Book Review

Book Review: Path of the Heretic by Ivan Amberlake

Path of the Heretic (The Beholder, #2)Path of the Heretic by Ivan Amberlake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


After Emily Ethan is gone, Jason is left with too many questions unanswered. Betrayed by the one he loved and yet hurting after losing her, Jason is eager to find out what actually happened to Emily.

When he least expects it, the Darksighted return to New York City, but they are not after Jason. They seek to destroy those who may know something about where Emily can be.

The more Jason gets to know the world of Energy and Sight, the harder it is for him to belong in this world. He can’t enter the Sight when there are too many people around. And then Emily comes to his dreams and gives him clues of where to look for the answers.

The question is: should he believe her, or is it just another attempt to get him killed?

The Review:

The novel, Path of the Heretic, begins a few months after book one, The Beholder. At this point, Jason, the main character, is dealing with a major loss, some unexplained limitations to his powers, the betrayal of a friend, as well as intensified attacks from the enemy. And more importantly, we get inside the head of Pariah. Bonus!

What I enjoyed the most about the novel were the following: 1) as in the first book, the pacing was good. There was rarely a dull moment, as the reader is exposed to the good and bad guys, the points of view of different characters, the developing conflict and the rising stakes, travel to various worldwide locations, and coolest of all, we get to witness how a dark one is recruited. Once again, there is rarely a dull moment. 2) I appreciated that this time, we got to see more of the baddies. We see much more of Pariah and his origins, more of his relationship with his minions, and learn Tyler’s history. Fleshing out the villains this way made them seem credible and more of a threat.

As in the first book, I struggled with some things: 1) I found certain details and description vague. For example, I found the flow of events during major fight scenes difficult to follow, and at times I couldn’t tell what was happening, where characters were, or how they got there. And, details about the structure/hierarchy of the Lightsighted was missing. In contrast, we have a very clear understanding of rank on the Darksighted side. And I wanted to know HOW the Lightsighted managed to fight of a major attack while sustaining the lives of a whole city for days on end. The concept was so cool that I wanted to be able to better envision the events. 2) Again, I found the rules about Energy unclear. At one point Jason says he isn’t the Beholder but everyone says he is. Why? And, the heretic wasn’t all that clear for me, as in why is he in hiding when he has the power to influence the course of events? Is he stronger than Jason, just as strong, less so? Is he limited somehow and therefore can’t participate in the conflict? Why is he called the heretic, anyway? For me, struggling with these points affected the story’s cohesion and comprehension.

That said, the ideas presented in the novel are still as interesting and creative as book 1, and Amberlake writes with an energy and zeal that is sure to attract readers. Clearly, he enjoys the story he is building as well as weaving his characters into each and every scenario. Readers of urban fantasy, speculative fiction, and those looking for something that has the feel of a comic book or graphic novel should enjoy this series very much.

Many thanks to Mr. Amberlake for providing me with a review copy of his novel.

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Book Review

Book Review: The Beholder

The BeholderThe Beholder by Ivan Amberlake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Around the world, people die under mysterious circumstances. Each has a sign. Each is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. A NYC interior designer Jason Walker receives a message saying he is the final piece.

Emily Ethan, a startling beauty with supernatural powers, appears and tells Jason that powers dormant within him are about to wake. He is the only person who can prevent darkness from enslaving the world. He is the Beholder whose advent has been awaited for many years.

Setting out on a journey with Emily, Jason discovers the world he could have never imagined, but the greatest surprise arrives the moment he realizes he has fallen in love with Emily.


Jumping into the world of The Beholder began with a refreshing jolt. No easing the reader into the back story, no time taken to explain the current context. Right from the opening scene, we are thrust into the midst of action. And what action! I was also happy to note that the writing itself was smooth and easy to follow, and the pacing of events unfolded at a good rate.

What I enjoyed the most about the novel were the following: 1) Amberlake describes some very difficult, abstract events quite well. Things like, experiencing the stopping of time, what energy bursts look like at night, how to ‘cut through’ space and time, as well as his general use of metaphors and similes, are all very well done. For most of the book, the imagery is quite strong; 2) as mentioned above, the pacing was good. There was rarely a dull moment, as the reader is taken to various local and international locations, meets new characters on both sides of the Good vs. Evil coin, and is plunged deeper into the mythology and the back story connecting the characters. There is no room for boredom in this book; 3) I also enjoyed Amberlake’s spin on magic/special powers being rooted in Energy, which the way it is described in The Beholder, is a refreshing change from a lot of books out there.

I did struggle with some things in the book. 1) In contrast to point number one above, sometimes I felt certain details could have been elaborated on. Lack of information left me feeling disoriented in time and place, and which ultimately impacted general comprehension. For example, at times it wasn’t clear where a character was, or when or how they got there, requiring me to scroll back to situate myself. Another example is, towards the end of the story, when I had difficulty differentiating dream from reality. 2) The basic rules of Energy were not always clear, so it was difficult to measure one Sighted against another. When Emily does something amazing, how does that measure up with what Pariah can do? With what Jason can do? What are the limits to Energy? Are there any weaknesses or an Achilles heel to using this power? Some of the explanations were not detailed enough for me to get a good basic grasp, which left me feeling as though some of its uses were random or convenient. 3) I would have liked to have seen more character development, as we don’t know that much about more about Jason or his friends by the end of the novel than we did when we first met them.

My over all feeling is that The Beholder is an exciting, swiftly-moving novel that brings something new to urban fantasy. The characters are young, fun, and dynamic, and Amberlake’s usage of language, imagery, and pure unbridled imagination all connect to create a good, solid, enjoyable read. This book is recommended, and I expect the sequels will be equally entertaining.

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