Today’s guest blogger is Karyn Silverman. Take it away, Karyn!
I’m ashamed to say that, although I consider myself pretty well-versed in fantasy, I had totally missed Daniel Abraham’s debut series, The Long Price Quartet. I had also missed his name despite several nominations for various genre awards (World Fantasy, Hugo, and Nebula), although in my defense the nominations all occurred while I was juggling early parenthood and various book committees. The Dragon’s Path has rectified my ignorance, and I was delighted to learn that there are already five books planned.
Now, I know all the readers who aren’t fantasy readers by choice are sighing, Another long unfinished series! What’s with all these fat multi-volume works, anyway? But speaking for the fans—especially the teen fans, although when it comes to genre reading, I think that aside from getting pickier, the differences between the teen and adult readers are pretty minimal—long is good. When a reader opts in to a world an author has crafted from scratch, the desire is to hang out for a while. As a readership, we respect the skill and craft of world-building. An added bonus is the familiarity: The developmental need for formula fiction has passed by the teen years, but there is still the desire to be at ease in the fictional world; multiple volumes in the same world allows the comfort of the familiar while dodging the formula bullet. And finally, there’s the scope. If epic fantasy suits you as a reader, you want it to be big, with lots of characters, lots of narrative complexity, and some deeper layers (forget the old good-evil dichotomy; fantasy these days is all about shades of gray). It’s hard for an author, even the best ones out there, to do epic in just one volume. Fantasy comes in all shapes and sizes, but the bigger stories need bigger books. And when it’s done well, a longer series means more time in a really cool playground with awesome equipment. So check out Abraham’s playground: nobles and bankers and politics, oh my.
ABRAHAM, Daniel. The Dragon’s Path. (The Dagger and the Coin Series). maps. Orbit. 2011. pap. $14. ISBN 978-0-316-08068-2. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Once dragons ruled the 13 races of mankind. Now, they are gone and the races live in a quasi-medieval world. The firstblood (humans) are at the center of the book, but intimations of racial tensions below the surface add dimension to an otherwise slightly stock world. This is a world in transition: banks and farmer’s coalitions have begun to rise in power, and the old aristocratic and feudal ways are threatened. At the center of rising conflicts are Cithrin, the teen ward of a bank and the last survivor of fallen Vanai, and Geder Palliako, a hapless, frankly nerdy, poor noble trying to make his name. In vaguely parallel adventures, Cithrin and Geder find themselves central to the growing turmoil, which seems to boil down to conflict between the young and the old. Geder gains power through the machinations of a powerful lord and uses it for petty revenge, including razing a city to the ground, while plucky orphan Cithrin rises above easy conventions to be an awesome if understated girl-power figure, protected by aging, embittered hero Marcus. Amid the machinations and coming-of-age elements, a dark power stirs: a long forgotten goddess who wants to destroy the world. High fantasy with a few unique twists, fast pacing, and a fairly straightforward plot and narrative style make this perfect for readers of George R.R. Martin or Patrick Rothfuss while waiting impatiently for the next installment in this series.–Karyn N. Silverman, LREI (Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School), NYC