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A Shadow in Summer: Book One of The Long Price Quartet Mass Market Paperback – July 31, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Gesture and posture convey as much information as spoken words in Abraham's impressive first novel, a fantasy set in a world where poets create and bind powerful shape-shifting creatures called "andat." The Empire hangs on, literally, by a thread; the cloth industry depends on the ability of andat Seedless to magically remove seeds from cotton plants to keep commerce flowing and the barbarians in check. Seedless, who can also remove unborn children from their mother's womb, aims to drive his poet-creator, Heshai-kvo, mad with grief. A love triangle develops among a threesome—Heshai's apprentice, Maati; Itani, a laborer with a past; and the beautiful scribe Liat—as they unknowingly assist the andat in his plot to abort a wanted child. When Liat's master, Amat Kyaan, uncovers the plan, Amat must flee and live as a bookkeeper in a brothel. The complex characters all struggle to navigate a path between their duty to their Empire and to themselves. A blurb from George R.R. Martin will help alert his fans to this promising newcomer. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Debut novelist Daniel Abraham bolts out of the gate with an enthusiastic recommendation from SF guru George R. R. Martin. The critics agree with Martin's appraisal, and reviewers welcome Abraham's rich characterization, deft plotting, and the particularly ambitious central conceit that ideas can be made fleshand controlled by poets, no less. Critics nitpick here and there (a communication method that involves posing rather than speaking furrows some eyebrows), but nothing dissuades reviewers from eagerly awaiting the Fall, Winter, and Spring installments. (Winter Cities will be published in 2007.)<BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The characterization is not the best I have seen. A few of the characters-Maati, Otah, Amat, and Seedless-are nicely rounded, but the first three are pretty much the main characters and it is to be expected. Seedless is a secondary character that lingers about the rest, but remains my favorite of the bunch for his cruel, scheming, ways and air of humanity despite his inhuman nature. Other secondary characters do not work so well. Liat is never fully given over to the spotlight and because of this she comes off as hollow more than anything-a tool. So too, does Heshai, the poet. We are given glimpses of his past and his troubles throughout the novel, but he never becomes a well-rounded character. This does not mean these secondary characters, and the ones I did not list, are bad, just that they are not as good as they could have been.
There is nothing to complain about with the prose and I am still trying to place my finger as to why I liked it so much. Abraham has a way with words that is not flowery, but still retains a measure of beauty and is not sparse, but is immensely readable. It is compelling, pulling you forward like a carrot before an ass. This, I feel, is the selling point of the novel. The prose was very good, but had it been something of lesser quality then I could easily see myself placing this right atop David Anthony Durham's Acacia in my pile of shame.
It is just that sort of book though. With the total lack of action, I can see why it is considered by a good many as a love or hate novel. For those coming from more action-filled backgrounds such as the Wizards of the Coasts novels and countless others, it can be a jarring experience. I know this all too well. It was early on, when I first started reading fantasy, that I picked up F.W. Faller's A Sword for the Immerland King. I was delighted and excited about what I found there. A fantasy novel with no action until the bitter end! It was a novel thing for me then, but I am glad for it because it left me open to novels like this.
I was not particularly wowed by the magic present, but then I see little reason to be. It is definitely different from the normal sort. It is not a matter of flash or spell flinging, the magic worked by the Poets is a more subtle and far more consuming. It was a change of pace and interesting, which is more than enough to make me look upon it with a fair eye and pardon the indifference I hold it in.
This is not to say that I enjoyed everything. As I mentioned in the previous post, there is something about the book that bothers me so much that it helped to force the book back into the stack a few times. The poses. I understand the novel takes place in a setting that is more Eastern in its foundations and so the poses make sense as a form of communication. However, poses being a highly visual form of nonverbal communication, this is not to say that it works in this medium. None of the poses were described, not that I can remember, which left my imagination blank when they popped up time and time again. I am hard pressed to recommend a different action, as I can well imagine the descriptions becoming quickly tedious. As impossible as it seems, I did become accustomed to the little roadblocks by the end of the book, but I still find it hard to view them in anything but a negative light.
My other problem was the setting. A Shadow in Summer spent almost all of the book in the city of Saraykeht, only a small fraction was spent outside of it. Yet I do not feel as though I know the city all that well. For a novel that almost strikes me as an urban fantasy, the city is oddly separate. It does not have its own character, in fact it does not have much character at all. At one point Amat was walking through the city, describing things here and there, and I could not help but think that Abraham was trying its best to give it a sense of grittiness, but all he managed was to paint on a facade. Sure, there was feces trickling out in the streets and there may have been a dog corpse at some juncture, but it was as if all of it was freshly applied and no more natural than a coat of makeup. It almost seemed as though there was little need to fear the city, one could walk around in the dead of night safe just as long as no political machinations were aimed in their path.
A Shadow in Summer is the sort of novel you should pick up if you want something new, something different, or find yourself growing worn about the edges with the fantasy genre. It is definitely not for everyone, but that should not warn you away from picking it up and giving it a go. The novel may be a few points shy of greatness, but it is not too far behind and, as it stands, is a damned good debut novel. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to reading on in the series. If things continue as they are this could be one of the better series out there, if things improve, it could be one of the best.
Languagewise, Abraham hits us with a sensual and unique world, a lovely spin on nonverbal communication, and left-field metaphors that lend the whole book an originality not often found in the Tolkien-rewrite trenches us fantasy fans often wade through. In short, name an aspect of a good novel--theme, pacing, character, action, peripety, character arc, language--and Abraham has nailed it, all in his first book. Damn. Would that the rest of fantasy took his debut as a benchmark. Highly recommended.
Most recent customer reviews
I have come to understand, after reading the first novel in two different Abraham series, I do not like his style of writing.Read more
The Long Price Quartet is an entirely unique take on high fantasy, with no dragons, no different races other than humans humans, no magic…...Read more