Monday, September 19, 2016

The Wizard's Mask by Ed Greenwood (Book Review)

The Wizard's Mask
Written by Ed Greenwood
Pathfinder Tales
400 pages

Ed Greenwood should need no introduction to any role players of Dungeons and Dragons nor anyone whose read fantasy fiction in the last 25 years. My own introduction to Ed comes from Dragon Magazine and his numerous articles for the Forgotten Realms, leading up to the publication of the original 1st edition boxed set of the Forgotten Realms and many books beyond.

For those who don't know Ed, he's got his own website over there: and he's got a Wiki entry as well:

Ed's writing isn't for everyone. While I've highly enjoyed his gaming material, his fiction often is hit or miss for me.

This book is both.

On the negative side is the believability of the story. It's not that a fantasy tale needs a high level of such a factor, but if the characters are given to X, then they should be able to accomplish it. If they are given to X and all of the sudden they are doing things that require the whole X, Y, Z, and a hand on from the higher powers, it stretches the enjoyment of the story.

The other thing is probably just me. As I get older, I'm more aware of how writers handle their female characters. In this novel, we are introduced to two characters, the "man known only as The Masked" and "an escaped halfling slave named Tantaerra."

"So...a halfling woman, probably in her thirties and with the lined face of someone who'd known hunger often enough, despite the fact that she still had plenty of chest and hip on an otherwise scrawny frame."

This doesn't count the numerous times' she's made naked or that she's actually shorter than a regular halfling. It's just a weird thing. This extra short child sized individual clearly suffering from hunger with big tits and ass.


The other problem I had with the book is Ed needs to know when to let a villain go. The villain that the duo tangles with most isn't even the 'big bad' but Ed keeps using him and as a reader I didn't find him interesting at all and was just waiting for him to die. It's like, "Okay, we know the author likes this bad guy for some reason, but really? He sucks. Let him die this second time, this third time..."

In terms of popcorn reading though?

Top notch.

The story starts with action. The action easily goes across one hundred pages. If you dig chase scenes like those you'd find at the start of the newer James Bond movies, you'll enjoy those parts. Ed has a great way of moving the action from left to right with the action dancing across the page.

Ed also keeps the action flowing.

The author is hit or miss on the names. For example, one of the magic weapons in the novel, the Whispering Blade? It's a blade that telepathically communicates with those it's seeking to dismember and does so in an ominous voice that Ed captures perfectly. The name fits it.

And then there's the magic item that the duo are sent out to seek in the Shattered Tomb to begin with. The Gauntlet of Fear or the Fear Gauntlet. Really? Ugh.

Ed also uses some odd choices in his monsters. The creature on the cover is a particular type of monster native to the Pathfinder Tales region and Ed puts it to good use. Little nods like that are great.

If you're looking for some light reading heavy on the action than the Wizard's Mask is going to do you right. Ed's not building up a setting like some authors in the Wheel of Time or A Game of Thrones but the Pathfinder Tales are not about that.

There's enough character development that another book is possible but all of the main plots and threads of this novel are done in one and that in and of itself is a refresher.