Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Shadow In Summer - Daniel Abraham

A Shadow in Summer - Daniel AbrahamA Shadow in Summer: Book One of the Long Price Quartet
Daniel Abraham
Tor Books
Copyright Date: 2007
978-0765351876

The amazon.com product description:
From debut author Daniel Abraham comes A Shadow in Summer, the first book in the Long Price Quartet fantasy series.
The powerful city-state of Saraykeht is a bastion of peace and culture, a major center of commerce and trade. Its economy depends on the power of the captive spirit, Seedless, an andat bound to the poet-sorcerer Heshai for life. Enter the Galts, a juggernaut of an empire committed to laying waste to all lands with their ferocious army. Saraykeht, though, has always been too strong for the Galts to attack, but now they see an opportunity. If they can dispose of Heshai, Seedless's bonded poet-sorcerer, Seedless will perish and the entire city will fall. With secret forces inside the city, the Galts prepare to enact their terrible plan.
In the middle is Otah, a simple laborer with a complex past. Recruited to act as a bodyguard for his girlfriend's boss at a secret meeting, he inadvertently learns of the Galtish plot. Otah finds himself as the sole hope of Saraykeht, either he stops the Galts, or the whole city and everyone in it perishes forever.
For me, this was one of those rare books I really struggled to finish. The opening absolutely grabbed me, but I found myself a bit lost about a third of the way through the book. Once I was lost, I never really figured things out again either.

Now, to be fair, this is a really detailed world and well fleshed out. It just felt a bit like two separate stories stuck together with a very abrupt join. I liked the details and the descriptions. However, I would have really liked a fair bit more background about who and why. Even if it were scattered throughout the story.

Perhaps some of what I'm looking for is hidden in the rest of the series. This is clearly the first of four books, and maybe that fact is what leads to a lot of my frustration with the story, because I also didn't feel like there was really a resolution at the end of the book. Rather, it seemed more like the ending of the Fellowship of the Ring or the Two Towers. At the same time, I also didn't feel a driving need to go hunt down the next book in the series.

As I said earlier, the author has clearly put a lot of thought into creating this world, magic system and back-story. One of the things I liked a lot (and I don't think I've seen done all that often) was the whole idea of poses and gestures forming a language of their own. I'd love to have seen more about that - perhaps some hints at how it originated. I also would have loved a bit of detail as to the origins of the school, and why the attitudes there were the way they were - actually, the whole beginning section there with Otah was in my mind the best part of the book.

Despite all that, I found that overall, I didn't really care about the story or the characters - I was finishing the read to not admit that I was defeated - that and I'd somehow forgotten to load on the first book in a series that I really did want to read.

I'd call this one a mixed bag. Your mileage may vary as I'm absolutely certain that there are people who really loved it (and presumably the sequels). If so, I'd love to know, and to know why you liked it so much.
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