Path of the Warrior is the first in a new trilogy featuring the Eldar Warriors by Gav Thorpe. It features Korlandril, a rather self-centred Eldar following the Path of the Artist at the start of the novel, and follows his journey as he discovers death and rage and learns to put on his war mask.
I have very, very mixed opinions about this novel.
On the one hand, I absolutely loved seeing more of the mysterious Eldar culture. The different Paths, the exodites versus the true Eldar, the methods of waging war, the way in which the Eldar constantly fight against the temptation of She Who Thirsts - all of this is magnificent. And damn well should be considering Thorpe's heavy involvement with the Eldar.
The first part of the novel was very entertaining - introducing the triangle of characters who will affect the future of the Eldar: Korlandril, Thirianna and Aradryan. It is interesting to see the different Paths these three will take, and how it changes their relationships. I like seeing aspects of everyday life from the Eldar point of view.
When Korlandril takes his first steps onto the Path of the Warrior, the tale remains entertaining enough (although much of the training segments feel as though they should have the 'Montage' song from Team America: World Police running behind them - very cliched). It is when Korlandril becomes lost in the lust of battle that the story loses impact and becomes merely a series of battle scenes. These should be the most exciting part of the book, but they are dull and pedestrian. I found myself flicking through pages with no real inclination to read them in depth (which is a marked difference from Dan Abnett and Graham McNeill, who both write gripping and vivid battle scenes).
I also disliked many of the characters. Korlandril himself is at first shallow and self-centred, and thinks only of his own pleasures - and then his character shifts to something so different that it feels as though you don't even know him anymore. I accept that this fits the theme of the story that Thorpe has gone for, but it makes it very, very hard to root for Korlandril.
The secondary characters are, mostly, just a fancy name and no real substance. (Speaking of the names, I know that Eldar Warriors cannot be called Bill, or Colin, or anything simple - but it became tiresome trying to work out the floral pronunciations of these characters).
The best impression I have of Path of the Warrior is that gamers can use it to flesh out the character of the Eldar army they are using. Regular readers of science fiction are unlikely to find much to impress here, especially when considering the impressive heights that Black Library novels can reach. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation of the Eldar race - it's just a shame that the story and characters did not live up to the world building. Flat and dull writing defeated me. Unless you have an express interest in the Eldar race, I would pass.
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