The Path of the Fallen: self-published, September 2012, 602 pages, cover photo by John Allan. Dan O'Brien is the author of around a dozen self-published books.
Fe'rein, a half-man (or cyborg) goes to the space station. He tells a human military man that no peace is possible between humans and enhanced humans. Then Fe'rein goes on a fiery, murderous rampage. The last survivor, a brave girl, tells Fe'rein that he was not meant to have the power of the Believer. He angrily kills her by throwing her out into space. With a surge of his power, Fe'rein disintegrates the space station.
Next, the setting changes to Culouth, a domed city floating above Terra. E'Malkai, the young lord of the House Di'letirich is escorted to a meeting by his guardian, who is a giant creature called an Umordoc. There's concern that E'Malkai and his mother could be targets of the Resistance, since E'Malkai is Fe'rein's nephew. Even E'Malkai considers Fe'rein to be a monster in ways. E'Malkai is asked to begin the trials of Tal'marath, which is a great honor.
High Marshall Kyien, perhaps Fe'rein's Master, privately tells Fe'rein that his mission to the space station was successful but sloppy. Kyrien didn't want the space station destroyed. Kyrien and Fe'rein argue, and Fe'rein uses his power as mion to intimidate Kyien. Councilmen Augustine arrives and informs Fe'rein that his nephew will undertake the trials.
Quantum Coin: Pyr books, October 2012, 331 pages, cover art by Sam Weber. Quantum Coin is the sequel to Fair Coin, which was E.C. Myers first novel. Fair Coin was in our Summer 2012 bracket of Battle of the Books.
Ephraim Scott is a high school student. Last year, as told in book one, he acquired a special quarter coin that propelled him on a dangerous adventure through parallel universes. After that, Ephraim decided to stay in his own universe.
Ephraim is at Senior Prom. His date, Jena, and her twin girlfriends take an extended trip to the ladies room. While waiting, Ephraim talks with his geeky friend Nathan, who has been filming impromptu videos. When Ephraim and Nathan spot Jena, she looks frantic and she's no longer wearing her Prom dress. Ephraim goes to her, and she kisses him. Then Ephraim realizes that she is not Jena at all, but Zoe, an analog of Jena from a parallel universe. Ephraim met Zoe last year.
Jena returns, with her girlfriends, in time to see Ephraim and Zoe kissing on the dance floor. Before the two twin Jenas attract more attention, Ephram suggests that they leave, and all six of them go somewhere more private to talk.
Zoe has a controller device, which looks like a flip phone, that works in tandem with Ephraim's coin to shift realities. Strange things are apparently happening in the multiverse. Nathan's video camera captured ghostly double images from a parallel universe.
The Battle: This match-up features an epic science fantasy book going up against a YA science fiction book.
The Path of the Fallen may have a story to tell, but the way in which it was told was, in my opinion, difficult to follow. At times, I had to reread paragraphs. Some of the problem, I think, was due to an overabundance of adjectives. The word "dark" seemed to be overused.
I would have liked to see more of the big picture. This book is apparently set in Earth's future, but when is vague, perhaps a thousand years from now, and where is unspecified. Something happened to change "Terra," but there are no hints of what yet. There's little explanation of the cybernetic body enhancements.
After reading the first 25 pages of The Path of the Fallen, I didn't feel like I really knew any of the characters and I didn't truly understand their motivations.
Quantum Coin is told in an entertaining, readable style. The characters realistically interact. I liked how they joked with each other, even Ephraim and Nathan's "scatological repartee."
I think the author did a good job of incorporating references to what probably happened in book one. The information didn't come off as info dumps.
It was funny that the powerful controller device was pieced together with duct tape and superglue. I appreciated that the Morales twins were named Mary and Shelley. I liked that Shelley accepted the idea of the multiverse because Nathan was lending her comic books. I approved of Jena's disbelief that Zoe used ham radio to contact someone in another universe.
After reading the first 25 pages of Quantum Coin, my interest was piqued, and I'd like to read more.
THE WINNER: Quantum Coin by E.C. Myers
Quantum Coin moves on to the second round to face Clockwork Angels by Kevin J. Anderson.
To see the whole bracket, click here.