Friday, June 24, 2016

Fantasy Review: The Shadowed Path by Gail Z. Martin (with #GIVEAWAY)

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a decade since Gail Z. Martin debuted on the fantasy scene with The Summoner, the first book of her Chronicles of the Necromancer. I can still remember spotting that brilliantly designed cover on the shelf, and being completely sucked in by the promise of dark magic and sweeping epic fantasy.

If you've read the series, then you are already well acquainted with Jonmarc Vanhanian. You know the man, and you know much of his story, but The Shadowed Path still has some surprises to go along with the 'ah-ha' moments we expect. If you are new to the world of the Chronicles, however, this collection of short stories stands alone just fine, and should serve as a perfect introduction.

The way the stories are structured here reminds me of those classic collections of Conan, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, and Elric. Each story stands on its own, but they are loosely linked together, working to tell a larger life story. Yes, there are gaps between them, and sometimes you're all too aware that the developments you'd expect in the next chapter of a novel are missing from the next story, but there's a definite charm to flow of narratives.

If there's a common theme to these stories, it's one of loss . . . of heartbreak . . . and of suffering. Cursed from the moment he first picked up a sword, Jonmarc watches as friends, families, lovers, and comrades are stolen from this life. Time and time again he moves on, rises above the tragedy, and reestablishes himself in a new life . . . only to lose it all again. Even if we already knew the facts of his life, watching him suffer through each challenge adds a whole new facet of sympathy and understanding to an already well-developed character.

As for the stories, they are all fantastic, full of action, adventure, and some real tension. Even though we know Jonmarc must survive them all, it's clear early on that nobody else is safe, and that sense of legitimate peril is something that sets these aside from most prequel tales. Caves of the Dead, Blood’s Cost, Bad Places, and Dark Passage were my favorites in the collection, and if those titles suggest a little something about my dark tastes in fantasy . . . well, it's not entirely wrong. All in all, whether you're a fan or a new reader, The Shadowed Path is well work kicking back with for some summer reading.

Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by Solaris

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.

αωαωαωαωαωαωαω

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2 comments:

  1. I'm finishing this one off as I type, and I'm loving my introduction to this character and this world. I will definitely be picking up the "Chronicles of the Necromancer" soon.

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