The Dragon's Path
The Dagger and the Coin #1
Published 2011 by Orbit (Hachette)
In this enthralling start to a new series, Daniel Abraham creates a spectacular range of characters set in a classic fantasy world. Though The Dragon's Path mainly lays groundwork for the rest of the series, it's an excellent beginning and will likely only get better.
When I started reading this book, I thought it was just okay. Decent epic fantasy, nothing particularly special. Then somehow I was 300 pages in without really remembering how I got there. The story crept up on me and kidnapped me before I had the chance to protest or even notice.
The Dragon's Path switches viewpoints almost entirely between five main characters. Captain Marcus, once a soldier and now a mercenary, plays the wise and weary warrior. (Bonus points for alliteration.) Cithrin is the determined orphan, ward of a bank, tasked with a mission that should be straightforward but becomes complicated quickly. Geder, son of a provincial nobleman, is more interested in scholarship than swordplay, but must go to war anyway. Dawson, an influential lord, is determined to maintain the prestige of his king and kingdom, whatever the cost. And the Apostate is a mystery.
Some of these characters, most of whom have their own seperate storylines, never actually interact in this book. It's definitely laying the groundwork for the next books, but it's very well done. Even without info dumps, information about the world and its denizens is as clear as it needs to be, though it would be nice to have more detail – I only saw descriptions for a couple of the dozen or so races. There's not a ton that actually happens here, but what does is quite captivating.
Characterization in this book was brilliant. I loved Cithrin, sympathized with Marcus, gradually grew to despise Dawson, and held Geder in utter contempt. Not many authors can write such a broad yet entirely believable range of characters. I'm very much looking forward to more in this series.
In the same aisle
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie