by Gavin GrantAugust, 2007
A royal fight to the finish
Daniel Abraham's second Long Price novel, A Betrayal in Winter, is even better than his debut, A Shadow in Summer. As a child, Otah Machi chose to step away from his royal destiny. However, his father, the Khai, is dying, and his brothers seem intent on following the horrifying traditional path of succession: Last one alive wins. That is not the only blow to palace life. When the Khai dies, all his wives must return to the cities of their births. Otah's sister, Idaan, is frustrated by the limits society has placed on her. She decides that instead of being used as someone's path to success, she will use her fiancÅ½ to influence the succession and use her missing brother as the one to blame for any deaths along the way. Idaan is power-hungry yet sympathetic, and her story and Otah's are told in interspersed chapters that keep the tension high. Otah has tried to keep out of family politics but he realizes that his presence endangers everyone he loves and works with. As a result, he returns to the city of his birth to face his family, and perhaps his death, in the hope of changing the succession. A Betrayal in Winter is a novel to inhabit, full of multifaceted characters whose public poses often belie their inner motivations, and full also of hope that men and women can be equal and that systems which degrade us can be changed.