Recent Radovan & the Count Reviews

Over at Paizo, Orthos has recently reviewed all four published Radovan & the Count novels. I link to them for a couple of reasons, apart from the fact that they’re positive reviews.

First, Orthos favors Master of Devils and King of Chaos, while it seems most readers prefer the other two. I’ve been disappointed that some readers shy away from Master of Devils because they don’t dig an Asian-style fantasy setting, so I love seeing that someone who shares my enthusiasm for Chinese fantasy has read the book.

Second, Orthos writes some of the most comprehensive reviews I’ve seen at Paizo, so it’s been a thrill to see a new one pop up every few days as he churns through the series. He’s already covered James Sutter’s and my books, so I expect he’ll be moving along to other Pathfinder Tales authors soon.

Check out all of Orthos’ reviews here.

 

Question of the Week: “Default” Radovan & the Count

Eric Belisle nailed the look of Count Jeggare.

“The Lost Pathfinder” bridges “Hell’s Pawns,” the first appearance of Radovan and the Count, with Prince of Wolves, their first novel.

This self-serving question is for those who’ve read at least two Radovan & the Count stories and/or novels, prompted by a nice comment by a colleague who’s just begun reading them.

With most of the web stories and with at least the first three novels, I’ve tried to do something different each time I return to “the boys.” For instance, in the novels Prince of Wolves comes from my love of classic horror movies; Master of Devils is my mash note to kung fu movies; Queen of Thorns is my take on elfy-welfy quest fantasy (with thanks to Kim Mohan for that term). Among the stories, “A Passage to Absalom” is an obvious tip of the hat to Agatha Christie. And it all began with “Hell’s Pawns,” which bubbled up out of a brain recently steeped in a film noir marathon.

There are many recurring themes and gags—Radovan’s jacket, his way with women; the boss’s changing view of magic, his affinity for arcane books; Arnisant’s loyalty—but I can’t always sum up the series with an elevator pitch.

Can you?

What’s your view of the “default” Radovan & the Count story? Should they always travel to new locations? Or do they “belong” back in Cheliax? Is it better that the style of story changes with each new location? Or is there a sweet spot where the boys work best for you?

Radovan & the Count in Chronological Order

Recently I realized that the adventures of Radovan & the Count have exceeded half a million words and somewhere around 40% of my published fiction. Some of it has appeared in novels, some in Adventure Paths, some in Wayfinder magazine, and some on paizo.com. It’s no surprise that some folks have questions about where to start. The simple answer is “anywhere you like,” but I think the best entry points are “Hell’s Pawns,” Prince of Wolves, or Queen of Thorns. Here’s a list of all the stories in publication order, with notes indicating the two stories that occur in “the past.”

“Hell’s Pawns.” This novella originally appeared in the Council of Thieves Adventure Path. It’s distinct from the other stories in that it’s told only from Radovan’s point of view and in the present tense.

“The Lost Pathfinder,”* The first instalment of Paizo’s free web fiction feature is a bridge between the first novella and the first novel. It’s also the first appearance of Count Jeggare’s POV, even though I wrote it after Prince of Wolves.

 

Dan Scott pits the boys against the Sczarni werewolves.

Dan Scott pits the boys against the Sczarni werewolves.

Prince of Wolves was the first Pathfinder Tales novel. Months after I wrote it, I realized just how many elements it has in common with Black Wolf, my first full-length novel set in the Forgotten Realms. I won’t spoil them for you here, but if you dug one, you’ll probably dig the other, although I think Prince of Wolves benefits from ten years’ more writing experience.

“A Lesson in Taxonomy.”* While this is chronologically the first story, don’t read it first. Read it after Prince of Wolves, or at least after “the Lost Pathfinder.” Trust me on this. It’s told from Varian’s POV, and it introduces the character of Prince Kasiya.

“A Passage to Absalom”* is a mystery set aboard a sailing ship. It bridges the events of Prince of Wolves and “Husks.” This one is told from Varian’s POV, even though the boys are together during the entire story.

“Husks” is another novella, this time from the Jade Regent Adventure Path. It’s an homage to some of my favorite samurai and yakuza films. Once again, Radovan and the Count are together the whole time, but the story’s entirely in Radovan’s POV. Until Queen of Thorns, this was my editor’s favorite of the stories.

Master of Devils is my love letter to three types of kung fu movies: romantic intrigue, hard-hitting action, and high fantasy. In addition to Radovan and Count Jeggare, it features a third point-of-view character.

“Killing Time”* is a nasty little tale set in Absalom, just before the events of Queen of Thorns. This one is best enjoyed after reading “A Lesson in Taxonomy” and Master of Devils.

Queen of Thorns is the third Radovan & the Count novel, this time set in what Radovan calls “Elfland” and the count knows to be the elven nation of Kyonin. The boys work side-by-side almost the entire novel, along with an unusual assortment of gnome and elf companions.

 

Tyler Walpole sets Oparal and Bastiel against Radovan.

Tyler Walpole sets Oparal and Bastiel against Radovan.

King of Chaos follows soon after Queen of Thorns. The events of the story dovetail into the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path, which will become especially noticeable in the AP’s fourth instalment. Like Master of Devils, this one features a third POV character, this time one who receives equal time.

“The Fencing Master”* is the last web fiction story featuring Varian’s POV. It takes place decades after “Taxonomy” but decades before “Hell’s Pawns.” Despite its place in the chronology, you’ll probably enjoy it more if you read it after a few of the novels, especially Queen of Thorns.

Two years after the events of King of Chaos, Radovan & the Count arrive in the Varisian city of Korvosa. There Varian hopes to find out once and for all why the masters of the Acadamae never “diagnosed” him properly. Instead, he finds an unexpected bequest from an old colleague, one that leads to an even deeper mystery of the Count’s arcane origins and ultimately the Lord of Runes.

Alberto Dal Lago reveals Varian and ally

Have you read most or all of the stories? Which are your favorites? And where in Golarion would you most like to see the boys go in the future?

All illustrations ©Paizo Publishing, LLC®.