Book Review – “Song Of The Serpent” by Hugh Matthews
SONG OF THE SERPENT by Hugh Matthews, Reviewed by Timothy Schneck
I am of two minds when it comes to SONG OF THE SERPENT. The part of me that enjoys a good fantasy novel finds this book just okay. However, my inner geek that grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons really enjoyed the book. This was a book that I found hard to put down once I got into it (about the third chapter). The book does not really have a slow start, but I am new both to the Pathfinder world and this author, so there was a bit of a getting to know each other period. Once I got comfortable with everything I had a really hard time putting the book down, as I stated above.
The characters were likeable and you quickly grow attached to them. Even the main character, who’s a scoundrel that is really only in this world to further himself along at someone else’s expense, grows on you to the point you find yourself cheering him on. The book flows along at a fast pace with hardly any lulls in the action. There is also a little comedy thrown into the mix. If you are a fan of other books based on role-playing games such as the Forgotten Realms novels or the Dragonlance novels you will greatly enjoy this book. Hugh Matthews did an excellent job of taking the fun and excitement of playing Pathfinder and transforming it into this story.
The strong point for fans of role-playing games will be the downside to those that are not. The book is quirky at times with a lot of magic that can pull a reader out of the story if they are not familiar with how the magic system in these types of games works. The magic can be over the top and almost mechanical at times. The same can be said for the combat in the story, as at times it seems almost like the recounting of a battle fought in the game the book is drawn from. There were times I could almost hear the dice rolling on the table as I read through a few scenes. However, I would still recommend the book to people that enjoy fantasy without have ever played the game because it is a fast, easy read that will draw you in and keep you turning the pages. And despite the game mechanics that can be seen poking into a few scenes, it still has a good story at its core.
Tim Schneck is a long-time listener of the Dead Robots’ Society podcast, an aspiring writer, and has been reading fantasy/sci-fi novels for over 30 years.
Thanks for a positive review. Re the game-ness of the action: the funny thing is, I have never played a role-playing game and have only the haziest idea of how it’s done, though I’ve seen extra-sided dice in stores.
The magic works according to the rules laid down by Jack Vance in The Dying Earth, though I’m told that the spells in Dungeons and Dragons were originally based on Vance’s ideas. The whole feel of the book, though, is meant to be reminiscent of Vance’s picaresque rogues’ tales.
Matt, we’re glad you like the review and rating. I’ll see about getting this posted to Amazon and GoodReads for you as well.