Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Ronin Reads – Path of the Eldar Trilogy

Title: Path of the Warrior; Path of the Seer; Path of the Outcast
Author: Gav Thorpe
Type: Novel Trilogy
Genre: Science Fiction

Author’s Note: Even though these are three separate books, I decided to review the whole trilogy for two reasons. The first is that all three books tell of the same event, but in a Rashomon style where each story is a different perspective on the same moments, so I thought it necessary to look at the full set to understand the whole story. The second reason is that each book preceding the final one cut off at different parts during the climax, making it necessary to read the whole trilogy to know how the story ends.

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war. The 41st millennium of humanity’s calendar is fraught with conflict and bloodshed spanning across the stars. Of the alien races (or xenos), perhaps none are more tragic than the Eldar, whose species was all but eradicated by a cataclysm eons past and are forced to live out their days in isolated craftworlds of their own creation, treacherous exodite worlds they inhabited, or lead far less scrupulous lifestyles like pirates or brutal raiders. But on this day, we shall speak of the craftworld Alaitoc, for something monumental happened there.

There are three friends from this craftworld whose tales weave together to tell an epic story. Like all of the Eldar, they walk specific Paths of life that they devote themselves to entirely until theyhave had their fill of it and move on to a different Path altogether. Korlandril walks the Path of the Artist and is a famous sculpter, Thirianna treads the Path of the Poet and keeps her work to herself, and Aradryan travels the Path of the Mariner as a steersman who detests feeling confined to the craftworld. An incident drives them apart in different directions and radically different Paths. Korlandril finds solace in the Path of the Warrior, where he fights for Alaitoc as a stealthy and deadly Striking Scorpion. In her eagerness to prevent tragedy, Thirianna seeks answers in the Path of the Seer where she can harness her psychic powers for the good of the craftworld. But Aradryan forsakes the Path of the Eldar completely, leaving Alaitoc on a ranger ship and walking the Path of the Outcast in a search for freedom.

However, each of our heroes run the risk on being too immersed in their Path and losing sight of themselves and their values. This comes at a very inopportune time as the actions of one of them (or is it all of their actions?) brings enemies to Alaitoc and risks destroying their home and the thousands, if not millions, of lives that inhabit it. Each of them plays a part in this great battle that may spell the end of Alaitoc and the Eldar.

Each of the character’s stories are parallels to one another, not just in the events of the story, but in the themes as well. Each of them starts out on a path that doesn’t suit them, transfers to the titular one when they feel its pull, falls too far down the rabbit hole on the path to the point where they’re almost unrecognizable as their former selves, and have to face the consequences of their actions at the battle of Alaitoc. But each of them goes through their journey differently. Korlandril’s fall from warrior to exarch is entirely involuntary, brought on by his own hubris and lack of willpower, which is more obvious when you look at his actions from the other characters’ perspectives. Thirianna’s transformation from warlock to farseer, on the other hand, is completely voluntary; she knows that she’s going to be trapped on this path for life if she does, but she makes that sacrifice for her desire to see the future and prevent harm from coming to those she cares about. Aradryan’s descent from ranger to piracy is different and very reminiscent of someone who is falling to peer pressure. When his crewmembers blow up an innocent ship, he knows it feels wrong, but gives his conscience false promises in order to belong. Each of these even feel natural to them, as if this could have been predicted from the beginning.

The fact that the books make these characters relatable is a marvel. The characters come from a species whose ways are so alien to us that it might be hard to fathom. They are born psychic, they shift lifestyles dramatically every so often, and they have a way of compartmentalizing their very psyches to protect it from the backlash of killing another living being. Yet through the prose, the readers can understand why they do the things they do and see other species and situations are through their eyes. Everything they do has a clear logic behind it that the reader can experience firsthand. The readers also get a look at their culture through short blurbs preceding each chapter, though the content differs in each book. In Path of the Warrior, each one is an excerpt from Eldar mythology concerning their gods and genesis. Path of the Seer tells us of different runes that the warlocks and farseers use to channel their powers. The ones in Path of the Outcast all tell of different locations throughout the galaxy that are important to the Eldar or that are simply wonderful to be around. In a way, they all paint a picture of a very old and doomed culture.

This trilogy isn’t without its drawbacks, however. If you’re an American reader like myself, the use of British spelling will throw you for a loop (i.e.: “artefact” instead of “artifact,” etc.). Another point against it comes from the fact that it is not kind to people who are not into the hobby. It throws a lot of terms at the reader and doesn’t give them much exposition for context. Casual readers will probably not know what separates Striking Scorpions from Howling Banshees or of the significance and identity of She Who Thirsts. Perhaps it’s because of my previous Warhammer knowledge that it didn’t bother me, but I don’t know that a lot of newcomers will be able to pick these things up through immersion alone. Finally, there are parts of the books that do strike a bit of the “buy all our playsets and toys” mentality, especially in the Battle of Alaitoc when talking about the Phantom Titan and the other war machines. I suppose I can’t blame Games Workshop too much for this, since the books are meant to tie into the game, but I can’t help feeling a little manipulated.

Korlandril’s story feels visceral. Thirianna’s narrative is introspective. Aradryan’s tale feels emotional and intimate. Each book tells one side of a very involved story that binds them together and changes their fate forever. It’s interesting how each side not only reveals a bit about the overall saga, but of the characters as well. The writer wrote a similar trilogy dealing with the Dark Eldar and I might consider looking at that, though that will probably be a darker experience since the Dark Eldar are unapologetic slavers and rapists. I’m not sure if you’ll get as much out of this if you’re not into Warhammer 40k, but fans will get a good insight and see that there’s more to those “sissy space elves” than arrogance and pretty models.

Posted under Ronin Reads

V-log – The Dark Knight Rises

Nananananananana nananananananana Ronin!

This would have been up days ago, but the internet’s been screwy for me lately.

Posted under V-logs

Social Widgets powered by