Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Path of the Warrior - Book Review

Path of the Warrior - Gav Thorpe

The ancient eldar are a mysterious race, each devoting their life to a chosen path which will guide their actions and decide their fate. Korlandril abandons peace for the Path of the Warrior. He becomes a Striking Scorpion, a deadly fighter skilled in the art of close-quarter combat. But the further Korlandril travels down this path, the closer he gets to losing his identity and becoming an avatar of war.

The latest Warhammer 40,000 from the Black Library deals with the ascension from lowly elder to warrior and beyond of one member of the Craftworld Alaitoc. Now before I begin I must point out that I am an Imperialist through and through, whilst this meant I approached the book from a different point of view from an Eldar fan I still think it would be an interesting read for all to give a view in to the mind of the Eldar.

The Novel deals with the life of Korlandril as he move along the various paths each member of the elder race must travel as they develop and grow. The novel begins as Korlandril the Sculptor treads his path creating beautiful and masterful artworks. Korlandrils personal life soon begins to unravel and it casts him down in to a dark and dangerous place. The speed and way this is handled in the novel despite trying to be aloof and above petty mindedness just ends up making the “young” Eldar look like petulant teenagers and for the most part makes them seem more Human than Eldar, however this pretence is soon dropped once the next path is chosen.

Once of the most impressive parts of the first part of the novel and the initial parts of his move on to the path of the warrior is the way the image of the craftworld is painted. It is shown in a way to show its vastness and it also ends up developing a character of its own. This part of the Eldar way comes to life towards the end of the novel when the craftworld begins to react to invaders but it really helps you understand why each individual craftworld and its residents have their own character.

Once on the path of the warrior things seem to move quickly, though I judge by the writing that it is meant to be months that pass however I don’t think that is conveyed too well, and before long Korlandril has mastered the ways of the Striking Scorpion and is deemed ready for battle. On joining battle things don’t go well or last for long however this unexpected outcome of the battle leads to yet another dark turn and almost too quickly (as even noted by other characters in the book) Korlandril takes a turn on to the part of the Exarch. The move to Exarch again is swift and shocking and again uses the size and Varity of the craftworld to present a completely different view of an aspect Shrine. Finally Korlandril joins the battle for altioc as an Exarch and goes on to join with the Phoenix lord and continue his existence there as an eternal part of the lord.

The novel was well written and gives an interesting overview of the Eldar, their way of life and most importantly their belief system. Each chapter was prefixed with a short “Extract” of the Eldar myths and legends, whilst written in a pseudo Lord of the Rings style and reminiscent of some of the myths and theology of the Indian subcontinent. When reading these insights it does help set up the novel and make you realise why things are as ritualised and as ordered as they seem to be for the eldar. The whole novel is sprinkled with references to the fall and these legends and these mixed with the constant changing of characters names (and unfortunately the tense in which they are talked about) do slightly confuse the past with the present, it seems when Korlandril became an Exarch he was no longer Korlandril and in places it became confusing but for the most part the novel worked and flowed well.

The ending of the novel was interesting and brought all the characters, be they Eldar or the Craftworld together. The ending also in my mind answered many questions on the nature of the Phoenix lords, and most importantly gave the Black Library chance to get Space Marines in to the novel (and a mention of what I can only assume was the new Caestus Assault Ram from Forge World).

My only major issues with the novel as a whole, despite its smaller failings, was the speed in which it developed. The novel moved too quickly through the path of the warrior and ended too soon. The characters and their interactions could have been further developed and could have revealed more about the Eldar and their beliefs but I guess it was just one novel not a series.

Overall due to the brief nature of the novel I think it have earned its three and a half stars and that’s from someone who isn’t an Eldar fan so for all those Pointy eared types out there this would be a great novel to pick up.


Availible from:

Path of the Warrior - Gav Thorpe
softback, 416pp • ISBN 9781844168743

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