Friday, April 6, 2012

The Long Price Quartet, by Daniel Abraham

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About a year ago, I interviewed fantasy writer Daniel Abraham for a post on A Shadow in Summer. It was painfully evident at the time that I had not yet finished the entire series, called The Long Price Quartet (rounded off with A Betrayal in Winter, An Autumn War, and The Price of Spring -- also subsequently published in a two-volume omnibus edition). Even so, I never came right out and said that I had not yet finished the series.

I had every intention of doing so. The first book intrigued me; any aspect of it I didn't care for I was willing to forgive because Abraham was at least doing something different and had clearly thought the book through. A friend and reader of this blog whose tastes I respect said that the rest of the series would blow my mind.

She was right. The intervening time has been filled with moving abroad, graduate school, and writing projects. But I finally read the rest of the Quartet. I breezed through it so fast that the pages are singed. And I still can't find my socks.

As a writer dabbling in world-building, I appreciate all the ways of crafting the novels which Abraham tackles. He creates nuances of communication. He makes his geography matter. He gets into the politics without quite going West Wing. But beyond all of those elements, he goes into the individuals that populate the world. He gives them their own motives, their own experiences, and never do they feel as if they are only mirroring his own moral code. How could they? His characters (especially Otah and Maati) are products both of their experiences and of their own stubborn personalities. When, by the fourth book, the two main characters are on opposing ends of a conflict -- and you, the reader, believe they are both right -- you know that this Abraham fellow has worked his magic in quite remarkable directions.

Whatever else I say, it boils down to this: I simply could not put down this series of books. Not many experiences are more beautiful than making the 1:00 a.m. decision between sleep and reading more chapters. The only reason to choose sleep is that it guaranteed the experience would last at least another day.

1 comment:

  1. How truly rare and wonderful to find a writer who not only puts characters in moral and ethical dilemmas, but also who stretches the reader between difficult decisions! Most books are good at setting up the reader to like two potentially opposing characters and then widdling it down to just one, but Abraham's book sounds unique by not letting the reader wriggle out.

    I can't wait to read this series!