The Path Of Anger (the first part of a new fantasy series called The Book And The Swords), the debut from Anton Rouard, is an old fashioned, somewhat no nonsense sword and subterfuge romp.
It’s the tale of a grizzled old veteran, named Dun-Cadal, who’s frittered his life away for the past number of years. He’s a grumpy old git, but to be fair, he’s been through a lot, and lost people. Rouard casts him in a sympathetic light, as he’s at least somewhat multi-faceted and three dimensional, though sometimes to the detriment of other characters who aren’t anywhere near as fleshed out.
A historian by the name of Viola comes knocking, asking for the whereabouts of Eraed, the sword of the last emperor (god knows why swords always have names in fantasy novels, but whatever). This stirs up the hornet’s nest though, and they’re soon both entangled in a series of murder mysteries, as old acquaintances of Dun-Cadal get killed off.
Rouaud has a talent for character depiction, as you get a real sense of how tired and jaded Dun-Cadal is. You could imagine Charles Bronson or Oliver Reed playing him in a film. He’s not totally without merit either, and a more… paternalistic, Obi Wan Kenobi side to his character emerges as the novel goes on.
Without giving too much away, The Path Of Anger ends on a note that leaves plenty of scope for further books in this new series; books that are now to be anticipated, as Rouard clearly has something. It may ramble on, and dialogue is very stilted, and somewhat humourless, but he more than adequately gets his point across.
The path may be of anger, but Rouard’s next few steps down said path will be intriguing to see. Let’s hope he has a bit more fun with it next time.