As a fan of Daniels other titles I couldn't wait to get my hands on this, his brand new series. As you'd expect the writing is crisp, the characters memorable and they stand out as a cast that have learned from their pasts and try to influence their futures for their own betterment. It's cleverly done and when war is in the offing, it matters not how much you try to do to avoid it, you'll always be drawn in one way or another.
Add to this crisp prose, some great descriptiveness and some magical abilities and afflictions that will make this book stand out for quite some time. Finally as this tale unfurls the reader may find themselves slightly confused as the multitude of cultures populating this small world but each adds a unique flavour as well as perspective upon not only the frailty of the conditions within but also a deeper flavour to help bring this world alive. Wonderfully done and I'll look forward to the next part.
on 4 January 2013
I'd read and quite liked Daniel Abraham's Long Price series but the reviews for this didn't seem as good and I never got round to reading it. Recently I got bored and decided to give it a go and I'm glad I did. The book is structured with each chapter following a particular character (like the Game of Thones series). I often find this becomes annoying as certain characters are inevitably more interesting than others. I found that to be less of a case in this book, with characters been very different but generally equally interesting. I still found the odd chapter annoying but never found myself wanting to skip an entire character. I especially liked the ending (even if the reveal was fairly obvious from early in the book) and am very much looking forward to reading the next book(s) in the series.
on 10 February 2013
The Dragon's Path follows four main protagonists: Geder, a noble in military service, Cithrin, the determined ward of a bank threatened by invasion, Marcos the military hero who's chequered past leads him to take Cithrin under his wing and Dawson, a noble conspiring to protect his King against traitors and rebellion.
All four of them are all flawed in some way creating interesting situations as their story's develop.
Cithrin is an orphan with a flair for business, coming into adulthood, she begins to see sex as a way to gain information and turns to alcohol when things start to go wrong for her. Her part is not the most compelling but the characters around her keep the story from becoming flat.
Marcus is more straightforward, the ex-hero who lost loved ones and becomes closed when coming into contact with others, aside from Yardem, his trustworthy Tralgu... His best moments are with Master Kit, a troupe leader with a lot of charisma and a hidden identity.
My two favorite characters were Geder and Dawson. Dawson is a stubborn nobleman believing in the higher calling of aristocracy, his plans to save his friend the King and the monarchy seemed doomed to failure, but the political intrigue was a stand out feature of the book for me. His family entourage is composed of a great supporting cast including his wife, bodyguard and sons. Geder is a young outcast dreamer, sent to war but he'd much prefer to read a book. A low born noble Geder is the butt of the company jokes until his fortunes take a better turn. His storyline is both fun, horrific and distressing to follow. He ends up being the saviour of the kingdom but equally he could lead to its doom.
This is the first novel by Daniel Abraham that I have read although I have had the Long Price quartet on my to read shelf for quite some time now. This story centres on excellent characterisation, not a great deal of action and I will defiantly read the second book in the series to see where Geder's storyline goes.
on 22 May 2012
This is an epic fantasy novel. It has a lot of the same plot points and characters that inhabit normal old Europe fantasy settings. What really is the twist here is that action is never really front and center. This is a character study in the realm of epic fantasy.
Daniel Abraham has never gotten to be a big player in fantasy. His books are not for everyone. I think this will remain true for "The Dagger and the Coin" as well. When people read Game of Thrones they know battles are coming. The sense of danger around every corner. I never got that while reading "The Dragon's Path". I instead was really caught up with the characters and their interactions. This isn't for fantasy lovers who are looking for blood.
What really makes this novel is the characters. They grow in the right places. They are stubborn in the right places. They feel real. The world they inhabit is good. I can't say the world feels that deep yet, but this is book 1. One of the best compliments I can pay this book is that I cannot say that I have a favorite character. Every time the POV would change I was delighted to be reading that characters perspective. That is rare in this type of material. Usually there is a character I don't want and characters I can't wait to get back to. Not so here. Add all this up, and add in a great ending, with a cool twist, and you have a really special story.
If everything I have described sounds like a breath of fresh air then you should but it. If the fact that big battles are not the focal point then I think that your dollars would be better spent on other books. For me I loved this novel. I can't wait to start digging into the second book!
on 26 June 2011
This is a new fantasy series by the author of the excellent "long price" quartet. Initially it sounds as if this world is a lot closer to traditional fantasy than his previous series but aside from the 13 races, this is a fantasy world that's more medieval than magical. The funny thing is that a lot of fans were worried this would be too fantastical compared to the "long price" but in reality it's on a similar level although Daniel is always going to be hard-pressed to beat the concept of the "andat". This means that the author focuses on the characters and the story largely grows out of them, although there is the set up of an overall narrative occurring too. The POV characters are strong and distinct and most of them carry a separate thread of story although some of them overlap in places. I enjoyed the Dawson and Marcus characters the most as they were the more mature and it was nice to see how the author writes different ages so well as the younger POV characters are a lot more rash and dare i say it, annoying. In fact, one character does something which really turns the story on its head and I suspect it may well polarize readers. I thought it was a bold move but felt as though it did come out of nowhere and left me confused that a "nice" person committed a horrific act. It does look as if this character will have a particularly dark role in the series though.
Daniel also pulls his usual trick of making a couple of his supporting characters absolute stars and it's impressive that he can do this without getting into their heads
What makes this book a little different is that it does focus a good chunk of the story on finance as a weapon and force of stability. Some may find this "dull" compared to the standard "powermad warrior race/revenge" motivator but it's a realistic approach that i found fairly novel. As the series is called "the dagger and the coin", I guess this aspect of the book will continue to be a strong presence and I think this could be what makes the series a little bit different from other fantasy books.
Mention should also be made of Abraham's writing style which is a joy throughout. One of those authors where the way he says things is often more important than what he is actually saying. I also like how he doesn't go out of his way to be grim and gritty and shocking, as there are plenty of other authors who have that market cornered at the moment.
The main criticism of the book is the lack of a glossary explaining the 13 races. While it doesn't ruin the book it does serve as a minor irritation when I couldn't remember what the race looked like and it's hierarchy. A nitpicky criticism is that this book is also littered with typos as well even character names are mispelled within some pages. Neither things spoil the enjoyment of the story though, unless those things particularly irritate a reader.
This is a great start to what could turn out to be a major fantasy series and I'll be checking out the rest of the series.
Hmmm... what to say about this book? The truth is I don't really know.
It basically boils down to the fact that I enjoyed it and want to read the next book but I can't for the life of me tell you why.
The pace is quite slow, the plot is split over at least four POV characters and at the end of the novel I only really just began to get a sense that something might actually be starting to happen. All of these things together would normally make me dislike a book but it didn't put me off here... why?
Well I think it is probably because Daniel Abraham is a very talented writer. All of his characters felt real, his world was well realised and once I had become immersed in the story there was nothing that happened which would kick me out of his world back to this one. There were characters that were not as interesting as other characters, but none that I disliked reading about or made me want to skip ahead. All this together made this a comfortable book to keep reading even if it did lack that sense of pace I normally look for in a good book.
I am not a fan of stories that start with such a large number of POV characters as I normally like to get to know one or two primary characters and then layer others in later on. The reason why I am not a fan of this is apparent here, it takes a long time to grow attached to each of the characters and really immerse yourself in their stories which makes for slow reading at first. However, by the end of the novel I finally began to start enjoying each POV and more importantly I think I put my finger on what was good about this novel... the potential.
Each story arc introduced a different element into the overarching story and all of them were dripping with potential for a future and more interesting story line. Whether that may be the possible return of dragons, some kind of mass threat by some magical, religious cult or maybe just a war of some kind, the groundwork was laid here in this first novel.
Overall I am of mixed opinions. Taken on its own I thought the novel was too slow and a bit lacking in a lot of areas. However, taken as part of a new series then I have some new hopes for better things to come. So, bring on the next book and lets see what this series has to offer and if it can live up to its potential.
on 2 January 2014
'The Dragon's Path' is a fantasy novel written in a similar style to GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire, with a nice blend of violence, war, political intrigue, and a variety of point-of-view characters. Although slow to begin with, both the story and the characters steadily improve as the novel progresses.
'The Dragon's Path' is the first in a four-book series titled 'The Dagger and the Coin', a phrase which in this book refers to the two alternative paths of civilisation: war (or 'the dragon's path') and trade. The `coin' is represented by the main female character, Cithrin, and it's interesting to see how her story is juxtaposed against others who take the path of violence, like Dawson.
While the initial sixty pages or so made me feel as though I was being bombarded with new characters and PoVs, this soon evened itself out into four central PoV characters, all of whom come to be interesting in different ways. The slightly Erikson-esque name-dropping of what seems like a hundred names of races and cities without any elaboration was also a bit confusing at first; it takes roughly the first half of the book for the characters to fully begin to form, and the various aspects of the world, such as its history, and details of the twelve different races, soon fall into place.
There are four main PoVs, each of which are very different: there's Cithrin bel Sarcour, young orphan girl and ward of the Medean bank; Marcus Wester, war hero-turned mercenary; Geder Palliako, reluctant soldier and amateur philosopher; and Dawson, king's advisor and steadfast loyalist. Two of these characters - Cithrin and Geder - develop significantly throughout the course of the novel, and it was their stories I found most enjoyable to read. Both characters have some pretty major ups and downs; both are forced to shed their innocent naïveté by events that shape their thoughts and personalities in very different ways, and it's these two characters in particular that I'm keen to read more of.
The two main female characters in the novel are well-drawn, particularly since both have their own personal strengths, neither of which involves improbable skill with either sex or weapons: Cithrin, although very young, is well-versed in her knowledge of banking and finance, and skilfully uses this knowledge to turn many poor situations to her advantage; while Clara, the wife of Dawson and a comparably minor character, plays an important role by using her ability to read people and by exploiting the inferior position of women in society in order to get access to information and places inaccessible to men. I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting Cithrin's chapters were, and how the details of her financial schemes actually became one of the most exciting plot points.
The intriguing hints towards the bigger picture - a mysterious and deadly cult threatening to corrupt and engulf civilisation - and the fact that most of the characters have developed in such interesting ways more than make up for the novel's occasional slowness; and although The Dragon's Path is a little sluggish to start, the second half of the story - particularly the developments of the final few chapters - promises much greater things.
on 29 October 2013
Generally enjoyable and unexpected, the Dragon's Path takes a winding, unfamiliar path through fantasy. Once the momentum builds, its major strength is in managing to keep you wondering where the path will turn next.
A damaged, cynical ex-war hero meets an orphaned, anxious girl on a mission who may just have been lucky enough to scrape together a unique enough skill set to survive. Their journey is set against the backdrop of a kingdom on the brink of political upheaval, with the ruling class splitting through clashing motives and shaky allegiances, about to plunge the country onto the `Dragon's Path' - and unnoticed, a sinister & ancient spiritual threat is about to enter the fray.
I was very surprised to find myself interested by the finer points of banking and supply caravans in this novel, and clearly, Abraham is keen to subvert our ideas of what passes for action & drama in fantasy fiction. For the most part he does this very well, managing to give the reader quick & easy access into unfamiliar territory so they can start getting swept up by the unfolding failures & victories. Whether it's characters performing a sort of detailed reverse-heist, or politicians confusing us with a mixture of noble and bigoted motives, it's easy to pick up the context and the tension and roll along with the plot.
In particular, I thought the pacing was great, and I was able to naturally build a picture of the country at large from a variety of different viewpoints. One or two of the characters were very well revealed and developed throughout the novel, particularly Dawson and Geder Palliako. Dawson for his believable mix of staunchness and superiority, echoing real-life personality types fairly well, I thought, and Geder...
(***SPOILER - only a small one really***) - for a very clever way of subverting expectations and advancing the plot; taking the `people aren't what they seem' classic and twisting it so that it really is `people aren't what they seem', but because they are exactly what they seem, rather than what the reader expects them to become... (makes sense to me!!) He makes for a terrifying villain, I think, and I can see his story getting fairly dark before the end.(***SPOILER over!***)
Events in the story are well told through their intentionally blinkered viewpoints as well; e.g. the slightly apathetic and arbitrary occupation of a city for political manoeuvring was really well put together, making even classic swashbuckling action feel strangely hollow, and the secret political meeting where one character storms out was great, as it leaves the reader feeling annoyed at everyone involved - except the writer, that is. Also really enjoyed the journey to the desert temple; mysterious and had the feeling of something dangerous lurking just out of sight the whole way through.
However, I would say that the more positive characters and story elements came across as the weaker parts of the novel. Cithrin had some interesting moments, as did Marcus Wester, but on the whole their endpoint was predictable, and I especially didn't like some of the dialogue when Marcus was involved - had the feel of `try-hard' banter to me, where we're meant to think he's wryly/dryly funny and world-weary. Instead it made me roll my eyes a bit, just didn't feel natural and took me out of the story. Similarly, Cithrin's skills became a bit over-the-top for me, even though we do have a moment where she's revealed to be a bit naive, presumably to stop us from feeling this way. Though I enjoyed the deliberate attempt to create an unusual fantastical prodigy, I thought it was again trying a bit too hard to get me to buy it as an idea. Perhaps the writer was a bit more concerned with being different than being believable... within a crazy fantasy world, of course.
This side of things generally made me feel a little bit sad by the end of the story - when the mood of the book is predominantly one of cynicism, where there aren't really any truly redeeming characters, and everything is secretly a bit slimy and corrupt, it just brings me down and makes me feel a bit weary. I know there is a big trend at the moment to write about `real life' and `real, gritty characters', but is making everyone cynical any more realistic than making everyone a bit too altruistic? The `good guys' in the Dragon's Path are all cynics in one way or another - Marcus, Cithrin and Master Kit are all people who've lost their trust and confidence in something and can't get over it. I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but is it really fun to read a story with that kind of feel? And is it any more believable/realistic? Stories can't actually reflect reality, the whole point is to exaggerate or magnify something for entertainment - so why choose the negative things to zoom in on! (Sorry, bringing out the old student in me, I'll shut up now)
I think it's worth a read, and there are some great segments. I've bought book two and will probably read through to the end of the series, but I hope that as it goes on, Kit, Marcus & Cithrin will stop the navel-gazing for a bit and just enjoy being part of a fantastical adventure.
on 6 January 2014
I came across a review of this series whilst searching for Epic fantasy books online and purchased it based on the user reviews on Amazon.
Having finished reading the first book only, I have to comment on it alone and not on its standing as part of the series.
The underlying plot of "evil stirring", along with the consideration of multiple main characters, each acting out their own subplot, aligns with the template I've come to expect from any epic fantasy. However, Daniel Abraham also deviates from the norm in many ways. The most obvious of which is that the characters, as yet, all appear to be grey with respect to their aleigance (good or evil) and morals. This is a positive in my opinion as I would suggest it will allow them more room to develop.
My only gripe with this book is the tension, or lack thereof. Whilst the main plot looks set to travel at the normal (slow) pace a reader would expect from an epic, I felt the individual events all seemed to happen rather quickly. At the start of a chapter something would be brewing and by the end it would be done. Personally, I felt this detracted from key events, however others may enjoy this increased tempo. Without wanting to include any spoilers it is difficult to embellish.
Overall, a good, easy read and I will be continuing with the rest of the series.
on 21 July 2013
I picked up this book because it featured on a list of great fantasy books, and I was not disappointed. Despite the core theme being about banking (!), Abraham has set up a rising tide of anticipation with strong and vibrant characters, ending this book leaving me desperate to get home and download the next one. If you enjoy a good fantasy, with complex characters who are wholly human in their mix of altruism and greed, then this is for you.