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Lord of the Night reviews the thrilling conclusion to the Eldar Path trilogy, Path of the Outcast, by Gav Thorpe, author of The Sundering trilogy and Angels of Darkness.
“An exciting and revealing ride that journeys into the darker side of the Eldar race and brims with new lore and entertaining battles and characters all the way to the end.” – The Founding Fields
Its finally here, the end to the first real Eldar series of novels in Black Library’s history, and what an ending it is. What Path of the Warrior began, Path of the Seer continued, and now Path of the Outcast finishes the stories of Korlandril, Thirianna and Aradryan in a fantastic story that is in this reviewer’s opinion, definitely the best of the trilogy.
The Eldar Path is designed with one goal in mind, to safeguard the Eldar race from the predations of She Who Thirsts. But there are those who cannot conform to the Path, those who travel out into the galaxy seeking adventure, excitement and bloodshed, to experience the full range of their emotions and to see the wonders of creation. They are the Outcasts, and the Eldar Aradryan of Alaitoc has felt the call to wander beyond the domes of his Craftworld and travel across the known galaxy. But the Outcast is not an easy path to tred, frought with more danger than even the Warrior Path, and it will take Aradryan to the darkest parts of the galaxy and of his own nature.
The story that Outcast finishes is one we’ve been waiting since 2010 to see and it does not disappoint. The story quickly moves from the redone segments of Craftworld Alaitoc and moves into original territory with Aradryan and the crew of the Irdiris, and then makes some unexpected plays and links in very nicely with Thorpe’s short story The Rewards of Tolerance showing how that particular story ended for the Eldar, and finally ends the Eldar Path story in a very illuminating and introspective final few pages. The Battle for Alaitoc did not end as i’d thought it would, really I doubt anyone saw this ending coming, but its a damn great ending and in the pages before the battle’s end I was on the edge of my seat.
The characters in Outcast are a far more varied group than Warrior and Seer. Harlequins, Dark Eldar, Corsairs, Exodites and all the fringe groups of the Eldar, including some new locales and groups, are explored and really shown from the view-point of an Eldar rather than a human. The Harlequin troupe features every kind of their motley people, the Dark Eldar are of course malicious and monstrous and play a larger role in the story than expected, and the Corsairs are a delightful group of pirates that while not cruel like the Dark Eldar, are certainly greedy and battle-hungry. Aradryan’s character as he ventures on the Path shows how difficult it is for an Eldar to deal with their emotions and desires without the Path to keep them in check, and the pitfalls that an unwary Eldar can fall into.
The action scenes are very nicely done. Aradryan’s Ranger armament makes for some interesting sniper scenes and swordplay, but I felt the Harlequins’ battles were the real treat of the novel. Their dancing and capering mixed with deadly bloodshed and acrobatic murder was beautifully done, you really get the image of them dancing through a battle and killing with every step. The Corsairs boarding actions and their void-warfare departs from the bullish and powerful tactics of the Imperium and gets into the stealthy and fast-paced style of the Eldar ships. I enjoyed the personal duel between two characters, and final few scenes of the Battle of Alaitoc immensely as both were highly tense and filled with imagery of a great 40k battle.
The pacing of the story is enjoyable and easily read. I was even able to enjoy the parts of Alaitoc that were redone from Warrior and Seer, I suppose because Aradryan was more interesting than Thirianna, and the story moves at a good pace, one that is quick but not so quick that you are left in the dust. I loved the link between Outcast and The Rewards of Tolerance in the book, both for showing the alternate viewpoint in the latter and for revealing what happened afterwards as that short story did end somewhat abruptly.
My favourite quote of the novel, there were a few good ones but I enjoyed this one the most because of how unexpected it was.
I found the ending to be very sad but with some hope for the future, and to be a very deep look into the Path and its flaws, and the flaws of the Eldar as a race. They are far from perfect and though the Path is what keeps their society together, it can also be a dangerous thing if they do not tred it carefully. The ending also wraps up the Battle of Alaitoc and the stories of Korlandril, Aradryan and Thirianna. The future of Alaitoc is unknown, but there is hope, which is something that the Eldar do not always have.
For a thrilling conclusion to a groundbreaking trilogy, its memorable and diverse cast of characters and for being part of the first real Eldar series I give Path of the Outcast a grand score of 8.2/10. Outcast is definitely the best of the trilogy with Warrior as a second and Seer coming in last. Thorpe has done a hell of a thing in finally putting the Eldar in the spotlight and has done their ancient race justice, this might be the last of this trilogy but this series has proved that the right author can indeed write the Eldar and make them brilliantly alien, I forsee the Eldar becoming well-represented in Black Library. But this will always have been their first series, and Thorpe should be very proud of himself for that.
Should you buy this book? Any Eldar fan should have no doubts about buying Outcast, Thorpe has done a great job and this is a novel that you’ll definitely love. If the Eldar are not your interest I would suggest trying the series out, you might find that you like them, but if you really hate the Eldar than this series is not for you.
That’s it for this review. My next series of reviews will contain the following: Perfection by Nick Kyme, Chosen of Khorne by Anthony Reynolds, Treacheries of the Space Marines by Various Authors and God Save the Queen by Kate Locke. I look forward to reading and finishing those books and sharing my opinion with my readers, if there are any, hehe. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX! FOR THE CRAFTWORLD!