Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: Death's Heretic by James L. Sutter

Salim would be the first to tell you he's not a priest, though he works for the goddess of death. Charged with learning solving the murder of a prominent merchant, Salim finds himself going again going down a road he despises. Worse, the murdered man's soul has been kidnapped, and now the deceased's daughter is determined to go with Salim as he solved the crime. It's a journey filled with danger, mystery, and otherworldly creatures determined to kill him and his companion.
But this mystery might also force Salim to face his own past.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from Amazon
Nobody cheats death. A warrior haunted by his past, Salim Ghadafar serves as a problem-solver for a church he hates, bound by the goddess of death to hunt down those who would rob her of her due. Such is the case in the desert nation of Thuvia, where a powerful merchant on the verge of achieving eternal youth via a magical elixir is mysteriously murdered, his soul kidnapped somewhere along its path to the afterlife. The only clue is a magical ransom note, offering to trade the merchant's successful resurrection for his dose of the fabled potion. But who would have the power to steal a soul from the boneyard of Death herself? Enter Salim, whose keen mind and contacts throughout the multiverse should make solving this mystery a cinch. There's only one problem: The investigation is being financed by Neila Anvanory, the dead merchant's stubborn and aristocratic daughter. And she wants to go with him. Along with his uninvited passenger, Salim must unravel a web of intrigue that will lead them far from the blistering sands of Thuvia on a grand tour of the Outer Planes, where devils and angels rub shoulders with fey lords and mechanical men, and nothing is as it seems...
Death's Heretic takes place in the same world of the Pathfinder Tales as does Chris A. Jackson's books tat I've reviewed (find the first one here). It does, however, take place in a different part of the world and with completely different characters. This book explores not only the main plane, but some of the Outer Plains, otherworlds where devils and demons make their homes.
Sutter creates a beauty of language that suits this story extremely well. His command of imagery is exceptional, and I very badly need to read more of his work because I want to study it. He has a way of immersing the reader in the world without bogging the prose down with description. Details are peppered in, creating a vibrant feel and tone of backdrop. His dialog tends toward the formal, but some of that was possibly due to the characters' personalities and tendencies.
My Thoughts
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 driven, with plenty of intrigue and twists that kept me guessing. And everything tied in so well at the end that I can't believe I didn't put the pieces together myself. Well, most of them. I did guess at a few things, which made me very happy.
The only real issue I had with this book wasn't with the book itself, but I do want to mention it. I consumed this book via My problem was with the narration. It was good, but the narrator's voice could be so monotonic that it was very easy to zone out and completely miss long stretches of the book. I feel like the performance actually detracted from my enjoyment, so that's the caveat with the audiobook. However, that is no fault of the author's, and this review is for the book, not the narration.
Would I Recommend This Book? Sure! Sutter's interpretation of this area of the Pathfinder worls is rich with details and intriguing characters. And the plot is superb and exciting. This is all in all a thrilling read. I give Death's Heretic a deceased 5 of 5 stars.
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