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Religion, faith, beliefs seem to control so much of the world's humans. We allow ourselves to be steered by goddesses and gods who promise all kinds of things in return for our unfailing loyalty. Political systems seem to have the same kind of hold on people. I see how soldiers willingly put their lives on the line in travelling to far-away countries on the say-so of their leaders. In both instances motivations seem to differ from anything from undying loyalty to simple greed (although greed might not be such a simple matter).

Path of Blood takes us into both these worlds. Yohuac and his absolute loyalty to the nahualli's and the goddesses and gods of Cemanhuatl is disturbing in its completeness. Reisiltark is no different. Like heroes in a great many young adult sagas she will do anything to save her country from destruction. That she happens to be a more or less "good" person is a lucky thing for Kodu Riik. What if she had made the kind of choices that Upsakes had - who also believed that he was doing the Lady's will.

In spite of seeing what a terrible person Aare is (and it would take a completely blind and deaf person to avoid that) the Lord Marshal of Kodu Riik is going to swear loyalty to the man the moment he takes the Iisand's throne. To him it is the throne he is swearing himself to and not the man. But life is never like that. It is always the person we end up swearing ourselves to and the values that person emotes. That is if we are looking at tyrannies, monarchies or dictatorships. Whether we choose to follow that person out of our own free will or because we are forced does not really matter in the end. What matters is what price our loyalty ends up having. I doubt I would have the strength to gainsay a person like Aare. His way of ruling is much too brutal and frightening.

Fortunately there are sometimes alternatives. In the case of "Path of Blood" we have the followers of Reisiltark and the rest of the rebels. These are the ones that managed to escape the steel grip of Aare's followers. They have set up camp by Mysane Kosk in the hope of helping Reisiltark heal their land. I think I consider people like these rebels brave. They are the ones who have the courage to stand up to a tyrant and have put their lives on the line for their freedom. Sadly that is the consequence of power-hungry people - one sometimes has to take up weapons to stop them maiming the place one lives in and the people one lives with.

I'm not certain how I feel about Reisiltark herself. I don't know if I really believe in her. Perhaps she is too much the anguished hero. In that sense she and Yohuac are a perfect match. She fills her role as hero perfectly. Heroes are supposed to be larger than life, have amazing values and be able to make difficult decisions on who has to die when trouble arrives. This very good and very bad cast of people is part of what makes a young adult novel. In my head "Path of Fate" is very much a young adult novel. There is violence, gore and darkness, BUT very little of it is descriptive and the dark is interspersed with light.

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Third and final volume in a trilogy of fantasy novels telling of Reisil. Via a mystical bonding with a Goshawk she has risen from a village healer to a warrior who is the only hope for her kingdom when civil war and a magical threat both come at the same time.

This follows on from previous volumes Path of Fate and Path of Honor (Path of Fate) and picks up from where the second one left off. Thus there are no concessions for new readers and even returning ones will take a few pages to pick everything back up again, so start with the earlier volumes rather than this.

It runs for four hunded and fifty two pages and forty three chapters and Reisil doesn't figure in all of them, as whilst she's out doing what she can to deal with the magical threat other characters are dealing with the war. A vivid description of places under siege follows, considering in depth what would result. Such as the need for supplies and metals. The big scope of the kingdom does make for a convincing picture of a land in turmoil, with characters not being privy to everything.

The war is brutal and there are scenes with the discovery of horrible things done by raiding bands. But these aren't graphic and there aren't that many.

As the plot strands move along you suddenly realise that there's only a hundred pages to go and may start to wonder around page three hundred and fifty if it will all be wrapped up in a satisfactory manner. Thankfully it then manages to do just that.

This doesn't break new ground for the genre and it doesn't contain anything you won't have read before if you're a fan of the genre, but it's a good read and a decent end to the story.
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on 3 July 2008
I finished the book, but it was a bit of an effort at times.

I do not really care for the emphasis on torture etc. Overdone, I think. The writer has talent though - I may try another book.
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