PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL BOOINI
“The Left-Hand Path: Mentor” (2015) by T.S. Barnett is a riveting fantasy novel. Nathaniel Moore is a powerful wizard who has used life- stealing dark magic to keep himself young for 250 years. He has never been caught, until Elton Willis finally tracks him down. Elton is a model chaser for The Magistrate. His job is to seek out those using magic illegally. But in his efforts to capture Nathaniel, Elton accidentally sets free one of Nathaniel’s old enemies, a lich, an undead creature that was once a mortal, whom he had imprisoned long ago. Now Elton has a decision to make, take Nathaniel in to finally answer for his crimes or team up with Nathaniel and his student, Cora, to take the lich down. It is a familiar story of a lawman pursuing a criminal, and a story about a teacher and student. It takes place in a world that closely resembles our own, but with magic and monsters. In this book magic doesn’t follow a predictable set of rules; it’s not all happy wand waving and incantations. It is dangerous, sometimes physically exhausting, and is more of a fusion of several different traditional belief systems with a dash of fantasy. It’s not just the magic that makes this book entertaining and fun to read. It is the extreme character contrasts between Nathaniel and Elton. Yes, Nathaniel is evil and Elton is good, but despite what they represent, thankfully they are not cookie cutter characters simply driving plot development. The witty banter, lighthearted and even fun moments between them make them believable and relatable. For example, there is a particular scene that is filled with horrible witch puns and jokes. I laughed so hard I had to put the book down! Cora offers a balance between Nathaniel and Elton, almost like the voice of the reader. Cora and even Elton manage to see the good in Nathaniel, who is indeed a “villain.” These characters bring to mind an age-old adage: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Whether taking a break from the general stresses of daily life or enjoying a brief respite from work during lunch, books have always been an escape for me. Mentor achieves just that while keeping things rooted in the familiar. If you are a fan of dark fantasy and interesting and humorous character drama with a pinch of horror, I recommend you add “The Left- Hand Path: Mentor” to your reading list posthaste!
ABOUT RACHEL PEEPLES
Rachel is Assistant Director of the Downtown Improvement Board. Outside of work, she sings in her church’s choir, plays more video games than she probably should, enjoys local theatrical productions, walks her dog, Lucy, and attends comic conventions whenever she can. Her parents instilled a love for reading in her at a very young age and she’s happy to say that she has had trouble putting books down ever since.
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