Path of the Renegade is the first of the Path of the Dark Eldar trilogy, something almost sacred among us denizens of the Dark City, as it is one of the scant novels that actually deals with the Dark Kin in anywhere like detail. I’d not read the book before, but it was getting to the point where it was almost embarrassing for me to have not read it!
The story deals with the plot of three Archons against the tyrant Asdrubael Vect, the current ruler of Commorragh. Central to the story is Archon Nyos Yllithian, whose plan to overthrow Vect involves reviving one of Vect’s early nemeses, El’uriaq, the self-styled emperor of the dark kin. In order to do so, Yllithian conspires with the haemonculus Bellathonis, acquiring a “pure heart” in the form of an Exodite Worldsinger. The plan works too well, El’uriaq being so charismatic that he manages to overtake Yllithian’s plans.
While there is an intriguing storyline of plots and more plots against Vect, the novel mainly seems to serve as a vehicle to showcase Dark Eldar society, with the story strung out across these major points of interest. We get to see life in the twisting catacombs of a haemonculus coven, the thrilling fights in the arenas of the wych cults, and so forth. It almost feels a bit like a parody, as we have these huge set-pieces interposed within the narrative. Even when the story really gets underway, we still seem to slow down as we get to see this sort of showcase, and it can be quite tedious.
I suppose it didn’t help that I read this book in its re-issue as part of the Path of the Dark Eldar omnibus, which was seemingly riven with spelling mistakes and dropped words. My overall feeling is that it was a little bit disappointing, though I suspect that part of that might be due to having seen it hyped on the Drukhari facebook page for so long.
Having now read it, though, I feel that Nightbringer was a much more interesting Dark Eldar novel than this one…