Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Shadowandbetrayal Shadow And Betrayal
The Long Price - Book 1
by Daniel Abraham

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

This is actually Books One and Two of  The Long Price, published in the US as the separate volumes Shadow in Summer and Betrayal in Winter back in 2006/7, but in the UK as a single volume. I was quite surprised to learn that Shadow in Summer was actually Abraham’s first full-length novel – considering the high level of writing skill on show in this work. Not that unexpected however, when you consider Abraham’s lengthy list of published shorter fiction includes Hugo and Nebula nominations.

So, you know the man can write. That’s a good start. And this book is a pretty good start too. It’s high quality fantasy with an oriental flavour, and a distinctly original concept of magic. Normally I prefer a larger dose of magic in my fantasy, but the sheer power possible with the "andat" makes up for its rarity. That rarity also means that Abraham can fully work through the political and economic consequences of the magic in his world.

Shadow in Summer is set in the summer city of Saraykeht in the warm south of the world. We’re introduced to our two main characters, Otah and Maati, as boys, the younger, unwanted sons of noblemen, sent to the poets’ school. It is through poetry that the andat can be manifested and controlled, and this is what the boys are meant to learn. Otah rebels and leaves, and Maati is sent to Saraykeht to study with the poet Heshai, who controls the andat called "Seedless". Of course, nothing is that simple, especially since the Khaiem is in an undeclared war with the Galts, who are out to conquer the world. The Khaiem have the andat, whose magic is highly selective, but extraordinarily powerful. Which means that the andat will have to go… This novel is complex, political and goes deep into the effects of perceived sin on the human psyche.

By contrast Betrayal in Winter takes the reader to the winter city of Machi, far to the north. Otah and Maati are here now for their own reasons, and become embroiled in plotting, scheming and outright murder as the old Khai Machi lies dying. More complex politics, but a bit less soul-searching and a lot more action make this an even better novel than the first. Which makes it pretty darn good.

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