Updated: Aug 25, 2020
Pathfinder Tales: Liar’s Bargain
A novel by Tim Pratt
Audiobook narrated by Steve West
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
What's it about?
When arrested in the crusader nation of Lastwall, smooth-tongued con man Roderick and his talking sword, Hrym, believed they could wangle their way out of punishment. But Roderick is given two choices: execution or being pressed into a year-long tenure as a secret government operative, sent on a suicide mission with a team of career criminals. Bonded by friendship and their tenure, Roderick and Hyrm discover that not everyone in the group is who they seem.
Not My Usual Read
Fantasy is not a genre I tend to read but I decided to broaden my reading horizons this year. The one and only other time I tried to read fantasy was Game of Thrones but I think I bit off more than I could chew diving into that series as a non-fantasy reader. I got lost and had to put it down by the third book, deferring to the TV series instead.
I downloaded the Liar’s Bargain audiobook randomly, even though the cover was a bit off-putting with the big scary monster. I would normally NEVER have picked up this book because of its cover.
Only after I finished listening to it did I discover it is one of the Pathfinder Tales series and is actually the second of a sequel (oops!). However, it made a great standalone book too.
I was delightfully surprised by the story and its characters and I cannot believe that I would ever utter these words in my life, but “my favourite character is the talking sword”.
Pratt’s depiction of Hrym, the talking, magic, ice sword was so brilliantly witty and clever. Hrym was so delightfully disparaging of his human and non-human counterparts - pretty much anyone who was not a magic sword - and I laughed out aloud dozens of times throughout the story. I never expected to find so much humour threaded throughout a fantasy novel.
The dialogue between characters was fantastic and Steve West’s narration, voices and accents gave this strong cast extra depth. The growing relationships between the band of misfits carried strongly throughout the entire book and the reader is never quite sure just how far away the treachery and back-stabbing is. Pratt keeps readers on their toes the whole way with this uncertainty and the way the relationships resolve in the end is very satisfying.
Pratt’s fantasy world building was not too onerous for a newbie like me to get my head around. The magic was all new and a bit of a mystery to me but my lack of comprehension of it in no way hindered the story at all. At no stage did I consider not finishing the book or find it off-putting. It was simply a new experience and I embraced it with an open mind.
The pace of the story was steady and there were two twists (one in the middle and one near the end) that I did not see coming, which was great in an otherwise linear tale. The plot was not too complicated to trip me up and it moved along at a steady pace that kept my attention.
As you can see, I’m not one of those reviewers who dives into all the nuts and bolts of a story because I personally feel like it spoils the whole book to give away the plot and characters in a review. There was a lightness about this novel that I had not expected, but it was refreshing and made it a pleasurable listening experience. I highly recommend Liar’s Bargain as a great read, though perhaps if you’re going to read/listen to it, at least start with book one in the sequel, Liar’s Island.
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