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A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

A Shadow in Summer

by Daniel Abraham

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Long Price Quartet (1)

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1,009458,457 (3.62)56
  1. 30
    Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (lottpoet, souloftherose)
    lottpoet: similar highly formal society facing rebellion

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Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
I didn't finish this book. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get interested in the characters. It had an interesting premise and I was intrigued in the beginning. But one day it got put back on the library shelf by one of the children and I just never picked it up again. I'm willing to be convinced that I should retry :) ( )
  MommaTracey | Jul 24, 2017 |
The city-state of Saraykeht has grown wealthy off of the cotton trade. Their court poet, Heshai, has put into words and bound an idea and spirit, Seedless, who can remove seeds from cotton with a wave of his hand. Thanks to Heshai and Seedless, no other nation can snatch away Saraykeht’s trade or dare attack for fear of what Seedless might be ordered to do.

But the merchants of Galt have developed a plan. Saraykeht can not be conquered by force as long as Heshai has control over Seedless. But what if they can make him loose control?

Central to their plans is the merchant Marchat Wilsin, head of the Galt trading house in Saraykeht. In his reluctance, he inadvertently gives a hint of what is to come to Amat, his business manager. Amat, her assistant Liat, Liat’s lover, and the poet’s apprentice become the sole hope of saving Saraykeht.

A Shadow in Summer was decent in regards to female characters, which is something important to me in all the books I read. I don’t think I would recommend it specifically for female characters, but it manages to do all of the following:

A) Recognize that women exist

B) Recognize that women do things

C) Recognize that those things that aren’t always about or motivated by men

D) Recognize that there can be multiple women who exist and do things and even interact with each other

Really, these are not high standards but so many books fail to pass them. Thankfully, A Shadow in Summer wasn’t one of them. I liked Amat quite a bit. She’s an older woman who’s clawed her way up from poverty to a position of relative authority and importance. Now she’s finding that under threat. She may be able to keep her position, but at the expense of doing nothing and watching her beloved city fall.

I think I first heard of A Shadow in Summer from a list on great world building in fantasy. Having now read it, I can say with certainty that it deserved its place on that list. Saraykeht has a decidedly non-Western feel, although I’m not sure what the specific cultural influences (if any) were. I loved that the language relied was as much body language as spoken language. Their culture possesses a large number of gestures to communicate feelings such as gratitude or inquiry with subtle variations making them even more expressive. It’s no wonder foreigners have a hard time completely understanding the nuances of communication in Saraykeht!

I also liked how economics played such a role in the narrative. Few fantasy books really consider how their economy functions, so this was a delight. And also a potential sign of just how nerdy I am that I liked this so much…

For all that, A Shadow in Summer isn’t a perfect book. I liked Amat and a couple of the other characters, and I found Seedless fascinating if uneasy. However, I never really loved any of them. I still felt a distance there. Something that kept me hesitant with Amat was how later on in the book she becomes involved with a brothel which contains child sex slaves. It was disturbing how casually the narrative mentioned them and how the utter horror of it was never addressed. Additionally, the fact that they were young boys feels like it ties into the association of homosexuality with pedophilia, particularly because the book didn’t contain any queer representation.

For such a minor part of the narrative, it had a rather large impact on my feelings towards the book. It’s made me waver on whether or not I’m really willing to pick up the sequel. I think I ultimately will continue on with this series, but it won’t have a super high priority. At least it stands on it’s own.

I feel like A Shadow in Summer would appeal to fans of Guy Gavriel Kay. It also reminded me of N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, mostly for how the spirits are involved. If you enjoy fantasy with original world building and lots of political intrigue, you should give A Shadow in Summer a look.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.

Content note: I feel like this book could be difficult to read for those who’ve had miscarriages since a forced abortion plays a pretty heavy role in the plot. ( )
2 vote pwaites | Apr 22, 2017 |
The empire of Galt has been making war against the entire world with their powerful machines, but the cities of the Khaiem are not afraid. They are protected by their poets who control the andat, physical manifestations of a certain idea bound by the poet's words. However these poets are growing rare and there is a plot brewing that could undermine the security that the city of Saraykhet has enjoyed for so long. The city's fate lies in the hands of a poet's apprentice, a manual labourer, an aging overseer of a merchant house and her young and beautiful apprentice.

There is a gaping plot hole in this book that makes it somewhat hard to enjoy. Skip the next paragraph if you don't want to be spoiled.

There is a convoluted plot to free Saraykhet's andat that depend on a very precise sequence of events and a good deal of conjecture. However, a much simpler plot would have been to simply assassinate the city's poet, who is constantly wandering around the city unprotected and drunk. Since the whole book is centered around this plot, it falls kind of flat. At the end, the poet gets assassinated by one of the good guys to "save the city" - it seems a lame excuse to create internal conflict for the main character.

Other than the plot hole, though, the book is pretty good. I enjoyed the writing and the characters, especially Amat the extremely competent overseer. It's not often that you have female characters in their fifties being protagonists in a fantasy novel.

The story is well told, although somewhat matter of fact. Abraham's characters are very decisive and pragmatic, almost to a fault - any internal conflict is either resolved or put aside to deal with pressing matters. This makes the book fast reading, but the characters aren't as likeable or sympathetic, and it made the characters' actions not really have any impact on me.

I'll be reading A Betrayal in Winter, but I'm not in any huge rush. ( )
  kgodey | Apr 11, 2017 |
A loose confederacy of kingdoms keep the rest of the world at bay with the power of Andats. Andats are beings forced into physical form by poets and they have the power of their name. Seedless is the andat in this story. He removes all the seeds from wool, in the blink of an eye. Gives the kingdom a huge economic advantage. He can also remove the living seed from anything. So if another kingdom attacks, he would be used to kill all the unborn babies and destroy all the crops of that particular kingdom. However, andats don't want to exist in our world, so they are constantly fighting their owners/poets to escape.
Seedless sets up a scenario where he is working with the enemies of his poet. He intrigues so that the poet repeats a horrible deed from his past, unknowingly, until after the fact, in the hopes of breaking the poet so he kills himself and frees Seedless. Seedless succeeds in gaining his freedom and the kingdom falls.

The story is from the perspective of a young man who walked away from the poet's school and who has become a common laborer. A very complex world, but so sad.

Nobody is happy. There is no joy, no happiness. Everyone is concerned with money, power, etc, etc. No one is content, but yearning after something, usually something out of their reach. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
I gave this one a little over 4 hours out of a total of just under 15 hours in audio format. It was REALLY slow. The world seemed interesting if sometimes confusing, and it seemed like the main character of the first section disappeared completely so I didn't know if it was going for some kind of linked short story thing or what.

Anyway, as Colin Hay would say, "Suddenly, nothing happened." And nothing continued to happen until I just found myself drifting off to different fantasy worlds or more dreadfully the mundane world. ( )
  ragwaine | Nov 30, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daniel Abrahamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Martiniere, StephaneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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to Fred Saberhagen, the first of my many teachers
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As the stone towers of Machi dominated the cold cities of the north, so the seafront of Saraykeht dominated the summer cities in the south.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765351870, Mass Market Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:17 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"The city-state of Saraykeht dominates the Summer Cities. Its wealth is beyond measure; its port is open to all the merchants of the world, and its ruler, the Khai Saraykeht, commands forces to rival the Gods. Commerce and trade fill the streets with a hundred languages, and the coffers of the wealthy with jewels and gold. Any desire, however exotic or base, can be satisfied in its soft quarter. Blissfully ignorant of the forces that fuel their prosperity, the people live and work secure in the knowledge that their city is a bastion of progress in a harsh world. It would be a tragedy if it fell. Saraykeht is poised on the knife-edge of disaster. At the heart of the city's influence are the poet-sorcerer Heshai and the captive spirit, Seedless, whom he controls. For all his power, Heshai is weak, haunted by memories of shame and humiliation. A man faced with constant reminders of his responsibilities and his failures, he is the linchpin and the most vulnerable point in Saraykeht's greatness. Far to the west, the armies of Galt have conquered many lands. To take Saraykeht, they must first destroy the trade upon which its prosperity is based. Marchat Wilsin, head of Galt's trading house in the city, is planning a terrible crime against Heshai and Seedless. If he succeeds, Saraykeht will fall. Amat, House Wilsin's business manager, is a woman who rose from the slums to wield the power that Marchat Wilsin would use to destroy her city. Through accidents of fate and circumstance Amat, her apprentice Liat, and two young men from the farthest reaches of their society stand alone against the dangers that threaten the city."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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