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March 2003
2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Walter poses with cover model for The Dark Path

Feature Review:
The
Dark Path
b
y Walter H. Hunt
Tor Hardcover
: ISBN 0765306069
PubDate Feb 03
Review by Bruce Wallace
416 pages List price $27.95  
Buy this book and support SFRevu at
Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

Feature Interview: Walter Hunt

Previously Reviewed:
The Dark Wing (SFRevu Feb 02)

In The Dark Path, Walter Hunt's follow up to his smashing debut novel The Dark Wing  we return to a  familiar universe in which times have certainly changed. Admiral Marias, the hero and villain of the previous book is long dead and most of his companions that followed him into exile are close to following him down that final road as well. 

One of the few returning characters from The Dark Wing is Segri Torrijos, Admiral Marias's second in command during the human / Zor war. The human Solar Empire and the alien Zor that had waged a deadly war in Dark Wing are now engaged in an uneasy alliance. Marias himself is remembered by humankind as someone who did the wrong things for all the right reasons. He waged war against the Zor with terrible effect and nearly condemned an entire sentient race to death for the sake of stopping a war that had raged out control for ages. However, he won, and quickly at that. The Zor recognized him as one who was predestined to act in the manner in which he did and recognized him as the Bright Wing. In their mythology the Bright Wing is the almost mythological counter to the Dark Wing. Rejected by his own kind, Marias is embraced by his onetime enemies and raised high in the nests of the Zor. 

The novel opens eighty years after the Zor / Human war. Segri is now the of Gyaryu"har of the Zor, which literally means bearer of the gyaryu. The gyaryu is a sword of great power to the Zor and it is the only weapon that can defeat the Dark Wing. A more complete definition of the Gyaryu"har is sword bearer and war leader and, at least in Segri's case, prophet. The Dark Path begins with Segri having a dream that recounts the Zor legend of the hero Qu'u and his journey to claim the gyaryu. Because of this dream Segri embarks on a journey to one of the Solar Empire's greatest outposts. Ostensibly a slightly unusual inspection tour, it becomes much more when the base is over run by an almost unseen enemy with the power to read minds and change shape at will. These aliens, reminiscent of Robert Heinlein's Puppet Masters quickly capture Segri and the gyaryu. 

It is in the midst of this strife that we meet Commodore Jacqueline Laperriere and her Zor second in command, Commander Ch'k'te. They have formed an odd partnership, the significance of which is not lost upon the Lord of the High Nest of Zor. The two are soon tasked with a Zen-like quest to recover the gyaryu . While retracing the steps of the legendary Qu'u and his companion Hyos they must also wage a very real world fight against the new alien menace. 

What follows is a tale that while much like The Dark Wing, builds rather than borrows from its predecessor. There are once again  compelling characters, a challenging plot line, a cunning combination of the Tao and space warfare at its finest. With The Dark Path Walter Hunt has once more delivered a riveting novel worthy of the military SF genre.

sfr3d.gif (19860 bytes) 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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