Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review: The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham

Author: Daniel Abraham (also writes under MLN Hanover and James S.A. Corey)
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: April 7, 2011

The Dragon's Path is the first novel of Daniel Abraham's new series, The Dagger and Coin. If you've read Abraham before, then you'll know that his novels are always slanted slightly different than a lot of the other fantasy out there. While a great deal of fantasy spends its time with the magic system or war or wizards, Abraham seems to find a way to portray those same things with a different slant. For instance, in his novel A Shadow in Summer we saw magic, but it was interesting because it had a very economic slant to it, which not a lot of other authors have done before. In the case of The Dragon's Path we get to learn about medieval banking systems, something that Abraham has reportedly been very interested in over the years.

From Amazon: "All paths lead to war...

Marcus' hero days are behind him. He knows too well that even the smallest war still means somebody's death. When his men are impressed into a doomed army, staying out of a battle he wants no part of requires some unorthodox steps.

Cithrin is an orphan, ward of a banking house. Her job is to smuggle a nation's wealth across a war zone, hiding the gold from both sides. She knows the secret life of commerce like a second language, but the strategies of trade will not defend her from swords.

Geder, sole scion of a noble house, has more interest in philosophy than in swordplay. A poor excuse for a soldier, he is a pawn in these games. No one can predict what he will become.

Falling pebbles can start a landslide. A spat between the Free Cities and the Severed Throne is spiraling out of control. A new player rises from the depths of history, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon's Path-the path to war.

This first book primarily deals with four main points of view, which are entwined in a couple different main storylines.

Cithrin is a seventeen year old girl whose entire life has been spent as a ward of the Medean Bank. When things spiral out of control in her city, the head of the bank sends her out alone on a dangerous mission.

Marcus Wester is a war-hero who spends his days guarding caravans. When the majority of his mercenary group get arrested, Marcus is forced to find someone, anyone, to fill their next caravan guarding contract, or be forced to enlist for the latest war that's going on.

Geder is a young man, son of a small-time nobleman, who would much rather read and ponder history than make it. Through a series of events, his life will be forever changed by what he's learned through the old books he loves so dearly.

Dawson and King Simeon were as close as brothers growing up, but as the King ages, he is not as bold or as brave as Dawson wishes he were. There is treason afoot, and Dawson will go to great lengths to see his old friend safe through it.

I found myself really enjoying The Dragon's Path . Nothing immediately stood out to me. The prose was solid, the story was well-paced, the action was swift and just descriptive enough, and the characters are all progressing along nicely. I honestly couldn't find anything that I thought Abraham did poorly in this book. I think maybe there were some parts that dragged just a little bit (I found myself taking much longer to read this book than I would normally take on something with this many pages), but it wasn't so poor that I felt like there needed to be any major overhaul.

Overall, I would give this book 8.5/10. The Dragon's Path is well worth reading if you're a fan of George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan or (to a lesser extent) Patrick Rothfuss. It's a very solid start to what can only get better. Don't fear to read this one, wondering if there will ever be another book. Abraham's quite an accomplished writer (he has two other pen names, one for Urban Fantasy and one for Science Fiction) and gets plenty of work done. We'll probably have another book by this time next year, if not sooner. On a side note, has anyone else noticed that Orbit really seems to be getting a lot of good authors? Abraham, now Tregillis, it's got to be a good time to be working at Orbit.

What I loved

  • Cithrin - You can't help but root for this girl. She's a little dim at the beginning, but she really shines when she's plotting and scheming.
  • Banking as a major focus. It's nice to not have a book be all about a magician, or a king. Sometimes we just need to focus on someone that's not a typical fantasy hero.
  • The characters - There are some archetypes here, but they're very well done, and at least one character seems to be becoming someone very different than he was at the beginning of the novel.
What I hated

  • Nothing, really. I think maybe a tiny bit more action wouldn't have hurt this novel, and moved some things along more quickly.
  • Not a fan of Dawson as a character, but that doesn't mean he's not well written, just that he annoys me.

1 comment:

  1. Just a quick test. For some reason my comments have been all jacked up lately. Weird.