Wednesday 29 October 2014

#bookreview: Paths of Alir by Melissa McPhail

Paths of AlirPaths of Alir by Melissa McPhail
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To write a good summary of Paths of Alir is almost impossible - so many things happen in this book, with so many separate threads aligning and so many new ones spinning off. When I first opened it on my kindle, I was shocked to see a reading time of 15 hours (which managed to adjust itself downwards to maybe about 9) so I just *had* to go and check out how hefty the tome would be in print. It clocks in at 782 pages as compared to Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archives which stand at about 1,000+ pages each. Not bad. I could knock someone out with this in hardcover.

Giving too much detail in this review would constitute spoilers for Cephrael's Hand and The Dagger of Adendigaeth (though if you're reading this review, you should probably have read the first two), so I'll keep it brief and to the bare minimum (also, there are so many key players now that it's impossible to talk about each of them).
Bjorn van Gelderan's plans are slowly taking shape - his Players are stepping onto the field and changing the game. Together with his sister, Isabel, he continues to move the pieces and guide the players in this intricate, high-stakes King's Game. Losing will only mean the destruction of Alorin and T'khendar.
More rude awakenings await the remaining Vestals and Adepts in Alorin, and Tanis, revealed in The Dagger of Adendigaeth to be more than he seemed, finally finds home - which raises a host of new questions in his quest for his past. Phaedor, of course, is being as evasive as ever.
Of the three val Lorian princes, Ean is coming into his own - his skills, and his memories, are returning in spurts, even as he wrestles between rescuing his brother Sebastian or his loyal men. Under the hands of Taliah hal'Jaitar, Trell's position is only getting worse - will he break under Taliah's torture?

Threaded through the dramatic storytelling, Paths of Alir struggles with this important question, aptly asked by Pelas: "Do you choose your path, or does it choose you?"
It's hard to decide. On one hand, Pelas starts to question the immutability of his nature as a Malorin'athgul and struggles against the compulsion his brother has put on him, Trell continues to strive for honour and dignity in the midst of torture, and Ean and Isabel's paths start to intertwine due to the choices they make. On the other hand, Shail and Darshan still work towards destruction despite evidence that they can change, and Taliah has submitted to her brokenness and darkness by walking the twisted path of mor'alir.

The one slightly negative thing I'd add to this otherwise great review is that Paths of Alir turns much darker than the preceding two books, delving much deeper into torture & humiliation scenes, which may overall feel a little BDSM-ish. It's not very explicit, nor is it gratuitous, but I guess it should be mentioned for those who might not like/appreciate reading these kinds of things (i.e., sorry, not for the kids).

* I received this ebook as a review copy from Novel Publicity.

View all my reviews

Review of Dagger of Adendigaeth here!
Review of Cephrael's hand here!

About the Book - About the Author - Prizes!!!

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About the book: A Pattern of Shadow & Light Book 2

At long last, the reason for the blessed Adept race’s decline has been discovered: powerful beings known as Malorin’athgul are disrupting the Balance and preventing Alorin’s Adepts from awakening to their gifts. Who are they? Where are they? And how can they be stopped when they wield a power meant to unmake the universe itself?
In T'khendar...Prince Ean val Lorian has forsaken his companions in blood and battle to join the traitorous Fifth Vestal in T’khendar in the hopes of gaining some insight into the tragedies that plagued his Return. Now he must confront the man he's long thought of as his enemy and discover the role he is meant to play in the First Lord’s darkly magnificent game.
The Vestal Raine D’Lacourte has followed his traitorous oath-brother Björn through six kingdoms and into the distant realm of T’khendar seeking explanation and atonement. But the condemned realm harbors shocking secrets, and Raine soon realizes he’s facing his greatest enemy yet—not in Björn, but in the truth.
Elsewhere in Alorin...the young truthreader, Tanis, faces a new villain in the fiery-eyed man he followed from the café in Rethynnea; the soldier Trell struggles to reconcile his growing feelings for the girl he rescued from the river against the guilt of his unknown past; and in Tambarré, another truthreader named Kjieran van Stone treads the incense-filled hallways of the Prophet Bethamin’s temple hoping to uncover a plot of treachery and betrayal before the Prophet demands his soul.
The time has come for each player to claim his role in the First Lord's masterful game. All will be tested, but only time will tell how many can survive the dagger of Adendigaeth.

Get The Dagger of Adendigaeth through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats.

Connect with Melissa on her website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads.
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  1. Anna, thank you so much for your thoughtful review of Paths of Alir. I appreciate your sharing it with your readership.

    I recently wrote a blog post about the scene you reference above. It was never meant to be interpreted as rape (I was mortified when I learned that some reader were) and I've actually edited the scene so it's more clear that it was fully consensual.

    Paths of Alir is darker, and definitely not for children. It deals with concepts of morality, honor, integrity and sacrifice. Many characters pass through darker valley in this iteration of the story, but only so they can climb to the highest reaches in book 4.

    1. Melissa, thanks for stopping by!

      I would have to admit that I was reading some other reviews while writing mine and may have been unduly influenced by them. I've taken the reference out in my reviews, but then again when I thought about it, some of the Trell/Taliah scenes would fit that description.

      Looking forward to book 4! :)