four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
53-July-Aug-2011
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0

missing imageVeteran writer Daniel Abraham (The Long Price Quartet) opens his series The Dagger and the Coin with The Dragon's Path, which portrays fantasy and political intrigue on an epic scale. The King's Blood, the second installment of the planned quintet, is scheduled for a 2012 release.

The Story: Rumors of war in the free city of Vanai are usually just that--rumors. Taking the possibility of an Antean attack seriously, though, executives of the Medean Bank set about moving their assets to another branch via Cithrin, an orphaned girl disguised as a male courier. In the last caravan out of the city and escorted by aging and somewhat reluctant warrior, Captain Marcus Wester, Cithrin stands a chance of traversing the war zone successfully. Throw into the mix a nobleman more concerned with philosophy than war, a Machiavellian leader dead set against change, and 13 races of humanity once ruled by dragons, and Cithrin's fate--and that of the Free Cities--becomes less than certain.
Orbit. 592 pages. $14.99. ISBN: 9780316080682.

LEC Book Reviews 4.5 of 5 Stars
"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. ... 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." LEC

SFFWorld 4.5 of 5 Stars
"The surface may lead one to think you are looking at simply a steak, but when you slice and bite into it, you realize you are eating a fine cut of filet mignon cooked to near perfection. ... Highest recommendation for this novel as it will appeal to fans of Epic / High Fantasy as well as those who may find themselves tired of the tropes that have been re-cooked without new flavors for so long." Rob H. Bedford

Graeme's Fantasy Review 4 of 5 Stars
"The Dragon's Path is a gorgeous read that lays its cards on the table right away and promises a lot more goodness to come in the future. ... The book itself is very much an ‘opening installment', with things being set up for the future, but events are self contained enough that you don't feel you're left hanging for all the wrong reasons." Graeme Flory

SF Signal 4 of 5 Stars
"The writing is solid--enough background and description to give a sense of place and time but not enough to become boring. ... The political intrigue in The Dragon's Path isn't as brutal as that in The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas, but the players are much more likeable here and what intrigue there is, is well-played." Jessica Strider

Fantasy Book Critic 3.5 of 5 Stars
"As far as the writing, Daniel Abraham's prose is more straightforward and less elegant than it was in The Long Price Quartet, but the author's performance overall remains skilled and polished, led of course by Abraham's characterization and clever plotting. In the end, The Dragon's Path may suffer from shallow world-building and concepts that are underutilized like the thirteen different races of humanity, but because of main characters who are interesting and well-developed and a story that consistently surprises despite its familiarity, The Dragon's Path is a very solid start to Daniel Abraham's new fantasy series." Robert Thompson

Onion A.V. Club 3.5 of 5 Stars
"In all fairness, Abraham has never expressed a desire to reinvent sword-and-sorcery, even though his previous series, The Long Price Quartet, put a mildly fresh, understated spin on it. ... Slowly, cumulatively, almost magically, The Dragon's Path does something unexpected: It gets really damn good." Jason Heller

Critical Summary

What Daniel Abraham shoots for in The Dragon's Path is epic on the scale of George R. R. Martin (the two worked together on an SF novel, Hunter's Run (2008), and Abraham credits his mentor with offering ideas that would figure prominently in the planned quintet). For the most part, he succeeds--no easy task, particularly when Martin, the author of the wildly popular series A Song of Ice and Fire, has raised the bar on fantasy and stands relatively unchallenged at the top of the genre (see also Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss). Once readers get accustomed to Abraham's stripped-down prose, the author settles in for the ride, exhibiting the confidence and the storytelling and world-building chops that have garnered Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award nominations. Chances are, Abraham is about to take an award home.

Also by the Author

A Shadow in Summer (2006): This novel kicks off Abraham's previous series, The Long Price Quartet. The city of Saraykhet has a distinct economic advantage over its coastal rivals. Its poet, Heshai, has control of an andat ("[an idea] given human shape") that removes the seeds from cotton, making the summer city an important center for the processing and weaving of fabrics. But Seedless, as the andat is known, has little regard for his capricious, aging master.