Strange Wordings

Thoughts on fantasy, science fiction and genre writing in general . . . stuff that's strange.

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Location: Fredericksburg, Virginia

These Blogs are largely about the process of coercing words out of my head (at times I convince myself that I am a novelist). Thoughts about current reading and/or fantasy literature and writing in general may disgorge at random.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Review: A Shadow in Summer

I encountered A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham while wandering the internet, happening upon the website seredipitously. Abraham has posted the prologue and by the time I had finished reading it, I was a convert. In fact, I dare you to follow the link in the sidebar, read the prologue and then refrain from running to the nearest bookstore--like I did--to pick up this volume. To put it plainly: brilliant.

Abraham deftly weaves together lucid prose, compelling story telling, and a wonderfully realized setting. By the end of the first chapter you`ll be marvelling that this is a debut effort by Abraham.

This is not to say that A Shadow in Summer is without flaw. A number of reviewers have pointed out an apparent, and rather glaring, problem with the plot development. I say 'apparent' with the knowledge that Abraham intends this to be the opening of a four-book series; as such, he has leeway to resolve the problem in the next volume.

The plot in a nutshell: the city of Saraykeht--sorry if I get the spelling wrong, as I'm doing this from memory--stands at the pinnacle of wealth and power, but it has feet of clay. The city thrives from dominance of the cloth trade, provided entirely by the power of the andat, Seedless. An andat is a concept, given coherence by the word-thoughts of a poet, and the encaptured spirit exercises power commensurate with it's founding concept; therefore, Seedless possesses the power to remove 'the part that continues.' For the cloth trade Seedless removes all of the seeds from all of the harvest of cotton, giving Saraykeht an insurmountable advantage in the trade.

With wealth and power, however, come jealousy and fear. If the poet Heshai should lose control of Seedless, Saraykeht would fall. When a conspiracy rises to free the andat, who will stand up to save the city . . . and should it be saved?

A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham--brilliant.


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