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Stephen_Newman reviews Path of the Warrior by Gav Thorpe. The perennial novel from the Eldar point of view. Specifically the POV of a Warrior. Please enjoy his first review here for TFF. -CP
“A nice view of the alien perspective.” ~The Founding Fields
Hello there! Since this is my actual first review of The Founding Fields I thought it best to give a brief introduction of myself. As the username implies my name is Stephen Newman and I (hope) that every month or so to post up a review based on a xenos race or from their own perspective but enough from me and let’s get back on topic with this review.
Today focusses on the first of a series dubbed “path of the Eldar”, written by Gav Thorpe and even rarer they will be written on the views and opinions of the Eldar. This alone intrigued me from the start since past efforts by Black Library, chief amongst them Ian Watson’s Inquisition War trilogy, had never left me of a satisfactory feeling that they were portrayed in the right light. This novel focusses on the life and exploits of Korlandril. Korlandril starts the book as an artist but as one can imagine with the title ends up on the Path of the Warrior as a Striking Scorpion of Alaitoc Craftworld. So I set to work reading and absorbing this novel with expectations of hopefully some decent light being shed onto them (the Eldar).
Let’s give a final opinion first. I found it good. I was really impressed by Thorpe’s portrayal and characterisation of the Eldar. Since I started in such a positive vein lets elaborate more on what I enjoyed in particular in the novel itself.
First I want to explain the importance of the setting that is played to great effect in many occasions in this book. Alaitoc Craftworld is described as a “living, sentient being” and Mr Thorpe does a cracking job on bringing it to life to the reader. Every place was described in vivid, colourful detail, all wrapped up in a rich palette of life. At times I could momentarily stop reading o imagine and take in what these sights might look like. Ranging from simple environs like a simple living room apartment from areas of great majesty like Korlandril’s sculpture and the Chamber of the Avatar of Khaine every room had descriptions that would leave me in a state of majesty and elegance that I come to expect from the elder race.
I also feel it to be appropriate to talk more about the characters involved, major and minor. The main 3 characters I would highlight in this novel would be Korlandril himself and his close friends Thirianna and Aradryan. The characters themselves ooze great synergy between each other and you can see how each of the characters form their friendships whilst at the same time the seeds that result in the splintering of their partnership can be seen from the start. As the story continues we can see each new face that is introduced still retains an area of freshness and each personality brings something a little different to the story so it never feels old. Like the mystery that surrounds fellow Scorpion Squad members Bechareth and Arhlesh to friendly Dark Reaper Squad members (and also old friends of Korlandril) Arthuis and Maerthuin. Whilst one could argue that so many faces that each appear to be different might be a great coincidence I think it adds more to the story than it might ever take away from it.
Finally to conclude all the final good pieces about the book I also want to comment on the rituals and about the aspect shrine itself. The main shrines that the reader becomes most familiar, the Shrine of Deadly Shadow and later Shrine of Hidden Death, truly integrate the observer into these rituals that are so styled and full of intrigue displaying the sole purpose of drawing the reader in for more. If you are anything like I was you will fall for it hook, line and sinker. In addition the temples the style of schooling and the training cycles that show the extreme lengths they go to in order to perform the basic functions each warrior is expected to do and all of these seem to serve a purpose that show how cumbersome their foes in battle. However I might add in here that some of these acrobatics and sneaking about seem to show off the Scorpions in almost too good a light and at least a couple of performances make them seem to be as acrobatic as Harlequins at times.
However sadly not every tome can be seen as perfect and as is natural for every novel there are some areas in which Path of the Warrior does indeed almost fall flat on its face.
First major point and on first introspection did not become apparent but the plot of the story advances quickly and a lot of moments occur in such a short space of time. In fact I believe that it all occurs too quickly for my liking. Whilst it might be easy to accept that the transition from artist to warrior occurs quickly due to some possible build-up the reader is not aware of before the events of the novel are set in motion I do believe that the move from warrior to Exarch is very rushed and this draws away from the tragedy of being trapped upon such a path somewhat.
Final drawback of the novel is the point where I find that in a novel that is based on combat and about the warrior path that there is actual little fighting that occurs in the novel. It does disappoint slightly and I am fully aware that the omission of too much fighting allows the development of characters and the details of the Craftworld to be taken into account I can’t help but wonder whether the scenes should be longer in context so that the reader could engage with every blow and dramatize this so it feels like every fight for these warriors is like spliced combination of a ballet with a Roman gladiator fighting win where the Scorpions feel that they must excite an ever present crowd with their skills.
Overall it is a fascinating read and to date it is the best Eldar novel published by the Black Library and the way it has drawn me in and given me a glimpse of the Craftworld itself as it fights for its very future leaves this reader well satisfied with the novel and yet lamenting until the release of the next in the block.
I expect nothing short of this and believe that Gav Thorpe is mostly spot on in this story. My review gives this book a sound 8.8/10.