Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

If you love epic fantasy, I recommend The Dragon’s Path, book one of Daniel Abraham’s series The Dagger and the Coin.

The Dragon’s Path is a long book, and it took some time for me to get into it. After a mysterious prologue, the author introduces different threads for four main characters. I began to wonder whether common plot threads would ever start to weave between the four characters. However, eventually, the characters’ stories became entangled.

Once I got involved in the story, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I’m glad to know there are more books on the way about these characters. The characters have depth and secrets. They make mistakes and regret them. Their feelings for each are conflicted, and their relationships are more complicated than simple romantic ties. One of the main characters is female, and strong female characters are sometimes lacking in epic fantasy.

There are a lot of characters in the story. A glossary of both the people and the different races present would have been helpful. Overall, however, the made-up names and places did not make my head spin the way they do in some epic fantasy.

The second book in the series, The King’s Blood, has not yet been published, but The Dragon’s Path can be read by itself. It is clear at the end of the book that there is more to come, but the main plot lines are tied up – even that mysterious prologue.

The author notes in an interview at the back of my copy of the book that he “wanted an epic fantasy without much violence.” This attitude is part of why the book appealed to me. There are scenes of great violence, but they are not described in great detail. The feel of the book is not primarily one of violence. The book is driven by characters and their interactions. In contrast, I started the first book in George R.R. Martin’s incredibly popular Song of Ice and Fire series and couldn’t finish it, partly due to the level of violence.

One thing that caught me off guard is the absence of dragons in a book called The Dragon’s Path. The dragons are kind of like the ancient Romans are for us. They ruled long ago and established the jade roads that people travel on. They also made mistakes that ended in their downfall. (I am guessing there will be dragons in later books – otherwise, why mention dragons at all? But I could be wrong about that.)

The title of the book has two meanings – the characters travel the dragon paths from one place to another, but their society is also moving toward the path of ruin. That kind of layered meaning makes The Dragon’s Path a satisfying read.

The Galesburg Public Library is exploring the possibility of a new Science Fiction/Fantasy book discussion group. If you are a teen or an adult who might be interested in participating in such a group, please contact me at, or attend an exploratory meeting upstairs at the library at 6:30 pm on Monday, January 30.

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