(Cover picture courtesy of a page on ASMSG Author’s Books that does not exist anymore.)
Set against the backdrop of the tundra and a world desperate for hope, the journey of a young man, E’Malkai, will come to define a realm that has been broken by an evil that does not sleep. A bitter betrayal, and the inception of a war that will consume the world, forces E’Malkai to confront the past and undertake a pilgrimage that is his by birthright. Follow him on his journey and be transformed.
[Full disclosure: Dan O’Brien sent me a print copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.]
After not reading epic fantasy for a very, very long time, I had a hard time getting into The Path of the Fallen, even if it’s a mixture of science fiction and fantasy. Still, as the pieces of the narrative fell together and we got a bigger picture of E’Malkai’s world, I began to really get into the book.
The Path of the Fallen is, quite simply, not a book for everyone. Avid readers of epic fantasy will love it for its unique ideas and the combination of technology and magic. However, if you don’t read fantasy as a rule, it’s probably best to read some so you can keep up with all of the names, the rich history and the complicated plot. I personally had a hard time keeping track of all of the names in the beginning because they all seemed to have apostrophes in them or were unpronounceable (although the main characters have reasonable names). But once you get into the book and learn the personalities of the characters, the names won’t distract you at all.
What I liked most about The Path of the Fallen was the fact that there was technology in an epic fantasy novel. This is not your regular swords-and-dragons epic fantasy, oh no! Dan O’Brien has crafted a new world based on both technology and magic and it blends well together. What explanation does he have for this interesting mix? A very good one that makes complete sense in the context of the book, as it turns out. Although there’s not much science, per se, I would still classify this as a fantasy/sci-fi crossover novel.
E’Malkai is actually a hero I can identify with. No, he doesn’t experience a lot of Young Hero Angst, but he does deal with inner struggles as well as his outer struggles. He’s sympathetic because he really does try to do the right thing, even at a cost to himself. The villain, Fe’rein is not your stereotypical black-wearing, mustache-twirling fiend, but he’ll never be among my list of best villains either. Still, he does have depth and a believable backstory, so I’ll give Dan O’Brien props for that. And for keeping track of all the plot lines and mostly tying them up without going for the cliché completely happy ending.
I give this book 4/5 stars.