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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 24 January 2015
I found this book hard to put down I recarmend this book to everyone that love reading thank you to the author
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on 18 October 2013
If you've read Daniel Abraham before, then this review should hold no surprises but, if you're reading this wondering whether or not to take plunge, then I hope that this helps. If you have read the Dagger & Coin series ( as far as it's reached ) then I can tell you that these two / four books follow. a very similar line. So the first question is 'how many books are in this series?' and the answer is that the whole story is told in two volumes and each volume contains two 'books'. Each book continues the story with the same characters with a time gap between each book. Now,pay attention because this is important: this review is about the first book only and to make any real sense it has to be read in conjunction with the review of the second book, Seasons of War. Shadow & Betrayal only gets three stars from me but both Seasons of War and the series as a whole gets a much higher score.
As with other Daniel Abraham series, the concepts here, including a world where magic is harnessed by poets and communication is as much by gesture as by speech, are brilliant. There are profoundly deeper meanings in the details of this fantasy world but they are revealed in 'book 3'. The threads of racism, sexism, wealth disparity, political exigencies and love are all, very, very, slowly drawn together and, for me, is what makes these books so remarkably good. You have to persevere with these books ( read on) but the message and sense at the end makes it worthwhile.

OK, here's the bad part. Book 1 is terribly slow going and very little actually happens. That this volume is necessary is not contested and it does lay a rock solid basis for what follows, but it is unnecessarily torpid and could, easily, be trimmed without affecting the story at all. For myself, the excellent writing style and what little movement in the story there is is sufficient to keep me reading but I can imagine that this isn't the case with every reader. Then it gets worse! The second book (still volume 1) should pick up the pace a bit but it doesn't. The slow pace continues almost all of the way through book 2, only stirring right at the end. By the time many readers get to the end of this volume, they just won't bother to buy the second volume; Seasons of War.
That would be a huge mistake. The story builds pace in book 3 and by book 4, it's riveting. Book 4 is sublime and, crucially, cannot be enjoyed without having read Shadow & Betrayal first. It's like a London cab driver. There is no shortcut to the unique skill of negotiating the capital city; the gruelling pain of The Knowledge has to be successfully undertaken first. The profound pleasure of this series can only be experienced by starting with Shadow & Betrayal. Go on, it's worth it.
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on 1 March 2011
Well written and thought provoking, this is an amazing debut novel. The author has created a world that you can imagine living in, peopled with characters that have realistic and authentic motivations and reactions. Just with one very important difference in the magic of the Andat. This first volume contains two books, tracking the progress of the main character from boy to young man and maturity. Along the way he will reject godhood, save a people and conquer a kingdom but none in exactly the way you might expect.

It reminded me strongly of Ursula le Guin's Science-Fiction novels - the magic is there not for its own sake, but instead the focus is on people and societies. The pacing is slow, but this has the depth of a true classic.

I can understand where the other reviewers who have given low ratings are coming from - this is not the book to read if you are looking for conventional, action-packed, escapism, but if you are looking for a fantasy novel that unfolds at a slower pace and will challenge your understanding of the genre then there are few better books I could recommend.
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The world is in a state of flux. The old Empire has fallen and the new upstart nation of Galt is flexing its muscles, making inroads on three continents. Yet the city-states of the Khaiem are not concerned. They wield the power of the andat, concepts and ideas that through the magic of those known as poets are given humanoid form and wield tremendous power, enough to give the rulers of Galt pause. To be a poet is one of the most prestigious jobs it is possible to achieve, but for every one who makes it many drop out in their training. A very promising young poet-to-be named Otah learns some unpalatable truths about his destiny and disappears during training, but leaves a vivid impression on another student, Maati. Many years later their paths cross in the fabled city of Saraykeht as they confront a dark conspiracy that could shatter the power of the Khaiem and cost one man his soul and self-respect.

Daniel Abraham's debut two novels are a tremendous breath of fresh air in the fantasy genre. Abraham hasn't gained as much attention as some other high-profile recent debuts (Abercrombie, Lynch and Rothfuss in particular), possibly as his European debut has some some time after his American, but hopefully this will be rectified. These two books are inventive, clever and possess a strong moral core. That Abraham attended writing courses led by George R.R. Martin should come as no surprise, but echoes of other fantasists (particularly the emotional resonance of Guy Gavriel Kay) can be detected as well in his work. His characters are deeply flawed and human, but also utterly convincing in motivation and deed. His fantasy landscape is well-realised, with summer-blessed Saraykeht and cold, distant Machi becoming as much characters as any of the humans (or magical andat) in the tales.

An area where Abraham wins out is his description of hierarchy. A lot of fantasy writers decide to have their heroes in a feudal society come to some pretty radical ideas (equal rights between the sexes, universal sufferage, even republicanism) very quickly, possibly out of fear that they'll be seen as endorsing feudalism or serfdom if they don't. Abraham doesn't do this. His is a world of rigid hierarchal layers with each person fitting into their allotted place, underlined by an alternate method of communication which relies on poses and hand-signals. When one character does start to question how his world does things, it is as logical development of his background and his upbringing.

Are there flaws? Some. The underlying 'threat' in both books is pretty similar and it could be argued that Betrayal is somewhat of a rewrite of Shadow but in a different season and setting. However, the emotional cost to the characters is much greater in the second volume and its ending propels the series onto a different tack altogether. Another potential problem for readers is that Abraham adopts a Columbo-like approach to the story, giving us both the protagonist and antagonists' point-of-view so that the reader is (mostly) in full knowledge of all aspects of the plot. This is an idea I haven't seen pursued in SF&F much and I found it quite intriguing, but I can see some complaining that it reduces tension. Another problem is a fault of the publisher, not the author, and that is that the sudden twelve-odd year leap forward between the two books is a bit jarring.

The Long Price: Shadow and Betrayal is a superb, resonant story that catches the attention and engages both the intellect and heart.
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on 14 June 2010
It's been a very long time since I've read such an enjoyably complete story - although technically 4 books it's sold in 2 tomes and thus (brilliantly to my mind) avoids the hackneyed cliche of the middle volume of a trilogy that often seems there just to draw a plot over too many pages and to get you to buy another book.

Whatever, Daniel Abraham tells a fine story with an engagingly original style - I'm not a fan of giving away best bits and the like, but would add that it's one of the only books where I've slowed up in the final chapters to take in the enormity of the journeys that the surviving characters have been on.

Buy it and find some quiet time and places to have disbelief suspended.
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on 6 February 2015
For some reason, fantasy and Sci-Fi epics tend to be written as trilogies. However, Daniel Abraham has chosen to do something different and make his "The Long Price" series into a quartet. "The Long Price, Book One: Shadow and Betrayal" is an omnibus volume of the first two parts of this quartet: "A Shadow in Summer" and "A Betrayal in Winter".

The world we are introduced to is largely controlled by The Cities of the Khaiem; city states ruled by a controlling family headed by the Khai. The reason for their power is that each has an andat; a magical being created and bound by thought and word, each controlled by the poet who has bound them. These andat are feared by many of the other countries of the world and have prevented the Cities of the Khaiem from being attacked, as their enemies fear the retribution that could follow, such is their power.

In the first part of the quartet, "A Shadow in Summer", the Galts have seen a way to unsettle the city of Saraykhet, by disposing of the poet Heshai. They and the andat, Seedless, have found Heshai's weak point and plan to take advantage of it. However, plans are interrupted by an unlikely group; an elderly overseer along with a trainee poet who has recently come to study under Heshai, a labourer who is keen to keep much of his past a secret, and the woman who is to become the lover of both men.

The second part "A Betrayal in Winter" is set some years later, in the Northern city of Machi. The Khai of Machi is very ill and nearing death which, in Khaiem tradition, means his sons will kill each other until the last survivor becomes the next Khai. Some of the other families aren't happy with this and, with support once more from the Galts, one family is determined that it is their turn. There also happens to be a convenient scapegoat, unless a couple of familiar characters can unearth the truth.

With so much potential intrigue and fratricide, you might be expecting an exciting and fast-paced read, but that isn't the case. The society is quite formal, with a well-defined hierarchy and formal forms of address that remind me a little of old Japanese society. This gives the writing quite a formal tone, so it doesn't flow as well as you might expect. There are some unexpected moments of writing so good it is almost poetry, but mostly it seems to pass sluggishly and it's difficult to get caught up in the story.

This isn't helped by some of the other aspects of the society. The money they use is described only in "lengths" of copper or silver and there is a system of communication that resolves around formal poses. There is little explanation of either of these systems, which makes things seem a little over complicated and with very little you can relate back to familiar situations, this also keeps the reader slightly distanced from the story.

For me, the major issue is that much of the story is taken up with political, as well as actual, posturing. The whole story seems to be building to a massive climax that never materialises. Admittedly, the second part was better than the first and as this is a quartet, it may be that the climax is somewhere in the future, but this is a book that promises much, but takes a long time to deliver very little. It reminds me of a written version of the most recent "Star Wars" trilogy, which took too much time with the politics and too little time on the fighting.

It's not that this is a poorly written book by any means, despite the formal tone and the slow pacing. The central ideas are sound and the idea of powers constrained by thought and poetry is an intriguing one, if perhaps left a little unexplored. It's just that it this book has more potential than actual excitement and it's tough to get enthused by something that hasn't happened, especially when it keeps you waiting for so long for it.

I may change my mind once the rest of the quartet has been published, assuming it explores things further and brings more matters to a conclusion, but I expected more from an author who has worked with and comes recommended by George R. R. Martin. Given his enthusiasm, this may be an acceptable read for fans of Martin, but I wouldn't recommend this, as "The Long Price" is a long read, but ultimately unrewarding.

This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
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on 5 June 2010
First off this contains two books, so is excellent value for money.
This is one of the most original fantasies I've read in terms of execution. Far less epic and more concerned with economics and relationships than huge battles and murder. I think it could have done with something more substantial to it but I can see how many people may love this approach to fantasy. I did enjoy the concept of the Andat, thoughts/forces made corporeal, and Seedless was very interesting in his motives and behaviour. I thought the poses were a nice touch although they sometimes took me out of the story as i was wondering what a pose of "respectful query", etc might look like.
The second book has even more in common with a shakespearean tragedy and while the characterisation is excellent the plotting is still a little pedestrian. Part of the problem is that the readers know exactly who is behind the murders, leaving the characters trying to solve the mystery look a little stupid and leaving me a little frustrated in places. I hope the remaining half of the series starts to address the bigger machinations at work within this world. Excellently written but could do with a sharper execution.
For people who are tired of the "grim and gritty" fantasy trend but still want an intelligent and mature story, they should really check this out. I enjoyed it enough to try out the second collection but I suspect many will love the approach far more.
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on 2 September 2013
The Long Price Quartet is an excellent example of fantasy written with a specific goal - to describe the arc of a man's life - set against a concept that is both simple and world-changing in its power - the andat. I struggled slightly with the second part of the quartet as it seemed characters avoided drawing conclusions to keep the plot going, but nevertheless it is a very good read.
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on 6 July 2010
If you're looking for the same old fantasy of elves and orcs with clean lines between the good and the bad, this is not the book for you. If instead you're looking for a book that has fresh ideas in a genre that all too often relies on the same ones, this is the right addition to your library.

The introduction of new concepts is handled very well with any exposition handled at the appropriate moments rather than dumped in when the reader first hears of something new. The author has a very clean idea of how his world operates and how the different peoples interact. He also handles the sense of the world moving on without the characters, rather than every major change being about them very well. The characters are interesting and complex with personalities, some of which you'll warm to some not.

For me this was the weaker of two books as there were places in this where things felt like they were dragging and a few spots where not enough was being explained or shown to allow the reader to follow the narrative without a barrage of questions interrupting you.
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on 8 April 2014
It's fantasy, but the fantasy is a material part of the world and serves the story much better than the usual wizard with powers kind of thing. Elegantly written and paints a detailed and believable world populated by very human characters.
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