The Widow’s House by Daniel Abraham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Dagger and the Coin (Book #4 of 5)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 531 pages (Kindle edition)
Published: 5th August 2014 by Orbit
A penultimate installment filled with war, tactics, and intrigues. The stage for the conclusion of the series has been established nicely.
“These are the weapons that greater forces use against each other. Put two boys to fighting each other with sticks, and the boys may come away well or poorly, but the sticks will always be shattered.”
The Widow’s House by Daniel Abraham is the fourth and penultimate book in The Dagger and the Coin series. It picks up immediately from the big revelation that occurred at the end of The Tyrant’s Law. Due to the ending of the previous book, I found the first quarter of the novel to be incredibly fast-paced and exciting, especially because this is the fourth book of the series already, and I’ve gotten to know the characters really well. One of the biggest factors behind this is the inclusion of the new character: Inys. I can’t say too much on this; his identity definitely belongs in major spoiler territory. But let’s just say that the existence of Inys heightened and ramped up the pulse-pounding situation that our main characters faced. The themes of the novel are still the same. War, faith, politics, money, and family continue to be the most dominating themes of the narrative, and once again, Abraham executed these wonderfully.
“I’m afraid that even when the war ends, the man that comes back may not have much in common with the one that’s leaving.”
Looking back towards The Dragon’s Path, the first book of the series, it honestly felt like the characters have come so far. Compared to many other epic fantasy series, The Dagger and the Coin doesn’t have too many pivotal events. Usually, by book four of an epic fantasy series, a lot more world-shattering events would’ve occurred. This, of course, doesn’t mean that The Widow’s House is lacking in it; Abraham has successfully prepared the stage for the conclusion. However, it’s impressive that a series with relatively fewer epic events like this could show that the characters have certainly changed for better or worse. Marcus is probably the only character that doesn’t develop too much; he’s still more or less the same Marcus as he was in the beginning. But for Cithrin, the Kalliam family, Kit, and Geder Palliako? All of them have been dramatically influenced by the predicaments they’re in.
“I’m saying that tragedy is also something we are familiar with. Sudden loss or slow, deserved or the world’s caprice. We will ache and we will mourn and we will also play at the next stop with the parts rearranged.”
Similar to the previous three books, Geder Palliako’s chapters continue to be one of the highlights. I know I’m being incredibly repetitive in my reviews of the series regarding this character, but I have such conflicting emotions, in a good way, on Geder. I mean, think about it, he genuinely believes he’s always doing the right thing. He doesn’t have many friends, but he cares for his few friends. Plus, he’s fully determined to protect the people he cares about with every inch of power he has. Usually, attitudes like this would’ve earned him a place as one of the protagonists. But he’s not; he’s a villain. And he doesn’t even know or consider the possibility that he is a villain. The last chapter and line of his POV chapter were impactful and poignant. It’s all so intriguing to me, and I can’t wait to find out the conclusion to his story.
“We are what we are. Knowing what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are and making do with them is all any of us have.”
The other character that takes the spotlight in The Widow’s House is Cithrin bel Sarcour. Throughout the series, I’ve never felt fully invested in her character; I feel like her character’s development progressed a bit too slow. And yes, speaking of too slow, the pacing in the middle sections of The Widow’s House was a bit rough; I finished the first and last quarter in a day, but it took me five days to read the 50% in-between them. However, it’s all so worth it. Cithrin’s final chapters were brilliantly done. As she said, everything has a cost. I thought I knew the meaning behind the title of the series already, but Abraham’s smart implementation of money and gold in this book enhanced the meaning behind The Dagger and the Coin so much.
“How could gold and silver, silk and spice, contracts and agreements stand in the field against swords? It was ridiculous on the face of it, and like so many things, less ridiculous the more she looked at it.”
With The Widow’s House, Abraham displayed the effective possibilities on how money can be used as a tool of destruction; just like swords and weapons. Despite my issues with the pacing in the middle section of the novel, I still think The Widow’s House worked as a penultimate novel. The stage for the hopefully satisfying conclusion has been set up now, and I sincerely hope The Spider’s War will deliver the powerful ending that this underrated series deserves.
“What’s gold? A metal too soft to take an edge. There’s no power there. What makes gold important is the story we tell about it. All of humanity has agreed that this particular object has value, and then because we all said so, it does. The metal hasn’t changed. It doesn’t breathe, it doesn’t bleed. It is what it was before. All we’re doing is telling that same story about some letters we’ve written.”
You can order the book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)
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