Monday, February 14, 2011

A Balancing Act

The Dragon's Path, first book in the Dagger and Coin series by Daniel Abraham, is worthy edition to the shelves of any reader of fantasy fiction.

Abraham has created an epic landscape on which to set his tale. It is a world, as many you would find in fantasy, that is rich with culture and history and has a lot of potential for future volumes. 

Unfortunately as I feared (and wrote of in my last post) this is not a book I can gush about because while Abrahams writing is good it just doesn't grab me. I can't explain it anymore than that. I know that I can be very picky, and I know from working in a genre specialist bookstore that there are lots of readers out there who will love this book, but it only worked for me partly - and I dare say not the way the author probably intended.

One of the things I have come to understand about this story is that while it is epic fantasy it is not an epic fantasy that is an adventure. It is more a political and economic fantasy.

And this is fine. In fact the story following Cithrin and the Medea Bank was my favorite of the lot.

But I can't help feeling that Abraham's has erred to much on the side of caution in writing what is a more 'mainstream' fantasy (a great evil looming in the distance that threatens to take over the world) and trying to keep it - as so many authors are wont to do these - different. So much so that while he uses the looming threat as a prologue and an epilogue we have 400 odd pages in between to forget about it - rendering that plot point moot, because by the then I no longer cared, nor did it create any suspense for me as to 'what might happen next?' The looming threat became window dressing - regardless of the fact that Geder goes looking for a secret weapon lost in the mountains (that we readers can link to the mountains in the prologue) in the last eighty pages of his storyline. I was much more involved in Cithrin's story - which at the end of the book I have no clue as to how it might fit into a sequel that could possibly focus more on the 'rising darkness' - or 'dark forces' that are referenced in the blurb.

I went into this book with the idea that it would be more the type of fantasy that grabs me than The Long Price was (and btw - I loved the world of the TLP, its culture and its history - it was the kind of world that, in my mind, popped the way Kelewan did when Feist allowed Wurts to play at the Great Game in the Empire trilogy, but it never got off the ground).  And Dragon's Path was more traditional fantasy (read europeanish setting), but only on the surface. That makes it more accessible than The Long Price and yeah it has dragons, but that was about it.

The thing Abraham's does really well is characters and economics. In fact it is because of Cithrin and her journey building a bank (interestingly enough it was Amat Kyaan's story in TLP that interested me the most also) that I will pick up book two - because I want to read what happens next!

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