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What is Shadows of Pnath?

Review

SHADOWS OF PNATH by Josh Reynolds is the second of the Countess Zorzi novels and part of the Arkham Horror series. The Arkham Horror series is a loose spin-off of CALL OF CTHULHU by Chaosium now published by Fantasy Flightr Games with the books published by Acnyte books. A corporate web that I’d honestly love to know the exact circumstances regarding but I suspect would cause me to lose SAN. The Arkham Horror novels are a pulpier, more action heavy version of the Mythos with a slight chance of a a bittersweet ending rather than just everyone ending down Shub-Niggurath’s fifteen gullets.

The Countess Zorzi series is based around the fantastic character of the Coutness Alessandra Zorzi, a Catwoman-esque burglar and femme fatale who previously dealt in occult artifacts as well as books despite the fact she didn’t believe in the supernatural. In THE WRATH OF N’KAI, she is unfortunately confronted with this being a very arrogant attitude to have in the face of the Cthulhu Mythos. I really enjoyed the Graphic Audio adaption and suggest if you’re going to listen to them then this is the best way to experience it.

The premise for The Shadows of Pnath is that the Countess is running low on her discretionary funds due to having switched from stealing for rich would-be supervillains to working for the less wealthy Miskatonic University. Her latest attempt to get back one of the books she stole for a client backfires, though, and her young protege, Pepper, is kidnapped by an ex-lover, the Comte de’Erlette. He is obsessed with acquiring the original Cultes des Goules written by his ancestor and using it for an unconventional plot: to take the fight directly to the Great Old Ones. Which is suicidal and stupid but not unprecedented in the Arkham Horror universe.

There’s a lot of expansion to the Arkham Horror universe by this book as it introduces the Black Chamber, the same predecessor to the NSA that Charles Stross used in his Laundry books, as a potential new power player in this world. There’s also a mysterious secret society called the Red Coterie that would eventually be the stars of the Secrets in Scarlet anthology. Basically, they’re like the Silver Twilight Lodge but closer to neutral than evil. I liked seeing the Countess up against spies in the post-WW1 period but was actually more interested in her past as a associate of more malevolent sorcerers (while not being a believer in the supernatural herself).

I feel the book suffered a bit for the fact that Countess Zorzi and Pepper were separated for the majority of the story. I think much of the series’ fun comes from the two individuals from different social spheres playing off of one another. Still, I had a lot of fun. I also enjoyed the Count de’Erlette as a villain as while he’s a thoroughly repulsive individual, he’s actually attempting to fight for humanity. Under different circumstances, he might have been a hero of the series.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed The Shadows of Pnath and think it’s a worthy sequel to the original novel. I preferred The Wrath of N’Kai more because there were slightly more interesting characters to bounce off of. I feel Trish the Black Chamber let Alessandra walk all over her a bit too much to be a credible spy and I actually feel like the Comte deserved some more attention. Still, I am definitely picking up the third book in the series.

Available here

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