Tome of Geek: Winter Witch

Elaine Cunningham.

I have read as much of her writing that I could get my hands o n.  I started with Elfshadow in 1991, it was the first book in what would become my lifelong enjoyment of Faerun, and haven’t stopped since.  She has written for Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, Fantasist Enterprises, taken us into her own worlds with the Changeling Detective Agency (just to mention a few) and now she opens us into the Pathfinder world.

Her latest book, entitled White Witch, is co-written Dave Gross.  In the second book in the Pathfinder universe we are introduced to Ellasif, a barbarian woman, and Declan the its-complicated.  Both of these characters defy the stereotypical norms but without drifting away from the basics we hold dear.  Ellasif is a barbarian woman without the obvious rage, the Viking influence, the chainmail bikini or the ‘Female of Fantasy’ figure.  Declan is a wizard who has forsaken magic and taken up a life of art to become a cartographer.

They each start off on what seems to be a classical quest but things aren’t what they seem (when are they ever?).  The two quests intersect and things start to go haywire.  Ellasif, on a quest to find her adoptive sister, begins to unfold the mystery and truth of her damsel in distress and Declan begins to learn of his powerful destiny and of his unique abilities.  The characters are in-depth and thoughtful, the pair quite believable in their existence, a true testament to the writing.

The writing focuses on the pair of characters and their independent quests and not a world spanning event.  This allows for a stronger story that draws on the characters and the world for its inspiration and strength rather than a threat or catastrophe.

The book is a great story that raises above its D20 origins and stands on its own.  You don’t need to be a Pathfinder, roleplaying or Elaine Cunningham fan to enjoy this book but you will be afterwards.

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