Book Review: The Spider’s War by Daniel Abraham

Spider's War by Daniel Abraham

Title: The Spider’s War

Author: Daniel Abraham

Series: Dagger and the Coin #5

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: Lord Regent Geder Palliako’s great war has spilled across the world, nation after nation falling before the ancient priesthood and weapon of dragons. But even as conquest follows conquest, the final victory retreats before him like a mirage. Schism and revolt begin to erode the foundations of the empire, and the great conquest threatens to collapse into a permanent war of all against all. In Carse, with armies on all borders, Cithrin bel Sarcour, Marcus Wester, and Clara Kalliam are faced with the impossible task of bringing a lasting peace to the world. Their tools: traitors high in the imperial army, the last survivor of the dragon empire, and a financial scheme that is either a revolution or the greatest fraud in the history of the world. -Goodreads

The Review:

Spider’s war was an unconventional series-ender, and I’m still not totally sure how I feel about it. On one hand, the atypical resolution was satisfying because it was so far outside the norm. Many of the series I’ve been reading lately have ended with formulaic story arcs, so Spider’s War felt refreshing by contrast. On the other hand, I think it still could’ve ended with a bit more fanfare… the story kind of petered out, missing any sort of momentum. My favorite series tend to be the ones with that amazing snowball careen towards the end where the energy is poignantly felt. This one rolled steadily out the way it rolled in – plodding and consistent. Which I suppose isn’t a bad thing, it just didn’t leave me with a lot of takeaway (which is in stark contrast to how other works by this author have left me – I’m still reeling from those!!).

I think in part it lacked the external momentum because the majority of the focus was on character dynamics and individual story arcs. This is actually my favorite part of Abraham’s writings because he always manages to make me feel connected to the characters – even the villains. The human connection is very much the driving force behind the plot, and that’s why the series is still very much worth reading….

But even so, there were some missed opportunities.

The end of book three introduced a couple of new incredible dynamics to the series that never got expanded on to my satisfaction. In fact, they were almost afterthoughts within the story and added no real value to the final destination. What an opportunity wasted!!! This also could be part of the reason I felt the lack of momentum because my imagination of where it could go was incredible.

Without going into too much detail, I also had trouble with some character inconsistency in this final book. While I love the fact that the series drew me in enough to even care about inconsistencies (I’ve been really apathetic lately with that… meaning I’ve also had nothing to contribute to buddy read discussions lol), a lot of my dissatisfaction stems from not liking where the characters ended up. Some were perfection, some not so much.

Overall, I’m glad to have read this series, and I’ve come away with a stronger than usual love for the characters. I think, however, I’m going to have a difficult time remembering how the series ended a few years from now.

Series status: COMPLETE!

Recommendations: the Dagger & Coin is not your typical fantasy series. It’s highly character-driven and focuses more on the small moments between people than any grand external conflicts. I would probably only suggest it to seasoned fantasy readers who need a break from the formulaic, cookie-cutter series out there. On the whole, it’s worth the read.

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by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

The dragon's pathTitle: The Dragon’s Path

Author: Daniel Abraham

Series: The Dagger and the Coin #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Overview: 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.

The dragon's path 2

The Review:

While The Dragon’s Path was entertaining, I’m sad to say I didn’t like it nearly as much as the other two series I’ve read from this author (The Long Price Quartet & Leviathan).

Abraham has a talent for orchestrating multiple POVs. While it was especially brilliant in Leviathan and LPQ, it didn’t work as well for me here. I’ve been known to criticize authors who have more than two POVs because they run the risk that readers will have a hard time getting emotionally invested with so many characters (I know people who skip entire passages when this happens just to get back to the characters they like). Up to this point, I’ve used Abraham as a prime example on how to present multiple protagonists without losing any interest or momentum from the story. I don’t think what I read in The Dragon’s Path was necessarily poor execution, I just found myself much more interested in some characters over others. I often found myself hurrying through passages so I could get back to the perspectives of my favorites – which I’m sure didn’t help matters.

I will say though that by the end of the book all of the characters eventually caught my interest, but I wish that would’ve happened much earlier on. There’s a chance the reason I felt disconnected was because he introduced each character one after the other, so it was a good 80 pages before there was a repeat POV. In his other novels, he had just as many protagonists, but he started with one or two, letting us get established with them, and then moved on to introduce more as the story progressed.

Anyway, the book had sparks of the same originality as The Long Price Quartet, and the inclusion of original nonhuman races was probably my favorite element. Well, maybe “nonhuman” isn’t the right term – they were humanlike, but of a different variety or species. I thought they added an interesting dynamic to the story. I liked the ideas so much I wish there had been an even stronger focus on their differences – everything from mannerisms to physical attributes – because I found myself sometimes forgetting that some of the characters weren’t “human.” That said, there were definitely a few great drop-in references (I noticed more at the end than at the beginning), I just would have liked there to have been a little more.

So I’ve kind of established that I enjoyed the second-half of the book a lot more than the first, and part of that has to do with how well it ended. The ending offered a cool “reveal” – one which has me especially interested in continuing on in the series. This author has dazzled me so much in the past that I definitely have hope that the second book (The King’s Blood) will grab me where the first did not.

As you can see, most of my objections to the story are preferential, and I’d like to clarify that there really wasn’t flaw to the way the story was written – I just would’ve liked to see slightly different approach. Because of that, it would still definitely recommend this title to other fantasy lovers, but only after handing them A Shadow in Summer (LPQ #1) first. And for science fiction fans, you can’t get any more kickass than the Leviathan series.

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by Niki Hawkes


Coming Soon: The Widow’s House by Daniel Abraham

The widow's houseTitle: The Widow’s House

Author: by Daniel Abraham

Series: The Dagger and the Coin #4

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: August 5, 2014

The OverviewLord Regent Geder Palliako’s war has led his nation and the priests of the spider goddess to victory after victory. No power has withstood him, except for the heart of the one woman he desires. As the violence builds and the cracks in his rule begin to show, he will risk everything to gain her love or else her destruction. Clara Kalliam, the loyal traitor, is torn between the woman she once was and the woman she has become. With her sons on all sides of the conflict, her house cannot stand, but there is a power in choosing when and how to fall. And in Porte Oliva, banker Cithrin bel Sarcour and Captain Marcus Wester learn the terrible truth that links this war to the fall of the dragons millennia before, and that to save the world, Cithrin must conquer it.

The widow's house 2

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

I am a huge, huge fan of this author! I consider his Long Price Quartet to be one of the best new generation fantasies on the market and was also blown away by his science fiction Leviathan Wakes (cowritten under the name James S. A. Corey). The Dagger and the Coin series is the last unexplored territory and I admit I’ve been kind of saving them for a rainy day – I just know they’re going to be amazing! Any of you out there who love authors like Goodkind, Hobb, and Feist, make room on your shelves for Daniel Abraham – he’s a keeper!

 What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

Coming Soon: The Tyrant’s Law

may 14

Title: The Tyrant’s Law

Author: Daniel Abraham

Series: The Dagger and the Coin #3

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: May 14, 2013

The Overview: The great war cannot be stopped.

The tyrant Geder Palliako had led his nation to war, but every victory has called forth another conflict. Now the greater war spreads out before him, and he is bent on bringing peace. No matter how many people he has to kill to do it.

Cithrin bel Sarcour, rogue banker of the Medean Bank, has returned to the fold. Her apprenticeship has placed her in the path of war, but the greater dangers are the ones in her past and in her soul.

Widowed and disgraced at the heart of the Empire, Clara Kalliam has become a loyal traitor, defending her nation against itself. And in the shadows of the world, Captain Marcus Wester tracks an ancient secret that will change the war in ways not even he can forsee.

Nik’s Notes: I haven’t even read the first two books yet, but I can tell you with certainty that I will be purchasing Tyrant’s Law when it comes out. Having read (and loved) the Long Price Quartet I am convinced that anything this author does is worth my time and money. It was one of those novels that I picked up to skim and ended up cancelling plans to finish (alas, the woes of befriending a book nerd). Writing, characters, world-building – everything was there, and I can’t imagine this series being anything less than awesome!