Monday, November 11, 2019

The Bookwyrm's Review of Way of the Immortals: Path of the Divine by Harmon Cooper


Author: Harmon Cooper

Length: 563 Pages/ 9 Hours 11 Minutes (audio)

Release Date: August 20, 2019/ September 26, 2019

Publisher: Boycott Books, LLC

Narrator: Neil Hellegers

Genre: Portal Fantasy/Wuxia Cultivation

Rating: 4.5/5

I have quite a few of Harmon Cooper's books I've collected over the years, so I had an idea what to expect going into this one. I wasn't disappointed, either, even though this one is a bit of a change from his usual more light hearted fare. It is a well constructed story that really draws the reader in.

PLOT SUMMARY

Nick Barnette, an average guy in his mid-twenties, has gotten together with some his fiends to throw a friend his bachelor party. All good to go, until a purple portal opens up, and purple tendrils drag them all into the portal. Nick ends up landing on a breakwater with a couple of the others, while one of the friends is dropped out in the water. This wouldn't be a problem except for the sea dragon that surfaces. While one friend dove in to help their friend, Nick and another friend proceed down the beach looking for help. What they find are armored soldiers who try and arrest them. Nick manages to escape into the woods, and proceeds to get away. 

Meeting a group on the road in distress, Nick discovers they have a daughter possessed by a spirit. Nick somehow dispels the spirit, and the family rewards him in a most unusual way. Unfortunately for Nick, the result of that reward ends up with his enslaved by the group, and sold off to the local ruler, Madame Mabel. He is tested for abilities, and has the ability to slow time, but can't control it, and is defeated in the testing, meaning he will be a field hand, not a guard slave. 

Weeks later, as Nick is attempting his escape, the plantation is attacked by rebels, and Nick manages to escape. He ends up at a monastery, where the head monk, the Enlightened One, agrees to help Nick develop his abilities through Karma cultivation. The method of teaching is not what Nick expects, and he starts to lose it. Three weeks in, one of the monks comes to him telling him the monastery was attacked by treasure hunters looking for magical relics, and killed all the monks and the Enlightened One. 

Deciding to help the monk, who's name is Alton, they decide its imperative to track down the treasure hunters and keep them from getting the relic they were really seeking, a magical flaming sword. This is where the story really takes off, as Nick and Alton track them down, leading to a series of events which will see Nick have tremendous successes and failures, as he and Alton retrieve the relic sword, and start carving a path through history. Along the way, they meet new enemies, as well as stop an evil world changing plan cooked up by one of the people brought through the portal, using Earth history for inspiration to effect the plan. Nick will discover he has a destiny to fulfill, if only he will seize it and develop all his abilities to their fullest. The fact that there are forces arrayed against him doing this won't stop Nick, who may be on the path of the divine, from trying to reach that potential.

WORLD BUILDING AND CHARACTERS  

There is a definite sense of what the author was trying to create with the world. It definitely has a wuxia world feel to it, with all the over the top martial arts action and magic that entails. The cultivation elements are smartly plotted, with consistent elements and skills increasing. There are various paths of magic and skills, with very definite rules and limits. It is definitely a world readers won't be completely unfamiliar with.

Characters are definitely given attention in development. Nick is an especially interesting character. While he starts off as the usual fish out of water in a new world, he has a really creative power increase path, with his instincts from our world conflicting with the path that destiny has for him. The secondary characters are definitely a strength, being given well rounded personalities, and act in some surprising ways. The villains are more than just mustache twirling stereotypes, with various motivations guiding their actions, and some surprising twists with them make for great characters. All in all, definitely a strength in this book.

NARRATION  

The narration is handled by one of my favorite narrators, Neil Hellegers. He has such an awesome voice, really keeping the narrative flowing, while creating a host of voices to really differentiate the various characters, bringing them to vivid life.  He uses various tones and accents to give each character their own distinct personality in the narration, really setting them apart. Another ace performance on his part.

FINAL THOUGHTS  

If you go into this thinking this is your average, harem infused light hearted romp, prepare to have your expectations subverted. This is definitely a change of pace for Harmon, and not in a bad way. Focusing more one Nick's relationship with the world, as opposed to his relationships with various characters, gives this story a focus and drive I was quite happy to lose myself in, and can't wait to see where the story goes in the next book. This book is very much recommended.



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