An excellent first novel, suspenseful and with lots of twists. Intrigue, mysticism, religion, the war on terror and much more. A cracking read.
by Brian Firth
A highly intelligent, constantly gripping, literary, scholarly novel that goes where few authors would dare to tread: right into the simmering cauldron that is today's (dis)United Kingdom, a country that no amount of mainstream media cosmetics can ever portray as a harmonious success story.
We have a multi-layered, intricate plot, a constantly twisting narrative studded with unexpected turnings & shocks & a cast of believable characters facing excruciatingly hard choices. This is a UK bedevilled by a weak, supine government, once a proud nation state but now subverted from within by a deeply compromised, self-serving, corrupt Establishment, a British 'Deep State', a country in which public disillusion with the 'ruling elite' is reaching incendiary levels. And we have fanatical islamic terrorism, growing more audacious, more ruthless, by the day. A veritable powder keg, yet the author is scrupulously careful with his words, at no time polemical but telling the tale in a neutral manner, a recorder of facts with no axe to grind.
The novel is driven forward by the mysterious presence of an unknown, lethal counter-terrorist force that, seemingly frustrated by political inertia, has now 'taken the law into its own hands', & by a shadowy metaphysical power from an older Britain that has chosen to involve itself with the country's contemporary crisis.
I have read this outstanding novel once, & in a few weeks will read it again, knowing there will be even more layers to savour in this immaculately written book. A fine achievement by a contemporary author who has the determination, the vision, the courage, to not only write about this country's parlous condition but to also get it published. That's some achievement in these censorious times!
The breadth & vision of this book is profoundly cinematic, & in the hands of the right director would be a film that would blow so called 'political thrillers' out of the water. An outstanding & inspiring read. Highly recommended.
by Joe Williams
This is a super read. The characters share the same struggle to remain decent human beings in a country under attack. Confused and literally ejected from their comfort zones by events, they learn to adapt to the unthinkable, survive and prepare themselves for the next onslaught.
The authorities betray the ordinary people by their denial of the loss of control of a situation they themselves have created. But there are older and wiser heads which are dedicated to preserve the soul of the nation living in the mysterious Pocket who will seed its recovery.
Ancient and modern combine to paint a recognisable Britain in the 21st Century. The Unseen Path takes the reader on the first leg of the journey, with more to come. This may be a first novel but when it's of this quality, it cannot be the last.
by Susanna Smith
If you want bangs, bullets and bombs then go for it! This tale has some of the most exciting action sequences I have read in recent years, right from the start up until the final denouement. Modern irregular warfare, pursued on our own home turf - which gives it the spike of urgency and connects viscerally with all-too real concerns about the future of our country. If you want cause for hope in human resilience, as well as an impassioned rehearsal of much that the author feels to be dangerously wrong in modern-day life, here is a story that will grip you.
However, to describe The Unseen Path as just a novel of action would be to do it a real injustice - it is much more than that. The Unseen Path of the title is a startlingly original literary conceit of the imagination, rooted in history and legend and folded into our landscape as well as into some of our deepest beliefs. It energises the narrative action in a startling way that perhaps nothing else could, giving it purpose beyond the simple will-to-survive when faced with a terrible threat of annihilation or slavery . Its creation is a product of the author's learning every bit as much as of his undoubted story-telling ability, and I found it fascinating in its own right.
However, it is not the only unseen path that runs through this book - there are others that the author either consciously incorporates, or takes as a given, for us to agree or disagree with as we choose.
First, there is the path of history that in the book is overtaking our country, and risks overwhelming both it and us. The premise is an imagined situation where Britain (I use that name despite a certain discussion in the book itself) is in peril of its life, every bit as much as it was under the onslaught of war just 70 years ago. However, unlike those past times the majority of the population remains asleep to the danger, and the conflict is taking place largely unacknowledged, and right under their noses. The path of history is truly unseen to most, even as the country is targetted by enemies as wicked and ruthless as any of the past. A bleak but compelling fictive background propelling the stream of action, with the agents themselves largely invisible to the population at large.
Second, there are the characters in the book. This is no comforting soap opera, where everything happens, but in the end, somehow, nothing happens - where those characters simply affirm who they were all along, and as individuals are replaced, the overall reality of the drama stays the same. In this story, they do change - on each of the several conflicting or interacting sides, they alter with events - just as people do in reality when confronted with tragedy or horror, deepening relationship or sudden revelation. For better or worse, whether they approach their own inner destruction - the book does not shy away from this - or whether they find insight, reconciliation, courage or even approach a kind of salvation - the characters are typically finding their way, propelled along their own unseen path. It gives the story a reality which can be very uncomfortable at times, but is always engaging.
There are perhaps three major strands which typically engender a work of fiction - lived experience, imagination, and conviction. Some tales limp along on one or two of these, relying on the sheer story-telling ability of the author to cover what is lacking in their roots. However, this one has plenty of each, and has no need of mere glibness to paper over any cracks. The author's lived experience is not perhaps where you would look for it - we have got used to those sons of action fictionalising their lives for our entertainment. Although the action sequences in this book are very good, very convincing, our author's own experience includes, unusually, a learned and scholarly background. It is what gives a crucial reality to the most imaginative elements of the tale - the Unseen Path of the title, and what it leads to. To go into it at all would spoil the story - you will have to read it to find out. And he certainly does have a power of imagination which is convincing in its own right.
As to the conviction, well, that shines through in driving the action on, past the 'mere' feelings of the agents and actors and into a vision of a future based solidly on a dark but grounded view of the present. At a time when our world seems to be faced with so many frightening and dangerous possibilities, this book stares some of them squarely in the face, and that in itself is evidence of its author's conviction.
I first read this book in a serialised form, and I was consistently looking for the next episode from the moment I finished the latest one. It is that kind of book - a truly exciting read from beginning to end. The rest of it is simply a bonus, so read it and enjoy a wonderful story of the good guys vs the bad guys. Everything else just adds to the authenticity, and the residual traces it may leave in your own experience or conviction. A difficult trick to pull off in such an original and imaginative way.
by Stuart Beaker
It's a real pleasure to read a book which combines a complex and satisfying plot with good writing. So many crime thrillers are cobbled together with clumsy narrative, simplistic plots and unconvincing endings. Not this one. It deals with current issues of security, terrorism and political liability in a clear-sighted and totally convincing manner. If you want a book that is thought-provoking, entertaining and mysterious, this is it. I guarantee that you'll re-read it as soon as you've turned the last page.
by Mme Revenant
The Unseen Path pulled me in from the first page to the last… Terror plots, dramatic dialogue and believable characters.
It's the perfect mix of tension, lies, international politics and a pinch of romance that makes it a captivating story, which I couldn't put down.
Well written, gripping and difficult to put down. Highly recommend
by Robert Bard
This is a big book, long, serious and engrossing. It is set in today's Britain, complacently dozing under the rule of a rotten elite pursuing their private ends at the expense of the people. Against this is set a small body of decent folk who might -- just might -- be able to counter the rot. In the book these people live in a small region secluded from the world by a kink in physical space, which might be dismissed as mere wish-fulfilment fantasy. But this book is more than a fantasy, it is a parable for those who do not want Britain to go down the drain of history, and whose private efforts might, if combined, reverse the decline. It does not offer an easy solution. Read it as a thrilling story, but then start thinking about what might be achieved.
by Ralph Hancock
The book is attractively presented with excellent binding and comes complete with that most useful of book accessories - an integral bookmark. The dust jacket feels good quality and has an intriguing illustration … it hints of mystery to come and does help to focus the imagination as the story unfolds.
I was to some extent aware of the basic plot from some extracts published on a well know “blog”. This was just a taste of what was in store in the full novel.
The writer employed a plot device common in science fiction writings – base the story around the world as we know it are and introduce one significant “what if” element to enhance the story line.
This worked well, making the UK depicted in the book at once familiar yet strange. The fact that the familiar was concerning yet instantly believable says much about our society. It also says much about the author’s ability to recognise and commit to paper what he sees around him.
I have no desire to spoil the plot, but will simply comment that the book was well, almost elegantly, written, the storyline held together well with the plot rattling along at a good pace. There were some surprises of course and a twist in the tail.
For a first novel, this was excellent. I note that there is a “hook” for a sequel and look forward to reading it – soon I hope.
Can I recommend it? Emphatically yes and I have already bought a second as a Christmas present for No.1 son.
by Alex Brown
The author felt each word literally and methodically. Every word and detail so vivid in his mind, it was as if he chopped his way through a wooded glade and blazed his thoughts into the mind of the reader.
Ideas blending together naturally and written as a sense writer ( as was Dante ).
A plethora of thoughts blended together over time that came flowing out and blended together
seemlessly and written down with determination and confidence. No litrary plot devices were used the words and thoughts were utterly unique.
A fast paced and gripping beginning that lifted the reader immediately into the whilwind of
of the authors exceptional knowledge and creative abilities. Characters who are never static or predictable, they seemed to have lived their lives which the author wrote down at ease.
An amalgamation of modern, criminal, mystery, philosophy , spirituality, factual ancient history,
with a large dash of classicism and transcendental elements.
There is tension,surprise and the controversial issues of terrorism, at home and around the globe,
as well as political and cultural issues. Layers upon layers of intrigue.
At the heart of the book there is the esoteric hidden barrier ' fortress of the faithful '
as named in the book. This isnt a a little cutesy Archers type existence . It links all parts of the book
in a mirrored existence, also containing tests of endurence, harsh realities and difficult choices .
primative Christianity, the enigmatic Byzantines, isolated retreats. All with the message of traditional values, community spirit and that of faith.
The place where this hidden barrier is situated, Exmoor, highly suitable due to the geographical topography of that wild and sequestered spot. A place with a rich mixture of history, folklore. The intagiable Celtic heritage amongst the hidden valleys that echo older times. A place that mirrors a time when Celtic missionaries arrived on this spot of the South West and established sancturies when under attack .
Classically and elegantly written with a robust volcabluary and an exeptional attention to detail. Phrases that are evocative and and words that take language to another level where you feel the story being told rather then just reading it. everything written in a concise and structured manner and with the greatest of care. A test of a good book is one where you have lived the storyline - the characters, situations, places and smells, that you have experienced all that was written. A superb book from the very first intriguing words until the last equally intriguing words. A book i very highly recommend.
by M K Bonwicke
This is a more in-depth review then my previous.
A superb book cover that captures the mystical element of the book, speaking directly to the reader,
good quality and substantial. The author didn't use any plot devices, his writing is utterly unique and doesn't become boxed into any literary genre. It was like he chopped his way through a wooded glade and blazed his thoughts into the mind of the reader. As Dante was naturally gifted as a sense writer so is this author. Ideas and words that have been in his subconscious for eons blending together seamlessly. A confident and fast paced beginning that engulfes the reader into whirlwind of his own intelligence and creativity, the book starts with intrigue and ends with the same intrigue. Believable characters with depth and originality who seemed to tell the author of their lives and he just wrote it down with ease .
The book is an amalgamation of modern, ancient, factual events and historical events, philosophy, mystery and spirituality blended with a dash of classicism and astrophysics .
There is tension, surprise, shocks, gritty moments, warmth and adventure and the controversial
Issues of national and international terrorism and those who deal with it whether it be their jobs
or out of desperation, there are layers upon layers of intrigue around the globe and closer to home.
At the heart of the book there is the esoteric hidden barrier "the fortress of the faithful "
as intriguingly named by the author. This isn't a little cutesy Archers or Chronicle of Narnia existence . There are equal tests of endurance, harsh realities and difficult choices in a mirrored existence , this is the mysterious centre of the book . There are the Byzantines, primitive Christianity and isolated retreats
and a message of friendships, tenderness, traditional values, community spirit and the importance of faith.
The location of the hidden barrier wasn't chosen by chance, it's suitability is due to the geographical topography of Exmoor . A place with a rich mixture of history, folklore, and the intangible Celtic heritage
amongst the tightly woven valleys and wild sequestered spots that mirror a time on the same spot when
Celtic missionaries arrived in the West Country to establish sanctuaries when under threat.
Classically and elegantly written with a robust vocabulary and exceptional attention to detail. Phrases that are evocative that add layers of meaning. Done so in a structured and concise manner .
A test of a good book is whether you lived the storyline. To have been present within the
pages with the characters, situation, sights and smells. And that was the case. An exceptionally
brilliant book and one I would recommend.
by M K Bonwicke