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A Shadow In Summer: Spoiler Party March 10, 2012

Filed under: Books — Micah Griffin @ 22:23
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So two of the girlfriend’s siblings are all about the Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham. I had been meaning to get to it for a while, but never did. Now I did. It’s an interesting read. While I didn’t like the first thing I read from Abraham I do like certain points of his writing style. Some of that expresses itself better in “A Shadow In Summer” than it did in “Dragon’s Path.”

For me, the strength of Abraham’s writing is that he’s pretty good at using individual character plots to set up a larger scope for things to come. I felt like, while this first book is clearly a bunch of world building and set up none of it feels like wasted pages. A lot of epic fantasy stories have a problem where the first book in the series is a total trodger. I hate it. Good writers find a way to avoid this. Daniel Abraham is a good writer.

A lot of the criticisms I have for this book are nuanced ones. I’m almost hesitant to write about a lot of them. Not because I think I’m wrong, but because I’m not sure I can word these in a way that makes sense to people who aren’t me. I don’t have any major problems with this book. I think it’s really good. It’s slow, but not from a lack of good pacing, but because it’s imparting a lot of information while trying to hide the fact that it’s imparting a lot of information.

So here we go. The thing that pulled me through the book was a character named Seedless. He’s (for lack of better wording) a god. Pretty much the entire story focuses around him. I really enjoyed how Seedless was the dominant force without being plastered on every page of the book. It isn’t some shadowy Palpatine stuff either. We get to see Seedless work at the other characters, we get to see how close he is to everything. We get to see how each relationship seedless has with people effects other people’s relationships with each other.

The main character he effects in this story is the poet (like a word wizard) that captured him. Due to the process it took to grab hold of seedless there’s a lot of the poet in him. They’re essentially the same person. Not just two sides of the same coin, but it’s kind of symbiotic emotionally. The exact details of their relationship is laid out early, but you don’t understand the full extent of it until well later on when it becomes important to know. It doesn’t explain why the poet is such a sad sack. I figure that dealing with Seedless isn’t great, but his life must have been a big pile of poo even before hand. Interesting stuff.

The poet’s pupil is a guy we met in the first chapter of the book, and when we rejoin them there’s a kind of hopefulness with the character that you just kind of expect to wear off. Happy go lucky epic fantasy characters either become wildly disillusioned, get ground into depression, or die. When the book is over this character had clearly been ground down a bit, but there are sparks of hope that remain. I like hope. Omniscient dark and dreary actually bore me, as well as make me not take the work very seriously. At all. So this was good. The character is naive at times, and makes some clear mistakes but they aren’t thrown at us over and over.

Unlike another character. Liat is a young mostly competent but naive and stupid girl. We know this because everyone (except our Friend Itani/Otah and the poet’s apprentice) remark at some point in time about how naive and stupid the girl is. Not that she lacks intelligence, that she is just naive and doesn’t know how the world works at all. That’s her main function in this book, is to be naive and feel hurt that she was used because she was naive. Then she beats herself up because she felt like she should’ve known better, and then everyone says “noo don’t feel bad. How were you supposed to know? You were used because they knew you wouldn’t know better.” The one thing about this I liked, is that she wasn’t amused by that answer at all, ever. Which is cool, because that’s a bogus thing to say to someone who is having a crisis of self confidence.

I guess that brings us to Itani/Otah. I think he’s the focal point of the story? That’s really a non important distinction to be made. He’s a majorly important dude for the story. See, there’s this mystical poet school that high born cast off males get sent to and no one ever leaves. But then he leaves and becomes a laborer. Shocking, I know. Afterwards he becomes all tangled up with our poet’s apprentice, Seedless, his lover (Liat, the stupid ninny), Amat (a woman who is STRONG and also cries a lot. Like, every time we see her she’s either about ready to cry or is in the middle of crying. She cries for every reason imaginable. From being tired, to being sad, to being hurt, to being stressed, to being angry. She is rarely afraid to let the tears flow. So many tears. She should get together with “Owl at Home” and they can have ALL the best tea. Not that there’s a problem with crying, who doesn’t like a good cry? it’s just that it’s complicated that no one else really cries in the story and this ‘strong’ woman does nothing but cry. Kind of weird is all), and the heads of state as well our the head of our mystery poet school.

Itani gets mixed up just the same way that everyone else does. They’re all part of some game that no one really knows the full scope of. I don’t know the full scope of it. Seedless seems to know a lot more than anyone else does, but that comes from him being such a nasty figure. No one trusts him, everyone hates him to some degree (except mostly the poet’s apprentice). Even though no one trusts him they all listen to what he has to say. They all kill themselves trying to figure out how much of what he says is important. I really am intrigued with the fallout from Seedless’ last act in the book.  Not the act itself, but all the fallout from it. The book distances itself from it a little bit and mentions that things could get weird, but it leaves all of that off to spend more times with the characters, which I approve with. This makes the ending feel way more like the ending to a book and a lot less like “Ha sucker, you spent dollar dollar bills this unfinished product!” That’s always good in my book.

I’ll definitely finish off this series.

I’m just taking a break in between books. I like distancing parts of a series my first time through them.

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