Path of the Seer by Gav Thorpe
Black Library Publishing
The ancient eldar are a mysterious race and each devotes their life to a chosen path that will guide their actions and decide their fate. Thirianna abandons her simple existence to embark upon the mysterious Path of the Seer. She will tread a dark and dangerous road that leads her to the otherrealm of the warp, where daemons are made flesh and nightmares are manifest. For only there can she realise her psychic abilities. After unleashing her powers in battle and communing with the spirits of her craft world, Thirianna turns her skills to discerning the future amidst the myriad strands of fate. Her visions reveal a great threat descending on Alaitoc, and both the living and the dead will march to war to defend it.
I've been looking forward to this book since I finished Path of the Warrior earlier this year. Path of the Seer is a telling of some of the same story, but from a vastly different perspective. To be fair, most of what is covered in Path of the Seer isn't even mentioned in Path of the Warrior; the events take place in the background or periphery.
Where Path of the Seer (and Path of the Warrior for that matter) really shine is in really delving in to the psyche of the Eldar (functionally Space Elves). They are truly an alien race, in many ways grossly different from us, and Gav Thorpe really nails it down clearly for us. In many ways the Eldar see, feel, experience the universe in full color where humans really only see maybe in black and white. Kind of like dogs and their ability to smell, see and hear in ranges we can only dream of, The Eldar are psychically gifted and emotionally vibrant.
The protagonist is Thirianna, a young (how do the eldar really define that?) firebrand of a woman who was once on the Path of the Warrior, drifted to the Path of the Poet to be self-contemplative, and now travels The Path of the Seer. She's a hot-head, difficult and stubborn as well as extremely gifted. Not only do we see how the Eldar path works, how the Eldar go through the various stages of their exceptionally long lives...but we see how their personalities and life changes have a huge impact on their entire direction. Her mentor gives us as readers some nifty insight in to how short sighted the protagonist is (and it's easy to slip in to self-critique too as he shows circumstances from multiple views, showing us that our own views tend to be...limited). It's really brilliant work.
I think the only real drawback is that I really don't like the protagonist. I had a hard time relating and getting to feel for her. She seemed like a snotty child and I personally have difficulty warming to that. She certainly gets her comeuppance though and she learns many things the hard way. Some of the backtracking is a bit tedious for those who read the previous novel but it does give some wonderful insight, so it IS valuable. Thankfully the author "touches on it" instead of wallowing in it. It is NOT a retelling of the SAME story from another perspective: it is two stories that intersect at different times.
I can't wait for the next installment. Gav really knows Eldar!
Cover art by Neil Roberts is of course awesome. It's simple, plain and works perfectly. A fine representation. I want a print of it!
Gav Thorpe shows us once again that he's truly the Loremaster of the Games Workshop IPs.
4 out of 5 Stars.