As Queen Ileosa starts to lose allies and Merisiel embraces her destiny, the true power behind the throne is revealed.

Emboldened by success in acquiring the Sword of Serithtial, our heroes prepare to storm Ileosa’s palace. When a former enemy arrives to help, the champions must put past enmity aside to win peace for Korvosa. But who’s really the power behind the throne?

Curse of the Crimson Throne

‘Crown of Fangs’ is the sixth and final part of the third ‘Pathfinder Legends’ series, ‘Curse of the Crimson Throne’. Last month, we reviewed chapter five and found it surprisingly accessible for a fictional world with so much history. Big Finish have achieved the same magic again with a complicated plot but easily relatable characters and relationships.

In particular, knowing it’s the final chapter means that anything can happen. My experience with RPGs and fantasy stories in general is minimal, so I don’t really know the tropes. Nor do I know how the adventure path, upon which this series is based, plays out. Whereas my usual poisons, like ‘Doctor Who’, are bound up in continuity, this plot could go anywhere!

Game of Fangs

While Pathfinder Legends includes all the fantasy trappings of a world based on an RPG, the story is very rich. It has echoes of Game of Thrones for how the political intrigue is mixed into the action. In this chapter, especially, the main characters have to consider how Korvosa will be governed after they’ve deposed Ileosa. Nobody’s competing for the throne, admittedly, but that the characters have to consider the political future is a nice touch.

Routine Regicide

However, this does create a bit of an issue as far as tension goes. Half the characters leave the team to, in effect, win public approval for a transitional leader. This is a great plot point and the scenes between Merisiel and Vencarlo are my favourite part of the story. But it feels like the main villain is being diminished when her defeat is treated as a mere formality. Admittedly, their confidence is proven to be misplaced and bolstered by having the Sword of Serithtial. But I felt it undermined what should have been a really gripping couple of scenes.

Total War

But this is swiftly made up for in the second half, where an all-out battle of magic, swords and manipulations ensue. With so much going on and so many characters to keep track of, I was expecting to get lost. Instead, I found it was really easy to follow along thanks, once again, to careful direction and clever voice work. You could never confuse one character for another and that made all the difference. You can get more wrapped up in the events as they unfold instead of trying to remember who’s who. As a result, the climax was a gripping final battle. Even the wrap-up, addressing dangling plot threads, didn’t leave me confused since the intent of the dialogue is clear even if the words are a little lost on me.

Overall

‘Crown of Fangs’ has proven to be a stunning conclusion for the audio adaptation of ‘Curse of the Crimson Throne’. When the tension is good, it’s really good! The final battle and the subsequent fallout kept me gripped. I found myself rooting for the characters despite my relative unfamiliarity with them. With many more adventure paths to draw on, it’ll be tough for Big Finish to top the superb job they’ve done here.

‘Crown of Fangs’ is available to buy from the Big Finish website.

Synopsis

Korvosa withers in the grip of a mad monarch! Beaten down by riots, disease, and the ironclad enforcers of a cruel despot, the people shudder in their homes and pray for saviors. The time has come to rise up against the crazed Queen Ileosa Arabasti and put an end to her vicious rule.

Yet within the walls of Castle Korvosa waits an army of soldiers, bodyguards, and diabolical monstrosities – to say nothing of the seemingly invincible queen herself. Can Valeros, Merisiel, Ezren and Harsk put an end to the tyrant’s reign? Or will an ancient evil claim Korvosa once and for all?

Written By: David Bryher, based on a story by Tito Leati

Directed By: John Ainsworth

Cast

Stewart Alexander (Valeros), Trevor Littledale (Ezren), Ian Brooker (Harsk), Kerry Skinner (Merisiel), Evie Dawnay (Kyra), Sean Connolly (Vencarlo Orsini), Imogen Church (Sabina Merrin), Kate Brown (Queen Illeosa), Wraith Johnson (Neolandus), Ken Bradshaw (Sermignatto)

Producer John Ainsworth

Script Editor John Ainsworth

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

 

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