The Narrow Path to War, by DL Frizzell could be summarized by calling it a western set on a far flung world. One might assume this would also mean there is a science fiction aspect, which there is, but since most of their tech is decayed, it really is closer to a western, which is not set on our planet.
The story revolves around a young, somewhat awkward, rebel named Alex, who finds himself involved with another country's attempt to spy on, abuse, and perhaps destroy his people's way of life. Alex is a likeable character and one of the strongest parts of the novel. You really do want to see him do well and succeed, especially when many of the people he comes across deserve some justice for their foul acts.
The planet, Arion, is a unique world. Where the people live appears to be mostly desert. But there are magnetic storms, people use sap as fuel, and other odd geographical areas add spice to the adventure and remind us that we aren't reading a 'normal' western.
The story has a strong progression toward the climax and the reader wants to see how it will end for Alex and his allies. There are a few other POVs throughout the novel, which helps the reader gain a more holistic understanding on the situation. The other characters are also strong and believable, including, Kate, the very odd love interest for Alex.
Drawbacks include that the book feels a little 'green.' There are several times that the POV changes without a break, sometimes within the same paragraph. Some of the descriptions of the environment are not explained well enough for at least me to understand. Personally, I just barreled through and enjoyed the action, even if I did not exactly understand the logistics of the situation.
Overall the strength of the story and the imagination of the author overcome these shortcomings and lead us through a powerful tale. I would certainly read the second book if I got the chance. Also as a side note, I read Maze Runner at the same time as this book and sometimes such things make me sad. For where Maze Runner is ranked 67th on Amazon and has a motion picture about the novel coming out, most people will not hear about this novel and it blows the doors off Maze Runner and would make a great movie, but such it the writing world and how the cards fall.
Michael D. Griffiths