The cover of this novel is a promise, like the opening lines of a Butcher fantasy noir At some point, there will be a troll, and lots of fire.I ve had this sitting in my to read pile for so long, and finally dragged it out during this plague hide I m relieved to report that it scratches the sword and sorcery itch you ve been ignoring for too long.Thanks for the adventure, Matthew This is the 3rd Pathfinder tie in novel I read The first two being from Howard Andrew Jones who s books are highly recommended.This one was quite different in tone Where Jones adapted his normal style to aparty based, high magic adventure story, this one starts out as a Jack Vance pastiche, mostly of his Cugel books.Which makes sense, because Hugh Matthews is a pen name for Matthew Hughes, who has written a lot of science fantasy inspired by Jack Vance As this is close to his regular This is the 3rd Pathfinder tie in novel I read The first two being from Howard Andrew Jones who s books are highly recommended.This one was quite different in tone Where Jones adapted his normal style to aparty based, high magic adventure story, this one starts out as a Jack Vance pastiche, mostly of his Cugel books.Which makes sense, because Hugh Matthews is a pen name for Matthew Hughes, who has written a lot of science fantasy inspired by Jack Vance As this is close to his regular fiction, I m not really sure why he used a pen name Weirdly enough, somewhere after the first part, Krunzle starts picking up party members, and some weird prophecy type plot lines kick in The second part feltlike a early Pratchett pastiche, mixed with some Old Ones Cthulu type backgrounds without much horror elements I enjoyed the Vance type part , although compared to Cugel, Krunzle is even less clever, and the way he is controlled, makes him without any agency The most fun character in the end was the troll.In the end the novel felt like Matthews was trying to match his usual Vancian type story with the party based stories the Pathfinder novels usually have, but it felt like a mismatch My least favorite of the Pathfinder Tales books so far The author s style seemed awkward to me In the first part of the book, the main character seems to be along for the ride He has very little control over what he does Later in the book it gets a better, but he still seems to be spending most of his time asking depending on a specific magic item. This book started out terribly I really wondered at first if I would be able to get through it or not Thankfully, somewhere halfway through the book, it started getting a little better and made it bearable to get through A lot of the initial story just seemed really stupid, especially running around with those crazy boots Also, much of the plot, even at the end, makes little sense. In familiarizing myself with the Pathfinder world, I m noticing a similarity in the books I ve read That similarity being each part of the world fits a different genre or time period of fantasy One book was old Romania with vampires and werewolves Another book was late 18th Century France before Napoleon with constant beheadings This one was the closest to stereotypical fantasy thus far It still lacked because it focuses on one part of the world and doesn t seem to mesh with the other parts In familiarizing myself with the Pathfinder world, I m noticing a similarity in the books I ve read That similarity being each part of the world fits a different genre or time period of fantasy One book was old Romania with vampires and werewolves Another book was late 18th Century France before Napoleon with constant beheadings This one was the closest to stereotypical fantasy thus far It still lacked because it focuses on one part of the world and doesn t seem to mesh with the other parts.Therefore my rating is based partially on the world not being cohesive The Pathfinder world seemsa playground for any and all ideas to fit under one overarching umbrella I don t see these characters fitting into the other books.The other part of the rating is the story If you are looking for filler, read this If you are looking for a can t put down story, walk away There was too much deus ex machina to make me want to root for anyone in the book The main character has little to no control over what he did The situations faced were overcome only by something outside the party There really was no sense that failure could happen It was only how did they get out this time questions.I never like giving a low rating I try to find the good in a book My need to be honest outweighs inflating the rating Though, if you made it this far and need something to read, four stars for beating out the other filler books that are out there This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here This was kind of a mess The main character is an unwilling participant and is forced to be passive in deference to his cool magic snake neckband aside from a few moments The secondary characters are all fairly one note though it was admittedly cool to have a Troll as a supporting character The thing that is purportedly the mystery Dude runs off with damsel isn t very interesting and we as readers don t really find out any interesting things about what is actually the mystery A Not Illi This was kind of a mess The main character is an unwilling participant and is forced to be passive in deference to his cool magic snake neckband aside from a few moments The secondary characters are all fairly one note though it was admittedly cool to have a Troll as a supporting character The thing that is purportedly the mystery Dude runs off with damsel isn t very interesting and we as readers don t really find out any interesting things about what is actually the mystery A Not Illithid is in stasis in a spaceship in a volcano and he is kept in check by a weird snake guy who pops up every thousand years or so The setting feels strange compared to previous Pathfinder settings A prospector s boom town Really and the Dwarves, what, just started a country and no one really noticed I ve come to find out that apparently this region hasn t really had much fleshing out in Pathfinder, so I guess it is nice it is getting any attention at all That said, I ll give it some credit for creative use of the Not Illithid using its psionic powers to make people think they are Chosen Ones , and again for an interesting Troll Also, it is shorter than the other Pathfinder novels and it was a really fast read To me, it felt like the sort of story a first time GM would have A few cool ideas for encounters that don t really fit together really well into a whole, and an end that is REALLY heavily influenced by the Chariots of the Gods Cthulhu Mythos Alright, you guys beat the bandits, now you find a boom town that TOTALLY isn t where the bandits are from Cool, you took care of that, now there is a society of Dwarves brought together by a prophet leader dude Did I mention some of you have mysterious dreams about your heroic destiny Now that you are in the volcano there is a spaceship with a Mindflayer, er, I mean a lilly headed snakeman The first of the Pathfinder novels I couldn t even force myself to finish The main character is cardboard, he is literally dragged around for the first third of the book against his will, and he only lives that long because of the enchanted items he s given that do all his fighting for him The weakest of the what is typically an excellent series, in my opinion. Genre fiction is comfort reading When you reach for a fantasy novel or a Clive Cussler adventure, or a Stephen King thriller, or a Sue Grafton procedural you pretty much know how it s going to work out Song of the Serpent is no exception There are things it does well, things it doesn t, and things with which it surprises.Krunzle is a self absorbed thief thief as in the fantasy world profession, a catch all for rogue, con man, burglar, etc whose call to adventure is thrust upon him Genre fiction is comfort reading When you reach for a fantasy novel or a Clive Cussler adventure, or a Stephen King thriller, or a Sue Grafton procedural you pretty much know how it s going to work out Song of the Serpent is no exception There are things it does well, things it doesn t, and things with which it surprises.Krunzle is a self absorbed thief thief as in the fantasy world profession, a catch all for rogue, con man, burglar, etc whose call to adventure is thrust upon him when he tries to nick the wrong bauble Nominally, he is pressed into the service of a wealthy, powerful figure to go fetch a daughter who has eloped with some rake.Fantasy tropes ensue Short vignettes unfold chapter by chapter as Krunzle follows the daughter and rake through the world There are bandits, ruffians, corrupt gold rush towns, chain gangs and Dwarven kingdoms hewn from living stone Krunzle assembles quite through accident a team of partners as his quarry ever retreats through these scenes.None of the characters are particularly likable Special effort is made by the author to make the one female character practically invisible and churlish Krunzle is irritating in his one note me firstism A studious ex slave that joins the team seems like he d be happier literally anywhere else in the world The extraordinary read thoughtful and intelligent troll Skanderbrog steals the show.The story takes sharp turn in the third act and unfolds a satire of fate and dresses up the climax in trappings of Weird Fiction Fate is skewered somewhere between Asimov s Does A Bee Care and the Butter Robot from Rick Morty What is my purpose You pass butter Oh, my god when the team realizes simultaneously why they re in the story in the first place A final showdown with an Unknowable creature from the Time Before Gods wraps up the whole thing and the survivors decide on the last page they might as well go on other adventurers together.Such is the fantasy adventure.This one was okay It moved quickly It was not a labor of love by a tortured author It was probably four hours a day of contract work to build a fiction library for a role playing game world I m not too sad that these characters don t get a sequel in that library, but there are many others to escape into when next I need some comfort reading To begin with, the story was rather mediocre, and it suffered from a number of common annoyances in pop fiction including one of my pet peeves, stories where the protagonist doesn t actually do anything, but rather has things happen to him all the time In this case, that particular peeve was especially blatant, where he is literally controlled by forces outside himself, specifically the magical equipment given to him as he is coerced into acting as another s stooge I did not even get to f To begin with, the story was rather mediocre, and it suffered from a number of common annoyances in pop fiction including one of my pet peeves, stories where the protagonist doesn t actually do anything, but rather has things happen to him all the time In this case, that particular peeve was especially blatant, where he is literally controlled by forces outside himself, specifically the magical equipment given to him as he is coerced into acting as another s stooge I did not even get to feel sorry for the main character of the tale, because he s such a contemptible, self satisfied bastard with no redeeming features.He neither developed nor revealed any redeeming features of his character in the course of the story, many of the plot elements were clich d and prone to stereotyping, the story never really stopped being about the most obvious central characters having stuff happen to them in ham handed manner rather than about them actually doing things, and the ultimate villain was a let down There was no reason to sympathize with anyone of note, really, except an escaped slave and oddly enough a troll in the tale.Something about the storytelling itself changed around the halfway point, however, so that events started becoming entertaining to read Where earlier the improbable course of events had seemed unbelievable and ridiculous, some of the most absurd occurrences in the latter parts of the book made good sense, in context, even as I found myself chuckling at their absurdity There was a period of about a chapter s worth at the end, in what one might call the climax though I m not sure the book has one where a dull recounting of the actions of the real hero of the story a previously minor supporting character who ultimately proved to have essentially no personality as presented by the author s narrative even after its heroic role was revealed elicited no particular interest from me as the reader, but it at least served to explain what happened and pave the way to the final conversation of the novel.The final conversation wrapped up with some mildly interesting banter, and the final line in the book made the whole thing worthwhilebarely, if you happen to have a sense of humor somewhat like mine.I really don t think I could reasonably recommend this book to others, but I did find it enjoyable overall, balancing the good parts against those that were dull, annoying, or just plain poorly written including the first half of the book, for the most part A Reluctant HeroTo an experienced rogue like Krunzle the Quick, the merchant nation of Druma is full of treasures just waiting to be liberated Yet when the fast talking scoundrel gets caught stealing from one of the powerful prophets of Kalistrade, his only option is to undertake a dangerous mission to recover the merchant lord s runaway daughter and the magical artifact she took with her Armed with an arsenal of decidedly unhelpful magical items and chaperoned by an intelligent snake necklace happy to choke him into submission, Krunzle must venture far from the cities of the merchant utopia and into a series of adventures that will make him a rich man or a corpseFrom veteran author Hugh Matthews comes a rollicking tale of captive trolls, dwarven revolutionaries, and serpentine magic, set in the award winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game