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Pathfinder Tales: Winter Witch

Elaine Cunningham
Paizo Books

I had mixed feelings when I received this book to review. On one hand I had a book by an author I was familiar with, yet on the other hand I was reading a book that is set in an unfamiliar world. Elaine Cunningham has penned many books set in the Forgotten Realms world of Dungeons and Dragons, a land so familiar with its own set of heroes, villains and events that even now I can pick up almost any book and thoroughly enjoy it. Elaine has written some notable novels for this setting, of which the most notable for me is her Songs and Swords series.
To further explain the other part of my mixed feelings is that this book is not set in the land of Faerun, it is instead set on the world of the Pathfinder game- Golarion, most notably the cold north lands of the Linnorm Kings where winter is harsh and the Winter Witches hold sway in part due to the ancient Baba Yaga. There you have the background information for this books story.

The setting, sadly, is where I first struggled. I had assumed that I would be fine with reading another book by Elaine Cunningham, but most of the time I was expecting to have some familiar sights from Faerun. I did find it slightly jarring and a little unsettling. However once I had moved on I enjoyed this book.

The characters were standard fare for a roleplay setting. Each had their own aims, characters and desires, so were more than two dimensional. There were some other familiarities I could hold onto, such as the magic of the world, gods and religion (though the pantheon wasn’t mention much, I was certain I could explore this in a future book). The story itself was quite straightforward with the occasional plot twist, and as I neared the end of the book I was actually pleased that a familiar authors writing style was a stabilising factor of this book.

There are a few conclusions I can gain from this book however. For me I was pleased that a familiar writing style was there to guide me into a new world with its own unique heroes, villains and events, as without this I may have been tempted to give up. The world of Golarion is a rich setting, as a roleplayer I eagerly look forward to playing a campaign or two in this land and now that I have read about it, it will be a richer experience too. As an avid fan of fantasy literature I know I can easily dip into other pathfinder tales and have, at least, a little previous knowledge to help me.

All in all, a thoroughly good read and one I would recommend.

Martyn Elwell

By Mart

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