Saturday, June 27, 2020

Review of The King's Blood by Daniel Abraham

The Dragon’s Path, first book in Daniel Abraham’s The Dagger & the Coin series, was a slow burn. Perhaps too slow, the novel took its time, building a foundation of characters and setting for the four books to come, that may have put off would-be readers. It wasn’t until roughly the two-thirds’ point that the plot’s gears started to bite into one another, and the wider picture started to come into focus. Building off this, the second book in the series, The King’s Blood (2012), carries the momentum forward into a novel that is likely more to the liking of readers with a preference for pace and conflict.

The King’s Blood returns to the viewpoints of the same handful of characters. Geder, now regent to the king, continues his arcane studies under the watchful eye of the spider cult, all the while watching over Astor, heir to the kingdom. Ever faithful and honorable, Dawson attempts to clean up the mess of the failed assassination attempt, even as he sees King Simeon’s health failing. And Cithrin, despite her rise in power in the Medean bank, is now subject to a new line of notary authority, a line that is entirely to her disliking, forcing her to find creative ways of getting done the things done that she knows are good for her and the bank.

As mentioned, The King’s Blood moves at a faster clip than The Dragon’s Path. Abraham having set the stage in the first novel, events are now set in motion in the second act. While Cithrin’s story line sees her working primarily independent of the other characters, Dawson and Geder’s comes into a very interesting point of conflict. Proving that the time spent laying the groundwork was worth it, the two men receive equal sympathy from readers, knowing what each have gone through to get where they are. And yet they have become at odds. The tension that springs from this point, in fact, carries the lion’s share of the novel with a degree of engagement and interest that was impossible in The Dragon’s Path.

I won’t go into more detail. If you have read The Dragon’s Path and are not interested in more, you wouldn’t be here. Thus, in short, The King’s Blood sees the series start to deliver on its expectations, most of its cylinders firing. It is uncertain what value the twelve races bring to the story (they seem like unnecessary window dressing considering they all act human despite their physical differences), but the bottom line remains that the novel generates more satisfaction and engagement than the first. I leave the more interesting details of plot and story for you to discover.

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