A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have definitely read much worse fantasy, or fiction, for that matter, and I see that subtlety and thoughtfulness is the name of this tune, but honestly, it was slow and not much happens.
It was, on the other hand, quite readable and the characters were very solid, even memorable as far as they go. The society, the empire, is also quite fleshed out and has a character all of its own. I have no complaints with any of that. Indeed, I think it's quite remarkable.
I don't even have a problem with the premise, both literally through the magic that this old poet has, or stylistically, or plot-based, that this old man and the empire are one and the same. Both are old, as are quite a few of the main characters, and you can see that they're wracked with guilt and a bit of senility. Rightly so, I might say. Using magic to forcibly abort children with or without the woman's consent is unconscionable, as is a society that has no qualms with enslaving, whether with economics, force, or the Poet's magic of conception.
It's rotten, and the death of one is the death of all, and I can't really find it in my heart to feel sad for either.
As a novel, it is a beautiful painting, glacially slow and majestic like like the adjective. I think it *IS* beautiful, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good novel.
If you don't mind good character studies and an exploration of culpability, duty, justice, and love rather than a modern fantasy yarn full of death and daring and heroism, then I think you might really enjoy this novel.
Even now that I've finished it with a sigh and a fairly large undercurrent of regret that it didn't live up to some undefinable promise, I want to like it more than I do. I have great respect for Mr. Abraham already, so it's not like I'm giving up the cause. I'm a fanboy of the Expanse, after all.
I know I'll give the other four of this series a shot, but I might not do it right away.
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