This book was reviewed for San Francisco Book Review
The Shadowed Path by Gail Z Martin is collection of short stories giving insight into the murky past of Jonmarc Vahanian, telling the story of how this young man got started down the path that would eventually cross with Prince Tris. I was so tickled to read this collection. I read the Chronicles of the Necromancer many moons ago and loved it. I even had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Martin and having two of her books signed. She took the time to speak with me, then a baby author, and give me encouragement in my endeavours with Evalyce, and for that I will always be grateful.
I quite enjoyed this tour through Jonmarc’s past. One thing to keep in mind though is that this is a collection of short stories. Each one was once published separately, and each gives a brief introduction to Jonmarc, and his life thus far. Each story falls almost right on the heels of the other, with the entire collection following a little over a year of his life.
These stories lead us through the loss of Jonmarc’s birth family, when raiders devastated his village. He’s taken in by people in the next village over, and things go well enough there, at least at first. Then comes the night, months later, when an attack on this village by unknown creatures results in the loss of his young wife and unborn child. Alone and adrift, Jonmarc joins up with Maynard Linton’s traveling caravan and entertaining show, working as an apprentice blacksmith. His da was a blacksmith, and Jonmarc has been working the forge since he was a lad.
Travelling with Linton’s caravan, Jonmarc learns of the greater world, and learns that sometimes the worst monsters are humans themselves, and what they can do to each other. He meets vyrkin, who take the form of wolves. He meets, and faces in combat, vayash moru, the long-lived undead, who usually keep to themselves. There’s Chessis, and Vakkis, a pair of bounty hunters who first come seeking one of the caravan members, and later come after Linton himself. Travels take the caravan to Principality. The last story tells of Jonmarc’s meeting with one of the mercenary groups for which Principality is famed. His assistance with a guild rivalry nets him a place with the War Dogs, the top mercenary group in the city.
I’m not normally a vampire and werewolf fan. They’ve become such commonplace tropes in fantasy writing these days. Martin puts a new spin on both, giving them a unique place in this world. There were a few grammar/spelling mistakes, but they do not detract from the stories at all. Only, the really big one is the mis-spelling on the cover since it is Jonmarc’s last name…
???? Recommended if you enjoyed the Chronicles of the Necromancer, unique vampire/werewolf stories, or works by Peter V Brett, KE Mills, or Brandon Sanderson