The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

Rating 7.8/10
Solid fantasy that promises much more excitement to come.

The dragons are gone, the powerful magics that broke the world diluted to little more than parlour tricks, but the kingdoms of men remain and the great game of thrones goes on. Lords deploy armies and merchant caravans as their weapons, manoeuvring for wealth and influence. But a darker power is rising - an unlikely leader with an ancient ally threatens to unleash again the madness that destroyed the world once already. Only one man knows the truth and, from the shadows, must champion humanity. The world's fate stands on the edge of a Dagger, its future on the toss of a Coin...

The Dragon’s Path has got just about everything you could want in a good fantasy novel: a city on a political knife edge set in a well-crafted world, history, religion, political posturing galore and strong leading characters of both genders. What there’s not is a lot of fighting. None in fact. This isn’t the classic fantasy of days gone by where swords and sorcery abound, but a slower, more deliberate expression of the genre that draws you in with intrigue, not action.

The main players on Abraham’s stage here are Cithrin, the adopted daughter of a banker who finds herself trekking across Antea in disguise with the entire contents of the bank’s vaults, and Geder, a less than enthusiastic soldier who’s more interested in books than he is swords. It’s surprising that as the leading characters in this tale they’re the ones that take the longest to convince. Cithrin’s precarious situation makes for some tense scenes, though often these are broken up by bouts of surety in her personality that don’t ring true. It’s only when she arrives at Porte Oliva that she really begins to develop fully and win you over. Similarly, Geder, a bullied bookworm in with the wrong crowd often makes decisions or takes actions that feel at odds with the character previously presented.

Conversely, Abraham’s supporting characters are superbly crafted (though ‘supporting’ hardly does them justice). One of the King’s closet friends, Dawson, works hard to keep his liege safe and sitting on the Severed Throne, while Cithrin’s hired guard Marcus struggles to balance a haunting history with future dilemmas. Although easily the most intriguing and engaging characters here, Abraham presents a super array of additional personalities in Master Kit, Jorey and Clara, giving the reader plenty of options to choose from.

With an intriguing storyline and a narrative rhythm that sweeps you along, you’ll be hard pushed not to enjoy this first instalment in The Dagger and the Coin series. The brilliant opening chapter will haul you in from the second you start and by the time the final pages turn anticipation for the sequel – The King’s Blood – will be firmly secured.

Despite some shaky characterisations, The Dragon’s Path is a great, solid fantasy that promises much more excitement to come.

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