Shadow and Betrayal (The Long Price Quartet #1 – 2)
By: Daniel Abraham
In this omnibus edition of A Shadow in Summer and A Betrayal in Winter, the aggressively expansionist Galt empire has already conquered lands across a huge continent. But the cities of the Khaiem resist Galt’s power with the andat—creatures of magic with godlike powers.
Each andat is brought into being by a “poet” who must say the right words and exert the iron will needed to control gods. The industrialized Galt war machine is helpless against the powers of the andat…but political intrigue and deep treachery combine to shift the balance of power in a world of ancient empires and immortal magics.
One man, Otah Machi, stands at the crossroads of history in these imaginary world fantasies, the fulcrum around which the wheels of epic history rotate through achingly poignant cycles of life and death, love and betrayal.
As the blurb mentions, this book contains the first two books in Daniel Abraham’s The Long Price quartet. As I’ve mentioned in my 100 Things meme entry on the series, I’ve had my eye on it for a veeeery long time. I’m glad that I finally have the complete series on my shelf so that I can read it straight *thumbs up* Contains some spoilers ahead!
I’m going to break my review down a bit first with specific thoughts on both novels featured in this omnibus before mentioning my cumulative thoughts of the series so far.
A Shadow in Summer
- It took a few chapters to get into the story: who’s who, sense of the world that the story takes place in, the ebb and flow of everyday life in this world. It was interesting to learn about the customs and the structure of this world and how everyone fits in to it (sort of; this novel focuses on certain social levels more than others)
- I found the storylines of Otah, Maati and the andat to be more interesting than Amat’s, even though Amat’s had much to do with the maneuvering of other trades in the city and has a more direct line to the politics of the city as well as the other stories. I just wasn’t as invested to Amat’s story as the others.
- The sort-of love triangle between Otah-Liat-Maati (I say sort of only because Otah was unaware of it for most of the book) left me a bit in the *facepalmsmack* mode because I saw it coming as I read. It also frustrated me because I had grown rather attached to Otah’s character early on.
A Betrayal in Winter
- I think I enjoyed this installment more than the first one. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the trades weren’t involved this time but rather the political echelons and it revealed more about the world that these characters inhabit in. It’s also more intriguing because the Galts are involved again in this conspiracy, which makes the reader wonder if they’ll risk an open attack in the next installment–surely they must be frustrated by the end of this novel that another one of their plans failed
- We also get to know more about the andats this time around. I thought they were a bit of a mystery still in the first installment (I still do in a way) but in A Betrayal in Winter it feels a lot more fleshed out, explaining a bit of the relationship between the andats and the poets more.
- I really felt bad for Otah in this volume (if I didn’t feel bad for him the first time); it seems his name/the mere fact that he was born into the Machi family is a source of bad luck for him that follows him everywhere. Every time it seems that he’s put his past behind him, he gets pulled back into these conspiracies thanks to his name. There might be a day when whatever luck he’s running on will not work…
- Despite of her actions, I felt sorry for Idaan. Because she’s a woman, her status is reduced despite being born into such a powerful family. She’s as clever and as strong as any man and yet she’s not recognised for this, thus reducing her to scheming for power and recognition and the ability to do as she desired
What’s particularly interesting about this series is the psychological element to the story. A Shadow in Summer deals a lot with actions and consequences and choosing your own path, sometimes having to do a bad thing in order to preserve the good or save many, the act of forgiveness. The fallout from the first novel continues into the second novel, but this time A Betrayal of Winter looks more at the burden of guilt from past actions and how to move forward, how to respond from that sort of state; Otah, Maati and Idaan have their own burdens to bear.
On a side note, I like that these novels are self-contained enough that you can take a break between volumes if you wanted. While the pacing is not bam-bam-bam, it’s just right for the tone of the story and there’s always something going on, something that engages your attention either to the character or the direction of the plot. At times the story even feels a bit GRRM-esque in that at times it feels like these characters have no way out of the situation they’re in but you’re compelled to read on anyways to find out what’s going to happen next.
Overall, I enjoyed the first of the two omnibuses to Abraham’s The Long Price quartet. The story is set in a fascinating world and it’s interesting to watch the story unfold and the characters face the obstacles laid out before them. I’m intrigued to see how the Galts will retaliate in the next volume and what new challenges Otah will face next.