In the words of Gollancz: "The Path of Anger" is one of the most hotly anticipated fantasy debuts this year – not only for us, either! This book is going to be a real international event, with simultaneous publication planned with Bragelonne in France , Heyne in Germany, Planeta in Spain and Mynx in Holland. It’s going to be amazing.
Dun-Cadal has been drinking his life away for years. Betrayed by his friends - who turned their back on their ideals in favour of a new republic - and grief stricken at the loss of his apprentice, who saved his life on the battlefield and whom he trained as a knight in exchange, he's done with politics, with adventure, and with people.But people aren't finished with him - not yet. Viola is a young historian looking for the last Emperor's sword, and her search not only brings her to Dun-Cadal, it's also going to embroil them both in a series of assassinations. Because Dun-Cadal's turncoat friends are being murdered, one by one...by someone who kills in the unmistakable style of an Imperial assassin...
The Path of Anger is something of an old-school fantasy novel: big on events and plot, less so on characterisation. Two parallel plotlines dominate: the events of the present where a series of assassinations draws out the past sins of the victims, and flashback sequences between ten and thirteen years previously where a rebellion against imperial oppression in a marshland settlement grows into a full-scale revolution that ends up overthrowing the empire. The circumstances behind this form the main crux of the story, and while the significance of the titular book and sword is brought up late in the tale, their link to events is more than tangential and the mythology behind their creation is an intriguing one.A Bitter Draft:
It seems to be a trend in recent fantasy novels for authors to use flashbacks in one way or another. Personally I think that, however interesting the flashback may be, it almost always detracts from the pacing of the present story. While most, if not all of the novels that utilize flashbacks separate them by chapter, Antoine Rouaud weaves the flashbacks into the story mid-paragraph. Whether they’re dreams or stories being told, they’re masterfully woven into the story in a way that does not detract from the pacing of the present story at all; the narrative flow is likely better than anything I’ve read this year. While most of the credit goes to Rouaud in writing the story, credit must be given to Tom Clegg, the translator. Many translated novels suffer from bumps in the translation that hinder the narrative in some way – Clegg’s translation is superb.The Bad:
Fantasy Book Critic:
While I had some quibbles about the plot especially about the wedding at the end which really didn't make sense at least as our current understanding of the position of the respective characters in the world of the series, the main drawback is the almost complete lack of world building which leads to the novel reading as characters acting in theater with props, very well done for what is, but in contemporary top tier secondary world fantasy, we need more, namely a sense of the world beyond a few cliches.SciFiNow:
It’s the tale of a grizzled old veteran, named Dun-Cadal, who’s frittered his life away for the past number of years. He’s a grumpy old git, but to be fair, he’s been through a lot, and lost people. Rouard casts him in a sympathetic light, as he’s at least somewhat multi-faceted and three dimensional, though sometimes to the detriment of other characters who aren’t anywhere near as fleshed out.The Ugly:
Other than protagonists Dun-Cadal and Frog, very little effort is made to develop characters, even the nominal antagonist whose introduction as such is a little jarring. It’s a common (and often valid) criticism of fantasy that its female characters are little more than plot devices, and this is sadly no exception.The Verdict:
The book was released late October and there are hardly any reviews out there, but this "hotly anticipated fantasy debut" so far seems to be getting a fairly luke warm reception. Major gripes being lack of world building and poor secondary characterisation. On the positive side, all the reviewers said they'll be reading the next book.
To help you decide you can read the first three chapters HERE.