Orbit, 2014, 495 pages
The rise of the dragon and the fall of kings Lord Regent Geder Palliako's war has led his nation and the priests of the spider goddess to victory after victory. No power has withstood him, except for the heart of the one woman he desires. As the violence builds and the cracks in his rule begin to show, he will risk everything to gain her love or else her destruction. Clara Kalliam, the loyal traitor, is torn between the woman she once was and the woman she has become. With her sons on all sides of the conflict, her house cannot stand, but there is a power in choosing when and how to fall. And in Porte Oliva, banker Cithrin bel Sarcour and Captain Marcus Wester learn the terrible truth that links this war to the fall of the dragons millennia before, and that to save the world, Cithrin must conquer it.
Book four in the Dragon's Path series shows Geder Palliako continuing to lead Antea in a war against the rest of the world, because the spider priests have convinced him that he's blessed by the goddess and destined to bring peace and an end to all wars. And the pudgy little dork who really just wants a girlfriend a big comic book collection (or the medieval fantasy equivalent) believes them. Geder continues to be the most fascinating character in the series, as Abraham cleverly shows him going from benevolence and innocence (he really does care about the prince he's Lord Regent for, and he really doesn't want to be in charge, and he really does just have a mad crush on the first girl he ever kissed) to unselfaware monstrosity as he sets the world on fire to revenge himself for his humiliation at the hands of that girl, orders cities burnt and people killed, and then acts hurt when he realizes people fear him and aren't necessarily telling him their true feelings.
You can totally picture some dorky, bullied kid suddenly given superpowers or the authority to command armies acting like this - there's a still a decent, almost sweet soul beneath, except he's never learned to take responsibility or act like a man, so he's too willing to wield his newfound power capriciously and then convince himself it was the wisest and best thing. And he alternates between being sad that he can't just go back to his books and his quiet life, and enjoying fantasizing about all the horrible things he can do to anyone who annoys him, even if he (usually) doesn't do those things.
Meanwhile, Marcus Wester and his friends have awoken a dragon. The dragon, who has been slumbering since the dragon's war that ended thousands of years ago with the rise of humanity, turns out to mostly want to brood and feel sorry for itself. Marcus keeps provoking it into taking action and somehow not getting charred alive. The dragon proves quite useful in breaking sieges, until the army deployed against it proves cleverer than they expected.
The book ends with Cithrin Bel Sarcour, the banking prodigy who's been one of the anti-Geder masterminds from the beginning, inventing the concept of credit and taking an entire empire off the gold standard. Yes, a major plot point in this medieval fantasy epic about a spider goddess and ancient dragons vying for world supremacy is... banking.
Continues to be a great, immersive series, very much a piece of the genre and maybe not the most memorable fantasy world ever, but it's a good story worth the four volumes so far.
Also by Daniel Abraham: My reviews of The Dragon's Path, The King's Blood, and The Tyrant's Law.
My complete list of book reviews.