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Plague of Shadows

(Pathfinder Tales)

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  322 ratings  ·  56 reviews
A Desperate Quest

The race is on to free Lord Stelan from the grip of a wasting curse, and only Elyana, his old elven adventuring companion and former lover, has the wisdom and reflexes to save him. When the villain turns out to be another of their former companions, Elyana and a band of ragtag adventurers must set out on a perilous race across the revolution-wracked nation
Mass Market Paperback, 373 pages
Published February 2011 by Paizo Publishing, LLC
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  322 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Howard Andrew Jones is normally a pretty solid writer, but he's pretty clearly just phoning it in here.
P. Aaron Potter
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was a very good entry into the pulp sword-and-sorcery quest genre. The characters' motivations are both unusually believable and unsually complex (non-contiguous, and sometimes mutually incompatible, qualities). The world-building (dependent here on the Pathfinder RPG property) is serviceable. The pacing bogs only very occasionally, and the action sequences are handled with just the right degree of detail, evocative and clear without belaboring each sword swing or blood spatter.

The two real
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this novel. It had good action and plot twists that fit in well with the story, but I didn't see coming (which is quite rare). The main character is likable, but not compelling. However, there are a couple of outstanding supporting characters.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jones once again proves he is a master of the sword-and-sorcery genre. There are twists and turns aplenty, but the plot is secondary to the Howardesque action. A most entertaining read.
Apr 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Have you ever been pulled into a world with the force of being pulled into a black hole? I was totally engrossed in the first 50 pages or so of Plague of Shadows. What wasn’t there to like? It introduces a wise, strong, mysterious female elf protagonist training a young, intelligent, and brave young noble while trying to solve a mysterious curse in the midst of not one, but two, different love triangles. Much of the action takes place in an extremely well-conceived, vividly portrayed vision of t ...more
Timothy McNeil
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Plague of Shadows, in the end, is genre fiction at the median level. The references to the world come across as forced, as though author Jones had imported an existent story into a company's setting. He also does a less than admirable job of making the reader feel any sense of distance, which makes the journeys seem somehow less important than the brief spasms of conflict. Jones also has one of the worst in-book references to a game mechanic I have ever read where he has a bard actually say, as ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A short take:

I'm on a good streak with these Pathfinder Tales, this being the third in a row that was fun and made good use of a shared world and the freedom that the genre offers. Just as in "Liar's Blade" and in "Night Glass," the stakes in this story are largely of a personal nature. Sufficient time is set aside for the characters to breath and act so that these stakes have meaning, far more than I expected, in fact. The action was exciting, the magic was cool, and the little corners of Golar
Paul McNamee
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Good adventuring with a nice angle, as someone else noted, "what happens when elves get too old for this s*&^?" A blend of D&D adventuring with tones of Jirel of Jory and the western, Unforgiven. The payoffs here are setup through characters, hard truths and exposed lies. I look forward to Jones next entry in the Pathfinder universe, and I need to check out some of the other authors and novels of this world. ...more
Alex Denby
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Good if you're looking for a straightforward quest-type fantasy, though not much really stands out.
Adam Windsor
Jun 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: rpg, sf-fantasy, 2020
A light and easy RPG tie-in novel. The characters are pretty thin and the plotline takes many detours into somewhat tangential fight scenes ... which honestly makes it feels more like an actual set of RPG sessions turned into fiction. If you have an itch for that kind of undemanding fantasy fare, this book will scratch it.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
At first this book just seemed like a Pathfinder adventure translated to novel form. However, as the story progressed, the characters, especially Elyana, became more detailed and more interesting. The plot twists were fun and engaging so that in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the ?third? book in the pathfinder series. I'm a bit meh on this one. I enjoyed reading it, but, wasn't really that into it. I did very much enjoy the ending, as it left something open for a continuation if desired but was otherwise a nice wrap-up to the story.
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book had potential but read as a series of thinly linked encounters. It reminded me of the kind of modules I would have liked running when I was an 11 year old DM, but as a reader, I wasn’t thrilled.
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another great beach read, quick but thoroughly enjoyable!
Martin St-laurent
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
The story is set in the world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying game. When you have played this game, or any past iteration of it, for as long as I have and you pick up a book based on the world inspired by the game, you know that the setting in which the story evolves will be familiar to you. You also know that no matter how good an author is, the similarities with the games will most likely stop there. You may recognize some character classes and assuredly, character races, maybe even a few abilit ...more
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very quickly, I had a hard time getting started in this book but I'm so glad I stuck with it. The female lead was a little hard for me to relate to but once I got to know her a bit better, I was impressed. The hero snagged me from the start with his interesting profession and abilities. The unexpected ending made me enjoy the book even more. I'd recommend it to anyone who loves a good fantasy novel.
Vincent Darlage
Aug 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The writing was excellent, and the plot twists actually surprised me. The only faults I found with the novel had nothing to do with the writing, but are faults with the genre - largely, I don't like healing magic. I think it takes away from the peril. Imagine if John McClain had access to healing potions in the Die Hard movies. (This is also why I don't allow clerics in my personal DnD or Pathfinder games).

However, I thought Howard Jones did a superb job within the constraints of a genre that is
May 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, pathfinder
The series of Pathfinder Tales books are a mixed bag so far. They're fast food. They offer a deeper look at the various countries of the Inner Sea region of Golarion, clad in fantasy tales. Now, let's say that this is McDonald's fast food. My favorite burger there is the Big Mac. Dave Gross' Prince of Wolves set in Ustalav was a Big Mac. Elaine Cunningham's Witch of Winter was a cheeseburger. Tasty, but not filling, and lacking substance.

Plague of Shadows is a hamburger. Not as tasty as the che
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it
As a book whose plot takes place in the campaign setting of a popular roleplaying game (Pathfinder RPG), published under the imprint of the company responsible for the game (Paizo), it should come as no surprise that Plague of Shadows is not art, or even excellent entertainment. Like many such books, in a category of fiction I tend to call "professional fanfic", it stumbles at times over the clumsy limitations of compatibility with game rules that were clearly never well thought out in terms of ...more
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Plague of Shadows was one of the most entertaining Pathfinders Tales books to date, if not the best one. I can find few flaws other than some confusion regarding various character twists involved. However, as a gamer, one thing I loved about this is the mix of flashbacks. The leading protagonist shows us memories of a group of adventurers from when she was younger, mixed in with the current state of their dysfunction. It gives a sense that the spirit of the storyline began years ago and is comin ...more
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I really breezed through this one. I liked how established the characters felt, like they had their own series of books set some time in the past, but without having to read those books. It is refreshing to me because it feels like sometimes the world doesn't really move until whoever-PoV-Character sets off on a journey. Sure, things can be in the works, but these characters had history, like references or in-jokes that pop up in groups of friends or co-workers.

The setting for this one felt the
Tony Calder
Mar 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Novels set in a published game setting and/or written to fit within the framework of a published game system have advantages and disadvantages compared with other novels of their genre. This novel is set in the world of Golarion, the official campaign setting for the Pathfinder RPG. As this is a game I play, and a campaign setting that I play in, there is perhaps a closer connection for me than for a reader not familiar with the setting. On the other hand, because it is a published game setting, ...more
Chris Jackson
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Solid four stars for Howard Andrew Jones on this rollicking high-fantasy story! Aside from a few characterization issues that are probably simple personal preferences on my part, no real flaw in the story, I truly enjoyed this fantasy "Quest Perilous" romp. Based in Paizo's world of Golarion, where the Pathfinder Tales novels all take place (it is a truly vast and rich environment, and one I have often played in myself) the story centers around a "rescue" plot with so many twists and turns that ...more
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Did not expect to love this so much from the sort of stilted (in my view) start. A lot of odd stuff happens all at once, and some (apparent) stereotypes/definitions put onto the characters that didnt make them seem very interesting. Could not have been more wrong. Its all sort of a set-up so you can see how much they grow and change, so you understand how difficult some of the choices they have to make are, lending them a great deal of force and drama.

I cant even begin to dissect the plot these
Gilbert Stack
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Howard Andrew Jones is a famous proponent of Sword and Sorcery as well as a former editor of Flashing Swords ezine. So it was with some surprise and a lot of interest that I noticed he had written a novel with a female lead character for the Pathfinder series. What I found was a solid fantasy novel which with very minor changes could have run independently of the Pathfinder universe. His female elf protagonist was handled with thoughtful subtlety and there were enough surprise twists and turns t ...more
Carlos G. Flores
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Although I'm not very fond of books that are all over the place, Howard presents a very decent story. As many pathfinder novels it made me feel like I was there with Elyana, Renar and Drelm.

The introduction had a very messy start. It made me feel like I had to go back a few pages because it squeezed a lot of information. I liked how we were introduced to the main character.

The middle chapters had a lot of info about Golarion. And that's when I got lost at first. Even though I know the geography
Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Oct 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
The story of an Elven woman who goes on a quest to save her ex-lover's life, pairing with old cronies who may or may not be helping her, this sword and sorcery tale hooked me and kept me interested the whole way through. This is unsurprising since Jones is a masterful S&S writer. Good characterizations, fun world, interesting. My first venture into Pathfinder and I liked it so much I bought campaign materials and the other novels in the series. I am also preparing to play my first game in the ca ...more
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
A generation ago, the elf Elyana was part of a band of adventurers who fought the shadow wizards. Now, 20 years later, she sets out on a desperate journey to save one of her old friends from a curse, a journey fraught with danger and betrayal and shadow magic.

I've read both of Howard Andrew Jones' Dabir & Asim books and quite enjoyed them. This was the first time I read something of his written in the third person, juggling a larger cast of characters and multiple viewpoints in a higher-magic se
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a very well-written high-adventure fantasy story. The characterization was pretty good, and I felt connected to all of them (even the bad guys in their turns). There were some good surprise twists, and a few "wow" moments. The action was exciting, the dialogue flowed pretty naturally, and the world felt real. And finally, it was very evocative of the game it is based on, without reading like fan fiction. If I had any complaints it would be that the end felt a little rushed (which I find ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
Kind of flat. Never felt that engaged with the characters nor the Pathfinder universe. I am comparing it to a couple of other Pathfinder books I have read, Pirate's Honor and Queen of Thorns. Both did a better job of getting you to know the characters and gave a better flavor of the Pathfinder universe. I will say that as an active player in the RPG Pathfinder system, that I did appreciate the accuracy of the fight scenes. ...more
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