Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The King's Blood Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Daniel Abraham
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Low Fantasy
Series: The Dagger and the Coin Book Two
Pages: 528

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(Spoilers for the first Dagger and Coin book are below).

The Dragon’s Path introduced readers to a newer traditional styled epic fantasy with a colorful cast of characters.  It’s first sequel The King’s Blood takes everything that was done well in the previous installment and does it better.  Shocking moments, plot twists, and the continued great development of all the major narrators made this a blast to read from start to finish.

Geder Palliako perpetrated a horrendous crime in The Dragon’s Path, and now he’s reaping the rewards.  His reliance on the foreign priest Basrahip who tells him when people are lying may make him a new formidable force in politics. But it’s also rousing suspicions that Antea may be falling under the influence of a foreign power, one that doesn’t have Antea or any of the other kingdoms best interests at heart. For Dawson Kalliam and his wife Clara, Geder’s fast rise, once a thing to be celebrated, is now becoming a thing to fear.

In Porte Oliva, Cithrin bel Sarcour has managed to keep herself involved with the Medean Bank, but now she’s just a figurehead without any real power.  The notary who oversees her, Pyk, is hell bent on making her and Marcus Wester’s lives as miserable as possible.  Soon Cithrin finds herself being called to leave Porte Oliva to deal closer with Komme, owner of the Medean Bank, and Marcus is also asked to embark on a dangerous quest by none other than Master Kit.

Geder Palliako has an incredibly endearing personality, and as a reader you sympathize with him as a person.  Then he literally massacres an entire city in The Dragon’s Path, and basically becomes a character that has about zero chance of any redemption.  Geder reminds me of Humbert Humbert from Vladamir Nabokov’s Lolita, a sympathetically written character that commits unforgivable crimes … with Geder committing and ordering violent deaths instead of molesting children. Expect these trends to continue.

Cithrin bel Sarcour’s development into a functional alcoholic is something I’ve wanted to see done in a fantasy story for a long time. She’s restless and has nothing to do in Porte Oliva which she quickly turns into her finding something to do.  Cithrin’s story jumps a lot in this book, but everything she does furthers her development and the plot, especially when her story starts to converge with other narrators’. This is an incredibly proactive character with a bit of a reckless streak, and she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite female fantasy characters.

Like the last book, Clara Kalliam becomes a more relevant character towards the end.  This go around a new a direction is sought, and it’s one that I thought could potentially be very promising.  Dawson’s  attitude towards poor people and his refusal to change features prominently in his arc. Of all the plots in this book, I found his to be the most predictable, but it still played out in epic fashion.

The thirteen races of humans weren’t developed all that much in the last book, and this book fills in a little more info there.  A lot of this though is do to a brief section towards the back of the book that features brief histories of each of the races.  The rapid shifting events in the plot can make it hard to fully absorb the world where all of these epic events are taking place.  Camnipol is starting to become the exception here, but the rest of the cities feel like they are starting to blend together. The pacing in general has a tendency to take away from some the long awaited big moments the book is building towards.

Issues in general are mostly small, and with great characters it makes it easy to overlook these.  As I said in the review of the first book in this series, Abraham’s The Dagger and the Coin is highly recommended to fans of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, especially if you’re looking for something that’s similar in terms of character morality and unforgiving plot twists.

Score: 9.2

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