Thursday, October 04, 2012

Awesome Omnibus(es): The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham

It’s been a while since I did an Awesome Omnibus post, so why not feature two omnibii in one post? Why not indeed.

So, as readers of my blog have likely noticed, I read through Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet about a month or so ago and reviewed each book individually. Unfortunately, readers eager to read the series in the originally published four books may find it difficult to find those four volumes. In fact, hardcover copies of each book in the series are known to fetch a fancy price in the collector market (i.e. eBay). Furthermore, the fourth volume, The Price of Spring was never published in mass market paperback, a very odd thing.

Smartly, Tor has moved to remedy their oversight in making these books as widely available as they should have been initially.  As this post is part of my AWESOME OMNIBUS theme, I’m sure by now if you haven’t already known and may have guessed, Tor has reissued the four books in two omnibus volumes. The first half of the Quartet is available as Shadow and Betrayal whilst the second half, The Price of War will publish at the end of November. Smartly (again) Tor is reusing these books with the magnificent cover art Stephan Martiniere provided for two of the four original novels..

Shadow and Betrayal is of course comprised of A Shadow in Summer and A Betrayal in Winter:

A Shadow in Summer has many elements in common with Abraham’s fantasy contemporaries – imagined world with echoes of our own, archaic governments that hearken to our past, hints of magic and non-human creatures. Where the novel (and series) differs is in how these elements play together in Abraham’s sandbox. The magic is subtle, only one andat is a primary player in A Shadow in Summer, the imagined world feels more like an old-world Asian setting rather than what’s become the template – Renaissance/Middle Ages Europe. Though the ripple effects of events in the novel are global, it is a plot involving not that many characters, or in other worlds, a world shaped not by war but a chosen few in power. Hints of the power of commerce which take more of a role in The Dragon’s Path can be seen here in A Shadow in Summer  The comparison to Guy Gavriel Kay has been made by many people and I’ll add my voice to the crowd, it is difficult to ignore if you’ve read both writers. Another writer to whom I’d compare Abraham, at least with this novel, is Sean Russell – subtle magic, elegant prose, and ripple effects of a few men on a large scale.


Gender politics become more prevalent in A Betrayal in Winter with the character of Idaan, the Khai’s daughter. Daughters cannot rule in the land of Machi and it is something which Idaan covets knowing it is something she cannot attain. The consequences of her actions as a result of her justifiable frustrations, again, have a very large ripple effect. As those consequences become steeper, Idaan has difficulty coping with all the changes being wrought. The women’s roles were pretty clear in A Shadow in Summer, but though they may be clear in Betrayal,  the primary female character is not content by any means.

The Price of War is of course comprised of An Autumn War and The Price of Spring:

Here in The Autumn War, Abraham provides a vantage point into the world outside of the cities where the andat have such an impact. As previously indicated, Galt and how they’ve lived in fear and hatred of the poet sorcerers and their pet andat which are thoughts made form and life. Rather than a small glimpse, Abraham follows the story from both sides of the conflict, much as he laid out the story from both sides of the conflict in A Betrayal in Winter. The ultimate consequences to affect this world; it would seem, is the existence of the andat, for these magically born creatures keep one nation in power with the others in the shadows.

In many ways The Price of Spring is an elegiac novel; there’s a great melancholic weight to the novel and the feelings espoused by the characters. As I indicated, Maati is a tragic figure and the regret he oozes is, at times, a painfully uncomfortable thing. Perhaps because the feeling hit home a bit with me in terms of recent life events, but this also returns to the main theme as I’ve seen it in these four books – consequences. Every action from the opening of the first book to the conclusion of The Long Price either pays forward to the consequences of the character’s actions or is a consequence of earlier actions.

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