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“Dragon’s Path” by Daniel Abraham


This is the first book in Daniel Abraham's five volume Epic Fantasy series, "The Dagger and the Coin", the series title referring to one of the main themes about how both military might and financial power can be equally important. The two main plotlines in the book follow the attempts of a naive young officer to make the best of a situation when he is placed in command of the military occupation of a conquered city and the efforts of a young refugee to turn other people's gold into her own bank. Meanwhile, an exiled priest warns of a long-forgotten threat that could ultimately have a bigger impact on the world than any army or financial institution.

I think Abraham's "Long Price Quartet" is one of the best fantasy series of the last decade so I was looking forward to the start of his next series. Compared to the brilliance of the last couple of Long Price books, this did turn out to be a disappointment overall - there were quite a few good bits in it I really liked but I wasn't that keen on much of the plot. The parts of the book concerning the intrigues among the two groups trying to influence the Antean throne were not particularly compelling and it was difficult to really care which side actually won.

Abraham has some wonderful characterisation in his previous series and there were some good characters here as well, but also some I found a bit unconvincing, particularly one character's muted reaction to the consequences of a monstrous decision he takes. I liked the other major plotline a bit more, Cithrin's attempts to establish herself as a banker were more interesting, she was a better developed character and the plot was relatively original as an Epic Fantasy plotline (Feist's "Rise of a Merchant Prince" is the only other book I can think of with a similar plotline). There were also some good supporting characters, I particularly liked the Apostate from the prologue and Clara Kalliam who was a much more interesting character than her husband.

The world-building has potential, but so far isn't developed in any great detail and although it talks a bit about the 13 races of humanity I wouldn't say I really have much of an idea what distinguishes them and the locations we see are fairly standard fantasy cities. At times it does feel like Abraham is consciously trying to write an Epic Fantasy along the lines of Martin's "A Song Of Ice and Fire" and I think his books were more interesting when he was writing a more original work like the "Long Price Quartet".

Overall, this is a reasonably good book and it still has the potential to turn into a good series, but judged on its own I suspect the first book will end up being a bit unmemorable.

Rating : 7 / 10

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