Author Tim Pratt does love writing silver-tongued scoundrels, and banter between characters is an obvious strength of his (seen, for example, in his Marla Mason series, between Marla and her sidekick, Rondeau). This banter is strongly found in Liar's Blade, Pratt's recent release from the Pathfinder Tales series published by Paizo--though now the battle of wits takes place between Rodrick, a habitual liar and thief, and Hrym, a sentient sword of living ice.
This odd pair have obviously been through a few adventures together, with Rodrick relying on Hrym's ice magic to get him through various escapades alive, and Hrym relying on Rodrick to provide him with a lovely bed of gold upon which to sleep. It's been a relatively good arrangement and seems to be turning in more in their favor when a new client appears, offering Rodrick's weight in gold should they serve as protection for a priest on a holy quest for an ancient relic.
From the start, though, Rodrick and Hrym are of one mind to find a way to drain the rather weighty purses of their new employers, while also making off with the sure-to-be-valuable relic to sell to the highest bidder.
Of course, such riches never come easy to even the most conniving thief. The first problem is the priest in question is well aware of Rodrick's dubious morality and has plenty of safeguards against treachery. Second, the priest's assistant, an odd young woman with the disturbing habits of spitting acid and collecting eyes from corpses, seems perfectly capable of protecting the priest. So why did they really want Rodrick and Hrym along?
Soon, the band's holy quest is overshadowed by another goal--to figure out exactly who is lying about what and why. Rodrick is certainly proud of his ability to spin tall tales at a moment's notice, but as deceit piles upon itself, he begins to wonder whether he'll remain alive long enough to enjoy that promised pile of gold, or whether he'll just be buried under it.
As mentioned earlier, Rodrick's interaction with Hrym is one of the greatly entertaining elements throughout the story. Pratt has laid out an excellent adventure with plenty of twists to keep readers guessing. He also continues to develop unique characters who keep adventures through the Pathfinder realms fresh. It'd be easy to fall into particular cliches within an RPG context, but Pratt continues to find ways to turn expectations on their heads. In his last Pathfinder Tales, City of the Fallen Sky, Alaeron could've been just your average spellslinger, but instead is an alchemist whose intellect and insatiable curiosity are his most formidable weapons.
Here, Rodrick could've been just another warrior with a magic sword. But he's actually rather inept at fighting and his more important struggles involve morality rather than muscles. Liar's Blade is a marvelous showcase of not just Pratt's writing skill, but also the expansive storytelling potential provided by the Pathfinder RPG.