T.R. Thompson's The Forked Path was published by Odyssey Books November in 2018.
Information about T.R. Thompson:
Tom is an Australian speculative fiction writer. He lives in Belgrave on the outskirts of Melbourne with his wife and two young sons.
When not writing or reading he spends too much time gaming and taking long meandering walks through the forest that always seem to end up at a tavern.
The Forked Path is his second novel. It's a sequel to The Blood Within the Stone.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about The Forked Path:
“The roots that sink the deepest
The forked path of the mind
The soul that splits is weakest
Future and past entwined”
Despite the victory over Cantor Cortis and the Nine Sisters of Redmondis, the dark power still spreads, nightmare creatures wiping out villages all along the southern edge of the Tangle, causing a stream of refugees to flow into the capital of Sontair in the hope of finding some protection.
All who helped overthrow the Nine Sisters of Redmondis have been touched by what they experienced and those they lost. Dark visions sap Petron and Daemi's strength even as they try to heal the rifts within Redmondis and forge a new path for the wielders, crafters and guards who make up its three main schools.
Wilt has entered the wild forest called the Tangle, searching out the source of the power that calls to him. Visions of the past seen through other eyes haunt his days, and he finds it harder and harder to resist the pull of his wraith form.
The Guardian is old and weak, and the Tangle is no longer secure...
REVIEW: THE FORKED PATH BY T.R. THOMPSON
T.R. Thompson's The Forked Path is the second novel in The Wraith Cycle. It's an excellent and well written sequel to The Blood Within the Stone. It will not disappoint anybody who has read the first novel, because it has an epic and mythic feel to it and - what's best - it takes the story to a new level of fascination and complexity.
As many speculative fiction readers may have noticed, YA speculative fiction has become increasingly popular during the recent years. One of the reasons for the success of YA speculative fiction is that many YA novels are often of exceptionally good quality due to the authors crafting spellbinding and thought-provoking novels with intriguing protagonists. Some of these novels are excellent, but a few of them are clearly in a league of their own and form an elite group of novels. In my opinion, The Forked Path belongs to this elite group, because it's a prime example of how to write compelling YA fantasy fiction that can be enjoyed by young adults and adults alike.
I was impressed by The Forked Path and found it utterly enthralling, because it's everything that The Blood Within the Stone is and then some. It's a fully satisfying reading experience, because it has more depth, more darkness and more complex a story arc than the first novel. I'm happy to announce that this novel is one of the best and most captivating epic YA fantasy novels I've read to date (I love its epic nature and find its dark fantasy elements thrilling).
In the first novel, readers were introduced to Wilt who used to be a thief and member of the Grey Guild before being taken to Redmondis due to him having raw power in him. He and his mates faced Cantor Corvis and the Nine Sisters of Redmondis and defeated them. Now, Wilt's story continues in a mesmerisingly dark and sinister way.
In this novel, dark things are happening in the world after the victory at Redmondis. The dark power continues to spread and creatures are wiping out villages along the southern edges of the Tangle forest, causing a flow of refugees towards the capital of Sontair... Wilt has entered the Tangle and wants to seek out the source of the power that calls to him. He is having trouble resisting the pull of his wraith form... Shade is traveling in the forest and sees something horrible that frightens him... Daemi and Petron suffer from terrifying visions that won't go away. They try to salvage Redmondis and make things better... The Guardian of the Tangle has become old and weak. He is aware that a harbinger of change is coming...
What I've written above serves as the beginning for an epic tale that whisks readers off on a remarkable adventure to a world where darkness spreads its tentacles and tries to gain control of the world.
Just like in the first novel, the worldbuilding is interesting and works well. Now, readers get to read more about the Tangle forest, which is a vast and wild forest that covers much of the world. The Tangle is explored well, because the author writes about its Guardian and what he aims to do. Readers are also introduced to Sontair, which is a large southern township ruled by a queen.
The characterisation is interesting, because the author writes fluently about Wilt and his struggle with the darkness. Wilt is a well-created character whose powers have made his life different. I enjoyed reading about him, because the author writes fluently about how he interacts with the voices he hears and how he tries to resist the temptation of his wraith form. I also was pleased with the author's way of writing about Petron, Daemi and other characters. It was especially interesting to read about Petron and what kind of a loss he has experienced.
One of the best things about this novel is that the author concentrates on telling about how the previous events have affected the characters. Although the characters experienced a victory over Cantor Cortis and the Nine Sisters of Redmondis, the events have left their marks on them. They faced darkness and were touched by what they experienced.
Reading about the wildlers was fascinating, because they're people who - according to the Nine Sisters - weren't useful to Redmondis due to their different kind of powers. Their powers are less focused and less human, but can be powerful and important. Nurtle is an especially interesting wilder, because she's a wise woman who knows many things. It was great to read about her and her connection to another wildler.
It's good that the author writes about the dangers of using the powers for too long a time, because it brings depth to the story. Using the powers can be seductive and spending too much time in another form may be dangerous: if a person shifts into another form and is not careful, it may be difficult to return to a human form.
One of the things that I liked about this novel is that the author writes about the welds. What happened at the end of the first novel is now explored further. I also want to mention that I was taken by the author's ability to write about loss and loneliness in a touching way.
The author's way of writing about the Tangle is atmospheric and deeply evocative, because he evokes a sense of a dense and mysterious forest that is home to something powerful and non-human. The Tangle and its strangeness will enchant everybody who has ever loved reading about mysterious forests and their dwellers.
There's something about the darkness and the evil in this novel that has a Lovecraftian edge to it. Although the dark elements are not exactly Lovecraftian in nature, what lies in the depths and tries to break free feels deeply Lovecraftian. This is one of the reasons why I love the story so much, because I find this kind of darkness fascinating.
The ending of this novel is simply marvellous. I won't reveal any details about the happenings, but I can mention that what happens in Sontair is worth waiting for, because the author delivers a few scenes that will take readers by surprise. The final chapters are fascinating and deeply satisfying.
I like the author's writing style, because it fits the story and makes for a great read. The sections involving the Guardian and his thoughts feature beautiful and compelling prose that is not often seen in YA fiction. I liked these sections very much and think that other readers will also enjoy them.
I give this novel full five stars on the scale from one to five stars, because it's everything I expect a sequel to be. I sincerely hope that readers will read this novel and its predecessor, because The Wraith Cycle is an excellent fantasy series.
T.R. Thompson's The Forked Path is dark and epic YA fantasy fiction done right, because it offers readers a mesmerising reading experience with plenty of depth. If you enjoyed The Blood Within the Stone and found it captivating, you'll love this novel and will be impressed by it. I wholeheartedly recommend it to readers who love dark and epic stories.