The Dragon’s Path is without a doubt one of the most anticipated fantasy books of the year, and though he isn’t as big a hitter as some of them, Abraham’s latest featured in the ‘Most Anticipated’ lists right up there with the new Abercrombie or Rothfuss. His very much loved Long Price Quartet demonstrated that there was very little wrong that this man could do. There were high expectations and I’m glad to say that Abraham met them blow for blow. His take on the more typical Epic Fantasy story, though he sacrifices the atmospheric and exotic feel, is just as original and captivating as his first series. A set of solid, driven and engaging characters complement the plot wonderfully, making this one of the very best ‘classic’ epics I’ve read in quite a while.
Summer is the season of war in the Free Cities.
Marcus wants to get out before the fighting starts. His hero days are behind him and simple caravan duty is better than getting pressed into service by the local gentry. Even a small war can get you killed. But a captain needs men to lead - and his have been summarily arrested and recruited for their swords.
Cithrin has a job to do - move the wealth of a nation across a war zone. An orphan raised by the bank, she is their last hope of keeping the bank's wealth out of the hands of the invaders. But she's just a girl and knows little of caravans, war, and danger. She knows money and she knows secrets, but will that be enough to save her in the coming months?
Geder, the only son of a noble house is more interested in philosophy than swordplay. He is a poor excuse for a soldier and little more than a pawn in these games of war. But not even he knows what he will become of the fires of battle. Hero or villain? Small men have achieved greater things and Geder is no small man.
Falling pebbles can start a landslide. What should have been a small summer spat between gentlemen is spiraling out of control. Dark forces are at work, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon's Path - the path of war.
Whereas in his Long Price Quartet Abraham sought to build a world and a story that diverged from what is thought of as commonplace for the fantasy genre, in this first volume of The Dagger and the Coin he builds a much more familiar setting. Yet even then, Abraham manages to truly put his own spin on it, and imbue it with originality and a sense of freshness that I’ve come to associate with his work. What his stories offer - and The Dragon’s Path is certainly no exception - is a true venue for escapism.
Where Abraham keeps in some respects adheres to the medieval Europe analogue that familiar ground to most fantasy fans, in other respects the world he has created is very different. To begin, there are humans as we know them, Firstbloods, and then there are their dozen sister races. With such characteristically different people walking about, the world of The Dagger and the Coin cannot help but be interesting. Those elements as well as varied geography and an overreaching sense of nostalgia for a distant and glorious past gives this world all the attributes for the ideal epic setting.
Skirmish scenes follow political intrigue, which follow banking arrangements which, in turn, follow court scandals in The Dragon’s Path. That is to say, there’s something in there for every fantasy-lover’s taste. The book’s story, through the diversity of its characters, is varied and touches upon all flavors of the epic fantasy genre. Abraham builds the story with great care, dropping a hint at things to come here and there and manipulating the various story-lines so that they intersect every so often that the reader is aware that all the book’s events are happening all at once. In fact, apart from the jarring introduction of a new character point of view in the final act of the novel, the transitions from one point of view to another are remarkably seamless.
Some of the characters immediately develop to be character’s you are sure you want to follow. Dawson Kalliam, in his capacity as a slightly arrogant yet loyally-motivated lord, is one of those as is Geder Palliako, the misguided underdog of this story. Others take a while longer to develop but in the end all become engaging characters as they struggle with their flaws and the difficulties of their particular situation. Particularly interesting, perhaps, is Abraham’s use of Geder’s naivety and hate of the lies of court life to comment upon the veiled intentions of our own world’s politics.
The start to Daniel Abraham’s new series is exactly what I expected of it - a familiar setting and story with small twists and variances that make it all the more intriguing and exciting. Though very different from what Abraham offered in The Long Price, The Dragon’s Path is easily the equal of that series’ first book, A Shadow in Summer. For those readers that have not previously been introduced to Abraham’s books, The Dragon’s Path is a perfect place to start, being more approachable in some ways than his previous series. The whirlwind of events that have been set off in The Dragon’s Path are sure to lead to some material in it’s sequel, The King’s Blood. Highly recommended.
My Rating: 5 out of 5
Reading Age: 16 and up
Daniel Abraham's Website: http://www.danielabraham.com/
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