Shadow and Betrayal by Daniel Abraham
In a remote mountain academy, the politically expendable younger sons of the Great Houses study for an extraordinary task. Most will fail, some will die, but the reward for the dedicated few is great: mastery of the andat, and the rank of Poet. Thanks to these men - part sorcerers, part scholars - the great city-states of the Khaiem enjoy wealth and power beyond measure, and the greatest of them all is Saraykeht: glittering jewel of the Summer Cities. There are those in the world, however, who envy such wealth. There are great riches to be had in the Summer and Winter Cities, and only the threat of the andat unleashed holds the enemies of the Khaiem in check. Conflict is brewing in the world. Alliances will be broken and friends betrayed. The lowly will be raised up, the mighty will fall and innocents will be slaughtered. And two men, bound to each other by an act of kindness and an act of brutality, may be all that stands between the civilised world and war. War and something worse…
The Long Price Quartet is the debut work of Daniel Abraham. The series consists of four books which have been recently released in two omnibus editions: Shadow and Betrayal and Seasons of War.
Shadow and Betrayal contains lots of new ideas and is, for me, out-of-the-box fantasy. This makes it hard to find a point on where to start… But here goes.
Book one, Shadow in Summer is not your stereotypical fantasy novel. Judging by the cover alone you might expect a surplus of sword-fighting and battles but this in minimal and what is most noteworthy is how Abraham sets his world apart from others with his ideas and great storytelling.
I haven't read many fantasy books which use specific current existing themes in their world building. The world in which The Long Price Quartet plays out is heavily influenced by oriental themes and this is noticeable from the first few paragraphs in the prologue. Something else which I also haven't encountered often is Abraham’s use of hand gestures in his dialogue. Characters use their hands to emphasize what they are staying but I am afraid that I simply didn't get it. The hand gestures just did not make that much sense to me - I can understand why Abrahams uses them, in an attempt to enliven the dialogue, but it just didn’t work for me.
Another part I liked about A Shadow in Summer is the small, hardly noticeable fantasy thread. The book does have magic but that’s not where the emphasis lies, neither is it in fighting but it is instead in politics (somewhat comparable to Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana) where a whole economy is threatened. something that may lead to war. Some books focus more on character interactions and world building and A Shadow in Summer is one of them. This approach may not be for everyone since it is less focused on action but the way in which Abraham writes is wonderful and his use of a divergent set of characters really helps in creating a well-rounded story.
Now for the magic part. Poets. Abraham had put a lot of thought into this and the idea is simple yet brilliant. The poets are able to put a concept in to words, like a poem, and transform this into a magic creature called an “andat”. These andats are the magic users, not the poets themselves who merely direct their actions.
There are some small details that I think could have made A Shadow in Summer even better. This is, of course, Abraham’s debut novel and although his diverse cast of characters all had their own personalities they were all more or less on a shallow level. The little extra depth given for their actions and motives would have added much to the story overall.
All-in-all though A Shadow in Summer is a very well written debut novel in which Abraham lays a solid foundation for the books to come.
Book 2, A Betrayal in Winter, really improves upon the foundations laid down in A Shadow in Summer. Once again the emphasis is not on fighting, battles etcetera but on plotting, scheming, the human interactions and politics. The second book’s storyline was better constructed than the first novel but does admittedly benefit from the groundwork done in A Shadow in Summer.
A Betrayal in Winter picks up roughly half a decade after A Shadow in Summer, and likewise plays out within not the Summer Cities but the Winter Cities. The main protagonist, Otah, has a larger role in A Betrayal in Winter than he did in A Shadow in Summer and I really like Otah character and how he was constructed. Often you see either scullions that grow up to be kings or princes that maintain their high rank but what makes Otah different is that he has renounced his bonds to his father the Khai (Kingly figure) and has become a poet. His character really changes throughout the second book, mainly due to the certain events, and this character development is always a big plus for me.
The storyline was great and I am forced to withdraw my comment regarding the hand gestures. After getting fully into the story I found that the poses do actually give more dimension, and somehow my subconscious mind now forms the mental images that, I think, Abraham intended with this trick - quite funny and clever indeed.
To summarise, Shadow and Betrayal is strong story about an empire struggling to maintain control and power. Abraham’s writing is excellent all I can say is that I wished I had picked it up sooner.
This Shadow and Betrayal book review was written by Jasper de Joode
All reviews for: The Long Price Quartet
Shadow and Betrayal
The Long Price Quartet: Books 1 and 2
In a remote mountain academy, the politically expendable younger sons of the Great Houses study for an extraordinary task. Most will fail, some will die, but the reward for...
Seasons of War
The Long Price Quartet: Books 3 and 4
The poets and their magical andat have protected the cities of the Khaiem against their rivals in Galt for generations. Otah, Khai of the Winter City of Machi, has tried fo...
Have you read Shadow and Betrayal?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Shadow and Betrayal reader reviews
Dot from UK
I've read it twice without realizing it's part of a series, and with quite a long gap between. I loved it both times. I love the concept of the poets and the andats. The idea of hand gestures is very clever. I'm looking forward to reading the next books in the series.
9.2/10 from 2 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear while the Lord Ruler reigned with absolute power ...
Half a King
Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it al...
The Faithful and The Fallen
Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will...
The Farseer Trilogy
In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma. Born on the wrong side of the sheets,...
The World Tree rises up out of the seething clouds like a green mountain, lifting its children up to the light. All creation nestles in its gigantic branches: all take shel...
Hope and Red
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two people find a common cause. Hope, the lone survivor of a village massacred by the emperor's forces, is secretly tr...
The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures...
In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall...
The Black God's War
Moses Siregar III
Against the backdrop of epic warfare and the powers of ten mysterious gods, Lucia struggles to understand The Black One. Her father-king wants war. Her messianic brother wa...
Wall of Night
The violence of an age-old war casts a long shadow. It falls on a world where mercy is weakness and conflict is a way of life. Young Malian is being trained to rule. Her pe...
Long ago, the evil God Torak fought a war to obtain an object of immense power - the Orb of Aldur. But Torak was defeated and the Orb reclaimed by Belgarath, the sorcerer. ...
The Emperor's Soul
Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skilful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emper...
Hunt for Valamon
When Crown Prince Valamon is impossibly taken from the heart of Algaris Castle, the only clue as to motive or culprit is the use of unknown sorcery. Reclusive cleric Seris ...
Four millennia have passed since the gods came to Myrillia, creating the nine lands of peace as a haven from the nightmarish, accursed Hinterlands. In all this time nothing...
A Trial of Blood and Steel
Spurning her royal heritage to be raised by the great warrior, Kessligh, her exquisite swordplay astonishes all who witness it. But Sasha is still young, untested in battle...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended high fantasy books/series
- Recommended books/series featuring royalty, monarchy and empire
Best of 2016
Hope and Red
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two people find a common cause. Hope, the lone survivor of a village massacred by the emperor's forces, is secretly train...
The Star Touched Queen
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more ...
The Pagan Night
Ruling with an iron hand, the Church has eliminated the ancient pagan ways. Yet demonic gheists terrorize the land, hunted by the Inquisition, while age-old hatreds rage betwe...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his mind. But as the Jardines tighten their grip on a turbulent Britain, brother and sister face a fight greater than their own. New alliances and old feuds will remake the natio...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...