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The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham
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The Dragon's Path (edition 2011)

by Daniel Abraham

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391None27,257 (3.8)10
Member:black9wolf
Title:The Dragon's Path
Authors:Daniel Abraham
Info:Orbit (2011), Edition: 1, Paperback, 592 pages
Collections:Your library, Own
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Epic Fantasy, Ebook

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The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham

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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
It's a bit slow and cumbersome at times, and the banking scenes are just a pale shadow of those in The Folding Knife. Like a lot of coming of age fantasy it makes up for this with oodles of charm. ( )
  StigE | Feb 22, 2014 |
AbrahamÛªs first in the Dagger and Coin series (love that series title after reading the book and seeing how balanced the book is between war and finances) uses many narrative techniques that annoy me in epic fantasies, but it has the distinction of doing them so well that I was drawn into the story and finished it in just a few days.

For example, it starts with the ubiquitous prologue, in which a character (the apostate) is introduced, flees mysterious priests hunting him, utters a dire statement about the end of the world, and then not revisited again until the epilogue. I usually find prologues like that extremely frustrating, because they‰Ûªre designed to suck you in and intrigue you but often don‰Ûªt have any payback. The characters are there just to introduce some conflict but actually aren‰Ûªt important themselves. Abraham faked me out ‰ÛÒ he did the traditional prologue but then surprised me by actually working it in to the rest of the story. In this case, I felt like I knew a secret barely any of the other characters knew, and I liked that. The fact that the apostate and Master Kit, one of them more important side characters, are the same person is too transparent early on ‰ÛÒ was I not supposed to figure it out right away, the first time he winced when someone lied and then hesitated over a knife, lest he cut himself in public and show off the spiders in his blood? ‰ÛÒ but it still saved the prologue for me.

Second, I really like books that alternate between two narrators, but once you add more my interest wanes in direct proportion to how many times I have to jump from a story I‰Ûªm interested in to one I couldn‰Ûªt care less about. (This is what actually ruined Way of Kings for me.) Three narrators? Maybe. Four? Usually not. Even when I do like all of the character‰Ûªs stories, I still resent being jerked around while I wait impatiently for all of the characters to come together, as they inevitably do. Abraham has a good formula going, though, a balanced one, even though he has four POV characters (Marcus, Dawson, Cithrin, and Geder), with an occasional chapter from an integral side character. He gives just enough of the story in each chapter that I wasn‰Ûªt tearing out my hair in frustration when we switched characters, but not so much that I felt like one character‰Ûªs story was overshadowing the others. I admit, I was annoyed the first few times until I got into the rhythm, but it does feel like he has good reason for how he moves among the characters. He has a plan and it works.

Finally, the story starts in what looks will be a fairly cliched way: a mercenary soldier with a tragic past wanting to avoid being pressed into the service of the king; a theater troupe hired to pretend to be soldiers; an orphan girl disguising herself as a boy to undertake a dangerous mission; a weak-willed young noble finding out his first war campaign isn‰Ûªt like it is in the stories; a loyalist to the king trying to put down treasonous opposition. But all of the characters are interesting in their own right, not just in how they are eventually going to intersect with the others, and all of them develop in unexpected ways. While Marcus, the world-weary soldier haunted by his past, is pretty clichÌ© (though I think he will become more important in the next book, in this one he pretty much wavers between his duty as Cithrin‰Ûªs hired muscle and his urges to be her father figure in the absence of his own daughter), none of the others strike me as being stock characters. Neither are they entirely likable or unlikable.

Geder, the often-mocked noble with hero fantasies and an unpopular love of reading, starts out sympathetic but ends up doing contemptible things (and one truly horrible thing) out of his own weakness. He is always at the mercy of others, being manipulated without understanding how he is manipulated, and he rationalizes his worst actions by choosing to believe they are the fault of others who tricked him. His disillusionment and almost pathetic need to trust someone keep him sympathetic, but I can see the burgeoning vengeful, power-hungry tyrant lurking beneath the surface. It will start small and snowball the more out of control he feels. He is poised to become a major player, thanks to an information-seeking journey that turns into a religious pilgrimage, and I think it will totally go to his head.

Dawson, a conservative noble with a lot of power, close to the king‰Ûªs ear, starts out contemptible (his driving force is to keep the lower classes ‰ÛÒ the farmers, merchants, etc. ‰ÛÒ from having a council, to keep the slave races from being uppity, to maintain the status quo ‰ÛÏfor the good of the kingdom‰Û) but grows more sympathetic in his love for his wife and his efforts to protect himself, his family, and his king from those who oppose his political ambitions. More than any other character, Dawson is a product of his generation, opposing and afraid of changes that he honestly believes are detrimental to his country. It‰Ûªs compelling to so disagree with a character‰Ûªs beliefs but still feel for him when things don‰Ûªt go his way.

Cithrin is the most unique character, for me. She was taken in as a ward of the bank when he parents died, and all she wants to do is be a banker. When the city she grew up in is sacked, she is instrumental in sneaking the bank‰Ûªs wealth out of the city as part of a caravan, and she is obsessed not so much with the gold and jewels and so on, but with the financial papers and bank records as numbers, as representations of wealth that she can grow through careful investments. While some of her financial scheming went right over my head, it‰Ûªs refreshing to see a heroine so immersed in economics, so gleeful upon opening her own branch of the bank (whose money, by twist of fate, is sort of stolen) in a new city. She‰Ûªs also very perceptive, noticing little things about the other characters that turn out to be hugely important.

As to the fantasy world itself, sometimes, especially in the beginning, I found the world a little confusing because details of the countries and its 13 races, and the part the dragons of old played in the past wars, are doled out little by little. I‰Ûªm still not sure I‰Ûªve put it all together (why is the dragon‰Ûªs path the path of war?), but I think that‰Ûªs actually by design. It‰Ûªs clear there are different religious mythologies at work, that history has been rewritten multiple times with conflicting versions of events as the result (and also varies by culture) and that each character is so firmly fixed in their own viewpoint that it‰Ûªs tough to figure out which version of the world‰Ûªs past is the correct one. The religious cult that comes into play at the very beginning and very end of the book, for instance, has remained hidden from the world until they were sure all record of their existence has been forgotten, so their beliefs add an entirely new element to the world‰Ûªs origin story that may or may not be truth. I like the ambiguity, and in later books the conflict among these differing worldviews will be interesting to see unfold.

Overall, this is surprisingly fast-paced and tightly written (no bloated, overimportant storytelling here!), and shows that Abraham can do a traditional fantasy that still avoids falling into predictable patterns. Also, it's not really 600 pages. With the large print and wide line spaces, it's really more of a 300 or 400 page book masquerading as an epic tome.
( )
  Crowinator | Sep 23, 2013 |
Novels are games to one degree or another.

Most genre books are simple games like tic tac toe. The best of these reveal that checkers can be as strategically complex as chess. The games of gifted authors challenge the reader to figure out what the game is, who the players are and what are the rules.

I like challenging games and I've never read much that is categorized as "Fantasy." If I have to figure out a whole world, I generally prefer a speculative world in a more complex and technologically interesting future. However, I simply couldn't contain my curiosity about Daniel Abraham after reading the Science Fiction trilogy he coauthored under the name James S.A. Corey. Those books were the only ones that could hold my interest after a binge diet of Peter F. Hamilton and Iain M. Banks.

I've now read the first three books of Daniel Abraham's series THE DAGGER AND THE COIN. They're terrific.

Like most readers, I just want someone to tell me a story, and Daniel Abraham is a great old-fashioned story-teller. He takes his time dressing the stage, fleshing in the characters and setting the stakes. His game is something like chess by mail. The author takes a while setting up each move, but he does it with skill and wit. Each move counts and advances multiple parts of the story in complex, yet clearly understandable ways. The reader has enough time to think, the plot lines are clearly delineated, the characters are familiar and yet fresh and alive. We care what happens to everyone, even the villains.

There's also none of that endless graphic sex and violence, horrifying suspense and pulse-pounding action that everybody but me wants to see these days. In fact that's one of the reasons that I found these books ultimately more satisfying than Daniel Abraham's excellent, though a bit-too-intense-for-my-tastes science fiction.

Bottom line - a really enjoyable read by a really talented, disciplined pro. I'm hooked. ( )
  charlesmathes | Aug 19, 2013 |
It was a little hard to get into the book at first, due to the big unknown world and the 12 or so races of humanity. It wasn't untill about halfway into the book that it was easy enough to recall which races looked like what and who came from where.

But the book is very easy to read, with a very good flow to the writing. The story progresses nicely, and the characters develop throughout the book.

I'll be reading the second book as soon as my local Sci-fi/fantasy bookshop restocks them. ( )
  Paganmoon | Apr 8, 2013 |
This could be the start of a great new fantasy series. It does a few things very well, but ultimately had a few flaws and doesn't *pop* like some of the more established series.

What I liked was a fantasy world where intelligence, scholarship, financial insight, and political nuance are all at least as important as military power or acumen. The various characters have a lot of different paths to power and influence.

Where it fell flat was, well, being a bit flat in places. I don't doubt that Abraham can grow as he writes, but I think he's got room to. ( )
  nnschiller | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
... [T]his is a subtle intelligent fantasy novel about a world with a long history and fascinating economics, with war, peril, and adventure, and great characters of both genders. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the author of the Long Price Quartet (post) if he’s been asked to produce something a bit more European, a bit more mainstream, a bit more Martinesque.
added by lquilter | editTor.com, Jo Walton (Sep 15, 2011)
 
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The apostate pressed himself into the shadows of the rock and prayed to nothing in particular that things riding mules in the pass below would not look up.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316080683, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:37 -0400)

Marcus, Cithrin, and Geder ponder their destinies as they are drawn into a war where dark forces are at work.

(summary from another edition)

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