David was born in Australia, but moved to Ireland at an early age. The early globe crossing must have gone to his head, as he has since backpacked through and lived in numerous countries. He grew up on a farm as the eldest of nine unruly siblings, but since his escape, he prefers city living. His electronic engineering degree is currently gathering dust while he tries new and strange pursuits such as novel writing.
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Also posted on my blog, Rinn Reads.
I was a bit apprehensive when I started to read this short novella, as I foolishly hadn’t realised it was in fact part of a series. Although it is a prequel to the main books, often you need to have read the sequels before the prequels. However, luckily in this case it didn’t appear to be so!
In just a few pages I was sucked into the fantasy world that Normoyle had created, despite the fact that it wasn’t really enough time for detailed world-building, nor would the entire book be at only seventy pages. However, I was immediately given a sense of how tough this world was through the actions of the bully, Grayer, and the reactions of the boys’ family – particularly their father. He is all for leaving them to fend for themselves, which many families appear to essentially do. As teenagers, the young boys (at least, I think it’s just the boys) of this world must take the ‘Green Path’, a test to filter them out by ability, and which only the strongest survive.
The Green Path was the main issue here. As I’ve not read the series, I was never entirely certain about the rules of the Green Path, why it happened, or why the three brothers were being ‘selected’ for it when the previous impression given was that everyone had to take path. However that is through no fault of the author, but my own fault in not checking whether this was part of a series! Irregardless, I enjoyed this short story with its tough world and factions. It definitely piqued my interest in reading the main series, and shows David J. Normoyle as a promising writer of fantasy fiction.
This book was provided to me free of charge, and I am reviewing it voluntarily. The Cruel Path is a prequel to Normoyle’s The Narrowing Path Trilogy, and it does exactly what a true prequel should do, it made me want to read the trilogy. The story follows three brothers before and during the “Green Path”, a trial designed to weed out the weak so that the limited resources of the city can be dedicated to the survival of the strong and cunning. Unfortunately, only two survivors are allowed, so even if they all prove themselves worthy, one of the brothers still has to die. Normoyle does an excellent job of making the most of a short story/novella. His characters are fleshed out, a back story is provided, and the world building is sufficient to help the reader understand the basic conundrum. I liked this story very much, and look forward to reading more by this author.
...'perhaps we are all monsters, those of us who walk the Green Path'...
Poignant and stark, with moments of joy, this dystopian novella sets the background for survival, death and what is to come thirty years hence in The Narrowing Path. This is a glimpse into the history of Arcandis and The Refuge through the eyes of Ealnor, one of three brothers. Teenage boys, those selected from the hierarchy of Arcandis society must walk the Green Path, and survive it. If they survive they will be future leaders.--the ascor. They will be amongst the chosen, certain of refuge when the surface of Arcandis becomes intolerable unto death. However the struggle will be ongoing, lasting a lifetime. There is always some one wanting to take your place. The Triplets, brothers, have been (unusually) raised together as comrades, rather than potential enemies competing against each other for survival. Sorani, Frodan and Ealnor. They 'watched out for each other,...cared for each other, and...loved each other.' In a society that uses anyone they can to scramble, crawl or kill to get to the top of the heap, this is a rare thing. Only two of the brothers will be able to go forward, to be tested by the Green Path. Certainly the verse from John 15:13, 'Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends,' springs to mind. This is exactly what one of the brothers contrives to do. However this leaves at least one of the brothers racked with remorse and guilt. Having previously read and enjoyed immensely The Narrowing Path, in The Cruel Path we are offered another insight into this harsh society; presented as it is against the strength of love. At the time of writing it's free on Amazon. Certainly can't beat that price!
Oh how I loved this story. I thought it was a sequel to the first book (The Narrowing Path, reviewed by me back in June), but turns out it was a prequel. Also turns out it was much shorter than the original (Cruel is a novella).
It's set on the same world as Narrowing: A planet with an unstable orbit. Once every few (six?) years, the planet gets too close to the sun and all life on the surface is killed off. The only way to survive is to be below the surface, within the cave structures deep under it. The caves can only hold a limited number of people, so every six years all teenage boys need to "walk the path". Basically go out into the world and kill off all the other boys or prove themselves in some other way (trade/business, etc). Only eight kids will be permitted to enter the cave. (And adults sure as heck aren't safe either. You have to have a lot of power and influence to earn a safe place.)
Cruel Path follows three brothers. Right from the beginning you know there's going to be a problem: Of the eight kids who can enter, four are picked by the four houses, and each one of those four can pick one person to bring in with them. So there's no way all three brothers can win a place -- at the very best, only two will survive, and even that is a very long shot.
My only disappointment with the book was how short it was. I hadn't realized it wasn't a full book, so it ended way, way, way before I was ready for it to.
Publisher: normoyle Publishing Date: November 2013 ISBN: 9781311760395 Genre: Fantasy Rating: NR
Publisher Description: In a society without love, three brothers develop an unbreakable bond; in a land without mercy, only a handful of boys like them are allowed to reach adulthood. The three brothers take on the pitiless test of the Green Path, knowing that even if they win, one of them must die. But which? Having to make that terrible decision proves crueler than anything else the Green Path can throw at them.
Review: According to the author, this story occurs prior to the Narrowing Path novel (see review here). This is a novella and as such, it is really hard to rate and review unless you have read the prior novel. You really need to read the Narrowing Path first, before you read this. That being said, there really is not enough meat on this bone to give it a fair review. I will say that the author really needs to find some cover art help. Looks like three Bieber glitter vampires cruising for douche bags.
In this prequel to The Narrowing Path Series, three brothers work together to survive the Green Path - a competition among the boys of the Ascor, the wealthy in the community to survive and guarantee a place for themselves to hide in the limited underground shelters from the scorching sun that makes the planet unlivable for a few weeks every six years. The boys must fight, bargain or help a fighter and be interesting and cunning to win a place for survival. Of the three brothers, only two will be chosen to live if any of them are at all. One brother will have to die. Eolnar tells the story of himself and his brothers and how they use their wits to survive and as he does, he sadly comes to terms with the death of one of his brothers. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.
The Cruel Path is an excellent prequel to The Narrowing Path. If you hadn't decided if you wanted to read the series, I think this would positively cinch the deal.
As noted, this occurs 30 years prior to the incidents beginning in the The Narrowing Path and I believe gives you a fair grounding on the world of Arcandia and its way of life. Characters appearing in The Cruel World reappear in the series.
Having said that, I went back and reread this story after completing The Narrowing Path, and enjoyed it again for the glimpses of how the characters changed after 30 years had passed.
the only reason I did not give this book a fourth star is the author throws you into the story without adequately explaining the world in which the story takes place. this cause me to feel disconnected from what I was reading. however the story was compiling, the hook was great and by the end I was in tears. all and all a good read.