I’ll read almost anything. After working amongst books for the better part of two decades, being picky seems restrictive. So anytime the great folks here at Geeks of Doom offer me a book to review, I normally accept. Such was the case here, with Pathfinder Tales: Pirate’s Prophecy. This was my first journey into the Pathfinder franchise. Not to say I’m not familiar with it. I mean I know it’s an alternative game system to the D&D that I grew up with, but I’ve never played it, per se. However, I went into it expecting something akin to a role-playing game in prose form. Lucky for me, that’s essentially what I got!
I want to take a different approach with this review, though. I didn’t realize until halfway through the book that it was the third in a series. There were several scenes where I felt I was missing something and, truth be told, I was. So, I’ll review the storyline briefly but I want to talk about the content, as well. As I know next to nothing about the author, Chris A. Jackson, I shall not dwell too long on him at all.
This is a tale of the high seas, where a man (or woman or monster, for that matter) can recreate themselves and start a new life. Such is sort of the case with our group of pirates turned privateers. Captain Torius Vin and his beloved naga girlfriend Celeste lead their band of miscreants aboard the Stargazer, stopping slavers and doing the occasional odd job for an underground group of folks who seek to keep the world from exploding (literally, in some cases). The story here is that a group of bedeviled maniacs have found a weapon so devastating that its use could level entire countries. With little to go on, our not-quite-heroes seek both more information and a way to relieve their enemies of this powerful item. Only when we see what the weapon is, it’s more than terrifying, it’s a game changer.
Pirate’s Prophecy‘s story is solid. Jackson introduces a plethora of characters in small doses to keep from overwhelming the reader. And while I did have some points where I felt I was not quite up to speed, it didn’t completely derail my interest and eventually context clues helped put most of it in its place. Additionally, the diversity in the book was beyond the norm. I am a fervent reader of most things fantasy but this novel has half-orcs working alongside halflings and gnomes. Not to mention the large amounts of female characters, not something I see often but a most welcome sight, indeed. One of the primary characters is gay but it’s not presented to make a point, rather just a mention towards the end of the story. It seemed a lot of time and care went into making this story both believable (in a fantastical way, of course) and appealing to everyone. It actually felt like a group of role-playing characters brought to life.
Now, if only I had liked the actual writing style, it might have made a bigger impact. I don’t want anyone to think I hated Jackson’s turns of phrase because I didn’t. I m just not a fan of the young adult reading level. I truly believe this story would have exploded off the page were it given a better vocabulary from which to draw. I can see why people like the author, his story was amazing. Fraught with danger and deceit, there are enough sub-plots to keep the reader excited. Even the changes in points of view and venue are intriguing. I just couldn’t get past that basic approach he took with the literature itself.
If anything, I learned to make sure I do a little research and if I’m going to review something, make sure I’ve got all the backstory in place. If you are a gamer of the dice variety, you’ll probably enjoy Pirate’s Prophecy and its predecessors. It feels like an RPG module adapted into a book. There’s nothing wrong with that, lots of others have done the same. I just want you to know what you’re getting into. All in all, I’d recommend it but definitely make sure you buy the first two, as well.
Oh, one other good thing about Jackson: he’s not afraid to pull out the big guns for a boss-like finale! When you read it, you’ll understand what I meant.