Monday, July 6, 2020

Review of The Tyrant's Law by Daniel Abraham

You’re here. You want to know: has Daniel Abraham carried forward the momentum of The King’s Blood into The Tyrant’s Law (2013)? Has he maintained—or enhanced —the quality of The Dagger & Coin series? Does the series continue getting more and more interesting? Answer to all: yes. Where The King’s Blood upped the ante on The Dragon’s Path, The Tyrant’s Law pushes more chips on the table. The stakes, and subsequently reader engagement, grow.

The prologue of The Tyrant’s Law opens on a scene readers have been wondering about throughout the first two books of the series. As is Abraham’s style, it features a non-main character who is witness to something hinted at, but never revealed, until now. From there, the novel switches back into the cycle of viewpoints readers are now very familiar with.

Manifesting himself in a variety of directions, for better and worse, Geder remains one of the most complex characters in the series, by turns sympathetic and despicable. His decisions and behavior in The Tyrant’s Law (as the title hints), only ramp up the understanding he has serious mommy issues. Still in disgrace, Clara starts work from the bottom up, building relationships and enacting plans to get revenge for her husband’s killing. Marcus continues his journeys with Kit, discovering the netherreaches of the known world, and all the fantastical thigns that await. And Cithrin. Cithrin, Cithrin, lady who gets in her own way as much as she helps herself. Her earlier decision to befriend Geder coming back to haunt her, she faces yet another decision that gives her a chance to prove whether she’s learned anything about herself.

Unlike a lot of middle books in fantasy series, The Tyrant’s Law is not a lull in the proverbial storm. Abraham has slowly but methodically been building backstory into the character viewpoints. Another way of saying this is, he has not spent all the series’ energy in individual moments or scenes. The approach balanced, major moments and scenes have gotten their due, but not at the expense of the larger picture, which is slowly taking shape. With The Tyrant’s Law, the larger picture even starts to evolve. Game-changing elements from history are introduced, all the while the tyrant makes decisions that shape the direction of the peoples who populate world.

But with The Tyrant’s Law, Abraham still has not put his cache of chips on the table. We’re not all-in yet. Stronger threads of backstory, combined with more defined directions for the main characters, means a major climax for The Dagger & Coin looms all the larger. Can’t wait to get into the next, The Widow’s House.

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