Title: The Dark Path
Author: Luke Romyn
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Publication date: 2009
ISBN -13: 978-1-935013-93-8
Length: 154 pages
Reviewer: Clayton Bye
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The Dark Man is coming, and those in the know are ever so glad it’s not for them. Also known as Vain, he’s an assassin of the highest order. A visit from The Dark Man is the same as a visit from death.
There are a number of reasons The Dark Man is named Vain. The author will explain the most obvious one, so I won’t spoil the surprise. I don’t know if he meant it or not, but the author’s choice of name for his assassin also fits the Latin origin of the word vain: empty, without substance. For Vain truly is empty. He has blocked out his previous life so well, nothing remains but a few nightmare images which visit him every night. He’s emotionless, killing without compassion, fear, joy or remorse. Vain doesn’t even use the money he gets for his work. He simply kills: it’s not only what he does, it’s who he is.
So, when a man named Priest (are you getting the feeling we’re dealing with archetypes here?) ruthlessly breaks through Vain’s inner armour, reminding him of the good man he once was, in order to enlist his help in saving a boy who is the next messiah, we hold our breath and wait.
The Dark Path doesn’t disappoint. Luke Romyn has written a story about redemption earned. Vain, The Dark Man, takes an equally dark path to hell and back in his efforts to protect a child from certain death. The assassin also fights a metaphorical as well as an actual battle for his soul and for the power to fight his enemies: demons, hell-spawned beasts, the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse and the devil’s machinations.
Romyn’s story is brutal, to the point and is told in a way that keeps you from comfortably assuming the antihero will win the day and, thus, his personal redemption, right up to and including the end of the book.
If you like a fast moving, thrilling fantasy that keeps you thinking, then The Dark Path by Luke Romyn belongs on your bookshelf.
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2010
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