Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Path of the Just
edited by James Lowder
Guardians of Order, 208 pages

Path of the Just
James Lowder
Anthologist James Lowder has helmed two previous short fiction collections -- 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: The Doom of Camelot

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil


Terry remembered what Shep Fletcher had once said to him: "Nobody gets out of this alive, kid. Nobody.
Live long, live short, it comes down to the same thing. We die. So you'd best live while you're alive and make it mean something."
Path of the Just is a small anthology of superhero fiction, short stories, based around the many heroes and villains associated with Empire City. An offshoot of the Silver Age Sentinels RPG, it falls somewhere between a comic book script aimed at older readers, and the Wild Cards novels edited by George R.R. Martin. There are fifteen tales here, which include a range of loosely connected characters and themes. In some, the superhero action is well to the fore, while others contain only the slightest hint of anything meta-human. The latter crop of stories, by their nature, offer much more in the way of food for thought, eschewing action oriented adventure in favour of life's lessons.

It is the themes within themes that give this anthology its edge. Among the ideas explored are a hero who just wants the quiet life, a villain who develop gay feelings for his nemesis, what happens to old superheroes, and a villain who is given the option to literally become his greatest enemy. The characters themselves include the Sentinel, an alternate take on Superman; Caliburn a modern day Black Knight crossed with Batman; Stormcloud, the semi-retired master of electricity; Corbae, an alternate, East European Iron Man; Tommy Gun, a World War one British version of Captain America; Arcanum, a dying hero who draws his powers from Tarot cards; the Guard, a more interesting version of the Justice League, and last but not least, a girl called Ami, who slides into Dark.

It was the last story, "Mirror, Rust and Dark" by Alexander Marsh Freed, that sparked my imagination the most. Ami has what are classed as low level meta-human abilities. By touching metal she is able to converse with it, after a fashion. Metal gives up its memories, and by sending her consciousness through wires, Ami can glean much information. Ami's story, however, concerns the murky work of the Ultra-Elites, a clandestine government sponsored organisation, descended from the notorious MK Ultra. The Ultra-Elites primary interest is dealing with incursions from what they call Dark. This is an extra-dimensional Earth, which duplicates everyone and everything on our world. The big difference is that in Dark, life is a perpetual nightmare for the majority.

While some of the stories presented in Path of the Just suffer due to the lack of artwork, most of them work well enough creating illustrations in imagination. The authors take their chances with varying degrees of success, and some serve up works that would not normally be encouraged in the main stream arena. The end result is a collection which may be too subtle for some younger fans, and not quite developed enough for more jaded readers. Having said that, I found about half of the stories to be enticing or inventive enough to leave me wanting more, which is no bad thing. For those who enjoy the superhero genre, and want to glimpse more of what's behind the mask, Path of the Just is just the job.

Copyright © 2005 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

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide