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Death's Heretic (Pathfinder Tales)

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  216 ratings  ·  44 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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Prince of Wolves by Dave GrossDeath's Heretic by James L. SutterMaster of Devils by Dave GrossQueen of Thorns by Dave GrossPirate's Honor by Chris A. Jackson
pathfinder novels
2nd out of 24 books — 16 voters
Noble Sacrifice by Richard  FordPlague of Shadows by Howard Andrew JonesSkinwalkers by Wendy N. WagnerStalking the Beast by Howard Andrew JonesMaster of Devils by Dave Gross
Pathfinder Tales
9th out of 25 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

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Lou Anders
Dec 24, 2012 Lou Anders rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Todd Landrum
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
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
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
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
Den Plaag
This. Was. Impressive.

Very well-crafted and easy to read. I can't see this nót ending up in my 2012 Top 10...

Sutter is an engaging writer. Even though I'm not into RPG-ing, I just have to check out what Pathfinder Chronicles: City Of Strangers is about. Plus, I'm keeping a close eye on anything - hopefully novels - he'll be releasing in the future.

Furthermore, I'm going to try some other Pathfinder / D&D / Forgotten Realms novels, starting with The God Catcher.
Pepper Thorn
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
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
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
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
Lots of fun and a great sense of scenery. Solid adventure.
P. Aaron Potter
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
Bryan Schmidt
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
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
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
Carlos Flores
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
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
I got this book last year at a SCYS meeting on how to have a convention. I have never such high fantasy before and never a book based on a game before. It was definitely a little bit different then I'm used to. Salim and Neila are trying to find out who stole her father's soul. Salim is an interesting character with an unexpected history. Perhaps if I had ever played the game it wouldn't have been as unexpected, but with the no prior knowledge of how the world works I was caught off guard. I thi ...more
Andrew Jones
This is a great fantasy adventure story, with a main character who really draws you in. Salim Ghadafar serves the goddess Pharasma, the Lady of Graves, but it's clear from moments into the book that Salim has no particular love for her. He serves her, but does not worship her. The unraveling of his backstory is one of the major parts of the novel, so I won't get into it.

His current mission is to investigate a soul that has been stolen from Pharasma's Boneyard in the afterlife ... a theft which s
Daniel Millard
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Curry
Wild fun! An interesting twist on an old problem - how do you do a murder mystery in a fantasy setting? In a world where the victim can be brought back and testify ... Should be easy right? Nope, James gives us a fun rise through the Pathfinder multiverse in search of the killer. Our hero, if you can call him that, is well thought out and his actions and reactions are realistic. I look forward for more from Mr. Sutter.
I really liked this one. it's full of theoretical questions and non answers phrased carefully as an adventure fantasy. the biggest questions it touches on, in addition to honor, fidelity, and faith, is death. as suggested in the title. we as humans fear death, and in this pathfinder novel one race has discovered a way to stave off death. with the sun flower elixir, a magical potion that reverts a person to youth giving them an opportunity for immortality. the elixir is up for grabs to the highes ...more
Drew Reutlinger
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Another great Pathfinder book. A great story with interesting characters and twists.
Derek Johnson
Apr 11, 2012 Derek Johnson rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: High Fantasy Readers
I loved the main character, Salim. I also enjoyed the constant theme of mortality, and living in a world where the gods are very real. It's a very quick read, engaging, and entertaining.

The couple of dead ends in the investigation really provide no addition to the overall development of Salim or the other characters, which left me with a "so what" for a couple of chapters. Nonetheless I would recommend this to any high fantasy reader and definitely to fans of the world of Golarion.
Joseph Zurat
Ugh. My internet connection deleted my last review before I finished. To paraphrase, this is a three-star book with some four-star ideas (about the meaning and value of worship and belief in a world with real, extant gods) and some two-star ideas (weak female supporting character who is used like this is a pre-feminist fantasy work). Fairly standard story and interesting settings. Wasted pages/chapters on characters who never appear again and don't move the story forward.
Read on my nook. This one contains a lot of that far-out planar stuff that I usually don't like in my RPG-based fantasy novels, which makes the fact that I really enjoyed this book even more surprising. The characters are interesting and the writing well done. It actually deals with some pretty deep stuff that I hadn't thought much about... like the role of "faith" in a society where there is undeniable proof that the gods exist. Recommended!
My buddy wrote a book, and I read it, and it was completely fun and fantastically written! This was my first foray into reading a fantasy book (minus those Star Wars books I took down in high school...if that even counts), and I truly enjoyed it. Death's Heretic is full of action, suspense, mystery and just the right amount of sexual tension, and all the while Mr. Sutter creates a gorgeously vivid world for the reader to dive into, not looking back.
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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...

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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.” 5 likes
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