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on 7 July 2014
I don't often write reviews for anything at all, but Daniel Abraham continues to be frustratingly under-appreciated.

I won't bother with a synopsis as they are readily available in other corners. Allow me to simply give you my view on this book, this series and this author.

I first came across Daniel Abraham through George R R Martin - Abraham is one of Martin's unofficial apprentices, if you will. I began with The Long Price Quarter and was astounded it hadn't caught a wider following. The Dagger and the Coin is similarly superb and apparently widely ignored by the greater reading world, even to my dismay the more niche fantasy fiction fans like myself who voraciously devour everything fantasy. Let me say plainly, Daniel Abraham is up there with the best - Martin, Hobb, Rothfuss, Abercrombie, Lawrence and Lynch.

There is a precision and crispness to Abraham's prose that few can match. There are no long winding stuffy descriptions of the landscape or surroundings, yet somehow they manage to bleed through in perfect, startling clarity. The different cities of Camnipool, Porte Oliva and the other destinations are all vibrant, unique settings brought to life through the perspectives of some seriously compelling characters.

As with many of the best fantasy series, the focus shifts a little in this third entry in the series with supporting characters like Clara Kalliam, Vincen Coe, Yardem Hane and Master Kit taking significant promotions into the limelight while series staples like Geder and Marcus continue to keep you turning the pages until dawn. The real genius of the novel for me though, is the dialogue. It snaps off the page like a firework. Characters speak to each other with bare minimum of conversation at times, yet underneath is an ocean of meaning, depth and an intimacy masterfully portrayed as few other authors can accomplish. Case and point: a rather significant conversation between Marcus and Yardem perfectly encapsulates their relationship. They truly do sound like people who have been around each other so long that each understands the others thoughts with a few simple words.

If you like your fantasy fresh, surprising and with just the right amount of bite, don't hesitate to get involved. And please, of course, start at the beginning. I hope Abraham keeps writing for years and years. Bravo.
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on 3 June 2013
And so, in part three of the Dagger and the Coin series, the story continues. The tyrant, Geder Palliako has started a war, chasing those who plotted against him and Crown Prince Aster. But every victory only brings reasons to push the conflict further and as Palliako's power spreads so does the influence of the Cult of the Spider Goddess.

Clara Kalliam finds herself in very different circumstances after her husband has been executed for treason against the Throne and Palliako. No longer a prominent lady in Court circles, Clara has to adjust to life on a limited budget while living in rented accommodation. However, her reduced circumstances don't stop her from planning the downfall of those who destroyed her happy life. She is secretly plotting against those in power in order to save the country she loves. But while her scheming appears to be successful, Clara will find out that the best laid plans can have unexpected and unwanted results.

Cithrin bel Sarcour has, at last, been accepted by the Medean Bank but has to serve a learning period with one of the branches; a posting that will put her directly in the line of war and force her to both grow up fast and make decisions that would have been impossible to even imagine in the past.

And while the war spreads ever further Captain Marcus Wester and Master Kit are on a quest to find a way and the necessary weapons to stop the progress of the Spider Goddess. This is a quest that will take them into inhospitable areas, shatter long held believes and lead to a surprising conclusion.

As I mentioned above, this is the third book in this series and while it could be read as a stand-alone I would really advice against that. These books work as well as they do because they are a series and there is a clear build-up through out the books. We slowly but carefully get to know the characters and the world they inhabit. As the story continues we get an ever better idea of the dangers this world faces and the connections between the various players. With every book the tension is heightened and the dangers become clearer. It is a pleasure to experience the story getting ever more intense, and the only way to fully enjoy that is to read these books in sequence.

This is not an action packed, thrill a minute sort of fantasy series. Abrahams takes his time with the story and his characters. A lot of the tension is just below the surface and it is to the author's credit that he can make me feel that danger and the accompanying urge to keep on turning the pages without resorting to endless scenes of danger and violence. In these books the characters, what happens to them and their reactions to those events are what drive the story. And those characters, despite the fact that a lot of them are described as looking nothing like us, became so real to this reader that I found myself forgetting I was reading a fantasy at times. None of these characters are only good or bad. Palliako may make some despicable decisions but he never loses his humanity and it is easy to believe that he may be under the illusion that he is doing the right thing for all the right reasons. At the same time Markus and Master Kit may be our questing heroes, but that doesn't mean that they don't make mistakes or take wrong decisions. All of which results in the story becoming more intriguing and harder to put down.

The cover-blurb, by George R.R. Martin states:

"Everything I look for in a fantasy".

I agree. This book does deliver it all and then some; a well developed world, characters that are as fascinating as they are credible, a well plotted and even better presented story-line and a tension that is slowly but steadily building to a crescendo that can't be too far away. This world and these characters have captured me and I can't wait to see where this journey will take us next. My only regret is that I will have to wait a year before I find out how this story will continue and whether or not the fourth book will bring the conclusion or more tension build-up. And, if I'm honest, I'm not sure whether I'm hoping for that conclusion or the pleasure of more books to look forward to in the future.
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on 12 June 2013
Often, series get accused of middle-book syndrome but this is a very solid entry and brings in quite a lot of new threads to the story that are sure to change the outlook of the remaining books.

What stood out for me in this installment was how each of the four POVs brings a very distinct voice and aspect of the story to life. We have the cringe-worthy tyrant (Geder) the power that banking and commerce can have (Cithrin), the affect of politics/rumours (Clara) and good old fashioned sword wielding (Marcus). What I enjoyed was how the lone hero is possibly the least effective which makes for a nice change of pace in epic fantasy.
The lead characters are interesting but Daniel does his usual trick of having excellent supporting characters in the form of Kit, Vincen and Yardem who easily come to life despite not having in-depth POVs and feel more "real" in the sense we don't know their inner thoughts.

Fans of action may be disappointed as there isn't much hands-on fighting and the large battles tend to happen off the page. Then again the book does have more than enough drama and tension exploring the other aspects of the war so the lack of action wasn't an issue for me.

Daniel also starts to explore racism among the 13 races - something that is often ignored in fantasies with such diverse inhabitants and I'm curious to see where this leads.
I also appreciated some unexpected developments in the book as there were at least two story threads that resolved differently one was plot driven and the other was character driven. The book doesn't end on a cliffhanger but the revelation of the final chapter has me eagerly awaiting book 4.
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I love a cracking fantasy where I can not only get lost in the world but have fun trudging with the adventurers within so that I can get a fuller picture and for me Daniel Abraham has delivered that a lot of the time when I read his work. Here in the latest outing is a book that takes you on one hell of an adventure as the great war grinds its way across the land. It's dark, it has a lot of characters to cheer for within and whilst our heroes do their utmost to try and finish a quest to save the world from itself, it's a title that has hope scattered throughout the pages.

As usual with Daniels writing the prose is sharp, the dialogue wonderfully delicious and when backed with a plot line that has a good sense of pace to it there's really not much more a reader could ask for, add to the mix, danger lurking around many corners and all round its one that will rend the readers emotions as it takes so much with one hand whilst giving a balm with the other. Great stuff.
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on 1 November 2014
The most gripping entry in this unusual fantasy series to date, about halfway in I found myself not wanting to put the book down.

The best thing about The Tyrant's Law is that you get a sense that every character has moved on from their situational/emotional states of the previous books, and you are really witnessing growth and change of personalities as they make tough decisions within a spiralling conflict - which itself seems to make big, and unexpected, steps towards an end point.

The pairing of Kit and Marcus was a joy to read, and their written traits work even more effectively when juxtaposed with one another. Having been almost a little irritated with the slightly contrived monosyllabic, sarcastic truth-talking speech of Marcus Wester in previous books, the match with Master Kit's more humble and languid style made it seem that much more believable (don't know if others would agree!)

Geder's chapters continue to read like his reputation - unpredictable with the threat of danger. I really like the dismantling of tropes we get from him, as we are constantly reminded of his own internal convictions and approach to 'morality', which he appears to wholeheartedly believe, while watching him make horrifying and brutal decisions. It's an effective picture of the dangers of self pity and self obsession. He's immature but almost a good father figure in many ways to Aster, lacking in confidence and yet not shying away from big decisions, utterly cruel but oddly & selectively compassionate. He really is incapable of seeing the world through anyone else's eyes.

I did also enjoy Cithrin's & Clara's chapters for the sense of world building they provided, along with Cithrin's continuing life lessons. It was good to see her existing within situations where she is forced to admit her shortcomings, without suddenly overcoming them through what we are meant to see as sheer talent and resourcefulness. The constant reminder that she has lots to learn, and that the world may not really be as she sees it was a nice counterpoint to some of her previous arcs, where she was in danger of becoming an isolated, 'only I know the truth' style world-beater.

On the negative side, there were things I didn't really enjoy in Cithrin & Clara's chapters. I don't know whether it's just me remembering wrong, but it felt like both of these POVs contained an excessive amount of detailed descriptive sections, with a lot of emotional reflections on the state of the world and the people in it. While I thought their situations were valuable world-building elements, the constant internal ponderings got a bit tiresome, and made them both seem a bit melodramatic.

I don't know if this is deliberate, or some sort of attempt to inhabit a female mindset, but these sections felt a bit meandering and unnecessary - afraid to say when I started reading this kind of thing: 'the laughter of little children from the docks as they caught spare potatoes from weatherbeaten sailors reminded her that the world did go on in microcosms of....' I tended to skip to the next line of speech; and never missed anything important. (FYI that is not a line from the book, just an example)

Clara especially just got a bit annoying, as every scene from her arcs was dripping with importance & weighty morality of some sort, and she seems to mope about like an endlessly tragic figure, while Vincen Coe tells her she does so much etc. etc. - it's at odds with her actions, where she takes on a pragmatic approach to actually make a difference. I get that she is dealing with her grief, but I think books are able to deal with this kind of thing in a more effective way than having her agonise and despair for 2/3 of the text.

What really drives you forward is the momentum of Kit & Marcus's various trips, and the surprising revelations they bring. This is really the backbone of the story, as Geder's path is inevitable, and Clara & Cithrin are more reactionary than anything else. Without Kit & Marcus, the book would be a much more dull read - but with it, everything else in the book comes alive. Really good story telling, and a fantastic final third!Enjoyed it immensely over all, massively moreso than several fantasy books I've tried to read over the last few months that feel stale and full of cliches.

- Final note though, I have to say that along with being by far the most enjoyable, Kit & Marcus's storyline is also the most classic within the fantasy genre... not sure if that says something about how much I like the decision to introduce variety into the genre, like banking....

I'd buy this, especially if you've read the first two - and even more if you were planning on ending the series at book 2. This one is definitely worth it.
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VINE VOICEon 29 July 2013
I am loving this series, and am looking forward to the last two with enthusiasm ; not to mention some frustration at having to wait and see what happens!]

I am enjoying the character development in these books, and the fact that the characters drive the plot; the back story of the world is gradually being unfurled too - finally a dragon! The action stays firmly rooted in realism, however, as economics remains the driving force.
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on 12 April 2014
I cannot wait for book 4. I read all three books within a week and am in awe of the complexity of the plot, the witty dialogue and the sheer brilliance of this author. Bravo!
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on 4 May 2014
Continues with a great story line. Excellent characters with multiple storylines. Now frustrated at the wait for the final episode.
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on 5 December 2013
as good as ever again stays true to his style and seems to involve you in the story amm looking foward to more books
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on 29 May 2013
good read good fantasy read third in the series will purchase the rest cant wait for the next one too long
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