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Pathfinder Tales: Blood of the City
Robin D. Laws
Paizo, 368 pages

Pathfinder Tales: Blood of the City
Robin D. Laws
Robin D. Laws designed the GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system, including such games as The Esoterrorists and Ashen Stars. Recent highlights of his books of fiction are New Tales of the Yellow Sign and The Worldwound Gambit. As Creative Director of Stone Skin Press he has edited such fiction anthologies as The New Hero, Shotguns v. Cthulhu, and The Lion and the Aardvark: Aesop's New Fables. With longtime collaborator Kenneth Hite he recently launched a new podcast, Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff.

Robin D. Laws Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

Most D&D urban fantasy novels are set in exciting new worlds with colourful characters that have access to untold riches if they are prepared to go long distances to find them. Pathfinder Tales: Blood of the City starts out in the mundane setting of Magnimar's city streets where Luma Derexhi, a cobblestone druid, works with her family of mercenaries who deal with any problem of the people from the city's elite. The wealthier they are the better chances the mercenaries have of making a tidy profit. Luma is the oldest child of the family, yet due to her half-elven heritage no one takes any notice of her. She knows the mean streets like no other and maintains she knows best out of her family, but one wrong move could land her in trouble where not even they can find her.

Magnimar sounds as luxurious as it is decadent where the gap between the rich and the poor can be found in the many districts and alleyways. Arrus, one of the Derexhi siblings takes their missions very seriously, maybe too seriously, and ends up criticizing Luma for her mistakes with no regard to how she feels. Ontor, however gives her credit where it is due, and does not berate her like Arrus. Her father, Randred, loves her as he would any of his children, but he knows she is little regarded by her brothers, and wishes he could help her in her standing with them. He offers her a seat on the council, his seat in fact, as he intends to get her brothers to look up to her as she is a thinker, and has an eagle eye for enemies her brother's lack. He feels he wants to make it up to her, but she doesn't see herself on the council as she knows it would make enemies of her brothers.

The further you get into this story, the more you realize how Luma is perceived. She doesn't care for her brothers and the way they speak to her, but Ontor tells her that if she tried to get along with them, they might grow to like her more. That is easy for him to say, as he doesn't have to cope with Arrus and how he treats her. Luma is rough and ready, and she can be relied upon in a crisis situation, though if she does speak her mind, she's imbued with an aggression that would rival them all. Maybe it is because she is like them that they don't take to her, as she is a girl, they want her to act like one and be an obedient as they think all women should.

When news of her father is told to her, she believes the best policy would be to try and reconcile with her brothers, but they have to want her to. It is not going to work if Arrus and the others don't make an effort as well.

Pathfinder Tales: Blood of the City tells of secrets and lies, hardship and wishes and of the men who are the targets of the renowned Derexhi family. Robin D. Laws plunges the reader right into the story where Luma feels free roaming the city. She is underused, and unrewarded by her siblings who scald her when she loses a target, or fails to perform in other ways. It isn't her fault; it's the way her brother Arrus tends to leave out certain facts in her objective when she is on an important mission. If he took the trouble of giving her all the information she needed, she would do a better job, but he doesn't see it that way. Luma grows as a character in unusual ways, and her family has to understand that she isn't one to be put down by anyone.

Copyright © 2012 Sandra Scholes

Sandra Scholes has had her articles published in Cars and Girls Magazine, The British Fantasy Society, and Love Romance Passion.

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