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All paths lead to war...

Marcus' hero days are behind him. He knows too well that even the smallest war still means somebody's death. When his men are impressed into a doomed army, staying out of a battle he wants no part of requires some unorthodox steps.

Cithrin is an orphan, ward of a banking house. Her job is to smuggle a nation's wealth across a war zone, hiding the gold from both sides. She knows the secret life of commerce like a second language, but the strategies of trade will not defend her from swords.

Geder, sole scion of a noble house, has more interest in philosophy than in swordplay. A poor excuse for a soldier, he is a pawn in these games. No one can predict what he will become.

Falling pebbles can start a landslide. A spat between the Free Cities and the Severed Throne is spiraling out of control. A new player rises from the depths of history, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon's Path-the path to war.

555 pages, Paperback

First published April 7, 2011

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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 1,531 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
673 reviews42.7k followers
September 28, 2021
3.5/5 stars

There’s a charm in Abraham’s writing and the stories he tells that just keeps me coming back for more. And the same can be said for The Dragon’s Path.

Daniel Abraham is one of my most read authors. Not including novellas and short stories, I’ve read twelve novels by him; eight from The Expanse, and four from The Long Price Quartet. This makes The Dragon’s Path, the first book in The Dagger and the Coin series, the thirteenth novel of his that I read. Is he included in my list of favorite authors? Not yet, but I have a feeling he’s about to after I’m done with this series.

“Changes that came suddenly could feel catastrophic even when they were changes for the better.”

The Dragon’s Path follows the story of five main characters. The mercenary an ex-soldier Captain Marcus Wester; Cithrin bel Sarcour, an orphan and ward of a banking house. Cithrin is a natural in the life of commerce and trades, and she has a job to smuggle a nation’s wealth across a war zone. Then we also follow Geder Palliako, a scion of a noble house with a huge interest in philosophy and the history of the world. These three characters have the biggest spotlights, and finally, there’s also Dawson Kalliam and his wife, Clara Kalliam. Honestly, The Dragon’s Path was not an easy read for me. It goes without saying that the reception in quality is always subjective, but Abraham doesn’t write a first installment that will appeal to the general market of readers. A lot of readers have mentioned they couldn’t read past A Shadow in Summer and The Dragon’s Path, and I totally understand. I personally found that Daniel Abraham’s way of handling his first installment to be an occasional test of patience. There were several instances in the first half of the novel where I genuinely almost gave up reading, and if I hadn’t read Long Price Quartet, I probably would’ve.

“That's one of the things Yardem used to tell me that actually made sense. He said that you don't go through grief like it was a chore to be done. You can't push and get finished quicker. The best you can do is change the way you always do, and the time comes when you aren't the same person who was in pain.”

This isn’t to say that you have to read Long Price Quartet or The Expanse to enjoy this; The Dagger and the Coin isn’t related at all. However, if you’ve read Long Price Quartet, then you’ll know that Abraham non-conventional fantasy offers satisfying progression and conclusion. His books may not be the most accessible epic fantasy series, but they’re incredibly rewarding. Abraham’s storytelling style is character-driven in every sense; if you’re not a fan of character-driven fantasy, I highly doubt you’ll enjoy this novel. In the first half, it was difficult for me to feel invested in the characters; stakes seemed low, and the direction of the plot seemed invisible. Abraham’s writing has always been slow-burn, but if you think this one felt too slow, A Shadow in Summer might be a cure for your insomnia. As predicted, though, the second half fixed the issues I had with the book. The seemingly plotless narrative also ended up working nicely. The character development was wonderfully done. By the end of The Dragon’s Path, I ended up feeling super invested with ALL the POV characters. An author that can deliver a powerful 180 degrees shift in the reader’s feeling is an author to watch out for. I’m serious; I grew from complete disinterest to complete investment. All Marcus, Geder, Cithrin, Dawson, and Clara have believable character development, and their stories became so engaging.

“I didn’t tell you. Men don’t put their burdens on their children. I didn’t tell your mother. It isn’t hers to bear. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Abraham has mentioned that his fascination with medieval banking played a role in his creation of this series. Books like Medici Money by Tim Parks, House of Niccolo by Dorothy Dunnett, and of course, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, and more influenced his writing on The Dragon’s Path. We, fantasy readers, are often intrigued by war scenes and the repercussions of wars; these are here, the dragons are a thing of the past, and despite their disappearances, it seems like the world is still leaning towards war and destruction. What’s unique about this book, though, is the machinations and importance of the economy in supplying the war itself. Banking is something we don’t frequently see in epic fantasy books, and Abraham was able to make the conflict surrounding it so interesting. Another fantasy novel I can think of right now that focuses highly on an accountant and economy is The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, and that one—despite the high praises—was utterly boring to me.

“The dragons didn’t fall because there was a war. There was a war because there wasn’t a leader. A family needs a father, and a kingdom needs a king. It is your duty to lead, and if you fail in that, the day will come when they follow someone else. Then we will be on the dragon’s path.”

I’ve mentioned times and times again that if GRRM ever thinks of looking for a replacement to write A Song of Ice and Fire, Daniel Abraham should be the one to do it. His prose and style definitely reminded me of Martin, and I think he will be able to deliver a satisfying conclusion, but that’s a theory for another day. Having experienced Abraham’s reputation on The Long Price Quartet and also The Expanse, I am positive that The Dragon’s Path is a setup for greater things to come in the series. The first half was indeed difficult, even boring sometimes, but I have no doubt the rest of the series will be worth it. I look forward to reading The King's Blood soon.

“I remember he used to say that there are two ways to meet the world. You go out with a blade in your hand or else with a purse… In the larger sense, there’s always more lost in the fight than there is won. The way he said things, it sounded like we were all that kept the swords in their scabbards. War or trade. Dagger and coin. Those were the two kinds of people.”

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Profile Image for Joel.
554 reviews1,621 followers
May 10, 2011
The star rating system is vague and imperfect. My feelings on this one are somewhere between "liked it" and "really liked it," but I decided to give it four stars because if any author deserves an extra star, it is Daniel Abraham. His first published series, The Long Price Quartet, has been named among the best fantasy series of the last decade by just about everyone whose opinion I respect. As a reward for his efforts, he was dropped by his publisher.

You could argue that this is justified, since his books didn't sell. You can argue more convincingly that the publisher didn't bother to work very hard to sell what was a rather unusual take on the genre (I mean, from what I have heard, since I haven't read it yet). In an effort to really rub salt into the wound, once they'd cut Daniel loose and he signed with Orbit for his follow-up series, a quintet (of which The Dragon's Path is the first), his old publisher decided not to bother releasing the fourth Long Price book in paperback. This means, of course, that once the hardcovers are gone, no one is going to bother reading it, because why start a series in which the fourth book is impossible to find (even on Kindle, they still want a hardcover price for it, two years after publication).

So by all means, Daniel, take your extra star (half-star, really). You have earned it. You've also written a pretty good book!

The Dragon's Path has famously (well, internet famously... actually, internet genre blog famously) been called the author's attempt to tackle "traditional" fantasy after the LPQ, which apparently confounded the legion of fantasy readers out there who are ironically unable to imagine a fantasy world that isn't set in a quasi-medieval Europe and doesn't have knights and quests and swords and dragons. So here you go, masses: a fantasy book that with a quasi-European setting. It even has a sword on the cover and the word "dragon" in the freaking title!

Ever the smart-ass, of course, Daniel Abraham is only pretending to write a cliched genre entry. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of conventions on display -- a plucky young orphan seemingly destined to play a role in larger events, a war-weary mercenary with a heart of gold, political machinations, a fight for the throne, etc. Stealing from the best, it also apes the structure of George R.R. Martin's HBO-spawning series A Song of Ice and Fire, spinning out the tale through alternating third-person limited POV chapters.

I don't know if it is because it is only the first book in the series or because things are being kept deliberately low-key, but I wouldn't exactly say this one is crammed with incident, despite its length (though don't let those 555 pages fool you -- this thing is printed in fifth-grader font with those big margins they use when they want kids to think the book they are reading is as good as Harry Potter). The politics are interesting but not very complex (or maybe I am just surprised because I understood them even without access to some sort of character index, ahem George R.R. Martin and Jacqueline Carey). There are rumors of war but only a few light skirmishes. Aside from one shocking, game-changing event, all the big stuff seems to be coming in future books (not a spoiler, really, but ending volume I with the words, "It has begun" is probably a clue that things are just getting started).

Even still, I enjoyed myself. Rather than focusing on big fantasy events, the book seems more concerned with the whos and whys of the characters anyway. Abraham considers all sides of cultural and economic issues that most fantasy books ignore in favor of more plot. The driving force of this volume is, in fact, commerce (the series is called The Dagger and the Coin after all). Our requisite plucky orphan, Cithrin, isn't a thief or an assassin or a mage, she's a banker, and her efforts to found a new bank branch take the narrative in some interesting directions. Here is a book that ends not with a battle, but with an audit. No, really, it was kind of an exciting audit.

I like this world, though it is clearly still developing. There's not a lot of magic, but it lingers at the edges of the frame, offering intriguing hints of what's to come. You get the sense that the parts that don't quite fit yet -- like the fact that humanity has been separated into 13 different races with fantastical physical attributes like horns, tusks and gills -- will be developed down the line. No live dragons yet, but at least there's a dragon skeleton. I'm in for book two.
Profile Image for carol..
1,532 reviews7,857 followers
December 4, 2020
Three and a half stars.

I cut my reading teeth on fantasy and science fiction. A regular at the local library, I had gone through their “SF/F” offerings by early teens (which is how I came to read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant) and relied on my babysitting money and the local Waldenbooks for more current fare. The scarcity of material meant I re-read books I owned many, many times. As a result, when I encounter something that feels new in fantasy, that has a fresh take or inspired writing, I tend to gush (in case you are wondering, both N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon and Frances Hardinger’s Fly By Night were dazzling takes on the genre). I was intrigued with the positive buzz about Abraham’s epic fantasy The Dragon’s Path and had it on my radar for some time. Unfortunately, it felt surprisingly familiar.

This feels like a self-conscious book. You know; the kind of book that clearly started with a Big Idea instead of a great story. Abraham has both writing experience and Notable Writing Connections around him, and The Dragon’s Path feels like a genre idea in search of storytelling finesse. In fact, in an afterward interview, Abraham mentions that this book was his foray into a full-length Epic Fantasy. Had it been less self-conscious, or integrated better, or maybe had I just been generally new to the fantasy reading experience, I might have enjoyed it more.

There are four viewpoints in the story along with a fifth character who appears in the prologue and final act. Two viewpoints in the story intertwine early on: Marcus, a former elite soldier turned mercenary, and Cithrin, a half-blood orphan ward of a banking house. Then there are the separate stories of Geder, minor noble and sometime scholar, and Dawson, childhood friend of the king and a highly ranked Baron. They mostly start in the city of Vanai, Marcus trying to get free of likely conscription and Cithrin sent out with a wagon from the banker’s house in the last caravan to leave the city. Geder is experiencing his first campaign and discovering it isn’t nearly as awe-inspiring as the written stories. Dawson is scheming against another Baron in an attempt to spur the king to action. Marcus and Dawson are both experienced while Cithrin and Geder are naive and undergoing journeys of self-discovery. Overall, I enjoyed the characterization. While certainly genre typical, they feel rounded enough to be enjoyable. I was interested in Cithrin’s maturation, and the way the traveling troupe took her under their wing. Marcus was admirable but predictable as the heroic archetype (complete with dead wife and child), and Geder the bumbling youth that gets his chance at power.

A few reviewers make a point of remarking on the uniqueness of Cithrin’s role as female financier and the role of economics in the story, but I confess, I was strongly reminded of Silk in David Eddings’ The Belgariad series and his frequent lectures and demonstrations of the economics of trade and the psychology behind business strategies. Quite honestly, it felt familiar–although still enjoyable. While I respect the idea that Abraham wanted the perspective of the individual as he explores the path to war, changing from four different story lines presents a world-building challenge that doesn’t ever quite resolve. There are the Free Cities, each with their own political history; the Severed Throne, it’s rival and their political intrigue; and thirteen different races. I got the sense that certain events were supposed to be significant, but I rather lacked the context to understand why. Dawson’s plot line with complicated scheming meant to oppose other factions was particularly challenging to follow.

One aspect that sets Abraham apart are are moments of lovely writing:

“It was an evil that the city would weather, as it had before, and no one expected the disaster would come to them in particular. The soul of the city could be summarized with a shrug.”

“‘Good,’ Lerer Palliako said. He was hardly more than a shadow against a shadow, except that the starlight caught his eyes. ‘That’s my good boy.’”

A reviewer I admire mentions that it is one of the few books she re-read, and felt like a re-read was worth it for the extra understanding, once the reader has the general world-sense. I don’t doubt that. The trouble is, I’m no longer a 12 year old limited to the small fantasy section of the local library and my local bookstore. I can barely find time to re-read the few books I feel were excellent the first time around. I have no doubt that a re-read will give me more insight into the dynamics between the races, and the politics behind the Severed Throne–I’m just not sure I care. But I think Abraham will have a great epic for a new generation of fantasy readers to cut their teeth on.

also at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2014/0...
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews824 followers
February 10, 2019
“There are two ways to meet the world. You go out with a blade in your hand or else with a purse.”

Here is the main thing: just because there is G.R.R. Martin on the cover, it doesn’t mean that this is a GOT book. Now, this is both bad and good news. Bad, if you wanted to read yet another GOT and good if you didn’t. What I mean to say is that: Dragon’s Path is different. Daniel Abraham is not your mediocre copycat writer who explores vampires when they are hot just to abandon them in favour of anti-heroes when those become trendy. In my opinion, next to Adrian Tchaikovsky he is one of the most interesting and versatile writers able to transcend and merge genres, tropes and writing styles.

“The Dragon’s Path” takes the readers to a quasi-medieval universe where dragons once lived, and ruled over the lesser, so called, human races created by the dragon overlords. Now, the dragons are gone and their descendants attempt to carry on without resorting to the main legacy of their creators: the dragon’s way. The war.

In the first volume, we learn only about a fraction of this world, and two pairs of main characters guide us around it:

Marcus Wester, a war veteran with a tragic past protects a caravan fleeing the city threatened by an incoming army; one of the escorted wagons is driven by Cithrin bel Sarcour, a half-breed orphan raised by a bank is trying her chances as a smuggler in a man's disguise.

In the ranks of the approaching army, Geder Palliako, a minor noble with an eccentric hobby (speculative essay, how unmanly!) braces himself for battle. At the same time in the city of Camnipol, Baron Dawson Kalliam a rigid traditionalist entangled in court schemes and intrigues aimed at gaining the influence over the reigning king.

“Remember that wars end. Try to be sure that there’s something worth having at the other end.”

This is not exactly original group of characters, but all the protagonists were characteristic enough to keep me interested for over five hundred pages worth of reading. Also, for those who complain that the book is confusing: excluding the Prologue, there are merely four POVs and for the most time paired conveniently. An additional person enters the stage by the end of the novel when all is settled. I had more problems with the multiplication table than following the plot here. And to be honest, I hope that the next instalment will bring more perspectives to the table. Especially that the secondary characters are terrific even though kept on the margins.

Furthermore, all the characters are rather straightforward in the sense that their actions feed the main two themes: economic strength and military might. They are created in a coherent and logical way, but Mr Abraham does not penetrate deeply into their psyche and skims over the motivations that push them forward. This means that while I sucked up the tropes I love (more Marcus please), those I am rather partial too were unable to break through my indifference (though I have high hopes for Cithrin). I admired how smartly Mr Abraham avoided the rotten YA trap in spite of having an adolescent girl as a leading female. I was so relieved that we were spared yet another wannabe saviour with a special ability able to pickup swordsmanship in three months. But more importantly, the girl is cleverly being developed; she is fiendishly intelligent (and it is not an easy feature, martial prowess is much less demanding from a writer), but at the same time both timid and to some extent innocent. This is a combustible mix. Her whimper and a bang in this instalment were a bit stretched, but I hope she will grow as the series develops.

Sometimes it was also difficult to get ‘the feels’, because in the course of the novel the author does not force his protagonists to face extraordinary challenges, and most of the problems or dilemmas they encounter resolve too quickly and, at times, predictably.

“Everything dies. Men, cities, empires. The timing is the question.”

The network of intrigues and political complexities, as well as the economic schemes, is far more interesting, although still not as layered as I’d like them to. Nonetheless, at the macro level, the novel is more exciting than on the micro scale. The coin, as a power parallel and sometimes independent of the sword, is particularly fascinating. This goes against the typical sword and sorcery setting, and already in The Long Price Quartet, Mr Abraham showed that he is able to make the battle of ledgers as captivating as the more traditional action scenes.

When it comes to the writing style, I found the “The Dragon’s Path” a nice and easy read. Nothing exceptional, just well written. Some things are confusing (like the abundance of races! I need more a visual guide than the description, especially that some of the races are quite similar) others are a nice homage to things every fantasy reader adores (the Gandalfesque “We shall pass” moment). But in “The Dragon’s Path” Mr Abraham confirmed himself in my eyes as one of the best antagonist-writing author in contemporary fantasy. I think this novel, in particular, has one of the best anti-heroes I have encountered. Mind you, Jorg is the anti-hero epitome, but what we have here is even better because the protagonist is more subtle than Jorg. Mr Lawrence wanted us to hate Jorg, whereas what Abraham offers is between pitiable and slightly annoying. The reader initially feels for the character because the pudgy slab of a man is cowardly and opportunist but not because he is evil, but because he is just normal, with the ordinary mix of average capabilities and dreams.

Despite shortcomings and flaws, the novel was just fun to read. Staple fantasy, yes, but above the average and with a lot of potential to get even better. Recommended to both fantasy pros and those not so well-versed. I hope you will like it.

Also in the series:

2. The King's Blood ★★★☆☆
3. The Tyrant's Law ★★★★★
4. The Widow's House ★★★★☆
5. The Spider War ★★★☆☆
Profile Image for Conor.
148 reviews314 followers
August 14, 2014
The Dragon's Path is the first book in a planned 5 book series. I found it very similar to ASOIAF in the complexity of it's characters and the scope of the political and military struggles. Abraham has worked with GRRM for many years and he's obviously learned a lot in his time getting coffee, helping kill off the Starks and fighting off angry fans who want to know when 'Winds of Winter' will be released.

This book is told using the same chapter/POV style as ASOIAF. After reading a lot of books lately with sloppy, rapidly changing POV's I really appreciated the distinct and unique POV chapters of each character. The more personal voice in these chapters made it easier for me to get involved with the story. It also allowed the characters (the 4 main POV's especially) to be developed extremely well. The draw-back of the split-up chapters as opposed to the WoT style of having a character's chapters run together is that at times it disrupted the flow of the individual narratives. It also resulted in me frequently skipping past the chapters of less interesting characters (looks at Marcus Wester*) to reach my favourites.

The standout character for me was Geder Palliako. Early on Geder establishes a connection with the reader due to his love of speculative fiction...er, I mean essay. However the jocks involved in this military campaign don't approve and proceed to wedgie him, take his lunch money and give him the medieval equivalent of a swirly. This sets the stage for Geder's arc aka 'Revenge of the nerd'. Overall I found Geder's arc in this book to be one of the most compelling I've ever read.

The other star character for me was Dawson Kalliam. Dawson seemed to me to be a cross between the Ned Stark/Leo Atreidas mould of being a good family man and an honourable lord and the scheming, stuck up nobles that populated the background of The Wheel of Time. His plotting gave us the best insight into the politics going on in Antea and along with Geder were the most interesting chapters. I also found him to be a really well-written morally ambiguous character. He was an ambitious schemer who was willing to deal with his nations enemies to further his plans and is determined to keep the 'peasants' oppressed. However he was also a loving father and husband, a brave warrior and a loyal supporter of the king. Also he had a load of puppies. Puppies!

The other 2 characters Cithrin and Marcus West weren't as interesting. Cithrin spent most of the book as a classic fantasy trope, an orphan lEaving her home for the first time in her life due to attacks from a dangerous enemy. She is sent on an important mission that takes her on an arduous journey across the world. However about half way in her chapters become interesting as she comes into her element as a merchant banker. Her scheming and plotting was interesting and she provided an insight into economics and how it affects politics and war that is apparently a big part of the series. Another interesting break with traditional fantasy was her realistic approach to sexuality. Most male fantasy authors tend to write their female main characters as pure and chaste (see pretty much every female WoT character, Arista in Riyria) and even edgier writers err towards this with their female leads (Catelyn, Sansa and Arya in ASOIAF). However Abraham breaks with this tradition, which makes Cithrin a much more interesting and believable character.

While Cithrin became more interesting as the story goes on Marcus never did. He is the archetypal tough, experienced soldier, his backstory even includes the tragic death of his wife and daughter. As I read this book I couldn't help but compare him to Logen in The Blade Itself. The comparison wasn't kind. I realised that Logen also fell into this character archetype but that I never noticed it at the time. Maybe that's because Logen was so much funnier, more likeable and generally badass. Perhaps the difference between them that was most striking however was that Logen really seemed like a grizzled veteran, a survivor. I remember his speech early on in 'The blade itself' where he describes how he has fought in wars, battles and raids and how he had killed without mercy and begged without shame for his life. In comparison despite being an experienced soldier Marcus is still a romantic hero. According to one exchange with his second helping a refugee escape the pursuit of a hostile army with a fortune drawing even more danger to them is just business as usual. This attempt to blend cynical realism with idealistic heroism seemed forced and I struggled to view Marcus as a realistic character. Even on his own merits Wester felt like a shallow, clichéd character and I really had to struggle through his chapters to find out what would happen to Geder.

Overall this was a really enjoyable start to a series that I have high hopes for. I'm really interested to see how the intriguing characters and vast political struggles introduced in this book develop as the series goes on.
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
310 reviews1,326 followers
April 28, 2022
The Dragon's Path is an intriguing and character-focused fantasy release that helped me get out of a reading and review slump that has lasted 3-months.

The first entry in The Dagger and the Coin series, The Dragon's Path mainly follows 4 point of view perspectives, 3 of which I really enjoyed reading. These main characters are Cithrin, an orphan bank ward, Marcus, a warrior of some renown, Geder, an upper-class intellect yet substandard soldier, and Dawson, a man of influence in one of the capital's leading families, who is friends with the King and an expert dualist. The latter, the individual I've written the most about in that brief summary, is the character I enjoyed following the least, however; he was crucial in presenting the views of the upper echelon with the political unrest and turmoil brimming.

Cithrin's chapters were a joy to follow and some of the most unique. Through her, Abraham presents some really interesting moments where she ponders investments, banking, insurance, loans, and running businesses and it was engrossing. I personally have some experience in insurance and finance so found these parts pretty fascinating. Her progression and growth throughout is one of the novel's highlights too.

If Cithrin represents the Coin of the series title, then I'd hesitate to guess that Marcus may be the dagger. This is ambiguous at this point in the series though as there are many elements of mystery and conspiracies throughout this first entry. Returning to Marcus though, he's got an illustrious past serving the military, has had family tragedy that haunts him, and seems to be a humble caravan guard captain at present. He's sometimes brooding, intelligent, dangerous (whether this is shown or not in this novel I won't divulge), and begrudgingly has a sense of duty and right in certain circumstances. His page time crossed over with another character frequently and their relationship is one of the main draws of this book to me. My assessment is that Marcus is destined to be massively important in the overall tale, and his relationship with another main character made me purchase the second and third books of the series before I was even halfway through The Dragon's Path.

Like Marcus, Dawson's point of view perspective crosses over with that of another main character, so, although I didn't like reading Dawson's views as much as the others, I'd estimate that a quarter of his page-time was through the eyes of another member of the ensemble, so I often forgot my minor irks with him. I'm not sure why I didn't like him as much. Perhaps due to him being quite pompous and classist, he's meant to be less likable. Whatever the case, he is still a fine character for this world and the story so far. It might be a frequent trait in multi-POV fantasy novels but I definitely have a soft spot for cross-over point of views, when as readers we can witness the same event and get two very different takes on it, (something John Gwynne does very well in The Faithful and the Fallen).

Geder's tale in The Dragon's Path is exquisite, bizarre, unpredictable, and kind of delightful! I don't want to say too much about his story but I felt like I'd travelled half the map of this epic fantasy world with him, fully witnessing the highs and the lows that some major fantasy characters don't see the like of in entire trilogies. I found him the most complex and rewarding so far.

The Dragon's Path is firmly invested in fantasy, yet, in this novel, the extinct dragons, the heroes of old, the magic, and the gods are mainly just the lore and knowledge of the present-day characters. They aren't showcased as being current and having any major influence on this finely crafted and well realised world. This novel focuses on the people, plots, struggles, hardships, wars, and courtly drama. I think that the otherworldly and strange powers that may be lurking in the shadows of the sidelines will take centre stage in the subsequent novels. If so, I'm interested to see how the stakes change and the effects it has on the characters I've very much enjoyed following here.

Another element I'll quickly discuss is that I love fantasy reads with complex and unique magic systems, where I can try to figure them out and understand the rules. Magic such as this isn't present in The Dagger and the Coin yet, but the possibilities are hinted at and I await with bated breath if more is revealed in The King's Blood.

The Dragon's Path dragged me out of my reading slump where many other highly rated fantasy books failed. I will score it a 7.5/10 which is down to my overall enjoyment, how neatly the stories wrapped up, and I am excited by the potential that is shown here and how promisingly it sets up the series. Abraham seems to be a fine writer, this novel presents good plotting and pacing, fine main characters, and a few gems in the second tier. The Dragon's Path also features a well-worked mixture of both action scenes and gripping dialogue moments. I took a chance on a series that I knew little about, and am content that I did. The Dragon's Path, although not quite brilliant, did reinvigorate my passion for reading. As much of that is down to what could come next, on top of what was featured here.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
724 reviews1,202 followers
June 22, 2021
Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.nikihawkes.com

While The Dragon’s Path was entertaining, I’m sad to say I didn’t like it nearly as much as the other two series I’ve read from this author (The Long Price Quartet & Leviathan).

Abraham has a talent for orchestrating multiple POVs. While it was especially brilliant in Leviathan and LPQ, it didn’t work as well for me here. I’ve been known to criticize authors who have more than two POVs because they run the risk that readers will have a hard time getting emotionally invested with so many characters (I know people who skip entire passages when this happens just to get back to the characters they like). Up to this point, I’ve used Abraham as a prime example on how to present multiple protagonists without losing any interest or momentum from the story. I don’t think what I read in The Dragon’s Path was necessarily poor execution, I just found myself much more interested in some characters over others. I often found myself hurrying through passages so I could get back to the perspectives of my favorites – which I’m sure didn’t help matters.

I will say though that by the end of the book all of the characters eventually caught my interest, but I wish that would’ve happened much earlier on. There’s a chance the reason I felt disconnected was because he introduced each character one after the other, so it was a good 80 pages before there was a repeat POV. In his other novels, he had just as many protagonists, but he started with one or two, letting us get established with them, and then moved on to introduce more as the story progressed.

Anyway, the book had sparks of the same originality as The Long Price Quartet, and the inclusion of original nonhuman races was probably my favorite element. Well, maybe “nonhuman” isn’t the right term – they were humanlike, but of a different variety or species. I thought they added an interesting dynamic to the story. I liked the ideas so much I wish there had been an even stronger focus on their differences – everything from mannerisms to physical attributes – because I found myself sometimes forgetting that some of the characters weren’t “human.” That said, there were definitely a few great drop-in references (I noticed more at the end than at the beginning), I just would have liked there to have been a little more.

So I’ve kind of established that I enjoyed the second-half of the book a lot more than the first, and part of that has to do with how well it ended. The ending offered a cool “reveal” – one which has me especially interested in continuing on in the series. This author has dazzled me so much in the past that I definitely have hope that the second book (The King’s Blood) will grab me where the first did not.

As you can see, most of my objections to the story are preferential, and I’d like to clarify that there really wasn’t flaw to the way the story was written – I just would’ve liked to see slightly different approach. Because of that, it would still definitely recommend this title to other fantasy lovers, but only after handing them A Shadow in Summer (LPQ #1) first. And for science fiction fans, you can’t get any more kickass than the Leviathan series.
Profile Image for Nick Borrelli.
366 reviews347 followers
March 9, 2018
I have to say that this book was such a breath of fresh air for me. Have you ever had that reading rut where you feel like every fantasy book that you read has essentially the same plotline, characters, tropes etc...? Well The Dragon's Path is an amazing story that thankfully takes familiar themes but somehow manages to make them seem fresh and original. Yes there are the usual quest and battle scenes that we have grown very accustomed to in the genre. But there are als interesting sideplots that involve the finances/banking of neighboring countries and also a great deal of political maneuvering between the rulers of said countries. Abraham has always been one of my favorite authors and this book only serves to solidify that feeling. I think the guy really knows how to write characters that you come to feel invested in and his political intrigue is second-to-none. Maybe it's because he studied under George RR Martin because his style is very similar. This was definitely my favorite fantasy read in a long, long time and I unflinchingly recommend it to anyone who loves a traditional fantasy story with a bunch of new twists thrown in. Awesome book and I can't wait to pick up the next one.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,431 reviews827 followers
September 4, 2016
I've been a long time picking up this series..in the end I didn't pick it up at all- it picked ME up and charged through the story with me in tow!

'There are two ways to meet the world. You go out with a blade in your hand or else with a purse.”

And this was one of the things I loved about this book. It is an example of the fine balance between war and economics.

This is character led story telling at its best.: they change and evolve, grow and transform. The world building was fabulous. I would love to see the thirteen races on the big screen.

If you love fantasy and you haven't read this series yet, you're missing a trick! Of course, I've only read the first in the series so I hope those aren't famous Last Words...
Profile Image for Igor Ljubuncic.
Author 17 books237 followers
February 25, 2016
OK, so this is a weird book.

The fact Martin, GRR is a buddy did not help. Because I could not escape the feeling of heavy influence on our present author.

It seems Daniel has heard of epic books and that, if you want praise from Martin, should contain dragons, puppet shows, nice clothes, a sense of noble melancholy and pending doom, characters that are gritty and confused and human, and such like.

Sounds good.

But the execution is, like I mentioned, weird. First, there are three or four main characters, and they all start pretty strong. Interesting, colorful, flawed. But the only one that remains interesting is Geder Palliako (a Ukrainian folk dancer). The rest, Cithrin, Markus and Dawson all become kind of boring. They do not change, they repeat their points over and over, and they brood without any hint as to why this is useful or contributory to the story. Almost autistic.

You can't really sympathize with any of them. Situations are portrayed without any emotional investment or depth, and you don't care what happens. There's nothing cataclysmic about any of the so-called danger scenes, no real feeling of dread, anguish, pain or anything. More like a recital or a report. Beautifully written, with nice descriptions, but nothing that touches the soul.

Furthermore, the book's plot is difficult. It lacks coherence. There's no real point to the background story of dragons - and spiders, WTF, they show up at the last page, uh suspense, a cliffhanger, more like Earthquake Scale 14 suddenly dropping on you, but for no good reason except to wrap the story that does not lead to any satisfying conclusion.

It's about nobles fighting their dirty little games - reminds you of someone - and there used to be dragons once upon a time - reminds you of someone - and then you also have the mysterious monk that can do wonders - cliche to the point no faking, cooking MCs like a pound of bacon - and then what? Why do we need Marcus? Or Cithrin? What's their purpose? What does their story have to do with anything? Something relevant in the third or sixth volume of this series? What's your point Vanessa?

Crazily, in retrospect, looking back at my readings throughout 2014, I tried many of the new hits recently, and the only one that left with anything approaching cozy nostalgia, in a sense that I felt engaged (with a big fat disclaimer) in the story beyond the immediate reading thrill, is, absurdly, the second novel in the Locke Lamora series, even though it was significantly worse than the first one, and much worse reading and prose and quality material than the rest of them. But at least it gave a feeling of HOME. The rest are all carefully orchestrated, well oiled screenplays with accurately balanced doses of grit, drama, suspense, gore, and such, but little to no soul. Authors writing excellent stuff that they do not relate to in any way. You can tell. You can feel it. It's wrong. And super wrong with this novel.

This is nothing specific to The Dragon's Path, but this book really clarified it. In a way, it eroded my emotional attachment, which is not a good thing. Exhausted me even. All this, despite the fact the story was ok, the writing very good, and the plot, all in all, readable and enjoyable. A crazy duality that is very difficult to explain. Like cartoons you watch as a kid and love and hate at the same time, but you must stay and watch and watch until your eyes melt or your parents take out the belt. A rhyme there.

I'm frustrated, because it took me six or seven paragraphs to try to explain how I feel, and I can't really do it, except that a good meal does not mean an enjoyable restaurant experience, and that's what we have here. Something does not gel. Weird. Really weird. Paradoxical. And emotionally scarring. Daniel has done the impossible then. He's taken Martin's style, unwrapped it, and then packaged it in a way that leaves you no satisfaction. Like a nice adult movie without a money shot.

A limerick!

Geder was a fatsome bloke,
Vanai he left in a cloud of smoke,
Daniel's path,
Invoked my wrath,
With this book, the genre he broke.

Bye bye,
Profile Image for Tammy.
76 reviews35 followers
November 10, 2016
I guess it's a good sign when you read the first few chapters of a book and start searching google for similar books. Man, this book was amazing. Less action, but more character development, realistic dialogue, unpredictable plot twists and just awesomeness.

Geder was my favorite character and i cant wait to see how his story unfolds. Vincen Coe was another favorite, a man of few words, usually lets his sword do the talking but his loyalty is what i love most about him.

The Dragon's Path has introduced me to a different side of epic-fantasy. I have Daniel Abraham to thank for that.

Profile Image for Ashley.
2,647 reviews1,691 followers
November 4, 2014
11/4/2014: I didn’t go in to this book expecting to be disappointed (quite the opposite, in fact). It just worked out that way.

Firstly, The Dragon’s Path is the first in a five book epic fantasy series. It’s a multiple POV novel, in the style of GRRM, although with only four POV characters instead of who knows how many at this point. The four characters are Dawson Kalliam, a noble who gets embroiled in political intrigue of the court; Cithrin Belsarcour, a young orphan raised as a ward of a bank, who finds herself without a home and in possession of a great fortune; Marcus Wester, an infamous general who lost his wife and son more than a decade before, who now works as a merceneary; and Geder Palliako, a man whom nobody really likes, and who spends all his time reading ‘speculative essays’ about the history of his world–he’s basically the fantasy equivalent of a D&D geek (she says with love in her heart for all you D&D geeks).

I’ve had multiple positive (even very positive) experiences with Daniel Abraham’s writing. The Expanse series (space opera co-written with Ty Franck), for one. Started out liking it, now a huge fan. Very much enjoyed his graphic novel adaptations of GRRM’s A Game of Thrones. His story even merited one of my rather rare four-star ratings in the Rogues anthology I read earlier this year. But looking back, it sort of makes sense. Everyone says his first fantasy series (The Long Price Quartet) is a very different sort of fantasy, more thinky and less focused on adventure and knights and princesses and stuff, and all those other examples I listed above, were either very short, or collaborations/adaptions with other authors. Because overall, my experience with this book was that its premise sounded exciting, even some of the events that happened in it when examined out of context were pretty mind-blowing. But for me, there was always this emotional disconnect to everything that was going on.

I think part of this is that Daniel Abraham is a very cerebral writer. What I mean by that is that he’s meticulous with structure, very focused on details and making sure every beat of a story fits in its own place and makes sense for each character. He’s also very into ideas, and taking the least-beaten path in order to examine them. This series is called The Dagger and the Coin, after all. It’s his sort of experimental take on epic fantasy, examined through the lens of money and war. Unfortunately, something about the way he does this just falls flat for me. It’s like he’s too focused on the details and ideas, and not focused enough on the characters. They have arcs, even ostensibly compelling ones (more on this later), but none of them were fulfilled to my satisfaction, even as intellectually I acknowledged that all of them had ended and began in the right places, and they’d hit all the right beats, even some very surprising ones. I just didn’t care. At all.

The frustrating part of this is I can’t really point to any thing specifically that made me feel this way. It’s more just his . . . everything. I mean, I guess I could say I don’t think he spends enough time on any of the individual parts of his story, or at least the parts I would normally care about. He’s got this really awesome world to play around in–-one in which dragons used to exist and ruled the world, but are now extinct, most likely due to killing themselves in endless wars, and also one in which dragons created humanity. I mean, that’s really cool. All of humanity is an offset of what Abraham calls the First Bloods (normal humans), who were slaves for the dragons. But the dragons also experimented in creating other races of humanity before they died out, and there are now thirteen races of ‘humanity.’ It’s actually a bit much to take in because Abraham doesn’t bother going into great detail about all the differences between the races, and sometimes its hard to keep them straight, unless a main character is part-Yemu (large, tusk-horns coming out of face), or Cinnae (very pale, slender) or whatever. He focuses instead on stuff that was so mundane. I don’t know how else to describe it. I guess I admire him for trying to get his worldbuilding out in a more organic fashion (death to infodumps?), but it sure was way less satisfying for me.

Normally in split-POV books I do have favorite characters, but I’m at least still interested in the other characters. My main problem in this book, besides a general reading malaise, is that Dawson’s story was just mind-numbing for me. And I mean that quite literally. I had to force myself to pay attention, and I can’t tell you how many times I had to rewind things on my audiobook because my brain had stopped listening out of self-preservation. It’s like he was going for all the court intrigue and politics GRRM juggles so well in A Song of Ice and Fire, but he forgot to write it so that you would care about it, at all. Towards the end I just plain stopped trying to care about those sections, because it was exhausting rewinding and having to relisten to something I just wasn’t interested in. Really, that just reinforced my opinion that most of the writing there was take-it or leave-it, because when I tuned back in, I was still perfectly able to understand what was going on.

The other three characters were much, much more interesting. Cithrin was the one I related to the most, perhaps simply because she’s a young girl, and I used to be one of those. Also, because I like stories about smart people doing scheming sort of things. Her journey from young and naive orphan to where she ends up was pretty satisfying, all considering. It was certainly the most satisfying part of the book, even though the climax of that particular story (which also acts as the main climax of the book) was a blink or you miss it sort of moment. At least it’s better than other main climax, in Dawson’s section. You get to that part and you’re just like, okay? I guess that happened? It’s super disappointing and anti-climactic. Geder’s story was the one I was most intellectually interested in, and the one that seems to have the most connection to the main arc of the series. He goes from loser-noble-nerd-nobody guy, to accidental one thing after another, and he actually does some pretty horrifying things the more importance he gains. But you understand why he does them. Really the only thing to say about Marcus is that his affection for Cithrin, who reminds him of his dead daughter, is heartbreaking. But they don’t actually speak to each other about it ever, so that part is also unfulfilling as well.

Not to be entirely negative, but there were things about this book I did enjoy. It’s just frustrating to see so much potential wasted. I feel like Abraham and I are at odds about what is actually interesting in his story, and he gave me just enough cool things to keep me there, while forcing me to sit through things I would rather not have. (I should probably put the word forcing in airquotes . . . or you know, actual quotes . . . because nobody was making me listen, but I just can’t start a story and not finish it. It hurts me inside.) Anyway, the good stuff! Like I said, from what we see of the worldbuilding, it was really cool, and hopefully there’s much, much more of it in the next four books. I really like that dragons created humanity, and that “humanity” has such a broad definition. The audiobook narrator was pretty great, if audiobooks are your thing. I also really liked Cithrin and her banking shenanigans, how she was smart but not so smart that it was unbelieveable. How she failed, and how heartbroken it made her. I also like reading about a world where dragons used to exist, where a whole bunch of scary things used to exist, actually. Which leads me to my next thing . . . the main arc. So the prologue has this priest guy running away from his priest cult, which involves having blood that dissolves into spiders, and also means anyone in that cult can tell when someone is lying. He’s running away from the cult because he fears what’s coming, which it is heavily implied that his spider goddess is coming back, and she is going to, and I quote “eat the world.” What. The epilogue brings this full circle, and that along with Geder’s adventures means that the spider goddess and her priests are probably going to be a larger part of the next books, which is a very good thing.

Hopefully, this will be one of those times where I look back on a book and say, okay, I see why he did it that way. Hopefully I enjoy the sequels more than I enjoyed this one. But for now, I remain disappointed.

10/19/2014: Hmmm. Some parts of this were SO COOL and other parts made me zone out hardcore from lack of interest. I can see how it might develop into a really great series, though, so starting the second one via audiobook as soon as my library is able to get it to me. Might as well do it now while I still remember (most of) the minutia of this one. Full review later.
Profile Image for Maria V. Snyder.
Author 79 books16.9k followers
September 9, 2017
I finally finished listening to this one! The narrator is fantastic - he did a great job with the reading and the voices, which I think for an audio book is key! The story is also well done - it's an epic fantasy and has a great cast of characters and plot and I was drawn into the world. It didn't seem too heavy with the details, but there's lots going on and the pace is brisk. If you enjoyed The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, you'' like this one as well!
Profile Image for Paul.
2,307 reviews20 followers
July 25, 2017
I absolutely loved Daniel Abraham's fantastic Long Price Quartet when I read it a few years ago, so I'm quite surprised it's taken me so long to start his other major fantasy series, The Dagger and the Coin, of which this is the first volume.

I'm happy to say I enjoyed this every bit as much as I did the LPQ books... perhaps even a little more!

The world-building is superb; you really get a sense that this is a fully realised world and that there's so much more going on outside the parameters of the story you're currently reading. History is one of the main themes of the book and, appropriately, you can feel the history of this world lying just beneath the surface of the current events.

Another thing that makes this world feel real is the economics... no, wait, it's not as boring as it sounds! As you can probably infer from the title of the series, money is another of the main themes of the series and the author actually makes the economics of this fantasy world absolutely fascinating and key to the central plot. It made me realise how most fantasy novels don't deal with money much other than to have it as the treasure at the end of the quest. In this world, it makes things seem a lot more plausible to see how the more day-to-day financial affairs are run.

That's not to say it's devoid of action and adventure; far from it! There's plenty of the old stabby-stabby and quite a few 'OMG' moments that had my jaw hitting the floor.

I also fell in love with virtually all of the characters. I spent most of the book thinking to myself 'Geder's definitely my favourite character... no, wait, it's Cithrin... no, no; it's definitely Wester...' and so on. I'm SO happy there are four more books in this series and I don't have to say goodbye to these characters just yet!

Overall, I absolutely loved this book and would highly recommend it to any fan of the fantasy genre. Now, on to the next one...
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,493 reviews958 followers
July 26, 2016
Probably the best new fantasy epic in 2011. I already read and liked The Long Price quartet, but Abraham has upped his game in this ambitious project. The influence of George R R Martin I think is clear in the grand scale of the world, the low but powerful magic that is more a dark threat than an active presence, and most of all in the careful development of the main characters and in the unexpected / brutal twist in the storyline. In the interview at the end of the book Abraham also mentions another favorite series of mine as an influence : The House of Nicollo by Dorothy Dunnett.
Indeed the focus of the Dagger and Coin series will be the relation between the military mindset (destruction) and the mercantile attitude (the builders of civilization).

The writing is self-assured and unobtrusive, pointing to a mature writer capable of keeping all the balls (POV's) in the air, and while I have my favorite in Cythrin, there wasn't any main character to turn me off the narrative. One slight peeve is that everytime magic is actually used I am strongly reminded of Obi Wan Kenobi and I expect the wielder to say " These are not the droids you're looking for!".

I would have liked to know more about the history of the world and about the 12 humanoid races, but the first volume was already long enough. I only hope these will be revealed in the next book and not left obscure as in Malazan. I also hope the next book will be out soon, preferably next month.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,936 followers
April 19, 2015
First up, let's get something clear, this book doesn't have any actual Dragons in it, despite the name, and The Dragon's Path is actually a road which connects various places in this world which was once made by Dragons (back when they were in the world). I don't know if going into this book I should have known that there were no dragons, because I would say that the title is misleading, but unfortunately I didn't realise and therefore the distinct lack of Dragons was a source of constant disappointment for me.

Moving on to the other points of the book, this was my first Abraham book and I have to say one thing which really stood out to me was that Abraham really has a strong interest in creating a convincing economy. This series is called the Dagger and Coin series and I think that that's a far more apt name than the title of the book as this series certainly has a heavy focus on money and banks, loans and greed.
I personally wouldn't consider myself to be avidly intrigued by economy, and whilst I don't necessarily think it's a bad think for an author to have as a prominent part of the book, I wish I'd known that that was what I was diving into before I had started the book.

This story certainly seems to have a very slow build up. I found the first three quarters of this book very, very slow and somewhat tedious in places, as I say maybe if I had gone into it with more knowledge of what I was getting into maybe it wouldn't have been quite as much of a shock, but I just found it very hard to connect with any of the characters because so much of the plot was focused on something I barely knew anything about. Unfortunately because of the first 3/4 being slow by the time that the story really did kick off and keep me interested it just wasn't enough to recapture my attention.

I have heard from various people that this book is not great (since starting it and updating on Goodreads my thoughts) and that the next few in the series are a lot better. I can certainly say I could see how that could be the case. The ending of this book did leave me very interested in the potential of where the story could go, and there's a lot which takes place at the end which surprised me. However, because of the slow beginning I don't know how inclined I feel to want to continue, so if you have read the series and you've continued, just how much better do the next books get? Is it truly worth giving another shot??

This story focuses on a few different people, we have Wester who is an older Captain who's been through some tragic things and is working as a guard for hire. He's a fairly cynical and sad character because of the things he's had to cope with, but as this story goes on his personality and drive is put to the test and I think he became a better character as the book went further.
We also follow Cithrin who is a young ward of the Bank as she attempts to stray from the town with a large chunk of the bank's wealth in tow when there's political mayhem breaking out. She begins as a very shy and worried character, but she soon became my favourite character and I liked her storyline the most out of all of the characters we followed.
Next we follow Dawson who is a friend of the King and believes that there may be some sort of plot involving a rival of his afoot. He is a powerful man, but he's also always had a rivalry with the man he suspects and so proving the validity of his beliefs is certainly hard for him to do.
Geder is a young soldier who is not really anyone of note when we begin the story. He's obese, he's not really very good at fighting and he's far more interested in books than anything else. However, when suddenly forced into a commanding role he has to change and adapt to the situations he faces and this certainly gave some shocking results.
Finally we have Master Kit who is the head of a troupe of actors. I found that there were some sections of this book where I definitely liked seeing the plays put on by Kit and his troupe, but there was also always something a little mysterious about him too.

Whilst I think we have the beginnings of some wonderful characters I don't think that they're truly given the chance to flourish in this story. I believe that over the course of a series it may well be that some of these become wonderful and gripping stories, but for the most part it was only Cithrin's story that I found I liked, unfortunately.

I would say that if you have a keen interest or strong understanding of economy and politics then you may well love this story but for me it was a lot of laying out the groundwork for a much bigger plot. I think there's a lot of potential for the book and series to become far more intriguing, and I think there's a lot I'd still like to know more about, but for this book alone it was only a 2.5* rating for me, just okay.

Let me know if I should continue on and what you thought if you have read the book/series as I'd really appreciate your feedback! :)
Profile Image for Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship.
1,120 reviews1,198 followers
June 6, 2011
I'd heard great things about this author in the corners of the internet I frequent, so trying out his new book seemed like a good idea. The beginning didn't grab me, but in the first chapter we meet an acting troupe putting on a play that so cleverly mocks epic fantasy--"despite the actor's warnings [that anything could happen], the good triumphed, the evil were vanquished"--that I was intrigued enough to continue. And so I did, even though as of about halfway through the book I found myself disliking it. Fortunately for me, it's a quick read for 555 pages; there aren't a lot of words on a page.

The story follows four main characters about their lives (in the military, in banking, in court intrigues) as their world seems to be heading toward a major war. Sometime. The relative lack of action didn't bother me so much as the fact that this is by no stretch a standalone book, with its stopping point seeming almost arbitrary. I do think the first book at least in a fantasy series should be able to stand on its own. But there are things of interest in the characters' plotlines; what killed this book for me were the characters themselves.

There are four major POV characters, with the page time divided up more or less equally among them. The level of character development is probably above average for fantasy, and they'd have been fine for an action-packed type of book, but for something slower and more contemplative I was expecting psychological depth more along the lines of what we see in Robin Hobb's books, and there was none of that here.

A couple of mid-book SPOILERS follow.

Marcus is essentially the good-hearted military man with a dead family; nothing new or captivating there.

Dawson is interesting in a meta kind of way. Abraham is trying to play with fantasy's traditional conservatism, and so he gives us a character who might have been a hero in another book: a man who loves his family and is absolutely opposed to the threatened changes in his world. The difference here is that the extreme classism required to uphold a system of "nobles" and "commoners" isn't glossed over; he thinks of those outside of the nobility as "low, small people" who "understood nothing that wasn't put on the table before them." The people he's fighting against support restrictions on slavery and the creation of something analogous to a House of Commons. But while this is clever, I strongly disliked Dawson and so asking me to be in his head for a fourth of the book was a tall order.

Geder is truly awful. His storyline is where the book really lost me. Abraham seems to think a character's ordering 10,000 people slaughtered out of spite makes that character interesting, rather than despicable; he seems to think that if a character who does such a thing also loves his father and is a scholar, that makes him "gray" rather than truly awful. It's a sad reflection on the fantasy genre, with villains who so often are pure evil in every aspect of their lives, that when a character comes along who's about as "gray" as a Nazi commander in real life, some people actually like him. And we spend another fourth of the book with Geder. If there was more narrative awareness of how awful he is I might have hated him less.... but there isn't much, and I've actually read that Abraham sees him as a "sympathetic geek." The idea that an author would expect me to feel sympathy for a mass murderer honestly creeps me out.

Cithrin was the only main character to be both somewhat interesting and somewhat likeable. I did like her storyline; it's about banking and you don't see a lot of that in fantasy, and she certainly breaks the mold of the typical fantasy heroine. Still, she wasn't enough to carry the book by herself.


There aren't nearly as many supporting characters as you'd expect in a multi-POV epic fantasy. Those we do meet are rather flat for the most part, although a few seem interesting. I'd have liked Jorey's POV rather than Dawson's or Geder's; it might have made the book more bearable.

Otherwise, I was not impressed with the book. The world Abraham has created has history, but no culture, no sense of place; he seems to think because it's quasi-European readers can fill in the blanks, rather than his researching interesting aspects of European history or inventing new customs. The writing style is nothing special (at one point he describes the "close-built wooden buildings" of Vanai). The inclusion of thirteen "races" of humanity, some with fur, some with horns, etc., seems extraneous, and they all more or less live together, again, with few hints of any culture. It is nice that there's little magic, and what we do see is unique. But.

In the end, this book had nothing to make it stick out to me. I don't care what happens to these characters and their world in the next book. Abraham has some interesting things to say about the fantasy genre, but it wasn't worth reading a novel for them. Come on, GRRM, I'd have expected better from one of your recommendations.
Profile Image for Rob.
848 reviews535 followers
August 9, 2016
Executive Summary: An enjoyable start to a fantasy series that seems to focus more on politics and the economy than it does on battles and magic.

Audio book: I initially really struggled with the audio book. This wasn't Pete Bradbury's fault. Rather there is a lot sort of dumped on you at the beginning and it would have been nice to go back and reread which isn't always possible for me when I'm listening.

By the second day I had my bearings though, and will continue on with this series in audio moving forward. Mr. Bradbury is a good, but not great reader. He speaks clearly and at a good volume. He does a few accents and voices but nothing too elaborate.

Full Review
My only exposure to Daniel Abraham was in the guise of James S.A. Corey where I have no idea which writing is his and which is Ty Franck. However since I love those books, I really wanted to check out some of their other writing.

I got this one on a daily deal earlier this year, and with the fourth book out this month, I decided to give it a go.

The setting for this is one where magic has almost passed from the world. The dragons that once ruled are gone. Leaving 13 races and many ruins in their wake, but little in the way of record or magic. Normally I prefer books with cool magic systems, but there is a lot to like here that I didn't mind their not being any mages throwing fireballs around.

Most of the book follows 4 POV characters, with a 5th used in the prologue and a 6th one added near the end. Of the main ones we have Gedar, Marcus, Cithrin and Dawson.

Gedar is a young and mostly foolish noble, whose ideas come from books rather than experience who is out on his first campaign. Marcus is a season veteran of much renown with a troubled past. Cithrin is a young ward of a bank, who is smart and capable despite her lack of experience of the larger world and Dawson is a powerful noble whose sense of honor only extends to those with the right blood.

They make for a good mix of characters, each having things I like and dislike about them. These aren't perfect characters by any means, and it's sometimes hard to know who to root for when their positions oppose one another.

This book is a lot more about politics and economics than it is about big battles or magic. Most SFF books tend to gloss over the economics most of all, even if they are focused on the politics. The two pretty much go hand in hand and often money is relegated to not having enough and taxes. This books focuses on banking and the roles the banks play in the politics of the nations. The banks are independent and only care about making a profit and not about who is at war with whom.

There are 1 or 2 points where I wish I could have skimmed over some details about costs and things in the book, but for the most part I found it really interesting and important to the story. Economists would probably be disappointed, but compared to most other fantasy books I've read this covers things far more thoroughly.

This book has a lot of grey areas without really ever getting into dark fantasy. Do you root for the noble who wants to protect his kingdom and king from chaos, but regards farmers and other commoners as little better than dogs? Do you root for the kindly noble who may mean well, but is often ignorant or spiteful in his actions?

I will say that this book had a point where I saw where the plot was going and thought it would keep following a predictable path only to throw me for a complete loop.

Overall I enjoyed this book and look forward to continuing on with the series when I have a chance.
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
780 reviews130 followers
December 4, 2020
Who wants to get on their medieval banking drama, yo?

A high quality, modern, straightforward fantasy from a reliable author with established bonafides. It reminded me a lot of Joe Abercrombie's First Law books in its approach to characters and plot progression, but despite a comparable quantity of deaths overall, it lacks the nihilism needed to classify it as grimdark.

I liked most of the characters with the exception of Dawson, the rigid nobleman maneuvering to make his vision for the kingship reality. He lacked character development in this story. Young orphan Cithrin functions well as the vulnerable underdog, and the once-venerated Captain Marcus's pervading grief is palpable. Geder, a minor noble and the eternal butt of others' jokes, gains sympathy early when his rare book is destroyed by a tormentor, drawing the ire of real-life readers everywhere.

The two main storylines in this book have only minor linkages but the worldbuilding sets the scene for a grand series plot that will leave none untouched. The world of the book is populated by a species split into more than a dozen disparate races, one of them aquatic, all bestial in appearance including the human analogue Firstbloods, and mostly cross-breedable. The dragons of the title are ancient history.

I have nothing bad to say about this book. It's quality through and through. I will read the remainder of the series.

I have to laugh at myself because not long ago I expressly wondered, "Why isn't Daniel Abraham publishing more?," considering this series and his prior Long Price Quartet. I was blissfully ignorant of his multiple pseudonyms at the time.
Profile Image for Solseit.
308 reviews74 followers
January 15, 2022

Update: somehow the second time around made me enjoy this book so much more. While some characters did not pop for me (like Marcus), I found that Geder and Cithrin were the characters I could not get enough.
I loved how they are unique in some of their traits: Geder a loser and a soldier, having an awful reputation with the secret passion of essays. Cithrin is more typically falling in the category of coming of age but with the bank twist and I could not stop reading.
This book, in fact, has a more intense pace than I remembered.

And it ends with a bang.
I am just going into the second book in the series without taking any breaks!

This is a book that is a must in fantasy literature, and it is a solid 3.75. It has the right amount of war(ish), political intrigue, unusual elements (a bank!) and a veteran.

The PoV are enough but not too many to confuse the reader.
The characters were okay for me, nothing special and nothing bad. I did not connect with any but I was extremely intrigued by the story and it was a difficult book to put down and stop reading.

Yet, I believe had a "big" miss which is the overarching story was pretty much missing. The ties are really at the beginning and at the end.
And about the end, I thoroughly enjoyed 3/4 of the book, the pace was quite significant and then it slowed down a bit for me. Until the very last sentence; that one line truly blew my mind. I am in awe and I am most certainly adding this series to my TBR!
Profile Image for Penny.
172 reviews345 followers
June 17, 2014
I really enjoyed this multiple POV low fantasy story. This was the first Daniel Abraham I've read, although I've enjoyed his work in the writing duo James S.A. Corey.

The characters are diverse and although it's seldom the case in multiple POV books, I found myself invested in all of them. I usually have favourites and not-this-one-again's fairly early in a series of this sort, but that didn't happen this time. I found each of the main characters engaging and interesting enough that I was always happy enough to read their chapters when I got to them.

I thought that the growth and change in some of the characters was very well executed and I look forward to seeing what trouble they get into next. I particularly like the idea of seeing into the truth of things and found this an interesting part of the tale. (Vague so as not to spoiler).

I'm looking forward to reading on in the series soon!
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews224 followers
September 3, 2016
Very well written first installment of series. I enjoyed the story arc of all the characters but especially Geder who definitely took a different path than I thought at the start. Two of the main story lines only touched briefly a couple of times so I'll be interested to see how they affect each other.
Profile Image for Emelia .
131 reviews92 followers
December 14, 2017
A great start to a series !
Really enjoyed this book.
Will write a review when I finish the series.
A very good book...and 3 more to go, can't wait !
Profile Image for Jonathan Terrington.
593 reviews559 followers
April 23, 2013

4.5 Stars

When it comes to writing modern fantasy it appears that authors need to do one of two things. They need to write something unique or edgy, something or a treatment not seen before. A prime example being how J.R.R Tolkien took Norse mythology and turned it into his own mythology of the world or how Brandon Sanderson took the idea of the physics' based magic system and made it his own. The second thing authors can do is to write very, very well: the best examples being E.R.R Eddison or Mervyn Peake. Daniel Abraham may not be a very good writer at the aesthetic level of the aforementioned but he is very good nonetheless, his work here is in fact surprisingly well written with its own unique style.

There is no doubt that The Dragon's Path is inspired by G.R.R Martin, but with all respects to Martin, I find that this novel performs better than A Game of Thrones and the subsequent novels. The main reasons for this are that, though Martin and Abraham have different approaches, Abraham's novel feels like a more solid historical fantasy novel. The world and the characters feel more fleshed out, more realistic and the sense of grittiness isn't perpetrated by a sense of artificiality. This is mostly carried off because Abraham is remarkably subtle with his work and though not ashamed to introduce topics of sexuality, death and war, is mature in his handling of those subjects in a way that is not offensive. In short: Daniel Abraham knows how to write in a way that few other fantasy authors writing now do. In fact the one reason I could not bring myself to give five stars to this novel is that the plot felt lacking in some aspects as part of an entire planned series.

Of course, that provides a segue into discussing the plot itself. The novel is set in a fictionalised world (as is the tendency with these fantasy epics, a nuisance isn't it?). In this fictionalised world the reader finds out that it is a world built upon the ruins of a world populated by dragons. These dragons are now long deceased, having it appeared, help create multiple variations of humans. There is a suggestion of humans like mermaids and human races with tusks in their chins but in this first entry it can be hard to distinguish. In this world, there is the hint of a grand religious destruction set to occur, a destruction alluded to at the beginning and end of the novel. However this is the subplot of the novel and no doubt will feature in the series as a whole.

This particular novel follows a set of four particular characters whose interactions in the world are individual and yet have particular connecting roles which are particularly important in this particular imaginary world. Or to clarify, the four characters are: 1. Marcus Wester - a grizzled old, soldier who at first seems archetypical and later is shown otherwise 2. Cithrin - an orphan taken in by the bank of Vanai and placed in charge of delivering the bank's gold from a war threatened nation 3. Dawson - an advisor and friend of the King of an empire under threat who wishes for nothing more than to uncover traitors to the throne and 4. Geder - Geder is a soft seeming noble scholar who is placed into a difficult environment and proves himself as a hero. Of the characters his viewpoint was perhaps the most fascination, but only just.

Each of the characters in the novel is designed to have both black and white elements to them. In other words to be both a hero and a villain in many regards. The characters each play to the archetypes. Marcus fills the role of the old, war hardened soldier, Cithrin the role of orphan girl, Dawson the role of nobleman with influence towards the king (think Eddard Stark) and Geder as the naive scholar turned hero. Yet, despite the use of tropes or archetypes Abraham manages to create something that is fascinating and well written. Perhaps because instead of allowing the tropes to do all the work of writing for him he uses the tropes to allow identification with the characters and then proceeds to further develop his storyline. In short there is a level of depth and intrigue to Abraham's work that when compounded with his sensibility and subtlety in handling characters, worldbuilding and plot makes for a fascinating, well handled opening to a series.

Those looking for the next intelligent gritty fantasy should try this novel. I have also heard that Abraham's first series, beginning with A Shadow in Summer, is one of the most unique fantasy novels around currently. And certainly this novel has compelled me to want to read more of Abraham's oeuvre. Abraham can write, he can write well and he understands how to craft a novel that feels like a historical tale (with a sense of magic and intrigue that I have personally found lacking in the denser novels of G.R.R Martin). I would rate this as one of the fantasy novels to check out and Abraham as one of the fantasy authors to watch for the next few years.
Profile Image for Jenna Kathleen.
117 reviews120 followers
July 16, 2017
Where are my dragons?!

Despite the lack of dragons, this book was great. I wasn't expecting much when I started, but I am now excited to see how the rest of the series will unfold.

Dawson was an incredibly boring character and it took awhile before Geder grew on me, but he had wonderful character development and I am sure it is only the beginning for him. I loved Marcus and Cithrin. The setting with the bank made the world very unique and well-developed.
Profile Image for M. Tatari.
Author 29 books272 followers
November 6, 2020
Beş ciltlik Hançer ve Sikke serisinin ilk kitabı "Ejderha Yolu" için yaptığım çeviri nihayet arz-ı endam etti.

Kitap fantastik bir evrende geçiyor. Fakat alıştığımız ırkların yerine yazarın kurguladığı, tamamen orijinal 12 (insanlarla beraber 13) farklı ırk var bu diyarlarda. Hepsi ejderhalar tarafından yaratılmış. Hatta sadece onlar değil, yaşadıkları şehirler, yollar ve daha pek çok şey de ejderhaların ürünü. Ancak günün birinde, kendi aralarında büyük bir savaşa tutuşan bu devasa yaratıkların nesli tükenmiş ve insanlığın 13 ırkı kendi başlarına hayatta kalabilmenin yollarını aramak zorunda kalmış.

Birden fazla başkarakteri konu alan kitap bizlere eski savaş kahramanı Markus Wester ve köpeksi Tralgu ırkının bir mensubu olan sağ kolu Yardem; insan ve Cinnae melezi, yetim ve öksüz Cithrin; beceriksiz ve ezik biri olan Geder Palliako; gururlu ve asabi saray soylusu Dawson Kalliam ve belki de romandaki en ilginç karakter olan Kitap rol Kesmet'in gözünden bu evrenin farklı köşelerinde yaşananları anlatıyor.

Roman fantastik türüne girse de kendisine daha çok "low-fantasy" demek daha doğru olacaktır. Yani etrafta ellerinden ateş topları fırlatan büyücülere vs rastlamıyoruz. Onun yerine fantastik öğeler arka planı oluşturuyor. Bizse daha çok bu dünyadaki entrikalara, savaşlara ve ırklar arasındaki meselelere odaklanıyoruz.

Hançer ve Sikke'nin numarası, ordu (hançer) ve para (sikke) arasındaki çatışmaları ön plana alması ve askeri gücün mü yoksa finansal gücün mü dünyayı şekillendirmekte daha etkin olduğunu konu alması. Bankacılara karşı soylular...

Kitabın yazarı Daniel Abraham tam bir Türkçe hayranı. Öyle ki kitapta Kurtadam, Başrahip, Orman ve Sınır Kuşku gibi bazı Türkçe kelimeler var. Kendisine bu konuyla ilgili bir soru sorulduğunda söz konusu kelimeleri Türkçeden aldığını belirtmiş. Yabancı romanlarda fantastik bir dil yaratmak için Fransızca, Latince ve Arapça gibi dillerin kullanıldığını çok görmüştüm ama Türkçe bir ilk oldu, güzel de oldu.

Darısı ikinci kitabın başına.
Profile Image for Liviu Szoke.
Author 28 books362 followers
March 13, 2017
Am tot zis că am să-i dau patru stele, dar acum, când a sosit vremea, mi-am zis „what a hack!”, cine scrie o astfel de poveste fantasy ce pare că va umple de sânge orașe întregi și va lăsa în urmă munți de oase, și tu în schimb capeți o poveste realistă, chiar dacă pe lume există treisprezece rase de umanoizi, create cu mii de ani în urmă de dragoni ce s-au măcelărit între ei? Ei bine, cel care o scrie este nimeni altul decât Daniel Abraham, care reprezintă, toată o lumea știe, jumătatea cuplului de autori ce semnează sub pseudonimul James S.A. Corey celebrele romane din seria Expanse. Iar aici avem o poveste fantasy în care fantasticul pare că ține mai mult de trecut, în schimb se pune accentul pe oameni, pe personaje, cu bunele, dar mai ales cu relele lor: ratați, manipulatori, bandiți, hoți la drumul mare, asasini, curteni ticăloși, mișei, dar și oameni cu simț de răspundere, oameni onorabili, într-o lume în care legea este făcută cu ajutorul pumnalului și al monedei. Mai multe, pe FanSF: http://wp.me/pz4D9-2BL.
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