Warning: Contains spoilers for previous NIGHTSIDE books. If you haven’t read them, please start at the beginning with Something from the Nightside. Otherwise you’ll be lost.
Paths Not Taken is the fifth book in Simon R. Green’s NIGHTSIDE series. In the previous installment, Hex and the City, John Taylor investigated the origins of the Nightside and discovered that Lilith, his own mother, was its creator. Now, in Paths Not Taken, John and Suzie Shooter travel back in time to discover why and how Lilith created the Nightside. That might help them figure out why she now wants to destroy it and how they might be able to stop her.
The best part of Paths Not Taken, as usual, is the setting. This time it’s fun to learn what the Nightside was like throughout history, not just by being told, but by actually going back to experience it. (If you thought the modern Nightside was bad, you should have seen it in the 6th century!) As we go backward in time, the past mixes up with the possible futures John has already seen in a previous book (thus the title Paths Not Taken) and we see how John has been unwittingly influencing events all along. We get to visit some familiar people and places and we learn what happened to Merlin’s heart, where the Lamentation came from, and how Suzie becomes disfigured in the future John has been worrying about. Green purposely creates all sorts of time paradoxes which will make your head spin. I’m just starting to realize how well he planned out the NIGHTSIDE series.
Paths Not Taken suffers from the same problems this series has had from the beginning, mainly the repetition of ideas and language within and between books. Green repeats himself so often that I wonder if he has certain phrases typed into a macro. For example, “… I opened up my inner eye, my private eye … and it was the easiest thing in the world to….”, “… they all remembered they had urgent appointments somewhere else.”) This was a real problem for me, so I’ve decided to take a break from NIGHTSIDE before revisiting it in the next book, Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth.
I’m listening to the fabulous audio production narrated by Marc Vietor. I wouldn’t think of reading NIGHTSIDE any other way.