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'The King's Blood' by Daniel Abraham,
This review is from: The King's Blood: Book 2 of the Dagger and the Coin (Paperback)
The King's Blood is the second book in Abraham's Dagger and Coin series, and it follows on nicely from the events of The Dragon's Path. Our favourite characters - Marcus, Cithrin, Dawson, Clara, Geder - return to carry on the story, which takes a somewhat darker turn here than in the first book. I have to say, I'm really enjoying what I've read of this series so far.
The blurb is a little misleading: the `young woman' it mentions (Cithrin the banker) is still an important character in The King's Blood, but, aside from in one particular instance, she isn't a hugely pivotal part of the story. Instead, the central plot follows a city's gradual descent into civil war, which we see from two main PoVs, each on a different side of the conflict. These two characters (who will remain unnamed for spoiler purposes) are really well-written: in The Dragon's Path they were both likeable for different reasons, whereas now we're presented with a different side to them. Both have their reasons for doing what they do, but it's difficult to decide which is right and which is wrong. A much darker tone is layered over the story by the ambiguity of the characters and the fallout from their decisions, and I think it sets up the rest of the series brilliantly.
The other main plotline, of course, is that of Marcus (the `jaded mercenary) and Kit (the `renegade priest'), who have just embarked on a quest to find a magic sword and kill an evil goddess. Agreed, this sounds like the clichéd plot of an old role-playing game: but somehow, we don't mind, probably because we want to see these two cool characters paired up on a wild adventure. The fact that Abraham acknowledges the cliché with a few dry remarks from Marcus just makes us wonder how he's going to mess around with our expectations, and personally I can't wait to see if/how he does it.