November 5th, 2014


The Dragon's Path, by Daniel Abraham

A low magic, epic fantasy, political potboiler - Game of Thrones without the gore and rape and incest.

The Dragon's Path

Orbit, 2011, 555 pages

All paths lead to war...

Marcus' hero days are behind him. He knows too well that even the smallest war still means somebody's death. When his men are impressed into a doomed army, staying out of a battle he wants no part of requires some unorthodox steps.

Cithrin is an orphan, ward of a banking house. Her job is to smuggle a nation's wealth across a war zone, hiding the gold from both sides. She knows the secret life of commerce like a second language, but the strategies of trade will not defend her from swords.

Geder, sole scion of a noble house, has more interest in philosophy than in swordplay. A poor excuse for a soldier, he is a pawn in these games. No one can predict what he will become.

Falling pebbles can start a landslide. A spat between the Free Cities and the Severed Throne is spiraling out of control. A new player rises from the depths of history, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon's Path-the path to war.

A banking whiz kid, a tragically brooding soldier, and a nerdy nobleman who is really, really going to make you regret giving him a wedgie.
Verdict: Good, solid writing, engaging characters (some more than others, but every multiple-POV novel will produce some characters who are more interesting than others), and a plot that takes a while to build up, but when it does, takes off with a bang. The Dragon's Path is a slowly developing epic in which the author seems to be taking his time laying the groundwork, but if a relatively slow-paced 550-page first volume can make me want to read book two, it's doing something right. The only reason I'm not giving it a highly recommended tag is that it is clearly a derivative genre work that doesn't really do anything different per se — it's just really good at being what it is. 9/10.

Also by Daniel Abraham (writing as James S.A. Corey): My review of Leviathan Wakes.

My complete list of book reviews.

Dancing Jax - Robin Jarvis

I tend to read a bit of Young Adult stuff, because it seems to push the boundaries more than "adult" novels. The Dancing Jax trilogy is a prime example of that. This series is so incredibly dark; there's murder, concentration camps, canabalism, and a whole lot of other things that don't really have names but are so far into Not Okay territory they can't even see the border anymore.

The story revolves around a book itself, Dancing Jax, which on the surface is a rather inane kid's fantasy book, but through nefarious powers makes most readers believe that they exist within the book, and the real world is a grey dream they must endure before they can return to their true life. The key word here is 'most'. For every few million or so people who's minds are overrun, there's one person that is imune. And it's around these 'aberants' that Dancing Jax revolves.

At first, the aberants are pitied by the Jaxers, then despised, then hunted down and killed and finally, worst of all, ignored completely. Most of these aberants are children and teenagers, although whether's that due to some inante feature of young minds or just from the YA focus of the book I can't tell. Through the story these kids grow from rather entitled brats to really quite powerful individuals. The ones that survive, that is.

Throughout the story there's some rather cutting comentary on the state of modern Western society, in all it's media-cycle, 10-seconds of fame glory. Plus some interesting notes on religion, which I felt was extremely well done (I normaly find anything religious quite hard to swallow).

I'd recommend Dancing Jax to anyone who enjoys some dark, modern fantasy and isn't faint hearted.