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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2012)
The sequel to the acclaimed series launch, The Dragon’s Path, is the perfect summer read for fans of George R. R. Martin.

War casts its shadow over the lands that the dragons once ruled. Only the courage of a young woman with the mind of a gambler and loyalty to no one stands between hope and universal darkness.

The high and powerful will fall, the despised and broken shall rise up, and everything will be remade. And quietly, almost beneath the notice of anyone, an old, broken-hearted warrior and an apostate priest will begin a terrible journey with an impossible goal: destroy a Goddess before she eats the world.

501 pages, Paperback

First published May 3, 2012

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About the author

Daniel Abraham

253 books2,754 followers
Daniel James Abraham, pen names M.L.N. Hanover and James S.A. Corey, is an American novelist, comic book writer, screenwriter, and television producer. He is best known as the author of The Long Price Quartet and The Dagger and the Coin fantasy series, and with Ty Franck, as the co-author of The Expanse series of science fiction novels, written under the joint pseudonym James S.A. Corey.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 630 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
675 reviews43k followers
July 24, 2021
4.5/5 stars

The King’s Blood was a magnificent sequel that expanded upon everything the previous book built.

“Wars are easier to start than end, and where they take you is rarely where you intended to go… It will be better for all of us to avoid it.”

The King’s Blood is the second novel in The Dagger and the Coin series by Daniel Abraham. The story continues from where the previous book left off, and after using the first volume in the series to introduce the premise, characters, and world-building, Abraham can progress the story in a better flow now. The King’s Blood is in its entirety a superior book than The Dragon’s Path. This isn’t a surprise; The Long Price Quartet by Abraham was a series that gets better and better with each book, and I have no doubt this series will follow the same notion. The themes of the story in The King’s Blood still revolves around war, mercenaries, traditions, legacies, honor, faiths, and money. And I do honestly believe that Abraham successfully conveyed these themes in the narrative.

“Form is what gives the world its shape… If you don’t hold to tradition, what is there? A thousand different people each with his own idea of justice, every man trying to force his ideas on the next? We’ve seen how that ends.”

Once again, there’s a lot of things to love in the story here. It’s incredibly easy—and right—to think of the series so far as a series about mercenaries, wealth, and war. However, beneath it all, Abraham’s fantasy books are always filled with beautiful messages about changes and the passage of time. Take a look at these two quotes:

“It hadn’t seemed all exciting at the time, but the farther away the past drew, the more warmly it glowed.”


“He would have guessed that children grew to adults imperceptibly, each day’s change too small to see, each week too small, each month. The changes may be clear if seen year by year by ear, but maybe that was wrong. Maybe people stayed just the same for long stretches of time, and then shifted suddenly, becoming someone different than they’d been. Or not different, but older. More mature. More themselves.”

I loved these themes; adding these to the deadly situations of the storyline and the great characterizations made The King’s Blood such a wonderful sequel. I do, however, want to remind everyone that whether the series so far will work for you or not will depend entirely on your investment in the main characters.

“Small kindnesses, it turned out, paid large returns.”

The story still follows the journey of the same five main characters of the previous books. Marcus Wester, Cithrin Bel Sarcour, Geder Palliako, Dawnson, and Clara. I highly enjoyed all five character’s storyline. Dawson and Clara, in my opinion, received the most significant improvement in their chapters, and I seriously can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. I also loved that Cithrin’s story gets pulled deeper into the grander scope of the conflicts. It is, however, a bit unfortunate that Marcus’s is put a bit on the backburner here. He didn’t have a lot of spotlight in The King’s Blood, but thankfully, his final POV chapters displayed signs of intriguing things to come in the next books. As for Geder Palliako… Well, he definitely stole the spotlight of the series so far. Abraham did a terrific job in writing this character. There’s something about Geder’s thirst for power that feels so believable and terrifying; the fact that he’s capable of real kindness and violence equally made him such a fascinating character to read about.

“There are no clean starts, Dawson thought. Just as there are no clean endings.
Everything is built like Camnipol: one damn thing atop another atop another reaching down in the bones of the world. Even the forgotten things are back there somewhere, shaping who and what we are now.”

I’ve read only two books in the series so far, and it already has some of Abraham’s most beautiful writing. Oh yes, his prose is accessible, and Abraham has always been good at telling a superb character-driven story. But I think he also deserves credit for writing thought-provoking themes or poignant passages. There were scenes and lines in this novel that really moved my heart, and I wish I can tell you what they are, but they’re massive spoilers; hint, it’s in Dawson’s POV chapters. Instead, I’ll give a different example:

“This was what weddings were for, after all. The opportunity for kindness and extravagance. The chance for last year’s rivals to become this season’s friends or, failing that, at least friendly acquaintainces. It was the other side of the battles and intrigues, this creation of bonds and connections. They were weaving the fabric of civilization.

Whether it’s The Long Price Quartet or The Dagger and the Coin, it’s such a shame that Abraham’s fantasy books are still in a very underrated state in the fantasy community. I am looking forward to reading the third book, The Tyrant’s Law, soon. There’s a good chance this will become one of my favorite series when I’m done with it.

“Words are empty until you fill them, and how you fill them shapes the world. Words are the armor and the swords of souls, and the soldiers on the other side of that bridge have no defense against them.”

You can order the book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

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Profile Image for James Tivendale.
311 reviews1,330 followers
June 23, 2022
The King's Blood is another strong entry in Abraham's politically charged, character-driven fantasy series, The Dagger and the Coin.

The Dragon's Path helped get me out of a reading slump and The King's Blood features more of the same fine elements that kept me engaged during the first entry. Complex and often misunderstood lead characters, excellent drama, high stakes, and detailed point of view perspectives that sometimes intertwine. Every action and decision that a character makes seems to have consequences, some causing shocking and unexpected outcomes in The King's Blood, and some, do doubt, planting the seeds for what is to occur in The Dagger and the Coin's remaining three novels. Words and truths are powerful here and have lasting effects.

"I think he has a long memory, though. Anyone who crosses him while he's weak will answer for it when he's strong."

The way that Abraham writes and the pacing really connects with the rhythm of my thoughts, creating vibrant and clear images, feeling almost meditative to me, and had me truly engrossed. Hypnotic almost, yet, not in a sleepy manner, in a way that kept me fully focused and attentive. The series is adult in nature and it has a similar tone to A Song of Ice and Fire with political maneuvering, backstabbing, plotting, and ambitious characters aplenty. The King's Blood doesn't feature many detailed lengthy battles or as much bloodshed on-screen as some fantasy mainstays, although there is a war ongoing throughout the duration of the novel and also a potential revolution. When these moments do occur, though, they have a massive impact. There is one moment in particular with Geder; the climax of which stands out in my top ten most haunting and sure to be most unforgettable moments I've ever read.

In a similar fashion to the first novel, Geder is an absolute gem of a creation, and I don't want to say too much about him because the way he changes, the consequences of his actions on himself and others, and the mythology that seems to surround him makes him an enticing lead player. The fact he's a point of view perspective - where we follow his actions and thoughts as if sitting on his shoulder - makes it really interesting and occasionally harrowing to see how he is witnessed, differently, by other point of view characters. Whether they are misunderstanding his ideals and intentions or not.

"(She) listened, her hand around her mug. She forgot to drink from it. Instead, she listened to story pile upon story pile upon story as Geder Palliako grew toward legend."

Dawson is similarly stubborn in nature and loyal to the crown as he was in The Dragon's Path yet I enjoyed following him more this time. His partner Clara is another point-of-view perspective, and it starts to develop here how important, I believe, the whole Kalliam family will be to the overarching story. It's nowhere near a neat analogy yet I think this family will be the closest this series has to the Stark family as The Dagger and the Coin progresses further.

Like Geder, I don't want to say too much about, arguably, the series' other main character, Cithrin. That being said, I can confirm she has many excellent moments, shares the screentime with some important players, and her tale goes down unexpected avenues. I'm often completely drawn into the way her mind works and how her analytical nature makes her a success with finances, and in other areas here as well. Captain Marcus Wester has a few important and exciting moments in The King's Blood but he seems to drift away to being a secondary character, however; his importance to the overall series is blatant and I can't wait to follow his arc further in The Tyrant's Law as the novel sets where his journey will go next nicely.

The Dagger and the Coin is building up exquisitely with its detail, drama, layers, intrigue, and very real consequences. The novels in this series don't work as standalone so might not be suited for fantasy fans who want a quick-fix, adrenaline rush. This is a series for those who will embrace its intricacies, its depth, its wonderful characters, the build-up, the stand-out moments. The more time I spend in Abraham's world, the more intense and invested I will get. Although parts of this series have been a slow burn, I'm absolutely invested now. Let's see how The Tyrant's Law ups the ante.

“And I suppose it would be entirely too much to ask what this mysterious errand is that’s calling you away?” she asked. And then, contradicting herself, “You owe us that much.” The apostate licked his lips, searching for words he hadn’t used, even to himself. When he found them, he chuckled. “This may sound a bit grandiose,” he said, scratching at his beard with one long finger. “Try me.” “I’m off to kill a goddess.”
Profile Image for Emma.
2,438 reviews830 followers
October 29, 2016
Just as brilliant as the first. I love this series. It has everything I'm looking for; not just great characters, but in depth character development. The world building and culture imagined by the author is exceptionally well done. The plot is also complex and we'll crafted. Next!
Profile Image for Angela.
319 reviews63 followers
October 19, 2016
The last third of the book really saved this one for me and made me want to continue on with the series. All the action took place in Camnipol and Geder continues his transition to a tyrant bit by bit. Increasingly paranoid and thirsty for power/revenge and control. Looks like his priest friends are going to help him on this path. Even if you get the sense that the priests are using Geder for their own ends.

Marcus Wester snoozefest. Didn't really do anything. At least that's how it felt to me. Woe is me, I need to find/stay with my "adopted" daughter. There was one nice little twist with his story arc though.

Clara was at great POV character and I'm curious to see where her story heads to next.

Cithrin was a more compelling character this time around. Partly due to being in the thick of the action. I still don't really like her and have the feeling that if she had a Grandma, she would sell her Grandma to make a few bucks if the investment and return was worthwhile.

I'm sticking with the series, but I do hope the next book pulls me in a lot quicker.
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews830 followers
February 9, 2019
“Wars are easier to start than to end, and where they take you is rarely where you intended to go.”

In the second entry to The Danger and the Coin series Mr Abraham is down to business and he knows perfectly well where he wants his story to go. Sadly, he stumbles at times as if unsure how to get there; this concerns both the plotting and the pacing.

I really, really wanted to give this book 4 stars, the mean reader that I am, in spite of spiders, and dragons, and the most idiotic YA female lead you can imagine. But I cannot. No matter how much I want to. King’s Blood is a great read if you do not pay attention to details like “how come?” and “why” that anchor the plot and the decisions made by the protagonists in something solid. As it is, two of the most pivotal developments in this book happen not only out of the blue but also in clear contradiction to previous character development. This hurts the book more than my personal petty grievances against it.

There are five main protagonists whose eyes allow us to trace the main story: Dawson Killiam and his wife Clara nobles of the Imperial Antea, Geder Palliako who finds himself much closer to the Severed Throne than he ever dreamed, Cithrin bel Sarcour, banker by upbringing, alcoholic by vocation and Marcus Wester, a warrior without a cause. All these are in some ways interconnected, and even though not all paths cross and converge, the actions and decisions ripple and have reverberations beyond obvious.

“This may sound a bit grandiose.”
“Try me.”
“I am off to kill a goddess.”

While Dawson attempts to save his country, Marcus is burdened with the doomed and inevitable task of saving the world. In fact, both Marcus and Dawson are in a sense mirror reflections of each other with one placing the state on an individual, the other on an idea behind it. The way Marcus allows himself to be tied to Cithrin is the precisely same thing that allows Dawson to liberate himself from poisoned loyalty to the person wearing the royal paraphernalia and yet remain faithful to the ideas that make the difference between betrayal and patriotism. It is interesting to watch their parallel struggles, especially that in some sense, both lead towards a tragedy.

“The day I throw you in a ditch and take a company, sir? It’s today.”

The problem with Marcus’ POV, in particular, is the pacing; getting Marcus to do what obviously needs to be done and what is apparent from his very first chapter through the long and painfully protracted path of his personal but implausible obsessions with Cithrin didn’t feel honest (yes, that’s the word) enough to justify the obvious attempt to prolong the story. The lameness of this design is not even worth an eye-roll. Nor a facepalm.

“You are not a banker. You are an extortionist who got lucky.”

Me and Cithrin, we could never be friends. The vibes are not there. I had hopes that perhaps she would grow into a character I could admire and respect, but her keen intellect is her only saving grace. Otherwise, all her traits that could potentially develop into virtues: ambition, audacity (oh, her meeting with Komme Medean!), and an ability to risk everything on a whim turn into her vices. In a sense, I understand the design Mr Abraham seems to have in mind where Cithrin is concerned. It was visible in the way he stripped her of human entanglements, forced her to develop a driving habit within a fortnight and detached from any morality which rendered her capable to buy and sell everything including her own body and soul as long as it brings the profit to her bank. On some plane I found it bizzare that she is the one diagnosing Geder as dangerous because he’s been growing up without a mother. Says a girl who suffered exactly the same fate! But far more important than my personal dislike of her is the fact that, her decisions made at the most pivotal moment of the novel when she is at the heart of an empire that killed and burned down everything that mattered in her life and then changed her just don’t add up. To be honest, I stopped reading the book at that point and wondered if there is any sense in continuing with the series at all.

“The best thing you can say about Geder is he’s the sort of man who makes good enemies.”

I admire how Mr Abraham breathes life into his antagonists. Geder gives me shudders and creeps. The way he is guided and yet misguided by nothing more sinister than a desire to be respected and liked. What I liked the most in this arc is how Geder also shows an addiction, yet addiction of a different sort that this eating Cithrin away. The special power within his grasp changes from something of a luxury and an extraordinary measure into a daily tool of governance into something he cannot do without. To watch how something that he used as a tool becomes his master is fascinating. He is in someone else’s war without even realising it or beginning to understand how devastating are the things he set in motion. At the same time, he is far from being a gullible fool to be pitied: There is certain psychopathic quality about him (suffice to mention the scene that so reminded me of Denethor’s conversation with Pippin in the Return of the King in its obnoxious and heartless repugnancy), but at the same time his insecurities are understandable, justifiable even. Who likes when people laugh at them, after all? We all have this jagged crack in the darkest depths of our souls, and what Mr Abrahm shows is what happens when it runs deeper than usual.

Luckily, to balance things out, there are also those whose personal integrity, courage, generous heart and discipline shine the brightest when all things fall apart. And the winner in this category is: Clara of course. I was really curious what would become of the gentle, noblewoman who marshalled her household the way generals marshal armies.

“The wise general leads his army into battle to reshape the world, and so he creates a place which does not need him.”

It is obvious that the design is there, but whereas in some places the details are sorted down to the tiniest detail (like cutting through the thumb to seal the contract), in other areas things are blurry enough to allow for naive plot conveniences straight from a story meant for middle-graders. Still, despite these flaws I am happy to say that at this point I am entirely hooked and I intend to continue with the series as soon as… now. And the most important message is this:

“It isn’t truth. It’s never truth. It’s certainty.”

Also in the series:

1. The Dragon's Path ★★★★☆
3. The Tyrant's Law ★★★★★
4. The Widow's House ★★★★☆
5. The Spider War
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews223 followers
October 12, 2016
A great second book to the series. There were parts in this book which had that electric feeling the first book as good as it was didn't. Abraham has such a smooth writing style. He's up there with Lynch in being entertaining while character and world building. Clara's character in particular really stepped forward in this book and the end of her final chapter was brilliant.

Looking forward to the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Conor.
148 reviews316 followers
June 26, 2014
'The Kings blood' is the follow-up to 'The Dragons Path', one of the best openings to a series that I've read recently. This book does an admirable job of continuing the story started in that book as it further expands the world and continues the development of the characters introduced already.

In this book we see more of the world established in book 1. This world isn't particularly deep or inventive but it is solid and serves as a good backdrop to events. The most unique feature of this world is the wide variety of distinct races, however this feature wasn't explored very thoroughly. The majority of characters and all of the POV's, except for 1 who was partially descended from a different race (albeit the race most similar to humans), are human. When this feature was explored I found it difficult to keep track of all the different races.

The characters introduced in book 1 continue to be vital to the story with no really notable additions. This relatively small group of characters is something of an oddity in epic fantasy but allows greater focus on these characters.

Geder continued to be the most interesting character for me. His rise to power and simultaneous fall to the dark side/spider goddess was a compelling arc. I also thought his interactions with Cithrin were really well-written, even as he progressed from adorably awkward to creepy. However despite still being an intriguing character I was somewhat disappointed with him in this book. Geder's lack of initiative and his dependence on advisors was frustrating, especially compared to the first book where he made some awesome (if kind of evil) independent decisions. The burning of Vanai remains one of the most incredible moves I've ever seen a fantasy protagonist make.

I was also disappointed by Dawson in this book. In book 1 I found him a well-written, morally ambiguous character who reminded me of both Ned Stark and one of the scheming, classist nobles from The Wheel of Time. In this book that complexity is absent as he becomes a righteous crusader against a corrupt tyrant and his mysterious, evil advisors. I would have enjoyed his arc more if his enemies hadn't been so obviously evil or if he was motivated by some of his less-heroic beliefs. Instead Dawson is portrayed throughout this book as a noble patriot and the classism and xenophobia he showed in the previous book pretty much disappears.

Cithrin really stepped up in this book. The annoying 'orphan on a quest' vibe I got from her in the first half of book 1 was absent and instead we saw more of the shrewd trading and politicking of her later chapters. While her interactions with Geder were well done her scheming never reached the awesome heights we saw while she was setting up and running her bank previously. However her overall arc was much stronger in this book especially compared to other characters.

Marcus continued to be my least favourite character in this one. I had hoped that he would put his abilities as a general to use sometime soon to involve the reader in wars more than the series has done so far. Incidentally there were a few chapters which featured a character fighting in a war that were well-written but disappointingly brief. Instead he went on a quest to find a magical sword and destroy the source of evil before it conquers the world (try counting the clichés in that sentence, I dare you). The closest the famous general comes to fighting a battle was a raid on a pirate compound. This was a pretty bland 'fight' that resulted in the deaths of 1 evil pirate and none of Marcus' men.

Overall this was an enjoyable continuation of a really good series and I'm excited to see where Abraham takes these plots and characters next.
Profile Image for Jenna Kathleen.
117 reviews122 followers
July 9, 2018
Awesome development from the first book.

I didn't really like Dawson in The Dragon's Path, but he really developed as a character throughout this book.

Geder is fascinating and so frustrating at the same time, but you can really see the consequences his power has brought to the world. His meeting with

I'm happy to see Marcus

Cithrin was just as great as in the first one, but the character who really grew on me the most was Clara and based on the last lines she said, I'm sure she is going to play a major role in the next book.
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
783 reviews133 followers
November 17, 2021
Traditional fantasy done magnificently. This book, and series, doesn't subvert any tropes. It doesn't break new ground. What it does is give us an intriguing plot, enjoyable characters, and excellent writing. This is a 120,000 word book, but the pages simply flew by. If only all fantasy authors could write this clearly and efficiently (this coming from someone currently bogged down in the middle-mire books of the Wheel of Time.) Abraham doesn't sacrifice setting, character, plot, anything to achieve this, he simply sets a wonderful example for effective and concise fantasy writing. George R.R. Martin has long promoted Abraham's work, although I don't know if that is a great association these days.

Underage Cithrin continues to manage her bank in Port Olive, but with her authority severely curtailed by the presence of an ogrous overseer. She retains the allegiance of the legendary military captain Marcus Wester, who maintains emotional loyalty to her due to his tragic past. To achieve her ambitions, she must step out of the shadow of both figures. Meanwhile, in Camnipol, now-baron Geder finds himself graced with increasing power which he wields with impressive ignorance, and the sly priests of the spider goddess ride his victories to their own ends.

Although the overall effect is comfortingly familiar, the individual elements are original, with the physically diverse thirteen races, subtle and rare magic, focus on renaissance banking, and themes of the nature of truth, found families, and loyalty. The plot progression is largely predictable but still delicious as it happens. I enjoyed all of the characters in the ways that the writing intends for the reader; waify Cithrin is simply endearing, Geder's idiocy is hilarious and terrifying, and so forth. Myself and buddy readers found Dawson's arc in the first book our least favorite; who feels attached to the rich, powerful, white man's struggles? Well, anyone who felt this way will absolutely enjoy Dawson's arc in this book much more.

I enjoy Geder as the 'A Idiot' character possibly as much as I did Jezal in Abercrombie's First Law trilogy, and that is saying a lot.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,041 reviews13 followers
December 17, 2018
4.5 stars

I believe I found another series to add to my favourite shelf! This one is superb!
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,658 reviews1,692 followers
September 8, 2016
I liked this better than the first one, especially at the end. This was bound to happen since I’m spending so much time with these characters, and Abraham is a consistent, talented writer. The first half continued a lot of the issues I had with the first book, though, so I can’t really give this four stars. Maybe the third book will earn it?

It’s been a little over a year since the start of the series. Geder Palliako has gone from social pariah to Lord Regent of Antea. Cithrin is still at her Bank in Porte Oliva, but the bank has foisted upon her a notary who has basically taken all control out of Cithrin’s hands. She decides to seek out the head of the Medean bank and win him over so she can get at least some control of her bank back. While she’s away, civil war comes to Antea and Marcus just about loses his mind with worry over her, so Yardem kind of sort of betrays him so he doesn’t do something stupid. This leads Marcus to team up with Master Kit, who reveals to him that he’s a former priest of the spider goddess and enlists him in his quest to destroy her and prevent the priests from remaking the world. Also, Dawson Kalliam is the one who starts the civil war because he realizes that Geder is being controlled by the priests. This leads to a chain of events that culminate in Geder meeting Cithrin, and ends

Really, a whole bunch of stuff happens in this book. It actually moves quite quickly plotwise for a fantasy novel. The problem is I still find myself emotionally distant from everything that’s happening. His writing is so understated and bloodless at times that even exciting events are muffled for me. I will probably continue out the series, but it’s not going to be on my favorites or anything like that. At the very least, it’s interesting.

[3.5 stars]
Profile Image for Sotiris Karaiskos.
1,141 reviews81 followers
February 6, 2017
Στο δεύτερο μέρος υπάρχουν κάποιες ενδιαφέρουσες εξελίξεις - οι οποίες κάτι μας θυμίζουν άλλες μη το κάνουμε θέμα - που τουλάχιστον μου δίνουν κίνητρο για να φτάσω την ανάγνωση της σειράς ως το τέλος. Δεν αποδίδονται και άσχημα από το συγγραφέα αλλά και πάλι δεν κάνουν το βιβλίο τόσο συναρπαστικό ώστε να μην θέλεις να το αφήσεις. Εντάξει, όμως, δεν είναι απαραίτητο ότι διαβάζουμε να είναι τέλειο και αυτή η σειρά ως τώρα νομίζω στέκεται σε πολύ καλό επίπεδο ώστε να μην είναι χάσιμο χρόνου η ανάγνωση.
Profile Image for Justin.
202 reviews13 followers
July 25, 2021
This was a hard book to rate for me, and it may change depending on the rest of the series. I liked it more than the first book in the series, The Dragon's Path, but it took me a little while to really get into it. I feel like things are being purposefully set up in a way that will pay off later, much like Abraham did in his Long Price Quartet series, but at the moment it's not always apparent where things are going.

The character work is still fantastic, and Abraham's writing continues to be some of my favorite, and I can't wait to see where this series goes next.
Profile Image for Neil McGarry.
Author 4 books21 followers
March 23, 2018
**Here be spoilers. Read accordingly.**

Let me say at the start that I really wanted to like The King's Blood, and the series of which it is the second part, The Dagger and the Coin. I like Abraham's focus on characters, something you don't see very much in fantasy, and his willingness to alter the story in interesting ways. In The Dragon's Path, for example, I loved when Cithrin stops trying to be an adventurer and starts acting like a banker. That's the work of an author who's thinking about his characters, and not just a Dungeon Master shoehorning the PCs into the mold necessary for the grand quest.

However, in my view there are some significant flaws in this story, and in its predecessor, so forgive me if I reference both in this review.

Scale: The story spends an awful lot of time on small matters and relegates to the background more momentous events. In the space of 400 pages Antea loses a king, gains a lord regent, conquers a neighboring nation and puts down a rebellion, and yet in that same space Marcus Wester does little except pine over Cithrin and get kidnapped. It's as if Abraham wants to chronicle large events only so they can impact his characters, and otherwise gives them short shrift. He can certainly take that route, of course – it's been done successfully before – but if so he should spend no narrative effort on them. Instead, these world-shaking events get enough attention to take up the reader's time, but not enough to grab his interest...the worst of both worlds.

World-building: The world of The Dagger and the Coin feels oddly empty, as if the only occurrences that matter are the ones caused by the main characters. Only Dawson Kalliam or Geder Palliako affect the Antean political situation; the other nobles and power brokers are mere background and do not complicate the characters' actions in any meaningful way. Ideally, characters should appear in a world that is moving all around them, and their choices should be influenced or opposed even by the actions of minor characters.

Information: Abraham sometimes isn't very elegant in the way he conveys information. For example, in the first chapter of The Dragon's Path, the reader is subjected to a long list of the thirteen races of man, with accompanying odd names like Jasuru and Tralgu, etc., all before the reader has had a chance to invest in the world. I find that the "sand beneath your feet" approach works better; that is, don't describe the entire beach the minute the reader steps off the sidewalk. Tell her about each race as she encounters it, and not before. Abraham instead goes for the info-dump, which is never fun to read.

Pace: Every chapter of a novel should either advance the story or tell us something new about the characters, and ideally both. A chapter in which we learn for the fourth time that Marcus Wester is not over the deaths of his family and that he views Cithrin as his adoptive daughter does neither. There is too much of this in The King's Blood, and also in its predecessor; indeed, I think the first third of The Dragon's Path could have been cut out and its contents sown throughout the remaining two-thirds of the novel.

The Big Story: I understand that Master Kit, or the apostate if you prefer, hates the spider goddess and wants her dead. Why should I care? Dawson doesn't. Cithrin doesn't. Hell, even Marcus, who reluctantly joins Kit's quest for the Sword That Can Make Things Right, doesn't really care either. He goes along because he has nothing better to do. Sure, the spider goddess's priests are up to no good in Antea, but nobody from Antea is on the quest anyway, so what of it? It's as if Gandalf recruited the Fellowship of the Ring from a temp agency; the members have all the requisite skills but no personal commitment to the cause.

Also, it's probably not advisable to introduce The Major Quest two-thirds of the way through the second book of a trilogy. In The Lord of the Rings everyone knows from the get-go that Sauron is really, really bad, and that knowledge guides everything the characters do. In The King's Blood, Master Kit reveals the dread spider goddess to exactly one person who shrugs and says, "What the hell...joining your mad quest beats being chained up in a pigeon coop." That attitude doesn't inspire much dramatic interest, nor does it bode well for the success of the mission.

Finally, let's-get-the-gadget-to-defeat-the-foozle is an old, old, trope, and I was disappointed to discover it in The King's Blood. Perhaps Abraham will do something interesting with it, but lampshading it by having Marcus remark on the trope is not interesting.

As I said, I think there's some good stuff in here, but I think Abraham needs to evaluate just what that is and cut out the rest. Personally, I could read an entire book just about Cithrin's rise to power in the Medean Bank, and how she defeats the spider goddess by devaluing her infernal stock portfolio. I wonder if Abraham will consider writing that one?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Shobhit Sharad.
103 reviews52 followers
September 11, 2020

The comparison of Daniel Abraham with George RR Martin naturally leads to a comparison between their characters. The honourable lord who gets himself killed for the sake of honour, sound familiar? Eddard Stark? Yes. Dawson Kalliam? Also, yes. Both childhood friends of the recently demised kings. But that's where the similarities end. Where Ned Stark's honour was about learning the truth about the lineage of his king and friend, and dissecting out the conspiracy against the regime, Dawson's honour was about leaching out the occult external group of priests with their devious goddess who have infiltrated the bureaucracy. And as idiotic as people consider Ned Stark's actions, it was really painful to watch the ridiculous steps taken by Dawson Kalliam.

For a book of around 400 pages, an awful lot happened in a very quick succession of events- including a war, an insurrection and a civil war. This could have spread and detailed out a lot better, but instead the author seemed to be in a hurry to rush the plot, which I think was for the better because it would have dragged a lot otherwise..

I finally could distinguish between the cities, the world building was definitely better. Vanai is a city which is an overgrown town with primitive houses and trade as the primary occupation. Carse is a legendary city which has all the remnants of the era of dragons. Camnipol is a layered jumble of generations piled over one another commanding one of the biggest empires of the land.

A good instalment overall and things have finally started to get interesting.
Profile Image for Ranting Dragon.
404 reviews230 followers
August 11, 2013

At the opening of The King’s Blood, we find ourselves back in the remains of the Dragon Empire and the world of the Thirteen Races of Humanity. Geder Palliako is suddenly an important figure in the Antean Court, with the mysterious Spider Priests at his side. Kalliam Dawson, a noble of the old order, works to maintain the tradition of the court while Cithrin bel Sacour struggles to hold on to her branch of the Medean Bank, and Captain Marcus Wester, haunted by his past, works to redeem himself through his protection of the young banker. Intrigue, magic, and blood follow in the second installment of The Dagger and The Coin series.

Like a flower, blooming
The Dragon’s Path was such a success because Abraham, in his skill and knowledge of the genre, took his time in revealing his world to us. He began in medias res, and as the novel grew, so did our understanding of the world. Much like that deliberate pace and reveal, The King’s Blood continues this slow gift of information as, chapter by chapter, our understanding of this world grows. Don’t expect an answer to every mystery, but know that some light will be shed on The Dragon Empire, The Spider Goddess, and more.

Pulling no punches
Personally, one of the biggest strengths I find in The Dagger and the Coin series is how Abraham is not afraid of posing big questions or challenges to his characters and therefore to his readers. He never presents an easy road for either party, and half the enjoyment of the book is in watching the characters navigate the tangle of larger-than-life questions. Is truth subjective? When is it right to go to war, if it ever is? When do you give up and when do you fight? Abraham throws these questions and more at his characters. Watching how they react will not only fascinate you, it will make you think as well.

Character is king
What makes this one of the strongest secondary world fantasies being published today, though, is not the immensity of its worldbuilding or its fascination with big questions, but rather the complexity of its characters. Abraham has created wonderful, strong, incredibly flawed characters, and watching them evolve through this second book is certainly one of the highlights. He allows them to be, well, human. Even the most noble of characters, Kalliam Dawson, is not immune to spite or fear. Watching and hoping a character will make the right choice is all the more devastating when they do not. Feelings such as pain, spite, greed, and fear color the characters beyond simple shades of gray and create characters who, despite scales or wings or pelts, make for some of the most human characters out there.

Why you should read this
The King’s Blood is a triumph of secondary world fantasy, continuing to reveal a complex world with amazing, three-dimensional characters. Daniel Abraham is not afraid to push his characters or his readers to the edge, and even when he rewards you, it may still be bittersweet. If you enjoyed the first book, or if you’re looking for a new fantasy series to get into, The King’s Blood and The Dagger and the Coin are well worth your time.
Profile Image for Mark.
414 reviews65 followers
October 3, 2016
This series keeps getting better and better! I gave the first book four stars as well but only because it was very well written. I didn't feel like it would be one of my all time fav rereads however with book two this series is starting to really grow on me.

I'm still a little confused about a few things. For instance, I wish the thirteen races would be explained a little more. Right when I think I really know a character I realize that they have tusks or dragon scales! Superficial, I know but whether or not a character has a tail is important to me. I mean books ARE the theater of the mind for fuck's sake.

Other than a few shades ambiguity this book is awesome. Cithrin is still a cold, alcoholic bore, Marcus Wester is still a badass waste of space and Geder is still the most interesting character. What a little terror that Geder is shaping up to be.

Absolutely a great read if you like your fantasy epic, far reaching and twisted. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Leonardo.
88 reviews7 followers
October 9, 2022
It took me a while to read this one but I am glad I did because I can definitely say, now, that I am fully invested in the story and the characters. I almost DNF'ed at the 50% mark, as I wasn't really feeling immersed in this world and had trouble connecting to the characters.

But it all changed when Dawson decided that he had made a mistake helping Geder be in a position of power. From that point onwards, the story became more and more interesting, the characters felt more alive as their purposes and aims were finally showing. I'm loving Geder more and more, I just love these kind of characters that get corrupted by power, while they're in fact being manipulated by it. other characters like Cithrin and Clara have also found their own voice, and I'm looking forward to see where Clara will go from here.

The comparison with ASOIAF seems well deserved.
Profile Image for Liviu.
2,254 reviews630 followers
May 3, 2012
As I may not be able to do a full FBC rv close to the US publication date, I will try to have a longer "raw thoughts" review here.

The book is secondary world fantasy at its best and in addition it has a writing style quite above the usual "utility English" of the genre; maybe not quite at (the top of) literary fiction levels (see Hari Kunzru's Gods without Men for recent such), but close, while pretty much all the things that I would mark as negatives come from the nature of the genre rather than from the author.

I would try to avoid spoilers so I will talk only a little about the storyline, just to mention that it is a direct continuation of The Dragon's Path and a lot of things happen by the end of the novel (at a good stopping point with no cliffhangers but not much global resolution beyond tbc either - in this sense the first two volumes of the intended 5 book series are truly volume 1/2 of a huge novel)

The structure is similar with Dragon's Path and features POV chapters from Cithrin, Dawson, Clara, Geder and Marcus with interludes from Master Kit. As mentioned lots of things happen including intrigues, conspiracies, wars, pirates, deaths of named characters, while the world is expanded to some extent and the roles of the 13 races are made a little bit clearer here, though again mostly regular humans aka "firstbloods" are of importance (and Cithrin of course who is half-blood Cinnae but much closer to her firstblood half by upbringing)

There is an appendix written from the pov of a scholar of one the "superior bloods' (of course he would claim that...) and discussing the 13 races, while many secondary characters - some new, some old and some who may become important later appear and some have really great moments

The pages turn by themselves and I literally could not put the book down and read it in one very long sitting, but i expect to revisit the world and probably reread Dragon Path too soon.

I put 2 paragraphs below in spoiler tags as they discuss my expectations about some characters in future volumes - this implies said characters will be part of future volumes (though I would say that is not a surprise from the way the series is structured); other than that (showing that these characters survive), no real spoilers, but still read this at your choice

As for negatives - as mentioned mostly due to genre - the book like most sff is about politics and the organization of society and like most fantasy it is a retrograde such where "what is your blood" counts more than anything else outside of specific commercial cities - true that say Geder who is minor nobility raises himself with luck and a strong dose of magic, but he is still noble - nobility and blood with the role of women very traditional in the "high society" - again the lower and commercial classes are different but over 60% of the book is about the nobility, a bit smaller world building than expected and occasionally feeling like a sandbox - but ultimately the novel captivated me again and showed that great writing and characters and a reasonably well thought secondary world (with the caveats above) still can keep me interested in traditional fantasy despite my feeling of "exhausting the genre" in the last 4 years.

A few more thoughts - the book also has an elegant rather than visceral feel and consequently the more emotional moments are still cerebral to a large extent rather than pure emotion and the action flows naturally rather than twisting and turning - here I tend to prefer the more visceral feel and the twists and turns with "what..?" moments, but as that is a pure personal preference, I would not count it against the book especially that it executes so well in these two categories (elegant style, natural story lines)

All in all King's Blood was the first 2012 fantasy that satisfied my expectations and of course it will have a place on my top 25 list of the year and i hope the series will continue to keep this extremely high standards all the way - i also believe that there is scope and depth for 5 books though I expect considerably more universe expansion
Profile Image for Molybdenum.
20 reviews4 followers
July 20, 2012
In many good series, often we see the first book is needed to set up the characters and the world, and the second book this foundation can be used to really have them develop and interact. What happens is the events of the novels start to take their toll on the characters, and all the fluff they build around themselves is pulled away.

This is what happens in The King's Blood. The Dragon's Path introduced us to young protege banker, awkward minor nobleman scholar who happens to fall into power, stuffy nobleman and wife, and former army captain with tortured path. The characters were carved out for us in great detail and the story was introduced. But in this second book, the events cause the labels to be thrown away, and we see who each of them really are.

And at it's heart, the Dagger and the Coin series is primarily a character study. So as a result what keeps the reader turning the page is not "What is going to happen next?," but rather "How is this event going to affect the character(s)?" The characters leave the comfy confines of race and standing and are instead caused to face a decision that gets to the heart of who they are: Fight or flight? And I think they'd be surprised themselves at which each of them choose.

One interesting thing about the book is the magic system is only used by the villians (with one exception), and is inherently one that is underestimated. So the reader can see trouble coming before the characters, which builds the anticipation for how the characters are going to react when that storm comes. Related to this, often events are shown from one characters POV that will have a major impact on other characters, so there is anticipation on how the characters are going to react in that sense as well, and this is what provides most of the book's suspense.

The King's Blood is character building at its finest. The characters are all flawed yet sympathetic in various degrees, so they are all real yet still cause the reader to attach emotionally. For anyone who loves characters, and interactions, and how major events can refine and develop a personality, you are going to absolutely love this book.
Profile Image for Jody .
201 reviews134 followers
May 5, 2016
This was a good follow up to The Dragon's Path. I enjoyed the pace of this book more than the first. The story is developing well, and the characters are starting to take on a life of their own.

Cithrin is striving to prove her worth to the Medean Bank and find her place in the world.

Geder is given a position of power that he doesn’t deserve and not equipped to handle.

Dawson the loyal nobleman trying to keep his country from being torn apart from within.

Marcus begins a journey that borders on the edge of crazy, if not impossible.

We are beginning to see more of Kit’s perspective in this book, along with Clara Kalliam (Dawson’s wife). Kit is an actor hired by Marcus in the first book to act as guard to the caravan he and Cithrin were traveling in. But Kit has his own past that he must now face. I believe these characters will be central to the story moving forward.

The main focus in this book is on Imperial Antea. This is where all the action is happening. It also happens to be where the priests of the Spider Goddess have made their temple. Who are these priests you ask? They are the speakers of thruth….so they say.

This book had a little bit of everything in it: war, rebellion, betrayal, love, hate, suspense, craziness. The story is heading down a dark and dangerous road. I am really anxious to see where it leads.
Profile Image for Emelia .
131 reviews92 followers
December 14, 2017
Pardon me, but bloody hell this is a great series !
I can't put the books down !
RTC when I am done with them all.
On to book 3
Profile Image for Петър Стойков.
Author 2 books269 followers
October 31, 2019
Когато четох първата част, се чудех защо ми е интересна, след като няма кой знае какво действие или персонажи, за които да ти пука особено. Сега разбрах.

Представете си едно дете, което не се вписва добре сред връстниците си. Може би малко пълно, то не си пада по спорта, по големите компании. Другите му се подиграват, защото е свито и интелигентно и му липсва онази агресия и сила на характера, която би му позволила да се наложи сред тях. Детето прекарва по-голямата част от времето си в къщи, където израства сред книгите си и мечтае за фантастични светове.

Звучи ви симпатично? Познато? Колко от нас, четящите (все пак това е сайт за книги) се припознават малко или много с гореописаното? Колко от нас смятат, че това дете ще порасне и стане стойностен човек? Колко от нас СА това дете, станало стойностен човек?

Животът (а особено интернет) изобилства с такива хора и това, което винаги ме поразява (защото и аз бях същия като малък) е тяхното общо и непоклатимо виждане, че някак те са по-достойни от презрените си амбициозни връстници, агресивни, практични, които обичат да са сред хора, простаци, грубияни. Че са по-способни от тях, само да им се даде шанс. Че биха действали и управлявали много по-добре от тях.

Книгата е интересна с това, че показва какво се получава, когато едно такова пораснало начетено дете получи шанс във властта. Показва как управлението изобщо не е такова, каквото си го представят интелигентните и изисква умения, които те не само нямат, ами даже не подозират, че може да им трябват.

Една книга за интелигенцията и мястото й в света, сравнима само може би с https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7...
Profile Image for Lee.
351 reviews192 followers
June 3, 2015
Now that I have finished this story, I have to say that I am a little bit disappointed. We had some character growth in characters like Geder and Cithrin, but that is it. I was expecting a big part of the this novel to focus on the Spider Goddess and her plans to take over the world and the was nothing. Not even a hint of anything new. The story itself carried on where we left off, but in all honesty, it kind of just mosied on down the river, picking up some small insignificant character story arcs to tell, but all in all, when we think about it, we haven't progressed a huge amount with any of the (what I expected to be) main storyline.
It is still a well told story, I really do like the way Abraham crafts his words, he is certainly by no means a lazy writer, but his pace can be a tad slow at times

I know there is another two books to go, so my expectations are much much higher for book 3 now.
Profile Image for idiomatic.
492 reviews16 followers
August 19, 2016
the politics in this book are a shakespeare-history joy, i love cithrin, i love clara, the kalliam marriage makes me want to eat a shoe, i love clara, i adore and highly value the deep contempt dan abraham holds for nerd boys who project onto tyrion, spiders, no-shit pacing, awful people confusing the shit out of each other, honest to god the kalliam marriage, i docked a star because i skimmed the marcus chapters, i added it back because AN ENTIRE SHOE I SWEAR TO GOD

i am so upset. i am so ready to start the next book.
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,151 reviews1,119 followers
February 7, 2017
Another solid entry from Daniel Abraham. It is well paced, the characters have their own distinct voices and are so diverse in their thoughts, but still manage to be unpredictable in their actions when you read about them from another POV.

I see why some people see Geder Palliako as an unbelievable character. I however see him as an intriguing one. He is inherently kind-hearted but also prone to weird cruel gestures. He is very smart but being inexperienced he is also susceptible to manipulate. It makes a contradictive character, yet I find myself in waiting for his POV the most.

I am still making up my mind on Cithrin, another puzzling character. I love her calculating and precise mannerism, yet also bothered with her being in almost every center of actions (or planning of actions, as a matter of fact). Luck? Fate? Merit-based? All of them? I get a sense of plot-device thing lurking in the corner. Anyway, not too annoying. For now.

The other POVs, Dawson, Marcus and Clara and Kit - well, suffice to say they are tragic, tragic characters. I surely going to miss

Onwards to Book 3 and more long nights!
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