Fans of epic fantasies by George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan have a new writer to watch out for. Daniel Abraham's debut fantasy novel, A Shadow in Summer, is the first book in a planned series dubbed the Long Price Quartet, which promises readers a long and satisfying journey.
Otah is a student at a strict martial arts-style school. One or two boys will make it all the way through the school and become poets magicians who bind and control an idea into the physical form of a man (an andat ). Otah rebels against the harsh schooling, drops out and makes his way from the high north countries to the hot and buggy city of Saraykeht and indentures himself as a laborer.
The andat of Saraykeht, Seedless, can remove seeds from cotton and thus gives the city a huge competitive advantage over other cities. But Seedless resists what he sees as his enslavement and conspires to free himself from his maker, the poet Heshai. Power relationships are a big part of this novel and promise to be more so in future volumes in the series. In the simmering heat of Saraykeht much is conveyed through ritual postures, so that even while characters meet in bathhouses and try to cool off, they are still communicating without speaking. Abraham's Asian-influenced pre-industrial revolution world is rich in detail and manages to be enjoyably complex without becoming convoluted. The characters are deep and interestingly flawed. They want different things, betray one another and don't always get what they want. Abraham, however, knows and delivers what readers want in this imaginative debut. Gavin J. Grant runs Small Beer Press in Northampton, Massachusetts.