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Publisher's Summary

Powerful beings from the fringes of Chaos have come to the realm of Alorin. Fate bends to their will, and their will is set upon Alorin's destruction. Alone in understanding the threat they pose, Alorin's Fifth Vestal, Björn val Gelderan, has launched a desperate plan to stop them: a "great game" played upon the tapestry of mortal life. Now, in Paths of Alir, Björn's Players have taken the field.

Along the lush Caladrian coast of Agasan, the truthreader Tanis d'Giverny returns to the place of his birth and finds mysterious and wonderful workings waiting for him. But the zanthyr Phaedor warns Tanis that ominous events lie ahead, and the lad soon wonders if even his mother's magical lessons will be enough to keep him alive.

In the dungeons of Tal'Shira, held prisoner by the Adept Inquisitor Taliah hal'Jaitar, Prince Trell val Lorian is facing a life of enslavement. Only two paths lie open before him: one means an eternity of torture fighting Taliah's attempts to break him; the other requires surrendering to her will. But can he really sacrifice everything he is to walk Taliah's path of twisted magic known as mor'alir?

In the snow-bound Castle of Tyr'kharta, Prince Ean val Lorian must choose to save his brother Sebastian or his loyal men. But to choose his men means leaving Sebastian to an eternity of enslavement; while rescuing Sebastian means abandoning his friends, and his honor along with them. Either decision will test Ean's newfound skills, as well as his conviction, for as the prince soon learns, once a man becomes a Player in the First Lord's game, not even death can give reprieve.

©2014 Melissa McPhail (P)2016 Podium Publishing

What listeners say about Paths of Alir

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Upsetting Story Plot

I loved the series until this book. The sheer amount of rape in the story made me sick to read. I couldn't finish it.

16 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

had higher hopes for this book

I really enjoyed book 1, book 2 was a bit of a let down so this one really had to knock it out of the park. unfortunately it didn't. Many of the concepts and rules established in the previous books were either reverse or just ignored. Many plot points took to long to get to where you knew they were heading. Overall I wasn't happy with most of the book.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

WTF?

I'm giving this book 1 star because I can't give it -5 stars.

I've never seen an author purposely damage a major POV character like McPhail does in this book. The author seems to ignore many of the "rules" of good writing. First and foremost she broke the "reader\writer agreement" rule by completely changing the nature of one of her main characters without any character building or indication that a woman that had been portrayed for over 2000 pages as someone that remained true to her dead husband for over 300 years would then cheat on him body and soul after he finally returned to life and they were reunited.
The setup for this betrayal maybe the most obvious contrivance in literary history. It's almost as the though the author herself decided to live out a fantasy of hers in the story.
Even this betrayal could be forgiven but then the aftermath is just absolutely ridiculas to the point of offense to most males. Her husband Ean, who is the main protafanist , becomes the most pathetic, emasculated man I have ever read. Seriously, you would have to read some BD/SM material to beat it. Upon their reunion in book 5, her husband actually ends up apologizing to her for her infidelity. He then goes on to rationalize her betrayal in the most bizarre series of specious causal events that she even tells him he is wrong about.
She continues to lie to him about the incident, for example she does not inform him that she offered to stay with the other man forever to be his little sex toy, and is deceitful on a number of other topics. In short, the author turns what was a great character into a lying, betraying little whore and her husband, who is supposed to save the world, into a sniveling, pussy-whipped cuckold.

Apart from her odd decision to destroy her two main characters, the author uses these two ill defined concepts as plot devices to batter her characters down their arcs.
She uses this concept of "balance" to prevent characters from doing something that would normally be the obvious thing to do. For instance, you have an evil character going around killing people while an enormously powerful character just sits there. Why not intervene? Why "balance" of course. Balance between what two forces and exactly how preventing it would affect it is not defined. Not to mention the whole premise of the story is that the world is out of "balance" already so...
She also uses this idea of people "walking their path" to force characters to do something they normally would not do. For instance this is how she explains Ean's wife Isabele's betrayal of him. She was "walking her path". Actually it was more like she got her path plowed but whatever.

In summary, the author took what was an acceptable if flawed "hero's journey" tale and turned it into a " Fifty Shades of Fantasy Bullshit" story.

How disappointing.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Starting to drag... starting to get repetitive...

Would you listen to Paths of Alir again? Why?

Doubtful... while there were some quite good parts to the book, where it should have been a 'penultimate' it was instead a 'middle book'. Why can't authors just stick to Trilogies... they all seem to be able to keep things tight that long but middle books tend to fall apart when they decide to go for more.

Would you recommend Paths of Alir to your friends? Why or why not?

If you're reading the series then yes... but I'd wait for book four (which hopefully will be the last).

What about Nick Podehl’s performance did you like?

Nick is great... nuff said.

Any additional comments?

Great in spots but suffering from middle book malaise. And whats the deal with men getting raped and borderline pedophilia against boys... I suspect the author was afraid to include that sort of violence against women - but it's OK if its a man or boy?

9 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Gratuitous rape, violence, and betray.

There might be some spoilers here.
So if you think the sex/rape scenes in the previous book were disconcerting, you haven’t seen anything yet. The author basically whores out Isabel, Trell is turned into some weird sex slave, and Ean is turned into a cuck. Chapter 60. Completely ruined the book and the series for me. Nick Podehl’s narration was marvelous, but the writing of the book....I need a series of showers to get the filth off of me.

18 people found this helpful

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I couldn't finish unfortunately

I really thought this author had a great idea for a story and an engaging and interesting world, but I just couldn't finish. I struggled through the first two books for this reason. It seems like this author is trying to hard to be like a writer she is not, rather than the writer she is- mostly by adding in the weirdest extraneous details. I also cannot stand her blatant copy of Captain Jack Sparrow for the pirate in her serious- which is just lazy writing. Enough with the rape scenes as well- this is one of those weird and extraneous details.... And holy cow, I cannot stand ever again hearing the phrases: "gave a withering look", he/she "grunted", and he/she "bit their lower lip" (or "put their teeth on their lower lip" or some other iteration of this).

I really wanted to like this series, but it was just too rebarbative. Yeah, I looked up 'annoying' in the thesaurus and found this obscure, rarely seen word 'rebarbative' much the same as the author clearly does throughout this series randomly and it is jarring and obvious as well.... ugh

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Just getting better

This series (with the exception of the crazy love scenes in book 2) has been amazing. The magic system and world building is tremendous!

7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Definitely took a turn in the series

Rape. Abuse. Situational morality where the end is justified by the horrific means of whoring out. I guess the author thinks self-worth and sex are cheap. Would not recommend starting the series after getting to this book. Definitely not my taste.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Could have been great

the story itself is fantastic. Epic world building, awesome magic concept. I am often annoyed with the authors over use of archaic words ex, if I hear the word troth again I may puke. she goes off on philosophical tangents much much too often. and for Petes sake stop arching eyebrows and biting lips (where are those editors?) I also am not fond of the overly explicit scenes of sexual torture. that's where she lost me as a major fan. while I would still rate Mcphail in my top 10 of great epic fantasy writers, I think this kind of graphic content goes overboard. There is an art called subtle innuendo. Not everyone wants their ears/minds raped over and over.

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Dropped off in the ending

The story has some forgivable holes in it, but it really drops off toward the end. It becomes very predictable and makes light of talents unimaginable in earlier books. I'll give the next book a shot, but I feel like the strength has left this series.

2 people found this helpful

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  • bdg
  • 09-26-18

Melodramatic, whiny and poorly executed

I made the silly mistake of buying this whole series of books based on reviews and the length of each book represented pretty good value for money.

It’s only that investment and a rather dogged stubbornness that has gotten me this far but now, 2.5 books in, I have to admit defeat. It’s rare that I’ll stop reading a book series having gotten this far in but the adolescent writing style and cartoonish narration have finally beaten me into submission.

It takes a truly amazing writing talent to take every strong, heroic character who is introduced in the book and turn them into a snivelling, whiny caricatures of themselves. And Nick Podehl’s nasal, clumsy narration only exacerbates the situation.

It’s a shame as the fundamental plot is rather fun and a few good characters do provide some light relief from this maelstrom of pathetic shadows of heroism but I give up, I can’t listen to another word and I’m off to find something to listen to that doesn’t make we want to strangle the author!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris
  • 02-03-17

An exceptional book

Paths of Alir has become one of my favourite audiobooks. The series "A pattern of shadow and light" lures you in with Cephrael's hand, and once you are familiar with the characters it becomes addictive to find out how each character's path interacts with others.

The imagination that Melissa conveys is magnificent. The descriptions are full and vivid but easy to envisage. For me this was the best of the series so far, primarily because the adepts explore their powers a little more.

I can't write a review that gives this book and Melissa's world enough credit.

Nick Podehl's performance was yet again flawless. Can't wait for the next one to be released in February!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Elizabeth
  • 10-31-16

Fab book

Loved this book and find that the series is really gathering pace. Can't wait to find out what happens next.

If you love the Wheel of Time books you'll probably love this series too.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lulu
  • 10-25-16

Serves as a Long but Necessary Interlude

Firstly this series is fantastic and mesmerising- you'll want to see it through not only because you'll have invested so many hours reading it, but also and mainly because the story just keeps building up with intrigue, mystery and complexity, leaving you desperate to see the culmination of the plans and plots and, especially what seems will be the most epic battle in the history of sci-fi!! It's like Game of Thrones but thankfully and hopefully, unlike GOT, we will be rewarded with an end!

This, Book 3, unfortunately contains very graphic details of rape and torture (something for which I'd liked to have been forewarned). It'd would have been nice if the voluntary acts of lovemaking were given equal and more erotic description but alas, the author obviously has a greater appreciation of the perverse.

Also, this Book, though containing a lot of action, is really that part of the series where we really get to know the key players in the game, their history and see their key moments of character development. It therefore becomes very obvious from the start as you oscillate between boredom and ordinary interest, that this is not the final book, and that given the pace and building complexity of the story, neither will the next book bring forth the end that we so anxiously seek.

Another disappointing aspect of this particular book is that at many points the story becomes predictable.

But I've been too harsh in my analysis, compelled by the much better quality of story in the previous books 1 and 2. I have no doubt that Book 3 is integral to the understanding of the story as a whole; this book forms that necessary interlude one needs to gain understanding and preparation for rest of the story as it builds towards its conclusion.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jonathan
  • 10-21-16

This series is a masterpiece

It's been a while since I enjoyed a series of books like these. I cannot recommend them enough absolutely fantastic on all counts. I challenge any fantasy fan to disagree Mellissa Mcphail is one hell of a writer. Thank you so much for your work Melissa.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rickie
  • 11-06-20

just awsome

Awesome story. Going to have to get next book as soon as possible. I managed to get my wife into this series too. Highly recommended

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Poppey
  • 05-21-20

The Last Fortress

My only surprise was that everyone made it to the end of the book without being killed, although most of them didn’t make it unscathed. Sexual content was quite hardcore.

Phaedor takes Tanis back to his place of his birth, where he learns more about his talents from the patterns his mother has left for him in the hope he can follow the strands. We also get a hint of who his parents are. He is then taken to the Sormitage, where he is to gain his ring(s), though some things are not to be. However, there he meets Nadia, Heir of the Agasan Throne, and his life is to become even more complicated.

Ean has a choice to make: Save his men or save his Brother Sebastian at Tyr’kharta.

Isobel decides to follow her own path and leaves Ean. However, her decision will have long terms effects and will cost her dearly.

Trell has been spirited away to the dungeons in the Fortress of Darroyhan by the Mor’alir Adept Taliah hal’Jaitar, whose sole purpose is to break him and bend him to her will. But Trell has a strong sense of honour which will endure.

The Malorin’athgul continue to upset the cosmic balance and Bjorn val Gelderan has an uphill struggle. But, the balance is about to shift. Peles finally choses his path and it is one his brothers will not like.

Ean is still on his mission of moaning and groaning and is proving there is no limit to his immaturity.

Thank goodness I purchased the series and did not have to wait for the next book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • S. Putwain
  • 07-06-19

Magnificent to the end

What a journey, I can't stop listening it has me bound to it. One of the best I've listened too, bought extra credits so I can carry straight on with book 4
Brillant storyline what a marvellous mind this author has... Thank you for an amazing journey please don't stop lol.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-03-19

yo yo

This series is a roller coaster of emotions .I love it and became deeply addicted to the authors imagination and in depth philosophy. A beautiful and magical experience .

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-18-19

Brilliant but triggering

This really is a great book, and the author has done a brilliant job creating every aspect of it. But I think it's worth noting that if you have experiences of abuse it can be hard to listen to at times. It doesn't take away from the joy of the story, but it's something to prepare for.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Samantha
  • 01-02-21

Gets very dark

Book 3 follows the complicated storyline of many great characters. The story remains complex with many unpredictable turns, and some of the questions nagging at you from the series get answered.
I found this book to be noticeably dark with lots of detailed rape scenes, witchcraft, enslavement, torture and dominion. I found these took away from the great storyline underpinning the overall narrative.
I'm too invested in the story to not finish the series, but if you don't like dark scenes, I warn you this gets gross.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Christopher
  • 08-31-20

enjoyable, if uneven.

the performance was fantastic, Nick Podehl is quickly becoming a favourite.

the book was enjoyable but I struggled through some very questionable sexual encounters I'm the book which I feel were meant to be impactful but ended up being just plain weird and uncomfortable. slight spoilers ahead: the rape masked as the greater good was just fucked and handled poorly. I expected better from Melissa and hope I'm the following books she improves.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • SONNY WOOTTON
  • 01-23-18

Great listen

Found this audio book a great continuation from the previous as it brought out more information about the characters and the overall plot. The final chapters tie everything up and set the stage for another enthralling sequel. Nick Podehl does a great job reading. Recommend to anyone who enjoys big scope fantasy novels.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jenifer
  • 06-17-17

Still ploughing on....

Far too many side stories, and too many characters to remember. Unfortunately, with audio, one cannot go back easily to check who's who again. Also, there are probably maps for reference in the hard copy. This fantasy has heaps of Lands and places.
I like the story tho. About to begin book 4 which is 45 hours. 🤣

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Caitlin
  • 12-07-16

Hang in there

It took a while to get a hold of the story line as there was so much going on and so many interchanging characters but worth sticking it out as once the plot hit a groove it was pretty good. I really enjoy the narration of Nick Podehl his voice for teenage girl characters is spot on.