The Beholder (The Beholder #1) by Ivan Amberlake
Urban fantasy about a regular guy, Jason, who discovers that the terrible nightmares he's been having are real. He discovers that he's linked to a group, existing undetected in our society, of people with supernatural powers, and that he is a key weapon in the fight against evil.
The magic is complex, and the story is suspenseful. At times it reads a little like a video game, with explanations from one knowledgable source or another of things Jason needs to know alternated with challenges that he has to get through. But the action is thrilling and the battles kept me glued to the book.
I especially appreciated the romantic subplot written from the guy's point of view, seeing Jason's feelings for Emily, his guide through the magical world he's been pulled into, as they develop. I found it geniunely moving and well-done.
Highly recommended for fans of urban fantasy, or readers of epic/high fantasy who are open to trying something set in the real, modern world.
Path of the Heretic is the exciting follow-up to The Beholder, and I liked it even more than the first book (which I enjoyed very much). Months after the events at the end of The Beholder, Jason is still trying to come to terms with what happened, but the battle between Lightsighted and Darksighted is ongoing. The book starts off with a bang and continues at a fast pace as Jason tries to learn the truth about Emily, protect the human world from the Dark Ones, and keep himself from being killed or turned by Pariah. In between the exciting magical battles, Pariah and his gang plot to get to Jason and his friends, Jason attempts to solve the mystery of Emily, and characters live, die, change sides, and discover new things about themselves. The book is darkly moody and atmospheric, but I also appreciate the touch of romance from the man's point of view.
It had been a while since I read The Beholder, and Path of the Heretic dumps the reader right into the middle of the action, so while I remembered the characters from the first book (they're certainly memorable), it took me a while to get the hang of what was going on and remember some key points from the first book. But I stuck with it until I got it figured out, and the rest of the book was definitely worth it.
A more-than-worthy sequel to The Beholder, great reading for fans of urban/contemporary fantasy.