Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dave Gross, King of Paths

The end of last week brought me my Paizo subscriptions box, and among the contents was the newest volume of the Pathfinder Tales: Dave Gross' Queen of Thorns.  Even with a lot to do, I gobbled it up over the weekend.

This, the third offering from Gross in the PF Tales line crowns him as the undisputed king of the line, and should secure a wider reading for the Jeggare/Virholt novels. (Be sure to start with the "Pawns of Hell" serial fiction that introduced the characters in The Council of Thieves Adventure Path.)  What is it that fuels my bold claims?  Perhaps Gross has some competition when it comes to energetic plots and world evocation, but when it comes to character development that is satisfying and sophisticated, there is no beating the arc of development that he has traversed so far with Varian Jeggare and Radovan Virholt.  It is hard to beat in any contemporary fantasy of which I am aware -- in a class with James Enge in Blood of Ambrose, Zelazny in the first Amber series, and Howard Andrew Jones in The Desert of Souls.  (A couple of Vance's characters in the Lyonnesse series get close and perhaps Vlad Taltos in Steve Brust's novels will rise to this level -- I've only made it through the first set of the Taltos series, so I'm undecided in that case.)

If you have been holding off from Pathfinder Tales, dive in and read these three together first.  If you have been looking for a fantasy series that will take you on a varied ride with compelling characters and amazing changes of scenery, look no further -- Gross will take you from Golarion's analogue of silverscreen Transylvania to its fantasy Orient (major martial arts films homages) to its Faerie in this last volume.  Just try and beat that.

I keep trying to think of something to be more critical of, but I'm afraid Gross has pulled an A+ on the Mythopoeic Obscura grading scale.  Disputers are directed to the paladin below.


  1. If this review were any more flattering, I'd think I paid you for it. Thanks for the incredibly kind words.

  2. You did pay, in the only coin I accept from you. MORE.

  3. More has come! And I do believe that this is gonna be the first short fiction piece I'll read off the Paizo Website. I just can't wait for the epub to fnially get collated.
    And speaking of can't wait, I finished the epub of Queen of Thorns before my Dead Tree even arrived (another first), so it also has the distinction of being in pristine condition. :)

  4. If we attend the same convention next year, Flash, be sure to bring that copy. I'll gladly bring it down from mint. :)

  5. Dave, if only you were ever to come down here to Australia I would so hastily take you up on that offer it wouldn't even be viewable by the naked eye! :)

  6. Despite the heinous length of the flight, I'd leap at the chance to visit Australia and New Zealand again, as long as I could make a weeks-long vacation of it.