Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Tyrant's Law Book Review

by The Wanderer

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

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(Spoilers for the previous two Dagger and Coin books are below).

The Tyrant’s Law suffers a little bit from middle of the series syndrome.  While still an excellent book, the story takes longer to get off the ground, and the characters spend a lot of time rehashing their previous rolls in the first half, or embarking on journeys that I personally had a hard time getting on board with.

Cithrin is still apprenticing to be a banker … like she was in the last book.  Geder is still unwittingly doing the bidding of the spider priests … like he was in the last book.  Clara is conspiring to bring down Geder … which is like a semi-continuation of Dawson’s story from the last book.

The only major plot difference at the beginning of the story belongs to Marcus, who goes on a traditional fantasy quest to discover the truth about the dragons and to find a weapon that may help the defeat the spider priests. Unfortunately, these portions of the book really dragged the most for me. On the fortunate side though, Abraham is quick to change things, so while these plots I’ve mentioned above may seem redundant, the characters soon all find themselves taking part in different plots that are more interesting.

Abraham takes a good deal of time to explore the ramifications of Cithrin and Geder’s sexual tryst in The King’s Blood. This is largely explored through Geder’s dreams and with some correspondence exchanged between the two.  Geder’s obsession with Cithrin takes on a genuinely “creepy stalker” vibe, while Cithrin is left to decide on how to handle a very powerful man’s interest in her.  On the flip side, Cithrin does a lot of internal reflection in this book, and it’s something that really adds a new dynamic to her personality and helps to resolve the important decisions she has to make.

When he’s not stalking Cithrin, Geder continues to expand his empire over the smallest of transgressions.  With Geder’s ever increasing use of violence to solve his problems, I see a more traditional good vs. evil fantasy story emerging.  I found Geder’s arc baring a lot of similarities to Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Specifically I’m thinking of the relationship between Pryrates the evil red priest that advises and corrupts the mind of King Elias. Unlike Elias we see into Geder’s mind, and what’s there really makes Geder a tragic villain more than anything. I think he’s long past the point of redemption, but he still comes across as sympathetic.

Even though Clara is carrying on the Dawson storyline, she’s in a much different living situation as the former wife to a traitor.  Adapting to a lower-class lifestyle is what carries her plot through a lot of this book, but eventually she starts to come into her own.  Vincen Coe’s dedication to her though never feels sufficiently explained.  Yeah he supposedly loves her, but why does he love her? I can’t tell if this is an oversight or if there’s going to be some bigger reveal later on in the series.

Abraham continues to largely remain unpredictable with the direction of his plots, even though a more traditional structure appears to emerging. Thematically the illusions of power and the people that hold that power continues to be a major topic of discussion.  Political power is explored through Geder and Clara, financial power is explored through Cithrin, and physical power is explored through Marcus.  A new dynamic of power via religion figures into the story more prominently in this book, and is set to be a major force in the future.

The Tyrant’s Law continues expanding it’s story while increasing the stakes, yet it never shakes the transitional feeling of being a middle of the story book.  Abraham does end the book strongly and he will definitely have you hyped up to read the final two installments.

Score: 8.5

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