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Long Price Quartet #1

A Shadow in Summer

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The city-state of Saraykeht dominates the Summer Cities. Its wealth is beyond measure; its port is open to all the merchants of the world, and its ruler, the Khai Saraykeht, commands forces to rival the Gods. Commerce and trade fill the streets with a hundred languages, and the coffers of the wealthy with jewels and gold. Any desire, however exotic or base, can be satisfied in its soft quarter. Blissfully ignorant of the forces that fuel their prosperity, the people live and work secure in the knowledge that their city is a bastion of progress in a harsh world. It would be a tragedy if it fell.

Saraykeht is poised on the knife-edge of disaster.

At the heart of the city's influence are the poet-sorcerer Heshai and the captive spirit, Seedless, whom he controls. For all his power, Heshai is weak, haunted by memories of shame and humiliation. A man faced with constant reminders of his responsibilities and his failures, he is the linchpin and the most vulnerable point in Saraykeht's greatness.

Far to the west, the armies of Galt have conquered many lands. To take Saraykeht, they must first destroy the trade upon which its prosperity is based. Marchat Wilsin, head of Galt's trading house in the city, is planning a terrible crime against Heshai and Seedless. If he succeeds, Saraykeht will fall.

Amat, House Wilsin's business manager, is a woman who rose from the slums to wield the power that Marchat Wilsin would use to destroy her city. Through accidents of fate and circumstance Amat, her apprentice Liat, and two young men from the farthest reaches of their society stand alone against the dangers that threaten the city.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published March 7, 2006

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About the author

Daniel Abraham

243 books2,749 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 909 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
673 reviews42.7k followers
November 4, 2018
(I read this in Shadow and Betrayal omnibus.)

3.5/5 Stars

A highly original debut and a good start to a quartet.

A Shadow in Summer is Daniel Abraham’s debut and the first book in the Long Price Quartet series. After finishing this book, I have to say that I’m deeply impressed by its originality. There is a lot of subtlety that goes into the book here, Abraham also has created a low fantasy series that’s influenced heavily by Eastern culture especially with the way he implemented poses in the characters daily activities.

However, the average rating on Goodreads speaks for itself already, this is not a book that most readers will enjoy. There aren’t any mythical beings (except for one, I guess), this book contained zero actions, literally zero actions throughout the whole book because the plot revolves heavily around politics, the pacing of the book also moved at an extremely slow pace and I, who loved slow paced books, found it was too slow at times. That said, Abraham’s characters are multi-layered, the engaging yet beautiful prose and the world-building was also excellent. These three factors were very important in making me invested in the book and yes, I am really invested to continue. Not to mention, the concept of andat was incredibly interesting and I can’t wait to see what the series has to offer on this.

“Possibility is a wide field, dear. ”Can't" is a word for small imaginations.”

It’s quite a short book and in my opinion, Abraham has created something super unique in the market with this book and I will continue to the sequel. From the first book alone, I can conclude that A Shadow in Summer is a totally foundational book, making this series a slow burn series; I envision this is also one of those series that only gets better with each installment and I'm going to find out about it immediately.

You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
724 reviews1,202 followers
January 15, 2019
Via Book Reviews by Niki Hawkes at www.nikihawkes.com

I will be the first one to admit that the overview sounds a little boring and convoluted. The first time I picked it up in a bookstore, I almost disregarded it right away and put it back on the shelf. The reading gods must have been looking out for me that day because for one reason or another I cracked it open to read the first page… And didn’t stop for thirty minutes. It was fascinating and engaging – starting out by introducing a complex communication system that involves intricate hand gestures that conveys everything from emotion to social status. And you know what? It only got better! Abraham then went on to developed a mind – blowing magic system that was as dangerous as it was beautiful. These elements combined with an unforgettable writing style made for one of the most original stories I have ever read!

Both the communication and magic systems went a long way to build this world, but Abraham expanded on it anyway and created a stunning city that I can still remember vividly years later. Top that off with an incredible cast of characters (who will have you laughing and crying with them by the time the series ends) and you have one of the most memorable stories on the market. All of the characters were amazing and they only got better with each book.

I loved every minute, and I’ll say it again: this was easily one of the best series I’ve ever read. I will definitely be reading it again and will DEFINITELY be buying anything else this author publishes (be on the lookout for my review of The Dragon’s Path – the first book in Abraham’s latest series – hitting the blog sometime next month). Outstanding!

Recommendations: If you have read all the staples, from Robert Jordan to Brandon Sanderson, and are looking for your next great series, this is definitely the author for you! I recommend him as often as I can because of how profoundly his work affected me. Fantasy fans out there – this is a must-read!
Profile Image for Shannon.
891 reviews224 followers
March 18, 2014
When you've read fantasy for as long as I have you get tired of the fact that 90% of fantasy tales revolved around a dumb farm boy who is the missing heir to the kingdom or to long gone magical powers, he has a good heart but can't seem to get the girl, he has to leave home and help the world/nation/kingdom against some Dark Lord, who tends to be archetype and has some old mentor who gives him the sword/magical talisman to win and kick the beejesus out of the Dark Lord. Oh, and then he gets the girl usually or finds someone better than the girl because the girl wasn't a very nice person. Heh.

Back then there weren't too many variations on this tale unless you wanted to read Michael Moorcock or maybe H.P. Lovecraft, though, he's more horror than fantasy.

Nowadays, fantasy is beginning to shift to grittier/realistic tales; George R.R. Martin being at the forefront. So, now, it isn't about such tales so much and if it is the dumb farm boy might not be such a nice guy or he may lose against the enemy. Maybe, unlike traditional fantasy, someone can wear black and not be a bad person.

So, saying all that for those who have walked with the fantasy genre as long as I have, we finally get to encounter a novel that takes another spin.

A SHADOW IN SUMMER has a distinctive Asian flair to it with almost no focus on the usual medieval European setting. Moreover, there isn't some Dark Lord to defeat.

The tale focuses on politics between various factions within the city of all cities. This city has gained the powers of a powerful spirit that has the ability to give the city a major up in the cotton trade by taking the seed out of cotton plants, thus, giving them a huge advantage upon other cities that need to hand pick the seeds out of each cotton bushel.

Naturally, other cities, most notably one similar to a European one, wants to free that spirit or control that spirit so that they can then monopolize the cotton trade.

So the whole story is about various groups either trying to do this or about other people investigating this plot, not quite realizing the full details until later.

One of the world details I liked about this world and that is based on historical facts is that the people communicate very much in body language rather than words so people will be talking and then take on a pose of apology, love, joy, anger or conciliation. It's definitely a nice touch.

So read this book if you like intrigue, court politics and strong characters, who are not the usual archetypes and are actually doing something besides running the from the minions of the Dark Lord.

Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews824 followers
December 5, 2018
’And love is more important than justice,’ Seedless said.
‘Sometimes. Yes.’
Seedless smiled and nodded.
‘What a terrible thought,’ he said. ‘That love and injustice should be married.’

The main merit of A Shadow in Summer lies in how its Author bound ideas into words and then formed them into a language comprehensible for us, ordinary human beings. As to the lives these ideas led, the choices they made, the roads they had taken and the tales that could be told about it - that is altogether a different matter.

Abraham’s worldbuilding ideas take us to the world where sophisticated and developed albeit waning civilisation of the East struggles for power with quite primitive and brutish ascendant culture stylised in the western manner. The Summer Cities of the Khainate live off on the scraps of an imperium gone by. They are still resplendent, still rich beyond measure, overflowing with goods and pleasures; each of them independent and yet interdependent - immersed in the ebbs and flows of international trade. Arrogant yet secure in their frivolities by the powers wielded by poets. For you see, only the poet is able to grasp and then hold the andat.

What is the andat? Andat are like thoughts made real, ideas tamed and given human shape, thoughts translated by the poet into a form that includes volition, more difficult to hold each time they escape. Inevitably, the more scarce they become, the greater treasure they were. Especially that when faced with the raw but crude power of other nations, the cities of the East had the andat as their ultimate and only weapons.

“I am a slave, my dear. The slave you hope to own.”

I admit, I thought the idea of the andat ingenious in its simplicity. But Mr Abraham surpassed all my expectations when like a fine wordsmith, he wrought a form for his idea and then breathed life into it creating Seedless. Seedless, neither the slave nor a puppet and a little bit of both, simultaneously compassionate god and malefic prankster, neither a monster nor a beast and yet so very elemental and inhuman, is a character so total that he could wander through the pages of Dostoyevsky or Mann, if any of them ever bothered to write fantasy, and never would be out of place.

‘I think we’re past things like forgiveness,’ she said. ‘We’re the servants of what we have to do.’

This is so precisely because characterisation is the second pillar elevating A Shadow in the Summer above the average. It is not merely the gallimaufry of protagonists. The art lies in how with each word they gain depth and colour, how the cardboard figures absorb conventional tropes and fold them into intricate shapes. This book is like a human origami.

You know I look askance at cliches. But here cliches flare with new life; the coming-to-age, the star-crossed lovers, the late lovers, the love triangle, the revenge, the from wares to whores (aka. the bordello tycoon trope), the master-apprentice, the younger son - you will find them all in this novel. But don’t greet them like old friends - they will be as surprising as they are disturbing and inconvenient. Each of the protagonists stumbles upon the very bedrocks of their own personalities and things that render them unique prove to be both a blessing and a curse. This was the main reason why I couldn’t fully connect with any of the heroes and heroines. They were endearing and annoying at once. Too much like the living people, like us: hard to classify, impossible to pigeonhole. None of them has come out whole from the adventure, none emerged strengthened and refined. Not something you usually get in fantasy, more frequently these types of personal stories are found among the classic novels.

“You aren’t a killer. I’m a poet. If we’re going to stop this thing, one of us has to change.”

Among all the characters Amat definitely stands out. It might be that I have a soft spot for elder women in a genre conquered by hordes of cocky adolescents. More probably though, it is how masterfully her arc was written; she reminds me Bujold's characters from the World of the Five Gods. In a word where action only complements a word and the form it has taken, she is a shining supernova.

I really loved how in this book language is more than words. The protagonists communicate via countless poses and each message has a double, sometimes even triple meaning. Speaking is never reduced to merely talking: “He answered with a pose so gentle and complex - thankfulness, requesting patience, expressing affection - that it neared poetry.” I was taking poses as I read on! I also appreciated how the tale gives a laudation of conceived life, regardless of its form and stage.

What are the weaknesses then, you ask? While the personal stories and arc are superb, the overall plot is convoluted and a bit artificial. The personal stories touch but do not meet head-on. They tangle, but the pattern they form is haphazard, inchoate and disjointed. Furthermore, the whole stratagem develops very slowly and not without bizarre hurdles. The balance between what happens, the meanings the events are supposed to carry and then the actual weight of the narrative lacks equilibrium.

Not deeply enough nuanced tension between the lack of free will and the lack of freedom, the general nature of the andat versus the specificity of a flawed design, inconclusive character development of the supposedly main hero built on a twisted sense of loyalty and justice, especially when juxtaposed with his initial rejection of a system that demanded cruelty from him up to the breakup point and lauded him for the breaking - all this together meant that when I finished the book and I was both satisfied and dissatisfied, very disturbed and unsure what to make of the whole story.

I was torn and conflicted in my rating between 3 and 4 stars, but taking into consideration the avalanche of reflections this book has awakened in me, I give it a benefit of depth and raise my rating. A Shadow in Summer is definitely worthy of your attention. However, you need to judge very carefully if the novel is actually for you as it does not cater to all the customary needs of an average fantasy reader. Despite its shortages, I am taking a pose of invitation and encouragement.

Bonus: Read Q&A with Daniel Abraham on Fantasy Buddy Reads.

Also in the series:

2. A Betrayal in Winter ✮✮✮✮✮
3. An Autumn War ✮✮✮✮
4. The Price of Spring ✮✮✮
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
February 9, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,196 reviews2,583 followers
February 21, 2018
*** 4.25 ***

A buddy Read with the FBR Group! Because we love originality!

And this is exactly what this book offered - originality and plenty of it! I had no idea what to expect, but I was blown away by how different and complex the plot of this fascinating story offers. If you are expecting a traditional Fantasy with some political jostling in it, you have the wrong book. This is not at all in the realm of the Fantasy I have known up to now. Yes, we have a world of imagination, a city-state made strong by flourishing trade, while the trade itself is supported by the poet-sorcerers and their bonded spirit-slaves. The sorcerers are called poets, because they form the physical representation of an idea and give it to a spirit called Andat, the boundaries of whom are given by how precise the poem and the character of the poet craft it. It is definitely a double-edged sward, since even if the poet believes to have crafted a spirit with only positive and perfect virtues, if there is pain, envy, hatred, or any other such negative intent in the heart of the creator and it bleeds into the poem, something very dangerous comes through into the spirit. Such is the case with Seedless. He is and Andat, given shape and bonded by the poet Heshai, who feels inferior and holds a lot of hatred and negativity in his heart, but wanted to give shape to perfection in Seedless, the way he thought perfection should be. However, completely without meaning it, Heshai infused Seedless with all of his hate and negativity as well, so he is so much evil, bundled up in a perfect physical form.

"...“Sometimes the hand pulls the puppet, sometimes the puppet pulls the hand, but the string runs both ways.”..."

Such is the case that the city-state of Saraykeht, the most powerful city among the Summer Cities, counts on its poets and the Andats they wield for their crops to be abundant and plenty and for the health of the state to be in balance. No one could foresee an Andat hating its bonds and bondage so much, that is willing to kill itself by destroying the poet and the well-being of the city it was supposed to protect and favor. And it all starts rolling with a forced abortion of a baby who's mother had no idea of the evil about to be perpetuated on her.

"...“To lose everything is not the worst can happen."
"It's starting again, from nothing, with nothing," Otah said.
"Is exactly this," Maj agreed, then a moment later. "Starting again, and doing better.” ..."

The government of Galt is set on destroying and taking over Saraykeht. Marchat Wilsin is the head of a Galt trading house and Amat, a woman in her fifties with a bad hip and sharp wit is House Wilsin's business manager. Marchat Wilsin is knees deep together with Seedless in the plot to take down the city, no matter the means. Shen Amat finds out, she decides to expose them and slowly gathers information. Just as involved, although unknowingly and unwittingly, are the student poet Maati, the laborer young man Itani (also known as Otah), and his lover, Amat's apprentice Liat, my least favorite character of them all. They all have a place in the intricacies of a story woven from political intrigues, power struggles and machinations, no battles or sword-fights involved at all. For a book having no action sequences and full of just character building and plotting, this was one of the most enthralling books I have read in a while. I was not bored even for a second. And the richness of the world and characters was beautiful and varied. I would recommend this to all who appreciate just plain good writing!!! Give it a try!

"...“I'm going to sleep. Tomorrow can't be worse than today was." "Possibility is a wide field, dear. Can't is a word for small imaginations.” ..."

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and may you always find what you Need in the pages of a Good Book!!!
Profile Image for Jake Bishop.
279 reviews328 followers
December 3, 2022
There was indeed a Shadow in Summer.

From what I had been told, I was expecting this to be more setup heavy, but I actually thought the plot, and political scheming was quite good. I find the reception I see for this book to be kind of weird, as it has a low goodreads rating, with a really dedicated fanbase(half of which is probably just Allen's bot accounts). Because I felt like this was pretty solid across the board.

The scheming and plot was consistently paced, involved characters acting who they were, and I didn't notice any glaring leaps of logic.

The prose was clearly on the side of being good, while not getting in the way. Probably fits in with 80% of authors I read, where it is neither good, nor bad enough to significantly effect my enjoyment, but clearly on the good side of that.

The setting was really well done, very very little info dumping, and it did an excellent job of communicating information naturally. In a larger world this may have led to confusion, but this was a pretty zoomed in book, without too much stuff to remember.
The world was also pretty interesting, it had cultural aspects that changed how people interacted with each other, as body language plays a much larger role towards communication than it does in english. If I am nitpicking, I will say that it is kind of hard to picture a lot of interactions, because I have no idea what "Matti took a pose of confirmation" looks like. But also if someone stopped and explained what those looked like, that would feel clunky, because why are they explaining something they know.

Also, can these people please invent clocks, measuring the distance the sun has traveled using your hand is not effective. What do you do if you need to know what time it is at night? What if you have giant or tiny hands. (this is not a real criticism, but if someone shows up for something at the wrong time because of this in a future book, I will give them a bonus point)

Really folks, get some water that flows at a constant rate, measure how much flows in 1 day, and then use that as your baseline.

Also the characters were well done, all internally conflicted in a unique, and human way, with evolving dynamics between each other throughout the book.

Also from what I have heard this book was doing a lot of setup, which is a good sign, because it didn't feel like it to me, and I always like it when authors are able to set things up, without me noticing that they are being setup.

Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews224 followers
March 21, 2017
This was part of a group read and I liked it best of everybody reading the book. Which is odd because I think I'm the first one to complain when Fantasy or Sci-Fi books don't have any action and move slow. Others thought that of this book but it wasn't that way for me. There's just something about DA's writing style where both the characters and world are so descriptive. The emotions and interactions come off the page in HD where another author trying for the same is a black and white 9' built in the 70's.

Profile Image for Lea.
458 reviews72 followers
September 3, 2017
DNF @ 20%. I think I gave this book a fair shot, 20% is quite a long way to read and still be completely bored by the characters, world and plot.

One thing that was really baffling and continually took me out of the book was the way the characters kept posing during conversations. It was soooo ridiculous, there wasn't a single dialogue that didn't involve at least ten different poses. They started as "a pose of greeting" or a "pose of farewell", which I can deal with, but soon the characters were doing "a pose of gratitude to one's teacher", "a pose of gentle mockery", "a pose of acknowledgement that held the nuance of a confession of failure", "a pose of acknowledgement appropriate for a student to a teacher", "a pose that was a request for clarification and a mourning both"... I mean, come on!! And none of these poses were explained, so I basically just pictured the characters going like this all the time:

Profile Image for Eh?Eh!.
367 reviews4 followers
April 5, 2011
The review that hooked me: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
The review that should've hooked me much earlier: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

I don't think beginning this series with a marathon reading session while sick was the best approach, since fevers make me to skim faster and I missed some intricacies. Illness also makes me so lazy, such that I was unwilling to move even though I'd hunched down into a painful sitting/crouching/fetal position. Despite that (and despite the visual trumpet-blare of the pompous title fonts, and my current aversion to epics) this was an incredible fantasy story. I skipped ahead and around to follow a character's storyline, just because it was so fascinating. I just finished stumbling through the last bits of the 4 books and I'm going to have to get over my epic aversion to re-read this all properly someday. I would give this series more than 4 stars, a little less than 5 stars.

10 generations ago (which isn't actually all that long, is it? a few hundred years?) an empire fell and now its remnants, called the Summer Cities, still dominate the world with its wealth, based on a fraction of the power it once had. This power comes from control of creatures called andats, 'ideas given volition' is the description from the book I think, that are created by poets; not those laureates who speak at inaugurations or publish slim volumes or, ahem, rhyme stuff ("Stop it! I mean it!" "Would anybody like a peanut?" – that's my kind of poetry), but scholars who strive to completely capture a concept with a special grammar meant for this purpose and hold it in their minds, bending it to their will...magic. The andat takes on the form and personality imagined by the poet, an embodiment of the creator's mind. Unfortunately, once caught and lost, the exact same idea can't be recaptured. If you try, you die. The grammar has to be adjusted to describe it differently if possible; as the years go on, it becomes impossible to find a unique description and the andat, the idea, has to be abandoned. It's possible to bestow an andat upon another person, another poet. Each of the cities has its own poet, each andat's power used to boost the particular trade that is the basis of each city's economy.

The Summer Cities culture is obviously drawn from Asia, with the almond eyes and teahouses, but how beautiful the added touches are! Letters having edges sewn with silk thread are tucked into sleeves; firekeepers maintain braziers along major thoroughfares during cold months; the language consists of as many gestures as words; the suffix -kvo is used for teachers, -cha for respect, and -kya for great affection – grace notes in this wicked awesome story. And man, can this author write. Too many lines that made me pause to appreciate, even in a feverish haze. I wish I had the head to remember quotes to share them, but all I remember is the lift that comes from knowing something is very good.

This first book introduces the world (building it, hah). It begins at the poet school where we learn how they attempt to select the right people to potentially wield andats. Then fast-forward to a young poet sent to one of the cities to be ready to take on the residing poet's andat when the time comes. A plot to destroy the current poet is revealed to be just a feeler. Threading around the plot are all the human relations that complicate everything. There is the expected love triangle, whatever, but better is the delicate hum of Marchat and Amat. Wonderful and quietly sad. Anyway, the feeler plot felt flabby and small until it swelled to include nations and then gut-punches a reader with a series of, uh, punches. In the gut. That final sentence, wow. It's like the whole book was an orchestra just before a performance, sawing bows and turning knobs, an oddly harmonious dissonance (heh, I know, dumb, but when the strings are tuning and don't quite match but all sound like a piece of silk running up your back...that!), and at the last sentence the conductor dramatically raises his baton....
Profile Image for Lema.
191 reviews82 followers
January 3, 2018
[4.. maybe a 3.75 stars]

So if I need to describe this first book in 2 words I would say: Original and Clinical
Original, because let's be honest it's nothing like other fantasy novels I've read, the magic system is about capturing "ideas" into humanoid forms called "Andat" and control them to do the bidding of the castor, however these forms develop somewhat human traits and emotions as well, cue instant interesting and favorite character!

The world building is also very engaging with a lot of oriental and Asian influences (can we take a second to appreciate those beautiful covers?! Kudos to Stephanie Martiniere).

The plot is politics and economy-heavy which and completely action-free, which you don't see much of, if ever, in fantasy. This could be a big hit or miss for readers as the plot can be very slow-paced at times (cue audiobook to speed things up!), I won't call it slow-burn for now because that implies that they are great things to happen and I don't know that yet. However, this series seems like one that only gets better and better with each book, so look forward for 3 more reviews!

Why clinical? Well you'd think the slow-nothing-is-happening pace is the reason of the low-ish rating I gave, I actually like well done slow-burn books *cough*RobinHobb*cough*. This one though was kind of a miss regarding the presentation of the characters. Don't get me wrong they are all interesting and engaging to read about, Otah and Seedless are my absolute favorite, Amat is a middle aged woman who is a BAMF that gets shit done and Maati is a precious child that you want to smack every once in a while and hug the rest of the time, Liat can go expire in a ditch for all I care but she is a very realistic 17 years old girl. Not to mention a plethora of other rich charaters
So all of the above had great distinct characterization, but I just wasn't attached to any of them. We would get description of all these horrible things that happened to them and I'm like too bad bro..
So that was a bit disappointing for someone like me who likes to get destroyed and left traumatized after finishing a book..

So all in all, I recommend this book for someone who is bored with all the mainstream fantasy and would like to experience something new. I am DEFINITELY going to continue with the series because ANDATS! and because I really really liked the world and I am hopefully that my attachment issues with the characters will improve as the series advances.

Buddy Read with my best-book-friend Petrik who always tries to keep me sane when I’m in full geek-out mode :’D
Profile Image for Sarah  Aubert .
458 reviews344 followers
November 23, 2021
4.5 Stars.

A unique and compelling book that opens a fantasy series I am very much looking forward to continuing. A Shadow in Summer is an intimate, political, and character-driven fantasy novel. Abraham's fastidious worldbuilding and complex use of language brings to life a story that feels different from anything I've read before. I could tell, about five chapters in, that this is a series that is going to hurt - and one that is only going to improve with the telling. I am forcing myself to slow down and not binge, because I think this is a story that demands reflection, and one I intend to savour!
Profile Image for Emelia .
131 reviews92 followers
March 23, 2018
RTC after I finish the series.....It was a bit difficult in the beginning of the book but then it grabs you and keeps you up til 3am. Not that I did ;)
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
June 25, 2010
4.0 to 4.5 stars. A very impressive debut novel. While very light on fantasy elements (think George R. R. Martin and the Song of Fire and Ice), the one major fantasy component is original and simply superb. That idea is that "poets" create and bind ideas made flesh and control them in the use of commerce and war. I was really impressed. This, along with a well developed world and a great story make this a strongly recommended book.
Profile Image for David Sven.
288 reviews446 followers
May 25, 2015
I enjoyed this. Not bad at all for a debut novel.

It's a low magic fantasy. Political/industrial intrigue rather than knights and dragons.

I like the city of Saraykeht and the almost oriental feel to the main culture. The main language is comprised of poses and gestures that accompany words similar to the Adem hand gestures in The Wise Man's Fear.

The central concept of poet's capturing ideas and then imbuing them with volition creating an enslaved god (andats) was interesting. You would think this would make poet's extremely powerful but Abraham avoids the deus ex-machina by placing us in an Empire that has fallen because of the mutual destruction of poets wielding these andats against each other. And andats are not that easy to create anymore and few are actually useful enough to tip the balance of power.

But we do have at least one andat that has made the city state of Saraykeht virtually immune from war and with a major trade advantage. The andat "Seedless" has the unique ability of removing seeds from cotton en masse. What the cotton picking good is that for? I know you're asking. Well it's pretty darn good when nobody has to pick out the seeds themselves if they bring them to you - and oh, while they are there they may as well just deal with you for all their cotton trading and processing - or something like that. It's a major trade advantage according to cotton seed experts of the fantasy realm - I'm sure there's a thesis in it for somebody. Whatever, Daniel Abraham sells it well. Oh, the other thing one might use "Seedless" for is magically evacuating the wombs of all women in a nation - or destroying all their crops by vanishing their seeds overnight. So you don't want to mess with the andat.

You've probably already spotted the downside from this review. What's so interesting about cotton? Where is the badass in this book? Well, there's different kinds of badassery. Take one of the main characters, Amat. She is badass - in a ruthless political sort of way. She left me saying "Amat - you are badass - and you don't need kung fu."

Still I wouldn't have minded a little kung fu.

I'll definitely be continuing on with book 2 in the series. I'm giving this one...

3.75 stars.

Profile Image for Max.
Author 131 books2,159 followers
February 11, 2018
Truly impressive. So many novels in genre are less novels than they are the workings out of a plot—but that's not the case here. The characters breathe, and their moral and personal and emotional concerns are at least as vital as the clockwork of cause and effect. This actually made it a bit tricky for me to orient for the first couple chapters (after that phenomenal prologue). I kept waiting for the adventure hook, the mystery prompt, the grand doom foretold, and when one didn't come I felt thrilled in the way you do when lost in familiar woods. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Veronica .
744 reviews177 followers
February 14, 2018
I really liked the writing and the concept of "poets" giving literal shape and form to ideas. The characterization was also pretty good for most of the characters. I wasn't emotionally satisfied with the ending but it wasn't enough to put me off from reading more in the series.
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books694 followers
April 19, 2020
What an uneven read! I was not impressed with the beginning, but then the idea of the magic drew me in, and then the plots grabbed me, and then it got gross and boring and then I fell in love with one of the characters, and then the author threw that all away.

Weird, but not in a bad way I guess?

CONTENT WARNINGS: (a list of topics):

Things that were enjoyable:

-Heshai. Poor, flawed, sweet Heshai.

-The magic. Poetry as magic was neat! I wish they'd done more with it than they had.

-Amat. A character with a disability who is strong, powerful, and desirable! That was very cool to see.

Things that threw me off:

-The love triangle. Ugh. Do I have to say more? I don't like romances. I don't like them in the rain, I don't like them on a plane. I don't like it when there's two, adding more just makes me blue. I don't like romance, Sam-I-Am. And this was a weird 2.5 romances.

-The poses. Okay, a pose for greeting, a pose for strength, a pose for apology...things that are nonverbal big ideas, I could see that working into a normal language. But to have a formal verbal language, a common verbal language, nuance in those languages, honorifics based on personal relationships, AND formal, informal, familiar, polite, rude, clumsy, and a myriad of other expressions of body signs is...ludicrous. Also I felt like I was in Madonna's vogue, everyone had to strike a pose every time they entered a room. Interesting thought, but not a great book feature.

-The plot. I...don't know why people would care? It was an evil idea, yes, but grand scheme of things, I wasn't sold that it would achieve the ends anyone seemed to think it would.

-And then it didn't matter anyways. I guess the author agreed with me about the plot because he took the much more straight-forward approach at the very end anyways lol.

-Repetitive phrases. There were a lot of words the author used way too much. I think the word "stone" showed up metaphorically 4 times in 2 minutes. "His eyes were like black stones and he gazed on her. Under that gaze she felt a stone grow in her stomach...'be like stone, she thought, do not regret this.'" and so on.

-Not enough magic. The WHOLE premise of this book is about becoming someone who can control a sort of magic. And we see one aspect of that happen twice. I really wanted more focus on what this would mean.

-Inorganic characters. Nope. Didn't buy 'em. Well, aside from Amat and Heshai. I liked them.

Not sure if I'll continue. It was fine, I'm led to believe they'll all be up to more shenanigans, I just don't know if I care what they are.
Profile Image for Rob.
848 reviews535 followers
August 9, 2016
Executive Summary: This pretty much seals it, I apparently really enjoy everything Mr. Abraham writes. This series likely won't be for everyone though.

Audio book: The sad truth is I consume far more books in audio these days than in text. The reviews of this series in audio has been pretty mixed towards negative, so I was leary to give it a shot.

I'll say that for me Neil Shah, was an alright narrator. He actually reads really well, and does a variety of voices. Some of them just annoyed me. Especially Seedless.

For the most part though, I didn't find myself distracted by the narration, so while this isn't a series I'd call a must listen, I think most people should find doing it in audio a viable option.

Full Review
I've been planning to check out this series for a bit now. After how much I loved Nemesis Games and The Spider's War delayed to next year, this seemed like the perfect time.

Often times, the problem I have with reading an older series after reading an author's later work is the quality may seem lackluster by comparison. While I probably enjoy Dagger & Coin more, I still found this to be quite good.

Since I'm doing this in audio, I struggled badly with the names though. Probably worse than usual. I still really don't know any of the character's names. I wish every audiobook came with a list of character names and their spellings. It would make both my reading and my review writing far easier.

Much like Dagger & Coin, this is pretty much a low fantasy series. There is almost no magic to speak of. One of the characters, Seedless, is a magical construct called an Andat who is a conduit for magic of a practicer who is referred to as a poet. You don't really see much of the magic, and it's not really explained. How exactly the poets are able to do anything isn't clear. It seems to be a struggle of wills with the andat they control.

Mr. Abraham likes focusing on the politics of his fictitious worlds, and this is no different. He has built a world where much of one's emotions and dilogue is actually done through a series of complex hand gestures. It's a society that relies of the power of the poets and condones fratricide among the sons of the rulers as a means of succession.

Young sons are often relegated off to the school that is responsible for cultivating the next generation of poets to save them from being murdered. So you'll never guess who are protagonist it? You guessed it, he's a younger son of one of the city rulers. Go figure.

Overall I found both the world building and the characters to be pretty good/memorable, though less so than his other series. It's going to be hard for me to talk about the characters by name though, since I couldn't tell you what any of them are. I think all the main characters offered depth where no one really felt good or evil. They are just people with desires and faults trying to do what they feel they must for a variety of reasons: values, outside pressures, self interest, fear, etc. I like that sort of characterization.

My favorite character is probably the older 50-something overseer. I wish more SFF novels did this. Abraham seems to have at least one of them in all of his series I've read, and they've all been great. While this one is no Avasarala or even Clara, she is still pretty memorable. Now if only I could tell you her name. :(

The pacing is also a bit slower, especially coming from one of his Expanse books. I don't think it's that much slower than Dagger & Coin.

This pacing, and the general lack of action and fighting may turn some fantasy fans away. If you're looking for military battles, and sword wielding adventurers, you've come to the wrong place.

I however seem to enjoy the more political fantasy novels, so the pacing was never an issue for me. I jumped right into book 2, and will likely finish this whole series pretty quickly.
Profile Image for Anirudh .
750 reviews
February 4, 2017
There are so many authors who fail to present a world which is unique and different from the hundreds of worlds that exist in fantasy. They Fail.

Daniel Abraham succeeds to make his world different. Unfortunately, different does not always mean better.

Plot Well, there isn't any. I am greatly surprised how this became a quartet when there was no story to be told beyond ten pages in the first book. The issue I had with this book is that it never pursues any concept faithfully. It starts off as a philosophical take on life and fails to maintain that. Suddenly we are told that the whole plot is about trading rivalries and despite this there is really nothing much about trade except vague paragraphs about cotton being shipped and weavers and merchant houses. This part was particularly disappointing. It neither explores the philosophical storyline of the poet nor the practical story line of Amat. I don't know why the author chose to write a mere 300 page fantasy book and not reallly say anything.

Characters There are really no noteworthy characters in this book. The seedless was one character which really had potential but it as once again left unexplored.

Magic Magic is one thing that is definitely unique in this series. But as much as I hate to repeat myself, It has been left unexplored. The concept of seedless is interesting and quite innovative. So many potential uses. Perhaps the author has left the exploration to the next books. But there is really no reason given to the reader to progress any further

Posture This I think deserves special mention. It is a good effort. I am not sure if it is part of an actual culture. But I feel writing is not a suitable medium to portray this. For eg, "I am sorry" She took a posture of apology Serves no purpose. The reader already knows what she said. On the other hand just saying what posture everyone took each time just makes it look silly.
This is made worse by making it more complicated. She took a posture of obedience but with a hint of defiance. Now since no posture is explained I could not care less what posture they took every second sentence. Again, a nice touch but perhaps more suitable for a visual audience.

Narration The author jumps from character to character without any real flow. We see a change in pov like clockwork and you never feel like they live in the same world and there is some kind of synergy. Add that with no plot and very forgettable characters gives you a book not worth reading.

I am surprised to see so many people have liked this style of writing. Unfortunately I am not one of them.

Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
August 10, 2011
I picked up this book because of the laudatory blurbs from both George R.R. Martin and Connie Willis.
I know Abraham has co-written with Martin before; although this is his first solo novel, it doesn't read like a first effort in any way - it's definitely engaging, above-average fantasy.
The world is a somewhat familiar fantasy scenario with an Asian-ish flavor, but not so much so that it doesn't feel interesting and original. It's set in a kingdom whose power rests on the andat - powerful beings in human form who are concepts incarnate - trapped/created by 'poets.' These poet/magicians are like monks, and have to go through a rigorous training program which few succeed in.
The plot involves a conspiracy which may be rooted in a personal desire for revenge, but entwines business and politics as multiple layers are revealed. Along the way there are twists and turns, a love triangle, and more. For me, though, the star of the show was the character Amat - an older woman, an accountant. Not your usual hero (or anti-hero), but she was a compelling, complex person.
Good characterization and interesting worldbuilding together mean I'll definitely have my eye out for more of Abraham's work.
Profile Image for Whitaker.
294 reviews502 followers
August 12, 2016

I’ll admit it, I struggled with this work and what to think of it. The first two books in the quartet I really enjoyed. The second two books irritated the hell out of me.

Nevertheless, as much as I was irritated, I half suspect that that was Abraham’s intention. At the bare minimum, Abraham seems determined to leave the reader struggling with the question of right and wrong. In a way, the entire work is like a Michael J Sandel course: you’re constantly confronted by the philosophical question, “What is justice?”

It’s a remarkable fantasy work that does that, and to Abraham’s credit, he never chooses sides. In the tangled scenarios that he paints, there are no good solutions, just different ones. And which one you prefer says more about you than about the actual rightness of the decision made.

Typically, I love books that do that, and Abraham handles the theme very well. No one character is presented as being totally bad. People who do bad things do so with perfectly sound reasons. More importantly, none of them think of themselves as evil. So why was I so irritated? Well, I’ll get to that later.

First off, though, I have to say that if you are a reader of fantasy, you should get out there and get this work if you haven’t already. It’s original in many ways, not least the reason I gave above.

Abraham’s work is the first I’ve read in the fantasy genre which does not mourn the loss of magic. It actually celebrates it. That is remarkable given how many fantasy works deal in the overused trope of the grevious loss of magic fading from the world. It’s not something that strikes you when you read the book; Abraham is so matter of fact about it that you barely notice it. It helps, of course, that his system of magic is far from the one that typifies most fantasy blockbusters.

Another key feature of the work is the amount of time that passes between volumes. Each book picks up some 10 to 15 years after the events of the previous book. This is all too rare, but reflects how things would work in real life. Things happen, people react. The repercussions of the event are immediate and also ripple out far beyond the immediate moment.

This observation, of course, is at the heart of the work and the reason for its title, “The Long Price Quartet”. We see played out over the span of 80 years the results of a seemingly small decision made by a young boy in a garden. Many of the decisions—large and small—made by various characters are picked up again later as their unanticipated effects play out. All of these interweave to build the story and the characters and endows them with a heft and solidity rarely encountered in fantasy novels.

Abraham, the sneaky bastard, also does something that I’ve not notice anyone pick up on yet. Of course, it might all be in my imagination, so take this with a large ladle of salt. But did anyone else think that the book was a subtle comment on American power and the war in Iraq? After all, we also have here a nation that invades another to get rid of its weapons of mass destruction.

That the effect of the andat was to have, in the past, turned fertile country into an unlivable waste land of mutant creatures hints at this link, . Both bring to mind the effect of nuclear weapons and radiation. Another link is the fracticide involved in choosing a new Khai which recalls the Ottoman Empire. Add to that the central importance of the Poets among the Utkahiem, which harks to the importance of poets in Persia. Altogether, these elements brought to mind (well, mine at least) the US invasion of Iraq and its current troubles with Iran.

Of course, Abraham does not write a simple one-on-one metaphor. Nothing as clumsy as that. Here the nation that is invaded is the most powerful nation in the world. However, that it has not been the aggressor does raise the very pointed question: Are you entitled to attack a country simply because you fear that it and its might might one day be used to destructive ends? Are you entitled to kill men, women, and children to ensure that this does not happen, especially if the country has not and has given no indication of being an aggresor? Is it less justifiable if that end result will only last several generations and is not permanent?

Having set out what made the work so good, I must now get to what irritated me about it. The irritation was so great that I had a very very hard time finishing the entire quartet. And now, look away, gentle reader if you don’t like spoilers.

The ending of the work was a marvel. Given the prominence given to steam engines at the end, I could not help but think of how our age of steam eventually ended with the age of nuclear power. The Galts and Utkhaiem might well find that they bottled one genie only to have unleashed something far worse.
Profile Image for Paul.
136 reviews16 followers
May 10, 2023
An incredibly intriguing first third, an incredibly dull middle and then (incredibly) you realize in the last third that the characters you're reading about are actually really interesting and fit the plot way more than you ever thought they would. An uneven reading experience but one that ended up really positive. The writing is also very impressive for a debut, even if characters "laugh mirthlessly" every other page.
Profile Image for Danica.
214 reviews117 followers
April 9, 2010
So disappointed, again. I picked up this book because my heroes Connie Willis and George R. R. Martin, hands down my two favorite scifi/fantasists writing today, had been quoted as saying generous things about this series. Obviously the lesson here is to never trust blurbs, ever, even if you think the people writing them have bigger brains than you. I mean, it started out well enough. The first scene with Maati and the andat was hair-raising in its eeriness, and I liked the idea of poetry transcribing an essence so perfectly that it could give that essence a corporeal form, beauty of face, volition, and of course the ability to snark indiscriminately and at length. Seedless had a lot of potential as a symbolic entity -- there's little more profoundly scary to humanity than the idea of fertility made forcibly void (+ all the accompanying symbology -- blood on a birth bed, blackened and collapsed vegetation). The hobbling old ass-kicking accountant grandma was cool too.

BUT THEN IT WENT NOWHERE. Or at least nowhere that wasn't frustratingly contrived and/or yawnworthy. This makes me sad because I was so ready to /like/ this book, if only because GRRM liked it -- god knows I come across a single volume of worthy genre fiction about once every few months. The characters were drawn without any sort of depth or even certainty. Like, really? Otah the granite-faced, brooding, commitment-proof wanderer? Watch him angst and moan for pages on end. Liat the beautiful young woman who everyone loves for no apparent reason whatsoever? Well I guess she's hot. Maati, oh god: for the poet who will inherit the greatest burden of the day he sure snivels a lot, even when he becomes a "man" by the end of the novel. IN FACT, THEY ALL SNIVEL A LOT. And their angst is characterized by a frenzy of "her guilt was a stone in her stomach", "she murmured her sorrow into his hair". I don't mind reading pages of self-reflective angst in which the protagonist gazes tearily at her reflection in a still pool of water as the cherry blossoms swirl down around her in a symphonic haze -- it's just that Abraham isn't very good at rendering it in a convincing or sympathetic way. Pseudo-restrained but too self consciously artsy. Not to mention the propensity of slaves to burst into (beautiful, melancholic) song at every opportune moment and how every open market place smells like tea lemons and almond cake.

Even Seedless, conniving and serpentine, doesn't reach the levels of awesome that he should've. What a waste (of time for me).
Profile Image for Travis.
715 reviews7 followers
September 19, 2019
After sitting and thinking about this I am going with this start rating because I do not think I was in the right head space for an Epic Fantasy like this. By that I mean, this first novel is devoid of any mythical creatures and action like non. This was a very political, character driven story and had I known that going in I think that would have helped a little bit. Now don't get me wrong this novel was written extremely well and executed just as well. Daniel Abraham has created a very unique world which is unlike any other fantasy stories I have read and I have read a lot. But with that all I said I am reading these books in the Long Price Quartet Bind Up but I want to count them all as books and not just one big book. I am really enjoying this series and I think the second book was a tad better.
Profile Image for Mary.
232 reviews1 follower
March 8, 2008
thoughts about reading sci fi/ fantasy:
I think of fantasy books in three tiers:

Tier 1: These are complete successes. I believe the world completely, the plots zoom along and the I care about the characters as if they were friends. Examples are Tolkien, the Fire and Ice series by George R R Martin, The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, and Harry Potter.

Tier 2: I can't quite believe in the world, but the plot and characters are good enough to be entertaining.

Tier 3: Don't believe it and don't care: J D Robb, Lauren Hamilton.

I don't understand why some books are so popular. I just don't get The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Very preachy, and I don't believe.

A Shadow in Summer is tier 2. On the other hand, it started slowly, but by the middle I was really involved. I will have to look for volume 2. (It is a series of 4.) Can I give it 3 1/2 stars?

Profile Image for Jordan Stephens.
92 reviews11 followers
January 4, 2018
Glad I picked up this book from Daniel Abraham- his first. Be warned, it is a slow and subtle novel, and the magic isn’t in your face. While the book does start off in a school-type setting familiar to fantasy fans, it soon passes and what is left is relatively absent of the tropes and ideas that would quickly draw in fantasy fans searching for George Martin grittiness, Brandon Sanderson magical flair, or JRR Tolkien scale.

I applaud the effort, bravery, and skill it takes to do a fantasy novel like this. It’s character driven and the writing is well done. Yet, because of that bravery the book doesn’t spellbind you in the familiar comforts the way your favorite fantasy novels do. Fantasy fans seem to get drawn in by flashy magic systems, beautiful worlds that are shaped by them, good vs evil, and coming-into-your-powers type plots. In honesty, despite Abraham’s wonderful prose and good characters those absences were a bit noticeable for me at times.

What this book does have is a type of reality. The city’s politics make sense and the plot is exactly the type of intrigue that could be expected of the world. Everything fits, and the lack of flashiness is replaced by a carefully and lovingly constructed consistency that pervades the reading experience.

The prose fits too. It was the reason I picked up the book past my kindle’s sample chapter. (Recently I’ve gotten a bit bored with purely descriptive picture painting without voice). It has a vaguely poetic feel to it, and even a musicality at times. Those attributes aren’t as pronounced as something you’d see in a Robin Hobb or Patrick Rothfuss paragraph, but once again it’s subtlety is right in line with the story. I fell gently into Abraham’s prose about halfway, and had quite a fondness for its simple-subtle beauty by the books conclusion.

The best writing for me was in the character dynamics, especially in the romantic scenes. The first time the book really wowed me was the accuracy with which Abraham drew the intimacy of Itani’s and Liat’s relationship dynamics. Those were the first moments I first felt fully engaged in characters and plot, and the most memorable aspect I took with me from this book.

Summary of my experience with this book:
I was drawn in by the beginning, the language was pretty and the school setting is something I’ll always be a sucker for. Then the book hit a lull when the viewpoint switched to Amat. I liked the idea of her a lot but something fell flat for me, I think it was a lack of palpable tension from her perspective. She is a total badass but even through the end of the novel she was the character I felt the least connected to.

Maati’s perspective was fine as well, but had its lulls as well, mostly picking up whenever Seedless came around and then slowing down during the other times. Itani and Liat’s story had the most beautiful moments for me in the book, and it was the first time I was fully impressed and absorbed in the writing.

Seedless was fun whenever he was around, but his character’s pettiness and cruelty, despite the justifiable reasons behind them, made him a bit less awe inspiring as a result.

The twist of Itani being Otah was wonderful, and I didn’t see it coming, despite the signs. The plot, a bit outside my traditional preferences, was a bit unmemorable for me. The general gist was ‘A god slave orchestrates his freedom by traumatizing his master through unwittingly aborting an unsuspecting woman’s child.’ Each of the characters had their own stories and mini plots, but at times they seemed to lack a substantive plot binding them together in a way that added beyond the sum of their respective journeys.

The middle events of the book, while necessary for the plot points and character development , often didn’t seem as real to me as I wanted. I’m not quite sure I believe that Amat, a powerful and resourceful person in the city for decades would end up in a brothel the way she did. I’m not quite sure I believe that Otah would leave Liat and his home to deliver a letter to the Dai-Kvo the way he did. I’m not quite sure I believe Liat would fall for Maati and risk losing Otah when she knew he’d be back in a month. Those things, and a few minor others, were a couple slight hang ups I had with the story.

Yet by the end of the book I was absorbed for the most part by the writing. The plot deficiencies, and the setting being a bit less fantastical than other books that have blown me away, were not ultimately enough for me to dislike the book at all. Abraham clearly had a vision of a book with characters that grow and mature. And the way he wrote his characters emotional tension, with love and a patient realism, had a lasting impact on me that overshadowed a some boring moments.


Perhaps the depth of insight that Abraham has into his characters minds and emotions made their occasionally unbelievable actions all the more prominently sharp by contrast. The world, thoughtfully created with a realistic feel, was undazzling in comparison to the genres best, and a bit absent of feelings of wonder outside the Andat. The plot gave off the feeling that it mostly was there for the growth and display of the characters, and was more a catalyst to set the stage for their emotionally charged interactions. The plot executes that goal well, but it also lacked an oompf in and of itself. On top of that, the characters’ distance from the plot made the story lose some of it’s forward moving tension at times. Brilliant at times, the saving graces of the book are the moments that have memorable sticking power through the emotional power of the character portraits.

Condensed story recap:

Otah, a young son of an aristocratic ‘Khai’ family, is a pupil at the abusive school that trains Poets, people who can incarnate ideas, called Andats, and then control their powers. After being selected to be a genuine Poet candidate, Otah leaves the school, disillusioned by its ideals when he has to use its abusive selection process on a young boy, Maati. He leaves in disgrace, penniless but resolute in his decison.

Fast forward many years and travel to the city of seafront trading town Saraykeht, a town that thrives in its cotton trade- boosted by the use of an Andat called Seedless, who can control the sterility of things. Amat Kyan is the experienced manager of a Galtic House in Saraymeht led by the overseer Marchat Wilson. The Galts are a foreign land and people to Saraykeht, tribal and warlike but kept under a firm thumb by the use of Andat.

The Galts, in an attempt to loosen the Andat’s power over them, order Marchat Wison to conspire with Seedless to weaken the Poet Heshai, who forcibly controls him. Their plan: force the Poet to unwittingly abort the baby of the pregnant Maj, an innocent and unsuspecting foreigner they are manipulating.

Marchat Wilson, in an attempt to spare his manager Amat Kyan from the dirty business, excludes her from the whole operation. But when she finds out she is forced into hiding to avoid assassination, and she takes refuge in a brothel as an accountant for Ovi-Niit, it’s cruel overseer. As a result, Marchat Wilson is forced to used her inexperienced and young apprentice, Liat.

Liat petitions the Khai to abort Maj’s child using the Poet and Seedless, herself unknowing of that Maj wants to concieve. She is overwhelmed by her new duties, and despite the support of her lover Itani, a laborer for Wilson, is unsure of herself.

On the Khai’s side of the deal is the Andat Seedless, the Poet Heshai-kvo, and Heshai’s apprentice Maati. Maati, newly arrived from Poet training is thrust into the dysfunctional relationship of Seedless, who despises Heshai and wishes for freedom, and his master Heshai, a man wracked by guilt over his lost love and their dead child.

As Seedless’s conspiracy moves forward, Itani, who is revealed to in fact be Otah, meets Maati and they develop a close bond. Amat Kyan escapes Ovi-Niit, and Seedless develops an affection for Maati.

Seedless’s Plan comes to fruition, and has his desired effects, mainly that Heshai falls into deep apathic depression. Amat Kyan, in an effort towards justice breaks with House Wilson and devotes herself to exposing the Galts deception to the Khai. For revenue to fund her mission she kills Ovi-Niit and takes control his brothel, giving refuge to the grieving Maj there as well.

Otah, in an effort to solve the crisis, seeks the help of the Dai-Kvo, who is the leader of the Poets. He takes a month long journey by ship to deliver a message to him and then makes his way back to Saraykeht.

Back in Saraykeht, Liat, now disgraced and an outcast for not seeing Seedless’s deception, falls in love with Maati as he nurses Heshai-Kvo back to health.

Otah returns to a Saraykeht where Amat Kyan is about to expose the Galts, Maati is wracked by guilt by his role in the infidelity, and Liat (after a panicked Marchat Wilson attempts to silence any future trouble from her with a failed assassination attempt) is taking refuge at the Amat’s brothel as well.

After Maati reveals his and Liat’s relationship Otah leaves in a rage where shortly afterwards he is met by Seedless. Seedless convinces him that he should kill Heshai, because if the Khai learns of the Galt’s play for power he would turn Seedless against him, killing multitudes of unborn children. Otah meets Heshai in the middle drinking himself into oblivion, but doesn’t kill him, instead leaving to get Maj (who is frustrated by the months of inactivity after being promised justice for the death of her child). They return to Heshai, now insensate, and proceed to strangle him together.

The novel ends with Otah and Maj leaving towards Maj’s homeland, Maati and Liat leaving Saraykeht together. And Amat Kyan starting a legitimate business venture in cotton, preemptively anticipating the economic effects of Seedless’s absence.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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