Loyal blog readers (“there are literally dozens of us!”) will know that I’ve given high praise to The Expanse series, which is co-authored by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Among Abraham’s other works, I’ve also had a chance to read The Long Price Quartet, as well as his Dagger and Coin series (review TBD).
The first entry of the Long Price Quartet, A Shadow in Summer, was published in 2006, and the series had concluded by 2009, two years before Leviathan Wakes and The Dragon’s Path (the initial volumes of The Expanse and The Dagger and Coin) saw the light of day. The story centers on the nation of Khaeim, which is a confederation of mostly independent cities which rely on a caste known as the “poets” to ensure their safety and economic strength. The relationship between the poets and their Andat (elemental creatures which can be bound by a sufficiently powerful will) is the heart of the story’s appeal, and there is real innovation in how Abraham sets up the story.
For better or for worse, this is a story about the relationships between the characters. While there is some magic, some war, and a fair bit of conflict, this is a story about people (and Andat, I guess) more than it is about a system of magic, or about battles, etc. If you tend to prefer books that move at a rapid clip, and which don’t frequently get bogged down in the details of personal decision-making (e.g. “do I do what’s easy, or what’s right? Let me mull this over for a few weeks…”), this won’t be your cup of tea.
In general, I’ve found this series to be my least favorite of Abraham’s work, and by book four, The Price of Spring, my attention was definitely waning. People continued making poor decisions, and at times it felt like that was all that kept the plot progressing. Personally, I was much more taken with Abraham’s subsequent Dagger and Coin series, which retains some of his more languid pace, while injecting some additional conflict and scale to the story. So my advice to you is, try The Dagger and Coin first. If you love it, give his earlier stuff a read! If not, it may not be for you.
Rating: 2- Recommend with Reservations
If you like this, you may enjoy: Assassin’s Apprentice.