By: Derrick Smyth
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Derrick Smythe
WARNING: There will be spoilers from The Other Magic, Passage to Dawn #1
“Welcome to the spiritual realm, the reflection, if you will; it is called many things by many people…We begin her because using magic is safe here…and you don’t need to be able to summon magic in order to manipulate the world around you in this place; we call this the other way…” Derrick Smythe, The Other Way
The Other Way is the second book in The Passage to Dawn series. Derrick Smyth continues this epic fantasy series immediately after the events of The Other Magic. The Other Way is an action and magic filled ride from start to finish, as we follow the adventures of Kibure, Sindri, Aynward, and Grobennar. In addition, we also get to know Aynward’s sister, Dagmara, who we briefly met in The Other Magic, and his friend from university, Kyllean. The Other Magic set the scene for the reader, introduced the characters, the magic system, and the world of Dorea. As with The Other Magic, The Other Way is beautifully told. In addition to being an excellent epic fantasy, it explores the themes of bonds of family, friendship, and trust. Mr. Smythe takes these seemingly unrelated characters and weaves a story that brings them all closer to war with the Lugienese people, led by the God-king, Magog. The pacing was excellent as was the narrative. As with The Other Magic, chapters focused on each of the various characters, which allows the reader a subversive interaction with the character. It is never confusing having the story constructed in this manner. In fact, I found it an excellent choice. As we read about each character’s experiences, we know that they are drawing closer together, and the anticipation expertly builds throughout the book. Mr. Smythe writes very realistic action scenes, with plenty of twists and turns. The magic system is unlike others I have read, and is explored deeper, as Kibure learns “the other way”. The character development continues brilliantly and it advances the story beautifully. This book takes off from the first page and never lets up in action, character development, magic, and weaving a tale of twists and turns. The Other Way is a brilliant second entry into this series and I highly recommend it.
We know that Kibure has been taken by a group of women, the She’yar, who believe he is the one to fulfill a prophecy to open a magical artifact, “the seed,” and bring about the downfall of Magog. They take him to their hidden city, Purgemon, to be sure he is the one prophesized to bring down the empire. Kibure still does not know the extent of his power, and they must train him. He is still finding not only his magical strength, but his personal strength. Kibure is still hesitant to speak his mind and does not fully trust the She’yar, yet there are breakthroughs when he does. These were wonderful moments and it makes the reader all the more drawn to him. I loved that he was learning to use his powers, but I really liked the moments where he found the fortitude to defend himself verbally.
“Kibure sat with his back leaning against the pedestal of his nemesis: the seed. He had long since exhausted his mental faculties for the day…And so he sat alone doubting his purpose, and everything else.” Derrick Smythe, The Other Way
At the end of The Other Magic, Aynward had been accused of killing his father. Knowing he is not guilty, Dagmara helps Aynward. What ensues is a game of cat and mouse, with Ayward and Dagmara as the mice. Given the circumstances, Aynward’s character has evolved from the fairly obnoxious young man he was. He would never have survived if not for the smart and daring plans of Dagmara. I love strong female protagonists, and Dagmara is certainly one of the best. It was great to get her added perspective in this story. It shows the bonds of family, love, and also trust. For all his sarcasm and carefree manner, Dagmara knows Aynward would never kill their father. She plays a very important role in this story. Without giving away spoilers, Dagmara becomes who she always wanted to be. I look forward to seeing what is in store for Aynward and Dagamara in the next book.
Kyllean’s perspective was also a welcome addition to the book. I enjoyed his character in The Other Magic and having him in the book with chapter perspectives was wonderful. Kyllean is a Tal-Don, from the same kingdom as Aynward. They bond with and ride Lumale, which I can best describe as part dragon, part Gryphon, with 2 legs and a spiked tail. They are the kingdom’s warriors. His training and the Lumale are part of an incredible action sequence in the book. As with the previous book, Mr. Smythe’s action scenes are so well done, and certainly keeps the reader in suspense.
“Staring out toward the east, Kyllean watched the shrinking form of Evra and her Lumale, along with three others flying about, practicing aerial acrobatics in preparation for the coming war. Kyllean was glad that at least someone had been claimed. They were going to need every advantage they could get.” Derrick Smythe, The Other Way
We still get the perspective of both Sindri and Grobennar. Sindri has grown since The Other Magic. Sindri wanted to stay in the city to fight the Klerosi priests, since she did not believe she would ever find Kibure. Realizing the folly to stay and fight a losing battle, she embarks on a journey to find him. This trek to find him is fraught with danger. Sindri no longer wants to find Kibure to use him, but she truly cares for him. While I found her morally ambiguous in the first book, here she realizes Kibure is her friend and risks her life to save him. Grobennar is still, well, Grobennar. No moral ambiguity here, he’s still bad. He is doing everything in his power to please Magog and once again gain his favor as the highest priest, as he once was. Grobennar’s arc takes a very surprising turn; one that I never could have anticipated. Mr. Smythe is excellent at leading the reader in a direction and then completely surprising us.
The magic system in this book was further explored mainly through Kibure’s training. The Other Way, where the he trains with a She’yar master, is a spiritual realm that is a reflection of the real world. It is here he trains in both magic and fighting. He must first master his magic in this realm. If he cannot, he could harness to much magic and unwittingly threaten the lives of others. As established in the first book, the more magic that is used, it taps into bone mass. Using too much can kill the wielder. Using magic is draining and rest is needed afterwards to replenish the body. We also see a form of magic used by the Tal-Don and Lumales. Lumales choose their riders and a bond develops. The rider and Lumale also use magic. It is different from what Kibure does, but it is still a unique magic system. Grobennar explores ways in which he can use his magic to further his goals. However, his use is always cruel and without regard to whom he uses it on.
As with The Other Magic, the pacing and prose of The Other Way is so well done. The characters did not stagnate, but developed further in this book. They have grown and learned, and matured. Even Grobennar has grown worse! The book is superbly written; the characters, the worlds; the magic systems; and the action. The narrative of chapters being told in the perspective of various characters moves the story along well and is never confusing. It allows the reader to really know the characters and what drives them. The addition of narratives from Dagmara and Kyllean are an important part of the story as we see how they fit in to the tapestry that Mr. Smythe is weaving. These characters are coming to the same point in time; to fight the Lugienese Empire and kill the God King, Magog.
“She sighed heavily and weighed her words. “I’m not sure. My gut tells me to run as far away from here as possible, but my heart tells me I can do something that may help stop the Lugienese, then…”
Kyllean shook his head and cursed under his breath. “Duty. Responsibility. I’m beginning to think those might be the worse communicable diseases known to man, or woman.” Derrick Smythe, The Other Way
As the second book in this debut epic fantasy, The Other Way by Derrick Smythe, continues to build a unique story. The character development continues to be first rate. Each character, and not just the main protagonists, are richly developed. The She’yar were a very interesting group, but I don’t want to give too much away. Suffice to say they truly believe in Kibure, but train him hard for the task he must face. The addition of Dagamara and Kyllean as perspective characters serves several purposes. They are important to the coming war. However, I felt it drove home the theme of family and friendship. Dagmara believes her brother, risking her life to save him. Although Kyllean does serve the kingdom that Aynward’s family rules, they are above all friends. These bonds are tested throughout the book and beautifully told. The world building was greatly improved with the addition of the spiritual realm, the other way, and the city of Purgemon. In addition, we are taken to see where the Lumale’s nest and the Tal-Don train, giving the reader more insight into Dorea. The magic system itself didn’t change in terms of wielding too much magic pulls strength from the bones, making the user vulnerable to literally falling apart. Once again, the prose is beautiful and paints vivid descriptions of the characters and what they encounter. The chapters are told from multiple points of view, but are weaving together the wonderful fantasy that is building to a war with Magog. Is Kibure really the one prophesized? How will the others finally fit in to this puzzle? The Other Way was a great read from start to finish and I highly recommend it. I eagerly await the next book.
Summary (from Amazon)
The Empire continues to lay waste to all who stand in their way…
Kibure’s captors can teach him to control his magic, but such training is not given freely. And not everyone who offers help means well. Will Kibure become the wizard he needs to be in time to fulfill the destiny set out before him?
Meanwhile, Prince Aynward is framed for the worst of crimes: patricide and kingslaying. His sister, Dagmara, determines to help him escape judgment, but how many must die in order to keep Aynward from the gallows? Their journey reunites them with old friends and brings Dagmara face to face with the legendary creatures known as Lumales, but is she worthy to ride? And what happens when the Kingdom is overrun by the Empire and their sorcerers?