James is convinced that the gods have cursed him, left to fend for himself in a squalid city-state in the clutches of a corrupt theocracy. As a lamplighter, James serves the palace by illuminating the streets each night with a flame from the gods' temple. Despite his disdain for the gods, he feels a connection with the flame, and a surprising yet small amount of control over its brightness.
For him, a quiet life weathering the desert was all he had to look forward to. That is, until others appear. From distant corners of the world, each has connective power to the gods, and each a past of great consequence. A soldier, an idealist, a hero, and a monster.
Pathlighter is the initial book of the eponymous epic fantasy trilogy, written by Rob Leigh, a debut with an interesting world-building and plenty of memorable scenes. A really ambitious novel, with characters whose past will end marking their actions and a complex mythology that gives an extra layer of depth to the world.
James is convinced about being cursed by the gods, left in a decadent city; however, he serves as a lamplighter for the palace, illuminating the streets with the flame of the gods. All until a day he starts manifesting a connection with the flame, a slight amount of control; and that's not all, because chaos is unleashed over the city, with creatures returning from the myths that were deemed as just that, mythological.
With this explosive start (Rob almost doesn't let you catch a breath), all is set to start knowing our group of heroes, all from different origins, but sharing the connection with different gods; James aspired to have a simple life in the desert, but all is shattered to ashes, having to take the responsibility he didn't ask for.
With these characters, Leigh manages to create a really spectacular story, mixing themes such as grief, lost and found family with the tension of having to combat against demons while not knowing if you can trust on those in your side. The world's background is introduced slowly, in fragments that help alleviate the tension at some points, while gathering more understanding of what is happening.
I think there's a bit much exposition at some points, slowing the pace more than I would have liked; but if you like extensive world-building, this is a plus. Despite this small pet peeve, I think the balance between the different elements of the novel is quite good.
Pathlighter is a great debut novel, an epic story that will leave you craving for me; Rob Leigh has nailed his objective. Can't wait to read the second book of the Pathlighter trilogy.
Rob Leigh has always been a lover of fantastical stories and wrote his own variations on Greek myths at a young age. These stories expanded into inspiration for written works and Tabletop Narratives. Influenced by stories that focus just as much on the humanity as well as the magical, Rob writes fiction that may feature gods and monsters, but highlights human struggles. Inspirations for his work include stories by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Shelley, Rick Riordan, and George R.R. Martin.
He finished his first novel over a decade in the making, letting his story grow and mature alongside himself. He now writes from a love of fantasy, human drama, and a belief that one good person can make a difference.