The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Dagger and the Coin (Book #2 of 5)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 517 pages (Kindle edition)
Published: 3rd May 2012 by Orbit
The King’s Blood was a magnificent sequel that expanded upon everything the previous book built.
“Wars are easier to start than end, and where they take you is rarely where you intended to go… It will be better for all of us to avoid it.”
The King’s Blood is the second novel in The Dagger and the Coin series by Daniel Abraham. The story continues from where the previous book left off, and after using the first volume in the series to introduce the premise, characters, and world-building, Abraham can progress the story in a better flow now. The King’s Blood is in its entirety a superior book than The Dragon’s Path. This isn’t a surprise; The Long Price Quartet by Abraham was a series that gets better and better with each book, and I have no doubt this series will follow the same notion. The themes of the story in The King’s Blood still revolves around war, mercenaries, traditions, legacies, honor, faiths, and money. And I do honestly believe that Abraham successfully conveyed these themes in the narrative.
“Form is what gives the world its shape… If you don’t hold to tradition, what is there? A thousand different people each with his own idea of justice, every man trying to force his ideas on the next? We’ve seen how that ends.”
Once again, there’s a lot of things to love in the story here. It’s incredibly easy—and right—to think of the series so far as a series about mercenaries, wealth, and war. However, beneath it all, Abraham’s fantasy books are always filled with beautiful messages about changes and the passage of time. Take a look at these two quotes:
“It hadn’t seemed all exciting at the time, but the farther away the past drew, the more warmly it glowed.”
“He would have guessed that children grew to adults imperceptibly, each day’s change too small to see, each week too small, each month. The changes may be clear if seen year by year by ear, but maybe that was wrong. Maybe people stayed just the same for long stretches of time, and then shifted suddenly, becoming someone different than they’d been. Or not different, but older. More mature. More themselves.”
I loved these themes; adding these to the deadly situations of the storyline and the great characterizations made The King’s Blood such a wonderful sequel. I do, however, want to remind everyone that whether the series so far will work for you or not will depend entirely on your investment in the main characters.
“Small kindnesses, it turned out, paid large returns.”
The story still follows the journey of the same five main characters of the previous books. Marcus Wester, Cithrin Bel Sarcour, Geder Palliako, Dawnson, and Clara. I highly enjoyed all five character’s storyline. Dawson and Clara, in my opinion, received the most significant improvement in their chapters, and I seriously can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. I also loved that Cithrin’s story gets pulled deeper into the grander scope of the conflicts. It is, however, a bit unfortunate that Marcus’s is put a bit on the backburner here. He didn’t have a lot of spotlight in The King’s Blood, but thankfully, his final POV chapters displayed signs of intriguing things to come in the next books. As for Geder Palliako… Well, he definitely stole the spotlight of the series so far. Abraham did a terrific job in writing this character. There’s something about Geder’s thirst for power that feels so believable and terrifying; the fact that he’s capable of real kindness and violence equally made him such a fascinating character to read about.
“There are no clean starts, Dawson thought. Just as there are no clean endings.
Everything is built like Camnipol: one damn thing atop another atop another reaching down in the bones of the world. Even the forgotten things are back there somewhere, shaping who and what we are now.”
I’ve read only two books in the series so far, and it already has some of Abraham’s most beautiful writing. Oh yes, his prose is accessible, and Abraham has always been good at telling a superb character-driven story. But I think he also deserves credit for writing thought-provoking themes or poignant passages. There were scenes and lines in this novel that really moved my heart, and I wish I can tell you what they are, but they’re massive spoilers; hint, it’s in Dawson’s POV chapters. Instead, I’ll give a different example:
“This was what weddings were for, after all. The opportunity for kindness and extravagance. The chance for last year’s rivals to become this season’s friends or, failing that, at least friendly acquaintainces. It was the other side of the battles and intrigues, this creation of bonds and connections. They were weaving the fabric of civilization.
Whether it’s The Long Price Quartet or The Dagger and the Coin, it’s such a shame that Abraham’s fantasy books are still in a very underrated state in the fantasy community. I am looking forward to reading the third book, The Tyrant’s Law, soon. There’s a good chance this will become one of my favorite series when I’m done with it.
“Words are empty until you fill them, and how you fill them shapes the world. Words are the armor and the swords of souls, and the soldiers on the other side of that bridge have no defense against them.”
You can order the book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)
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