Saturday, April 24, 2010 | |

Review: A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

A Shadow in Summer is the first of a four book series (a complete one, no less) by Daniel Abraham called The Long Price Quartet. Let's see here, how to describe this book. Hrm.....well, it reminded me somewhat of Acacia: War with the Mein by David Anthony Durham in that it was a very political fantasy book. Now, that absolutely does NOT mean it was a boring book, or that Abraham had a political agenda in writing it. What it does mean is that the magic system is used in more gray areas, and less "Orcs are evil, we must needs rid the planet of their plague," areas. The book moves along fairly quickly, though it does start off somewhat slowly, and it has just the right mix of action, intrigue and mystery to keep you turning pages.

A Shadow in Summer opens us up to a new world by telling the story of several characters, most notably Amat, Liat, Maati and Otah. Their stories, naturally, come together in a plot that foreshadows horrible disaster for their city of Saraykeht, and great changes to the world as a whole.

The magic system is very interesting, in that it's heavily involved in commerce and trade. I've always wondered why more people didn't use their superpowers to make money, and it looks like Mr. Abraham has penned a tale that I can finally sink my economical teeth into. The poets are essentially magicians who use their studies and words to capture the Andat, thoughts made into words made into demigods. One such creature is the Andat Seedless, a cunning, ruthless element that wants nothing more than to be free of the bonds of slavery and to strike back at his master for having given him form. The story of Seedless' intricate plot to destroy Heshai, his master, and gain freedom ultimately draws all the characters in and sets up a wonderful fantasy series.

A Shadow in Summer (9/10) doesn't feel like a first effort from an author. Granted, Abraham has many short stories to his credits, and did spend time at the fantastic Clarion West workshop with authors such as George R.R. Martin and Connie Willis. His polished craft shows, and I'm eager to get to more of his books. For those of you who are more inclined to purchase something from the urban fantasy section of the world wide web, you might be interested in some work Abraham did under the pen name M.L.N. Hanover. The two books in that series (so far) are Unclean Spirits and Darker Angels, and I'll be trying to get my hands on both for upcoming reviews.


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