Lair of the Geek

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Review By: Dean Jennings
Author: Tim Pratt
Publisher: Paizo

City Of The Fallen Sky by Tim Pratt; is yet another novel set in the Pathfinder universe, which for those who don’t know, is a fantasy based Roleplay game based on the D20 system. It’s good to see that the Pathfinder setting is starting to so many good writers pumping out their little bit to build, on what is already a great setting, and for me City Of The Fallen Sky is one that definitely stands out as one of the books that is a must read.

The story starts as any good adventure book or roleplay game, and that’s with the forming of the group. This is done in such a funny and ironic way, you see, Alaeron normally keeps himself to himself, he is all about research but as if luck would have it he stumbles across a woman in distress and happens to find himself trying to help her, and if that wasn’t enough someone from Alaeron’s past finally catches up with him. Needless to say chaos follows and Alaeron and the woman in distress (Jaya) find themselves working for the local crime boss, who used to be an adventurer. In a bid to save themselves, Jaya offers up some information on a place they can go to get some old relics and thus the group is formed. The crime boss adds his man to the mix to keep an eye on them; Skiver who has his own reasons for leaving for a while.

So we follow this very unlikely group that is thrown together by chance more than anything else, which I was not really sure about to start with, but it really does work as the dynamics start to form in the group. Tim Pratt really has a special power of making great charismatic characters, such as Alaeron the alchemist whose power very much lies in brewing potions, which he can use on himself to do all manor of things. He really stood out as a character, he’s very much the geek, the nerd of the group, books and understanding relics are his game and this is shown very well. To contrast Alaeron you have Jaya the hunter, who is very skilled with a bow and with the power of seduction she can use her womanly wiles very well to get what she wants, which she does almost all the time! Then you have Skiver, who is the thief who loves a good drink and socializing, It’s a very interesting mix and one that would seem to not work but it really does with Tim Pratt’s style of writing, and his ability to bring such life to his characters it really was very enjoyable to read.

The story paced itself very well and a good part of the book is given to the journey they must undertake. The places we visit along the way are described very well, from desert cities to high mountain out posts. Tim Pratt is just as at home describing places as he is with creating characters. Along this vast journey we are able to see the group form, and each character learn more and more about each other which was done very well indeed and friendships are forged even though this group is made under threat. One of the things I did like was how Alaeron’s past keeps on showing up and trying to kill him and return the relics he has, and I think, this is what helps the pace as the group can not really take their time. From time to time the group meet interesting people one of the most enjoyable characters was Ernst the battle mage, he is a character full of life but also like the other characters in the book he comes with a twist to his tale but is never the less a very enjoyable character.

The roleplayer in me loved this book I could not stop reading it, it truly is a tale of high adventure, something I will draw inspiration from when I run another pathfinder game because to me it captures what a good roleplay group is all about.

Overall this book is masterfully done, a real page turner of the most addictive kind, and it really is one of the Pathfinder books that stand out for me as it really brings a great set of characters to the Pathfinder universe. A must read.

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