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Path of the Bold
edited by James Lowder
Guardians of Order, 207 pages

Path of the Bold
James Lowder
Anthologist James Lowder has helmed other short fiction collections, including Realms of Valor and Realms of Infamy, and edited dozens of novels as a former series editor for TSR. He is currently the executive director of Green Knight Publishing's fiction line and a freelance author with a half-dozen fantasy and dark fantasy novels to his credit, including Prince of Lies and The Ring of Winter, as well as short fiction, essays, and book reviews for such diverse publications as Amazing Stories and The New England Journal of History.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Path of the Just
SF Site Review: The Doom of Camelot

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

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'Caliburn turned away, muttering, "I'm British. We never sing in public..."

Taine opened her mouth to reply, but the words were drowned out by the middle pair of doors to the gym crashing off their hinges. Standing in the opening was the Other called the Eradicator.'

Path of the Bold is the follow up to Path of the Just, although not strictly a sequel as there are no direct continuations among the stories. As with its predecessor, this is an ensemble production, featuring loosely connected stories from fifteen writers, one of whom is also the editor. The loose connection is that all the tales take place in or around Empire City, a twin for Astro City or Gotham. Like those places, it's a locale where super heroes and villains are a common fact of life, with all their attendant glamour and danger. This time around we meet an entertaining cross section of characters, some metahuman some not, with the emphasis on characterisation. Path of the Bold is a comic minus the graphics, and uses the lack to fine effect. In some ways it is the antithesis of the works by artists who would be writers. Except, where such efforts usually stumble due to the artists lack of ability with words, the writers here are all able to paint fantastic pictures for the mind's eye.

There are fifteen stories, including; "Timelines" by Steve Crow, where a subtle hero named Tangent, has the ability to glimpse pieces of possible futures. Editor James Lowder gives us a story called "Fanboy," detailing how the ideals and aspirations of a young comic book creator become warped into something much darker. The splendidly named Lucien Soulban presents "Forever Young," a bitter-sweet fairy tale replete with haunting imagery. Jim C. Hines contribution is "Sidekicked," a coming of age tale in which Sparrowhawk, a young heroine, steps out from the shadow of her mentor. Mike W. Barr's work, "The Judas Silver," introduces us to Griffin Frost, a detective bordering on the supernatural, whose abilities have more in common with Derren Brown than Batman. Alex Kolker weighs in with "The Shield of Little Italy," a story about a character similar to Iron Man, in terms of ability, but very different in his circumstances and outlook. John Sullivan provides a startling tale named "One Step From The Light," which begins at a funeral, then backfills a story of The Furies, Megaera, Alecto and Tisiphone, vengeful armoured vigilantes who try to channel one man's heartfelt rage against tragedy into something more productive. A special mention must be made for John Kovalic, who in "SF" gives us a character that cleverly works out the commercial potential for the one thing a world filled with metahumans does not have.

Path of the Bold is a small book, bursting with variety, imagination, levity and well placed touches of pathos. All the stories are of an equally high quality, and the low key theme feels more solid than in the first book. I was sufficiently enthused to hope that there will be another anthology in the series, or perhaps a natural progression to a single plot, where each chapter is written by one of the collected authors, Wild Cards style. The characters, situations and locations have the potential for something special. In the meantime, I can recommend this work as a worthy addition to the collection of any comic book fan, young or older, who favours superior script over flashy scribble.

Copyright © 2006 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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