The Path of Flames
The Path of Flames is a multi-threaded story that starts with the story of Asho, a previous slave who has been elevated to the position of a squire to Lord Kyferin. Asho’s allegiance to Lady Kyferin causes him to follow her into exile along with Lady Keferin’s daughter, Kethe.
The thing we liked best about The Path of Flames is how Phil Tucker builds multiple storylines based on individual characters. He sets the motivation for each character in a personal way then weaves each of the stories together. Some of the stories are directly connected, while others are part of a larger arc that supports the series. This makes way for the larger scope necessary in Epic Fantasy.
The world built by Phil Tucker has complex physical and social structures that enhance the Epic Fantasy experience. The population of each physical country is restricted to a social class defined by the doctrine of Ascension, which allows a person to be reborn after death into a higher social status (and country) based on the previous life. The citizens of Bythos are considered the lowest creatures on the path to Ascension, and as such are slaves kept underground as miners. This increases the conflict for Asho who was born in Bythos, but has been raised from a slave to become a squire in Ennoia, which is a much higher social class.
Another fantastic element of Phil Tucker’s world is how each country has their own unique culture. In Ennoia, for example, violence and brutality are celebrated and encouraged. While in Alethia, the social graces, fashion, art, and poetry govern all.
The things we had the most trouble with was the poor editing and liberal use of clichés. Here are a few examples of clichés: “cut him to the quick” and “bloody murder”. There were many more. The book would have rated higher without all the distractions.
One thing that redeems the poor editing and clichés are the bursts of nice prose scattered throughout the book. Here’s an example: Up he went, and the urge to sing his death song began to grow strong, swelling his chest and seeking to escape and reverberate from the great mountain walls, a dirge to quell the joy that the kragh behind him were taking from the hunt.
Here’s more nice prose: He lay in the web of pain that was his body, but felt detached from it, aloof to the aches and sobs and grinding agony that suffused his flesh and bones.
Another thing we liked were the bits of philosophy in the book. For example: “I cannot forget the life that has made me who I am.”
Here’s an example of beautiful prose and philosophy mixed: The men and women who ran the castle were sleeping off the day’s toil in anticipation of a lifetime’s more to come.
We thoroughly enjoyed The Path of Flames. It is the type of book that rises above mere storytelling with beautiful prose and a bit of philosophy. For that reason, it makes our Must Read Fantasy Books list.
MAIN CHARACTER TYPES
Devils and Demons
Witches and Wizards