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Death's Heretic (Pathfinder Tales #6)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  454 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
A warrior haunted by his past, Salim is a problem-solver for a church he hates, bound by the death goddess to hunt down those who would rob her of her due. Such is the case in the desert nation of Thuvia, where a merchant on the verge of achieving eternal youth via a magical elixir is mysteriously murdered, his soul stolen from the afterlife. The only clue is a magical ran ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 385 pages
Published November 7th 2011 by Paizo Publishing, LLC
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Todd Landrum
Jan 12, 2013 Todd Landrum rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
The book gets three stars for being fairly rote fantasy. Nothing great, nothing awful about it. There is a problem with the main character in that he works for a church, but has a disregard for religion. We’re not told why this is. I suppose it’s supposed to make our hero, Salim, seem mysterious. For me, it just made him out to be a petulant snot. By the time we learn why, 3/4ths of the way through the book, I certainly didn’t care.

The book portrays itself as a mystery story, but there are no c
Lou Anders
Mar 27, 2012 Lou Anders rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of swords and sorcery
Death's Heretic is my second Pathfinder Tales novel, after Elaine Cunningham and Dave Gross' Winter Witch. The Pathfinder Tales novels are set in the world of Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder Role Playing Game, though knowledge of the game isn't necessary to appreciate either work. In fact, Death's Heretic was chosen as the number three fantasy novel of the year in the Barnes & Noble Book Club's 2011 Best Fantasy Releases (a fact which more than legitimizes the Pathfinder Tales fiction editor, ...more
Feb 11, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in a new spin on fantasy spin using the Pathfinder RPG archetypes
Recommended to Eric by: Paizo emailed me that it was available free on Audible
Shelves: fantasy, audiobooks
I was only made aware of this audiobook -- and the Pathfinder Tales series in general -- because Pathfinder publisher Paizo emailed me letting me know it was available for free on Audible.

Well, their promotional strategy was a definite success, as I really enjoyed this novel, and would definitely read another Pathfinder Tales novel -- especially another audiobook from the creative team of author James Sutter and narrator Ray Porter. Seriously, Porter's narration is among the best I've ever hear
Sep 29, 2015 Diane rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Salim was a very engaging hero, Neila suffered a bit from Princess Leia syndrome, but it was an okay read.
Jan 24, 2015 Daniel rated it liked it
A short take:

The hero of this book is a servant of the Goddess of Death and empowered with the means of traveling between planes. Sutter puts this latter talent to some good use and takes the story to some funky places. The main plot was less interesting than these sideline jaunts.

More thoughts:

Sutter is on to something: Salim is an interesting character whose history and talents suggest a wide variety of awesome tales. I just wish that Sutter had included a larger dose of intelligence in his re
Chris Jackson
Mar 22, 2012 Chris Jackson rated it it was amazing
Death’s Heretic Will Leave You Dying for More!

As I have often said, a good tale needs three things to stand on its own, good characters, a lush and imaginative setting, and a well-planned plot. James L. Sutter has all of these things nailed down in Death’s Heretic, and on top of that, his writing style is wonderfully flowing his pacing is fast and fun to read.

Death’s Heretic, Pathfinder Tales novel set in the role-playing game world of Golarion, revolves around Salim Ghadafar, a reluctant solv
Jared Millet
A fun, light read for the weekend, but lacking the depth I tend to look for in fantasy novels nowadays. It’s been a good while since I read an RPG tie-in novel and I don’t remember the game-play aspects being quite so blatant as they were in this one. Of course, I was a teenager then and probably blind to those parts. Also, I doubt that I really understood how nonsensical RPG worldbuilding could get sometimes, with its easy, cheap, too-powerful magic and cultural anachronisms galore (for instanc ...more
P. Aaron Potter
Feb 12, 2013 P. Aaron Potter rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I've read plenty of game-based fiction, from D&D to Battletech to the Shadowrun universe. This is my first foray into the Pathfinder spin-off books, and I gotta say: they read like precisely what they are; to whit, generic Tolkienesque quest-fantasy with all the serial-numbers filed off. There's nothing original here.

But then again, nobody expected there to be. In this volume we have our standard quest-fantasy tropes (a missing mcguffin, a lone-wolf protagonist who's quick with a blade, an a
Sutter's foray into Paizo's Pathfinder Tales line attempted to do multiple things, and it did a commendable job of accomplishing that objective.

Role-playing game associated fiction usually has two minds to appease: 1) the gamer who wants to recognize rules and scenarios from his or her own play experience and 2) the genre reader who is looking for another twist on their favored pastiche. The result is not always well-balanced. The best examples of gaming fiction, however, contain all the things
Mar 17, 2016 Joseph rated it really liked it
OK, one thing that bugs me about a lot of fantasy is that despite the infinite possibilities, it's so constrained in scope -- you have all of time & space & the infinite planes to play around with, and you end up sticking with a relatively small corner of a relatively conventional quasi-medieval/quasi-Renaissance world.

This book was not so constrained.

Salim, refugee from the atheist kingdom, now a less-than-willing priest of the Goddess of Birth and Death (and is there a story there? Oh,
Pepper Thorn
Mar 23, 2013 Pepper Thorn rated it liked it
The book had rich description and interesting characters. I felt the pacing in the first half was a bit slow but acceptable. Then came the second half. Right after you find out who did it the story repeatedly goes off on what felt like forced and unnecessary side trips and tangents. It felt like the author fit his original idea for the story in three quarters the pages he told them he'd write and decided to pad the ending. I found this frustrating and it destroyed a lot of the good will the book ...more
Dec 01, 2011 Christian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gaming, paper
Its not often when you can read a book based on a RPG that doesnt sound like your playing the game in the book. This is one of those times. I found the book enjoyable while also learning about the Pathfinder lore thats due out next year. I got into the Salim right away and the backstory was believable. Now i am headed to the Paizo site to read up on some of the additional tales posted there.
Gabrielle Harbowy
A very impressive debut novel from James Sutter. A well-crafted and highly readable action/adventure, this book requires no knowledge of the Pathfinder game or its universe. It's one of those books which proves that RPG tie-in books have earned their place on the fantasy bookshelf.
Cat Rambo
Nov 07, 2011 Cat Rambo rated it really liked it
Lots of fun and a great sense of scenery. Solid adventure.
Jul 05, 2016 Stephen rated it it was amazing
If you’re looking for a fun fantasy tale that spans across several planes, features mystical creatures and stars a servant of the Lady of Graves sent to find a lost soul, then look no further. With delicious prose and wonderfully imaginative descriptions, James L. Sutter is able to create vivid worlds and intriguing characters. The search for a lost soul leads the main characters from the desert city of Lamasara to the Boneyard where the rivers of dead spirits are judged for their final resting ...more
The Judge John Hodgman podcast recently featured a fight over watching House Hunters, where a surgeon was watching it sincerely as a way to unwind after a hard day at work, while her husband liked to snark at it and wanted her to watch more challenging television. John Hodgman, as he often does, made a smart observation out of a seemingly light argument: people go to different types of entertainment for different types of entertainment. Or as Deidre Lynch put it in her great The Economy of Chara ...more
Jul 27, 2014 Yune rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, game-related
I picked this up when I needed the literary equivalent of a straightforward action movie. Although this book is set in a shared game world, it had popped up on a couple of conventional fantasy review blogs, so I gave it a try.

The standouts I've encountered in game-related books have leaned on humor alongside the intrigue and memorable characters. So I was won over by this brief market conversation:
"Greetings, honored one! May the sun smile upon you." The man was a poultry merchant, and the tiny
Carlos Flores
Nov 17, 2013 Carlos Flores rated it really liked it
The book is in a way one of the best display of what the planes in a fantasy setting are, that been said it was actually hard reading through them because it felt more like a guide to outer planes than a novel at the middle of the novel. Salim is one character who is intriguing from the beginning of the book. Some characters were marvelous and quite a handful of them deserve their own stories to be told.

Lets breakdown the book, the story is a mix of a police drama and a redemption in a sword and
May 09, 2016 Marvin rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
As part of a journey to pull my head from my oh-so refined backside, I started looking around for some good D&D fiction to read. I'm a fan of the Pathfinder RPG, so I started asking around about their fiction line. I'd like to read something both fun and well-written. It led to some amusing, if ridiculous, backlash from some self-proclaimed gatekeepers of the fantasy scene, but it also led to this book.

Death's Heretic is a decent novel. I enjoyed its focus on a single character and his immed
Joseph Jeffery
Apr 18, 2016 Joseph Jeffery rated it liked it
This book had some serious issues that stopped me from looking it more.

The good:
Salim - interesting character, with a good back story.
The Plot - reasonable enough

The bad:
Neila - princess Leia sorry I mean Neila is based on the prototypical spoilt rich kid who forces there way along, has skills, but whines and bullies themselves. Princess Leia is a fantastic character. Neila is a poor imitation that just feels irritating and often boring.

Sex scenes - they are really really awkward and feel so unc
Mar 01, 2016 Silas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this for free from Though it is no longer available for free, it is a worthwhile read (or listen). I have read a good deal of Dungeons & Dragons fiction, and since this is much like that, but set in a different world, with a similar by different cosmology. This story hits a lot of the highlights of this genre of fiction, featuring a variety of enemies, distinct action sequences, and exotic locales featuring largely familiar fantasy races. I found the main character interes ...more
Victor Sanchez
Jan 17, 2017 Victor Sanchez rated it did not like it
I'm not having luck with the pathfinder novels. This is the third I read that honestly simply bored me.

I was wondering why I didn't like it and another reviewer got the nail about the casual sexism and its true. It's very juvenile, but more than that, there is honestly no sense of suspense in the story. You get spoon fed the mystery and the solution and is more like a travelogue to the outer planes than anything else. The character Salim was interesting because you can see how much being in a g
Jan 23, 2012 Seth rated it liked it
Shelves: pathfinder
The story follows a man that hates the gods, but is employed by one. Salim detests the gods and even hunted their priests in the Kingdom of Man. However, a pact with the goddess of death has turned him into an agent of the church. He finds himself sent to Thuvia when a soul goes missing from the realm of death herself. The soul, belongs to a man who managed to win a dose of the Sunorchid Elixar, the fountain of youth, but did not get the chance to drink it before being assassinated. Failed resur ...more
Jun 11, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
Once again I am breaking my general rule of not reading "shared world" fiction, but Sutter is a truly gifted author and this book (so far) delivers a good, solid, fantasy-adventure tale which for some reason reminds me of a mix of classic swords and sorcery (such as Howard), and more modern fantasy. Recommended!

Update: Overall I did enjoy this book, but other than the main protagonist, the characters weren't all that well fleshed out in my opinion, particularly a certain nobleman's daughter who
Aug 06, 2014 Daniel rated it it was ok
This makes my 5th Pathfinder novel. My rating is based on a few factors.

1) To anyone who has read 'who done it' stories, you can guess, without clues, who did it about 1/3 of the way through the book. For those unfamiliar with the plot and pacing, then who did it will be a surprise.

2) As another reviewer states, for a 'who done it' story there were no clues. About 2/3 of the book is looking for clues. The last 1/3 is trying to 'prove' it because there are no clues.

3) I stated above how many Path
A.F. Grappin
Mar 23, 2016 A.F. Grappin rated it it was amazing
Until recently, I never read tie-in fiction. I'm glad I started doing so. I'm not familiar with the lore or setting of Pathfinder. At all. I've been missing out. Sutter's story brought a world to life in a magnificent way, with characters that were so intriguing I really want to read more of them.

In a lot of ways, this felt less like a tie-in novel than Chris Jackson's Pathfinder Tales, but in others, it felt more so like one. It's an interesting balance Sutter reached.

The plot was very well dri
As did so many others, I scooped up the audiobook when it was free. Thanks, Paizo!

My bar for tie-in fiction is pretty low: is this going to entertain me without making me hate myself for reading it? I have tried reading tie-ins for a certain other popular tabletop RPG that did not clear that bar, but this one did--it's fun, fast-paced, entertaining, and the writing is good. It is not groundbreaking or anything like that, but it pretty much does what it sets out to do.

But...quibbles. Somewhat sp
Bryan Schmidt
Oct 29, 2011 Bryan Schmidt rated it really liked it
A powerful debut for Sutter. The book takes fantasy where it has rarely gone: Atheism. The lead character, while serving the church to pay his debt to a goddess, nonetheless remains a nonbeliever. Even though his debt to the goddess originated from a granted prayer. While I found the arguments against faith v. reason the character presented less than compelling, the argument for faith at the end, ironically, was quite compelling. The contradictions are interesting. The idea of death as a reward, ...more
May 20, 2012 Peter rated it liked it
I imagine that the editor in chief of the pathfinders tales fiction line called James L. sutter in his office one day and told him:" we need a pathfinder tale that takes the readers on a tour across the planes of existence of Golarion." And James L sutter answered: " I have just the idea for a story like that. My roleplaygroup had an adventure that took us there. I'll make that into a novel."

And that is what this book feels like. It feels like a^pathfinder adventure where the gamemaster just bou
John Mendez
Feb 20, 2016 John Mendez rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book for free (the audiobook version).

I'll be blunt: I thought this was a bit boring up until they finally used the amulet, which was midway through the book. The setting was a bit derivative, but since this is a franchised work from Pathfinder I'm willing to ignore that for the sake of being fair. I liked the romantic relationship between the two main characters, but I didn't like the female main character. While she tried to pull her weight as a character, I felt that
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James Lafond Sutter is the Fiction Editor for Paizo Publishing and a co-creator of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game campaign setting. He is the author of the novel Death's Heretic, which Barnes & Noble ranked #3 on its list of Best Fantasy Releases of 2011, and which was a finalist for the 2012 Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel. He's also written numerous short stories for such publicati ...more
More about James L. Sutter...

Other Books in the Series

Pathfinder Tales (1 - 10 of 38 books)
  • Prince of Wolves
  • Winter Witch
  • Plague of Shadows
  • The Worldwound Gambit
  • Master of Devils
  • Song of the Serpent
  • City of the Fallen Sky
  • Nightglass
  • Blood of the City
  • Queen of Thorns

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“Religion doesn't just cloud our minds. It asks us to deliberately deceive ourselves-- to replace reason with its opposite, faith. And when men operate on faith, they can no longer be reasoned with, which makes them more dangerous than any sane man, good or evil.” 14 likes
“A man without reason is no better than a mad dog, and mad dogs must be put down for the good of everyone.” 6 likes
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