Saturday, 10 December 2011

Path of the Seer Review

No idea what to write but massive urge to write... I guess I could review Path of the Seer real quick.

So, the second book of Gav Thorpe's Eldar trilogy, the first being Path of the Warrior and the third being the unreleased Path of the Outcast.  Each book concentrates on what happens to one of three friends - Korlandril in Warrior, Thirianna in Seer and it logically follows that Aradryan stars in Outcast - during the same timeframe.

If you've read Path of the Warrior (which you kinda should before this one) you'll already know, more or less, what to expect - and in fairness, it might not work if you didn't.  But one weakness of this is you'll already know a large amount of the plot, since you're mostly seeing the events of Warrior through Thirianna's eyes instead of Korlandril's.  The first quarter will be very familiar in terms of the characters, showing Thirianna walking the Path of the Poet as Korlandril walked the Path of the Artist and Aradryan returning from his travels on the Path of the Steersman.  However, despite the Eldar-ness of it all (everyone talking in very precise terms and almost surgical precision) they actually seem like real people.  They all have their desires and flaws and the character development is essentially clear from the way Thirianna, in a desire to see what happens to her friends, leaves the Path of the Poet and steps onto the Path of the Seer.  It's a very organic development in my opinion, just as organic as Korlandril's anger and shame driving him to join the Striking Scorpions in Warrior.  Yes they're Eldar and the not-quite-human-Space-Elves vibe is certainly there, but you can and do relate to a lot of what they're going through.
   I was a little disappointed that Thirianna was described as being 'very gifted' in the way of the Seer so early on in her teachings, as that is a tad overdone in my opinion - the 'naturally gifted at whatever specific role they fulfill' protagonist - but her overconfidence leads her to make interesting mistakes along her path, and the interaction she eventually has with an estranged family member was also rather believable - on both halves of that interaction.

 Plot-wise is again, very similar to Warrior, and I can see Outcast following suit quite easily.  I won't spoil it too much, but it's essentially friends separate onto different paths, and the three paths showing different sections of Crafworld Alaitoc's culture and its war machine.  And this is where the Eldar trilogy truly shines in my opinion - in how it immerses you in how the Craftworld Eldar see the universe and it really fleshes out a lot of the background in general.  You see how the Aspect Shrines and Warriors work in the first book - as well as some parts regarding the way of the Artist and the summoning of the Avatar, as well as the inner mind of the Exarch - which I found particularly interesting.  In the second book we get to see what the Farseers do day-to-day, the inner working of the Infinity Circuit, the activation of Wraithlords and Wraithguard, as well as the bonesinger's craft and some parts of how Autarchs and Farseers work together to create battle plans on strategic and tactical levels.  In Outcast I'd expect some insight into the rangers, exodites and the Eldar corsairs, most likely.  The plot itself is well paced between moments of training/contemplation and the main battles and mistakes/confrontations.  I think it's very well written, as I said, believable characters, uncluttered narrative, good pace and well-written action sequences.

I can't really find many flaws beyond what I've already noticed.  If you don't like self-contemplation, then the Eldar ways aren't for you, but if you don't mind it, this is a good, solid book.  Nothing Oscar-level, as it were (been watching too many film reviewers on Youtube), but not much to dislike.  Of course, if you happen to dislike the characters, personal taste will sway your opinions in that way, but I found them quite relatable and flawed in convincing ways.  They are Eldar though, it is in their interest to be selfish and choose the correct path for them to take to expunge their extreme emotions and desires so that they do not attract the attention of Slaanesh - who they always refer to in Voldemort style as 'She Who Thirsts' - so they kind of have to be a little self-centered.

Overall - good book.  Warrior was great, Seer is just as good, here's to hoping Outcast will either match or surpass both.  4/5.

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