Saturday, September 24, 2016

Plague of Shadows by Howard Andrew Jones

Plague of Shadows
Written by Howard Andrew Jones
Pathfinder Tales
350 pages

I've never read any of Howard Andrew Jones work before. After this book, I'll be sure to keep an eye out. The author's own website can be found here: http://www.howardandrewjones.com/

Plague of Shadows is well written high fantasy. It includes numerous nods to old favorites, such as showing the otherworldly nature of the elves as Tolkien might as well as villain redemption and other good bits. If you're looking for a fast-paced fantasy, Howard Andrew Jones delivers.

One thing I enjoyed about Plague of Shadows more than most of the other Pathfinder Tales books I've read, is that there is an actual group of characters to follow. There's also a bit more history here than I'm used to seeing.

In terms of the party of adventurers, we have the following:

Elyana: An elf ranger raised by human parents. I like how the author brings in the Pathfinder Tales specific naming for such an event, a 'Forlorn'. Howard's description of how Elyana's magic, that of a ranger, differs from other types of magic, is also a nice touch.

Drelm: A half-orc warrior, a captain of the guard for the small barony that Elyana works at.

Renar: The son of one of Elyana's old adventuring companions, a warrior by trade and a noble son by birth.

Vallyn: A bard who's also an old adventuring companion of Elyana.

Kellius: A young court wizard comfortable in his own skin and not afraid to throw the magic around.

The nice thing is that while these are the main characters, there are numerous flashbacks to the "good old days" showing Elyana, Vallyn, and their other comrades, including Renar's father. It works well and allows the setting to feel more than it's just a duo or three people wandering a huge setting.

Howard Andrew Jones also makes good use of the Pathfinder setting itself. The setting is a huge one and Howard shifts us through enough of the region to understand the local politics and the effects that actions in the past have on the present. His nod to the deities of the setting and the power of piety, even when it keeps those who love each other apart, is also handled well.

The mix of Pathfinder setting specifics, the party of adventurers, the nod to classic fantasy tropes, and the done in one approach, make Plague of Shadows one of the stronger entries in the Pathfinder Tales line.