Book Thread 2018^H9


Most of the way through The Tyrant’s Law, the third book of Daniel Abraham’s second fantasy series, The Dagger and the Coin. Like everything the man writes, it’s brilliant. But the thing that’s really striking me is how sad I feel for the primary antagonist. He starts as a low end noble’s son, fat and nerdy and unpopular, which obviously (except for the noble thing) resonates with me. And then as events and people conspire to give him more and more power and influence, he does some really terrible things. He is pretty unequivocally a monster. But he’s still a lonely, nerdy, socially awkward man who’s desperately in need of real friends and real love and clutches on anything that resembles that, without really understanding how impossible it is for him to find it when he’s doing what he’s doing.


Yay! I read all of Dagger and the Coin (which he finished, five books in five years and done. The first book came out about the same time as the last Game of Thrones book). I’m not super into epic fantasy anymore, but being a huge Abraham fan, I read it anyway. It’s quite good. Keep going!

I’m saying there is evil in the world, and doubt is the weapon that guards against it.


Me too. It’s really very good. He makes writing good fantasy look easy. Daniel Abraham is, in a very understated way, one of the best genre writers out there.

Catastrophe would surely announce itself more clearly. Simply by having garden parties and dances, feasts and performances of poetry, they affirmed the normalcy of the world. Surely if the end were really coming, they wouldn’t have sweet buns and tea, and so sweet buns and tea were a kind of armor against what they all feared. The laughter that covered the shriek.


I think the prose in The Long Price is even better than the Dagger and the Coin.


I loved the subversions through that trilogy that are kinda difficult to discuss without spoilers, but the ending of the quest to defeat the spider goddess was a superb little spin on what happens when people in this kind of book usually go on a quest to defeat evil.

Also, how the lead antagonist is defeated is great.


Okay! I read a bit more and I can guess who you say turns good!

It’s gonna be the pirate who wants to be a pirate king? Because you mention it I can see the hints how he gets people being super grateful for him liberating slaves when he’s all self-serving and ruthless. Somewhere along the line he’s gonna keep playing this game and will keep doing it!


Put me down as another fan of the Dagger and Coin series. I loved that the ultimate enemy of the series was the sheer concept of unalloyed “faith”. And I really liked the way that Abramson looked at the idea of a fantasy world where you had a plethora of sentient species, declared that it was a silly impossibility, and then set out to create a world in which that was not only possible but very key to understanding the central plot.


More specifically it’s a conviction that you are right and an unfettered rage at anyone who might disagree. You know, the whole internet, which is full of spiders.


Yup, which is why I picked the quote I did. Also, agree Long Price is generally better, if only because it is a bit more oddball, borrowing far less from standard epic fantasy tropes than Dagger and Coin does.


There was an interview with Abraham in the back of the first book (in my copy, anyway), and one of the the things he said was that he very deliberately set out to work with epic fantasy tropes (he workshopped with people like George R.R. Martin).


Oh yeah, I think it’s pretty clear he set out to write a highly marketable fantasy epic. I’d say he did a great job, wrote an interesting story with interesting characters and situations, and an interesting world to back it up. And like I mentioned before, he finished it in a reasonable amount of time, which ain’t nothin’ in the world of epic fantasy.

It just wasn’t subversive in the way something like the First Law trilogy or the Long Price were. It wasn’t meant to be, but still, that lack makes me prefer Long Price.


I don’t think there’s any question Long Price is better, really. It’s some of the best fantasy ever written, and I’d say well worth reading even if one isn’t typically a fan. Just saying, Dagger and the Coin is him setting out to play with the epic form. :)

(I’m now 60% through The Widow’s House. It’s still real good.)


You know, I don’t have as much love for the Long Price books as most here. I mean I liked it just fine, and I loved the inventiveness of the world in general… but I just didn’t give a rat’s ass for any of the characters.

And I think that’s Abraham’s biggest flaw as a writer – he has some interesting characters, but none that really clicked for me – there’s no Frodo or Han Solo or Tyrion or Roland Deschain in any of his books. Honestly, the best character from Dagger and Chain is the antagonist.

But I’m sounding too critical. I love Abraham’s books and am eagerly awaiting his next series.


I’d say his characters are his biggest strength. But de gustibus and all that.


100% this: I’m 80% through the final book and waffle back and forth between “poor Geder”, and “Geder, I hate your guts.”


The Long Price is my favorite fantasy series, full stop. Just the way the characters age and evolve is enough, but the non-typical setting, the subtle-and-yet-horribly-profound magic system, the tea ceremonies and hand gestures, the interesting and risky ethical questions he raises. (The first novel has abortion as a major plot point.)


I’d also add the interesting form in that each book in the quartet is a different kind of story but taken in whole they’re nonetheless a remarkably cohesive history of a very influential person and his times.


I haven’t read any Abraham, I should probably look for some. In Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy I always found the most interesting character, and probably best character, to be the guy you hate and despise in the first couple hundred pages. He pretty much turns around all the characters in that series.


Yeah, one of the finest trilogies I’ve read. I wonder if he will ever continue it? I know he did the standalone Red Country but there’s still some story left dangling in the trilogy.


There are a few books set in his First Law world:

Red Country
The Heroes
Best Served Cold
Sharp Ends

I haven’t read the last one, but I’d recommend all the others.