[Editor’s Note: Spoiler Alert – This book review goes into detail about what transpires in the book. If you’re the sort that would prefer not know, be warned…]
Ill start off by saying I am not usually a Gav Thorpe fan: his writing usually just doesn’t have that flair for atmosphere that I usually enjoy in a Warhammer or 40k novel. I will actually go as far as to state that had my friend D, who loaned me the book, not warned me about the beginning I probably would not have made it past the first chapter.
The story follows the artist known as Kolandril, a bohemian elf about town and apparently well known sculptor. The first half of the book is devoted entirely to this self conscious, over baring and relationship deprived little bastard. Soon after the first few pages, old friend Ardryan arrives just in time to establish the love interest in the story and provide the catalyst for the rest of Korlandrils string of poor decisions. At this point I would like to point out why I enjoyed this particular Thorpe novel more then many of his other works, Thorpe brings life to a xenos culture that we would otherwise just be able to steal glances at through codices and blurbs and a few tie in novels mostly featuring blue power armored jocks and the imperial flashlight patrol. The depth and casual detail that is interwoven into the real story provides one with a kind of through the looking glass type of feeling, as I read further I found myself drawn in by the descriptions of the environment more then the story in some places. Modes of transport, proper social etiquette and how a psychic society would function, which by the way is not limited to mind reading, they use psycho kinetics for almost everything including such exciting things as opening doors, stalking girlfriends and sky boarding and art. Thorpe dose well in describing social interaction and how much of the Eldar’s language is built upon observation and movement, all these little details create a rather good mental picture of how a craftworld functions and how the Eldar actually live.
The apex of the first half of the book is when Korlandril gets the ultimate rejection from the girl he has been lusting after since adolescence gives him the ultimate rejection (think I can see the future literally and we are not in it) Korlandril gets pissed and depressed and predictably not knowing what to do with the emotions he has no idea how to deal with seeks the company of old friends (of course these friends are in the military and other old friend Ardryan is part of the current problem) Predictably there is a “you must master your rage to better understand yourself” moment and he is eventually taken but what I assume to be the Eldar equivalent of a cougar to the striking scorpion shrine of the deadly shadow. This is the turning point where the story goes from boring background fluff to Mr. Myagi karate kid training sequence in which the old Korlandril is replaced by new badass ninja Korlandril and we are introduced to Kannaith the exarch of the shrine who guides Korlandril on his spirit mission. Before long he is introduced to the other members of his squad with whom he has been trained separately from for a good chunk of the story. now united with the rest of his murderous clan he soon finds himself sent into battle.
The premise for the battle is simple as it is awesome, orks have taken root on an exodite world and of course these filthy savages must be purged. The avatar is awakened and off everyone goes through the webway to go visit harm upon the greenskins. The actual fight is not limited to just the pov of the striking scorpions, fire dragons, dire avengers and of course the avatar makes an appearance and the vivid descriptions of death and carnage where quite pleasant. After the battle there is an interlude of brief inner discovery with korlandril that drags us back into the B story and stretches on for a few pages. I wont ruin the story for you, there is much more that happens after his first battle but I don’t want to give to much away.
Over all I enjoyed the book a lot more then some of the imperial novels that I have read, Path of the warrior is a refreshing look into the lives of another race other then the grim dark future of the imperium, there is war but there is also peace and you are not left with all that gloom that usually drips from the imperial based novels. Also if you like big battles and lots of tanks and war gear this book is a treasure trove of descriptive detail on some of our favorite weapons on the table top, they even have a phantom titan that makes a brief if not stunning appearance, I now understand why D strength weapons seem to ignore everything (except other Eldar tanks, damn energy fields) If your looking for a good read that’s not the size of a dictionary and has a decent plot line other then PURGE THE UNCLEAN! then you might want to crack the binding on Path of the Warrior by Gav Thorpe, or borrow it from a friend.
BH Senior Editor
WH 39,999 Contributor