4 out of 4 stars
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Aelith only joined the Covenant, a religious order of the Trius gods, six years ago because she wanted to escape her abusive father. When she manifests as a sorceress during the Springlight Festival, she has no choice but to flee the town of Haverin; her brother and her best friend, along with the rest of the town, want to burn her alive because of her new powers. Destiny leads Aelith into the care and training of Renae, a master of the arcane (sorcery). Aelith soon realizes Renae’s real identity and her deadly mission. A trip to faraway Krato takes Aelith on a new path filled with carnage. Will she give in to the evil that beckons her, or will she fight it every step of the way? What chance of self-discovery does she have if she must master her powers and serve another?
C. M. Lackner proved to be a master of plot progression and character development in his book, Path of Darkness (Book One of the Memories of Madness). Aelith was a different person by the end of the story. Even though I did not like several actions she took, I loved how multidimensional Aelith’s character was. You may find yourself rooting for her and wishing she survives the many hurdles thrown at her. But at some other points, she does abhorrent things that are unforgivable. It was a bonus that other characters were also fully fleshed, and every scene Lackner included aided the plot.
At first, I thought that Lackner’s writing style was subpar, especially since he started out using a lot of dialogue. But Lackner turned that impression around and gave me the thrill of my life. His detailed descriptions and incredible action scenes left my heart pounding in many instances. The scene where Aelith had to escape Haverin was especially charged! The dialogue became crucial, as it helped me visualize everything better. Using dialogue, the author successfully made his characters relatable and humane despite their evil deeds. For example, the things Holl, Orane, and Iradel’s friends said about them made me feel some empathy for their situation, even though they had previously killed and enslaved hundreds of people.
I had a few issues with this book, however. While Aelith’s learning curve made for an engrossing read, I often got lost when the author explained things about arcana (magic), as I found some of his explanations complex. Also, while I enjoyed Aelith’s evolution, I wished that Lackner explored the depth of her powers and goodness more. It felt like he sacrificed depth in those regards for action. Also, by the end, I still had countless unanswered questions, so I am looking forward to the sequel. There are a lot of adventures that the author must reveal. I will be reading book two, and I recommend you do the same!
This book is perfect for mature readers who enjoy fantasy books that explore the inherently evil nature of man. There are erotic scenes, LGBTQ content, and a slew of profane words. Also, Aelith, the protagonist, is an anti-hero. So, readers looking for a brave, moral, and inspirational protagonist should look elsewhere. Despite the above-mentioned issues, I can only rate this book 4 out of 4 because I have not read a book as thrilling (and not heeding any conventions) as this one in a hot minute!
Path of Darkness
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