of Glory by Bret
Tyrannosaurus Press (Trade): ISBN 097188191X Sept 2002
Review by Rob Archer
544 pages List price $19.95
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Just as his characters must each follow their own path to become adults, first time author Bret Funk also sets up a challenging road ahead for himself. This is because his debut novel, Path of Glory is setting a high standard to maintain. I was very impressed with the way this story pulls you in and keeps you turning the pages. As with most five hundred plus page novels, there are a few lulls, but not as many as you might expect and they never last very long.
As the first in a series, the author had to set up his entire universe and the main characters that will be taking us along on their journeys. Funk does this wonderfully. He manages to describe the world of Jeran, Dahr, and the others with creativity and color. He also makes the reader invest themselves emotionally in the characters. There were times where you were compelled to go on to the next chapter to see how they’d fare. In a welcome twist, Funk turns many of the chapters into cliffhangers, but does not end the book that way. Instead he relies on the bond you’ve developed with his universe and writing style to carry the readers on to the future.
I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which each of the characters was developed, each bringing a bit of personality to the story. It didn’t seem as though the primary protagonists were cookie cutter types, but unique individuals who each told a slightly different story. The author even goes over certain events as seen through the eyes of each character, which really lets you get into the psyche of them all rather than being limited to the viewpoint of a single narrator.
There were certain parts of the story that reminded me of Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles as the boys go through their travels and are mentored into future leaders. This doesn’t hold true everywhere, but flickered in and out throughout the story. As the story progresses you are able to see the boys being molded by multiple mentors, each shaping a different range of attributes. Perhaps this is one of the explanations for why the boys are not simple black versus white heroes. Funk is able to touch on some of their weaknesses, which in turn make them more three-dimensional. The flip side of that is while the antagonists are most certainly evil, they seem to add to the story as more than just foils.
Bret Funk deals with his created universe in a way that slowly brings the reader along. The entire dynamic is not thrust upon you up front, but developed in a way that aids the story. This mixes in a good bit of politics as well as race and class issues. It is interesting to note the interplay between the races of Madryn, as well as those between the various human kingdoms therein. Standing out from many other tales of fantasy is the way in which the author deals with the subject of magic. Rather than a fire and brimstone school of magic, he exhibits the influence of somebody who grew up in the past two decades. I won’t give away the inner workings, but suffice it to say that at times you are waiting for Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness version) to add his ghostly explanations to the narrative.
Path of Glory is a captivating tale in which you follow Jeran and his close friends on their journey from boys, to men, and ultimately to leaders of men. The voice is fresh and the story is one that keeps you involved. I would recommend Funk’s work, and look forward to the next installment.