inhuman tainted blood who works for a 'gillman', Obed. Rodrick and his blade find themselves doing a job where the payoff should be fantastic but the odds of successfully getting out alive keep getting worse and worse for them. They explore a lot of the setting that's not normally touched and the only reason I recognized so much of it, was from my time running the Adventure Path that took place in the River Kingdoms.

If you have a wide depth of knowledge on the setting, you'll see those nods as well.

Tim knows the setting well. He uses the historical information of the setting to put various pieces together that fit into how the setting itself was originally designed. He uses things that are a bit off the cuff so to speak, in that many of the characters in the book have their own unique abilities and their own view on things.

He makes the characters, like Zaqen, into believable entities as opposed to just copy paste villains who you'd look eager to see meet their end.

The best thing about the novel? I never felt the characters were stupid. Have you ever watched a movie, especially for some reason a horror movie, and been yelling at the screen? While you may be disappointed in how the characters chose to act, they never do so from a place that would baffle someone who hadn't read the novel.

Rodrick and his blade Hrym manage to pull off several fast ones in the novel and they do it in a way that makes sense for the setting and for them as characters. The other characters also get their moments to shine and even if you don't appreciate where it takes them, none do it leaving the reader scratching her head.

Liar's Blade is a very promising entry for Rodrick and Hrym into the Pathfinder setting and I look forward to reading their further adventures as Tim's already written several more books in the series.