Orbit, 2012, 501 pages
Acclaimed author Daniel Abraham’s works have been nominated for the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award. In this compelling follow-up to The Dragon’s Path, Geder Palliako enjoys high social standing as protector to the crown prince of Antea - but a looming war threatens to change his way of life. Meanwhile, Cithrin bel Sarcour is counting her blessings: long under close surveillance, she hopes a battle will be the opportunity she needs to regain her freedom.
The second book in The Dagger and the Coin series continues Daniel Abraham’s Game of Thrones-like epic fantasy about politics and scheming in a low-magic medieval fantasy kingdom.
Abraham, one half of the writing team for the Expanse series, has a similar style in this series, though he has a few writing ticks that are so repetitive as to be annoying in dialog. People are always replying "You are," or "It is" or just "Is" to rhetorical statements. E.g.,
"We’re going to get wet."
Okay, that’s not quite an actual conversation from the book, but a lot of them sound like that.
The King’s Blood continues the story begun in The Dragon’s Path. Geder Palliako, a minor nobleman who through a series of unlikely events has risen to become Lord Regent of the empire, is now the most powerful man in Antea, and step by step (urged on by the sinister priests of the spider goddess), he continues taking situations that could have ended peacefully and reasons himself into turning them into bloodbaths. Never with any explicit malicious intent, and despite the hints of cruelty as the former abused fat kid begins reveling in his power, he almost seems to be stumbling towards the dark side without meaning to. Yet everything he does makes things worse and darker. Geder Palliako is the banality of evil.
The multiple POV style shifts between Geder Palliako; Cithrin Bel Sarcour, the banking prodigy who is one of the few to recognize how dangerous Palliako is; Marcus Wester, the ex-soldier who winds up being enlisted to save the world from the spider priests; and Clara Kalliam, wife of the disgraced Baron Kalliam. Much of the book is fairly standard epic fantasy, complete with Marcus’s quest for a magic sword. But Daniel Abraham is playing a bit with the standard tropes, leaving us in suspense as to which ones will be played straight and which ones are subversions.
This not a brilliantly original series, but it’s a thick page-turner with a lot of interesting characters and multitudes of plots and subplots being laid down to be developed later. So far, nothing really "epic" has happened - we’ve got hints of a dark goddess who may or may not be real, several wars brewing, and of course, the long-dead dragons who are constantly being referred to, and who may or may not show up before the end of the series. It’s enough to keep you pulled in and interested in the next book.
Also by Daniel Abraham: My review of The Dragon's Path.
My complete list of book reviews.