Dark Time: Mortal Path Book One (Mortal Path Series) Mass Market Paperback – July 28, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“With a kick-ass heroine who’s trying to get out of an unimaginaby bad situation and tons of action, this is a terrific read.” (Romantic Times BOOKclub)
“Seductive, sophisticated, and imaginative, The Mortal Path: Dark Time has a multi-dimensional quality with beguiling concepts and a labyrinth of fast-paced suspense. There’s food for thought on every fascinating page. Dakota Banks is firing on all cylinders.” (Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Charlemagne Pursuit)
“A passionate, fascinating story packed with action and history. Three hundred years ago, Maliha Crayne was burned at the stake. Now she’s in a race against time to save the world and her soul, and you’ll be with her step by step.” (David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of The Brotherhood of the Rose)
“Sweeping across continents and centuries, THE MORTAL PATH by Dakota Banks is story-telling at its most vivid. The characters are fascinating, the plot nail-biting, and the period pieces memorable. Curl up in your favorite chair - entertainment is guaranteed.” (Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Spymaster)
“Edge of your seat, breathtaking action in a must-read supernatural thriller.” (David Dun, author of The Black Silent)
“THE MORTAL PATH is a novel to be savored for both its edge of suspense and the pure joy of its storytelling. Part immortal, all human, Maliha is a heroine who will leave readers breathless and craving more. Not to be missed!” (James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of Map of Bones and Black Order)
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It’s action packed, fast paced and historic, starting with the burning of a woman accused of being a witch and burned at the stake in 1642. But she is “saved” by a demon who for over 300 years holds her in his spell and makes her act as his assassin before she has the strength to refuse his bidding. This is the first book in Dakota Banks' Moral Path series and a good place to start for strange adventures for new and old readers alike.
The backstory for this series is complex but oh so rewarding...so I'm going to give you the highlights as I understand them...
- Anu, the king of all gods, fathered 7 demon offspring called the Utukki.
- He left the demons in the charge of Lord Nergal (the God of War and Lord of the Underworld) who gave them god-like powers and charged them to do his evil deeds on Earth, which they referred to as the Great Above.
- Anu, displeased at this, feared the demons would have too much control over the Great Above so he dealt with it like so...
- He made it so they could only enter the Great Above under very limited circumstances.
- He gave each of the demons a fatal weakness that could be exploited.
- He depicted those weaknesses on the `Tablet of the Overlord' that was written in a language unreadable without the translating lens he created.
- He shattered the lens into seven shards and hid them separately on the Great Above so the demons couldn't find them.
- Understandably, each of the 7 demons wanted the tablet and shards for themselves but couldn't perform the search.
- This is where the Ageless humans came in. A demon would prey on the dying and offer them immortality if they would agree to do its evil bidding. Only some of the Ageless were tasked with searching for the tablet and shards.
- Susannah is targeted by the demon, Rabishu. Falsely accused of witchcraft in the 17th century, abandoned by her husband and friends, and angry, Susannah agrees to the demon's proposal. Without knowing how to read or write, she signs the contract with blood without knowledge of the details.
- For 300 years she is his assassin and kills, albeit reluctantly, anyone he says she has to - evil and innocent alike.
Now in current time... As punishment for persistent requests to release her soul, Susannah is sent to assassinate an innocent and finds that she cannot. She decides then she is no longer able to carry out his orders and will do whatever it takes to get free of him.
After digging into the details of her contract, she discovers two things. That the history of the Tablet of the Overlord and lens and its significance, and that thanks to Anu, there's a way she can redeem her soul. She must give up immortality, save a life for every one she's taken and age an undefined amount of time every time she does. Oh, and she must have a weighing scale etched into her skin to track her progress. The scale painfully shifts when she succeeds in saving someone. When it's evenly balanced, redemption is hers. She agrees to the terms, changes her name to Maliha and starts her life over. She chooses the hard road - the mortal path!
Now that the backstory is laid out, this first novel in the series also details Maliha's first attempt at redemption. Her challenge is to stop a villain from selling software that can seriously endanger American security to the highest bidder. The lives she would save would be many if she is successful in this mission so she is determined to succeed.
Banks' remarkable character development ability forces a strong emotion from you about Maliha. Depending on what you find acceptable or believable as a woman, you either love her or hate her. I found myself committing to her whole-heartedly, praising her independence but still feeling sad for her at times. I'm not sure if I have a major girl crush or if I'm just really envious but she is a great heroine. Strong but feminine, tough but compassionate and treasures the few friends she has let into her life.
The secondary characters are well developed as well. We learn much about her very small circle of friends - Amaro, Yanmeng and Randy - in little time. Hound is a character that I would love to hear more about. He's story is still a bit of a mystery so hopefully we will hear more in future books.
Jake, a new love interest for Maliha, doesn't play a huge role in this novel, however, he's involved in a very surprising cliffhanger that made me rush out to buy the next in her series - Sacrifice.
Since this is my first Dakota Banks novel, I'm not sure if going back and forth in time is her signature style or not. She used this approach frequently and devoted entire chapters to reveal a certain character's history (e.g. how she became friends with Yanmeng). I found it to be very well done and powerful; however, if you're not a fan of the technique, you may not find this novel as enjoyable as I did.
Banks delivers a fabulous tale of a woman's fall from grace and her quest for redemption deeply rooted in Sumerian mythology. This novel has everything that makes a great Urban Fantasy novel - conflict, suspense, major obstacles, compelling characters, and fabulous entertainment value. Highly recommend reading it!
4 Stars - Really Enjoyed It!!!!
This books is fast paced which starts at the beginning and doesn't stop until the end. It is based on Sumerian legends of gods and demons and this is the world and puzzle Maliha must solve. I found this world to be very interesting and I also enjoyed the secondary characters as well. Her big nemesis besides the demon is Subedei. He first has a very secretive nature but we also get to know him. I kinda wished he was still in the dark, not knowing his full agenda because I think he would have been a good challenge for her later on in the series. However, he was a good challenge in this story.
This book is a dark, urban fantasy. I give it 4 stars and recommend this to anyone who loves a lot of action. I enjoyed this book and can't wait to get to the next one.
However I did enjoy the tale well enough despite being rather uninvolved emotionally with the main character. At first this is because Malia is so emotionally above everyone and is so superhuman she has no flaws. However when she goes into rebellion from her master, she's more like a human in strength, speed and other abilities; but superior enough that she only suffers a rather unpredictable aging process. So every time she saves a human, she ages, but doesn't know how much it will be that time as it's apparently up to an entirely different god to decide. And the amends have to be made before she dies of old age or she goes to her old master's hell to be tortured eternally.
For me, these conditions don't set up enough tension because they are so unpredictable. Yes, there is a lot at stake; but it isn't visceral enough for me to feel all that worried about Maliha's fate. You get the rather jaded reader opinion that "of course she's going to pull through."
Overall, a decent read. Try it for yourself; I believe my quibbles are minor and more along the lines of personal preference.
Top international reviews
A strong female lead who is a cross between James Bond and the Bride from Kill Bill and a fast moving and satisfying story make for a very entertaining read. The writing is better then you might expect from this sort of book and both concept and delivery work very well. I finished this in two sittings which says something about how much I enjoyed it. The story is nicely concluded but there is a last minute 'reveal' that will make readers keen to get hold of the next book in June....
Now I usually try to stick with a book, and read it right to the end. However I got so bored, and could not get invested in the main characters. Say nothing of the supporting characters. I quit at the 50% mark on my kindle.
The only way I could sum this book up is that it reads like a novelization of a Andy Sidaris movie from the 90's.
Der Klappentext von DARK TIME verspricht einiges und auch die Idee des Romans finde ich sehr interessant und ansprechend. Leider liefert Dakota Banks nicht das, was ich mir erhofft hatte.
Die ersten 50 Seiten von DARK TIME sind wirklich packend. Susannahs Schicksal ist bewegend und ihr Kampf mit ihrem Gewissen ist anschaulich geschildert. Nachdem aus Susannah Maliha wird, nimmt die Qualität der Erzählung für meinen Geschmack jedoch ab. Konnte ich Susannahs Schmerz noch nachfühlen, so bleibt Maliha seltsam unerreichbar für mich. Nach dem Verlust ihrer übernatürlichen Fähigkeiten und ihrer Unsterblichkeit sollte sie eigentlich menschlicher werden, aber das genaue Gegenteil ist der Fall. Maliha ist eine schier unbesiegbare Kämpferin, sie ist die heißeste und begehrenswerteste Frau auf dem Planeten, der offenbar niemand widerstehen kann, sie ist steinreich und bei allem erfolgreich, was sie anpackt. Ihre emotionalen Szenen wirken wie nachträglich eingefügt und transportieren kein echtes Gefühl. Sie ist kein Charakter, sie ist ein wandelndes Klischee! Es gibt sicher Leser, denen so eine makellose Hauptfigur gefällt, aber ich habe keine große Freude an Mary Sues. Maliha ist insgesamt zwar recht sympathisch, der Funke ist jedoch nie übergesprungen.
Die Nebenfiguren in DARK TIME sind ebenfalls nicht mehr als Klischees. Wir haben den clever-liebenswürdigen Hackerkumpel, der alles herausfinden kann, den weisen Chinesen, der ein Meister in den Kampfkünsten ist, die hormonelle Schwangere, den ehrlichen und gesetzestreuen Polizisten, die erfolgreiche und sexuell befreite beste Freundin à la Sex and the City und so weiter und so weiter. Banks fügt bis auf eine einzige Ausnahme keiner dieser Figuren Facetten hinzu, die sie zu etwas Neuem oder Eigenem machen würden. Ganz davon abgesehen, dass ihnen ohnehin nicht viel Platz in der Geschichte eingeräumt wird.
Insgesamt liest sich DARK TIME eher wie ein Actionroman und nicht wie Urban Fantasy. Der Mythologie im Roman wird kaum Platz eingeräumt, dafür kämpft sich Maliha quer durch die Geschichte. Erstaunt war ich auch, dass sie offenbar kein Problem damit hat, Menschen, die ihr im Weg sind, aus dem Weg zu räumen. Sollte jemand, der seine Seele mithilfe von geretteten Menschenleben zurückzugewinnen versucht, nicht etwas umsichtiger sein? Den Einstieg in die Haupthandlung des Romans fand ich ziemlich mühsam und es dauert, bis es halbwegs spannend wird. Die Infiltrationen und nächtlichen Spionageausflüge Malihas haben mich eher gelangweilt als gefesselt. Das Finale war zum Glück packend, wenn auch Maliha über weite Strecken wie ein weiblicher James Bond erscheint, der mit allem fertig wird.
Ich muss sagen, dass ich enttäuscht von DARK TIME bin. Ich hatte Urban Fantasy erwartet und keinen Actionroman mit einer unbesiegbaren Hauptfigur. Dabei hätte die Geschichte nicht nur aufgrund der starken Grundidee Potenzial. Über den Roman sind immer wieder kurze Rückblenden in Malihas Vergangenheit verteilt, die weitaus interessanter und spannender als der Hauptplot sind. Schade um die verpasste Gelegenheit. Den Nachfolgeband SACRIFICE werde ich mir schenken.
In the present day Susannah is now Maliha Crayne, a successful author. She has renounced her contract with Rabishu, but must balance the lives she has taken by saving others before her own death occurs or face eternal torture. No longer Ageless but not quite human, Maliha still retains some superhuman abilities, plus the formidable fighting skills she has honed over the centuries. She now uses these skills to help save lives and battle the evil machinations of Rabishu.
Maliha is one of the most interesting female leads I've come across in some time. She can put a combination of James Bond, the A-team and Kill Bill's The Bride to shame; heck she could smack each one down and leave them crying like a baby. DB has created a new breed of heroine, strong, bold and willing to do the right thing despite a seriously dubious past. Maliha Crayne is a woman with enough tricks, gadgets, weapons, false id's and a whole heap load of money to take on any covert government operation. If I had to bet on anyone banishing seven Sumerian demons and saving the world from evil whilst taking out bad guys with a whip sword, my money's firmly on Maliha. Yet despite this strength, Maliha remains realistically vulnerable; still grieving over the loss of her daughter and worried about the lives of her few friends and the dangers they face. She is a complex individual with some intriguing relationships with equally intriguing characters.
You need to take a deep breath before reading the first page of this book, because once you start you don't come up for air until you finish. There is action all the way as Maliha and the variety of interesting cronies she has gathered in her "mortal" life investigate a series of murders; their relationships given additional depth as the story line flits through time to explain how Maliha met and saved the life of each one. There is a growing love interest for fans of romance, whilst the paranormal elements nicely balance the more conventional plot of corporate wrongdoings and subsequent cover-up murders. The ending is literally explosive, whilst the final few lines will leave you desperate to get your hands on book 2 "Sacrifice" due for publication sometime next year.
The only disappointment about the book was that I now have to wait for the next one to be published. (June 2010) Good storyline, great narrative, read it in one sitting. Would highly recommend.