Tag Archives: Diana Pharaoh Francis

Francis, Diana Pharaoh: Path of Blood (Path of Fate III) (2006)

Path of Blood
Cover art by Alan Pollack
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.


Reviews:


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My review of: 

  1. Path of Fate
  2. Path of Honor

Francis, Diana Pharaoh: Path of Honor (Path of Fate II) (2004)

Path of Honor - Diana Pharaoh Francis
Cover art by Alan Pollack

One of the really interesting people in Path of Honor is Verit Aare. Verit Aare is the heir to the throne and eager to replace his father. As his father has been more or less absent the past six months, Aare’s lust for power is growing. Unfortunately for Koduteel (capital) and all of Kodu Riik Verit Aare is a psychopath/sociopath. While a lot of us have psychopathic traits, very few of us reach Aare’s level of sociopathy. According to Psychology Today one needs to show a lack of empathy (cold-heartedness, an inability to feel deeply); show a lack of shame, guilt, fear or embarrassment at ones actions; a tendency to blame others for their own failures, or no shame if confronted; show a strong ability to remain focused on a task; appear charming yet have a tendency toward pathological lying, and they seem comfortable even when found out; incredibly overconfident, as if they cannot fail; impulsive; incredibly selfish and parasitic; lack realistic long-term goals; and finally be prone to violence.

I feel certain most of you would be worried if a person like this lusted for the leadership of your country. Yet Aare seems to fulfil most of these criteria and for me that is the reason I find him especially fascinating and possibly revolting. Take how he treats his sister, the Vertina Emelovi, and what he does to his father’s hostage, Soka.

When Soka was nine years old his father had broken the terms of the hostage agreement. Something had to be done to avenge the wrong and it was decided that Soka would lose an eye. But the Iisand was not able to attend the removal and sent his son, Verit Aare, instead. Aare made the little boy remain awake during the procedure but had Soka drugged so he would remain docile while it went on. Finally, a map of Soka’s father’s lands was sown into the lid of his eye as a reminder of the deal. It had not been the Iisand’s intention that the procedure would be so cruel for the boy, but Aare liked the feeling it gave him.

Once again, Soka is in his power. Naturally, Soka is scared shitless. What will the Verit do to him this time?

On to Verit Aare’s sister. Poor Emelovi. She has to live with the man on a daily basis and he is not a good brother to have. Her fear of him is intense, yet he has kept his father duped as to the depths of his depravity. Perhaps that is because people tend to see what people want to see. Vertina Emelovi, on the other hand, is quite familiar with her brother’s cruelty. He expects nothing but complete submission. If she does not do what he tells her to, she suffers greatly. The first time she was made aware of that was when he killed her puppy because Emelovi had refused to dance with one of his friends. Since then, well. One does what one has to with such a maniac in the vicinity.

Aare does not like Reisil. He does his best to turn the court against her. Lucky him. Sodur (another ahalad-kaaslane team) has made his job much easier. On his part, Sodur did have the best of intentions. But what do intentions help when consequences are what determines the value of them. Poor Reisil, the consequences for her are stinky. Things are looking up for Aare when it comes to using his charisma and power-hunger against her.

Reisil is not completely alone. Kebonsat has come to court Emelovi on the chance an alliance between Kodu Riik and Patvermese might happen. Hmmm. Despite this task, Kebonsat does not forget his friendship with Reisil. Nor has Juhrnus. Reisil is thankful to have two such loyal friends on her side as it seems the rest of the powers of Kodu Riik have turned against her. But friends do turn up in strange places and sometimes lives change because of decisions one has made. She does have the “common people” on her side. But the common people do not have much power. Not really. Like us, the common people in Kodu Riik trust that the powers that be must be interested in the best of the country. Man, we are suckers, aren’t we.

Then two new powers turn up at court.


Reviews:



My review of Path of Fate

Francis, Diana Pharaoh: Path of Fate I (2003)

Path of Fate - Diana Pharaoh Francis
Cover art by Alan Pollack

Magic. Not all fantasy books include magic, but a lot of them do. Path of Fate is definitely about magic. We have the bond between the ahalad-kaaslane, Reisil-Tark’s evolving power and the power of the Patvermese magicians. All of these types of magic come together and open up a discussion about power, politics, gods and responsibility.

My rhetoric question of the day is: If you have power, do you also have a responsibility for how that power is used? Hell, yes!!! But just because you have a theoretical responsibility does not mean that translates into having to answer for your use/abuse in the real world. We all know that. Even I know that and I am not the best person in the world when it comes to paying attention to what goes on around me.

Reisil-Tark’s greatest role in Path of Fate seems to be to put a light to the abuses of power going on in and around Kallas during the story. We join her as her own sense of responsibility grows and embeds itself firmly into her mind and heart. Watching her come to realise that the people around her are not what she had thought/hoped for is an interesting process. It hurts when people we trust betray that trust. More difficult is seeing how we, ourselves, betray the trust of others. Reisil-Tark has to come to terms with that side of herself as well. My experience is that the reality of myself is the most difficult one of face. Being able to say that I screwed up or need to change a part of myself hurts. The pain is in many ways similar to the pain I have experienced whenever there has been need for surgery. This is the kind of pain I am sensing from Reisil when she has to come to terms with herself.

Path of Fate is Reisil-Tark’s story. She is an enjoyable character who does her best to deal with the life she has been given. Finding her strength in a world where she is pretty much alone is a process and we get to follow her on that journey.


Reviews:


  • Series: Path of Fate (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Roc (November 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451459504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451459503