Shadow and Betrayal by Daniel Abraham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After years of reading recommendations about The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham and waiting to purchase all four volumes, I finally delved into the world Abraham created and I found myself pretty impressed. This omnibus edition featured the first two volumes of the Quartet, A Shadow in Summer and A Betrayal of Winter, which not only introduce the world but are separated in time from one another to be both independent and interdependent on one another.
A Shadow in Summer: Otah Machi turns away from the traditional paths a young nobleman like him has been told to choose to create a new life for himself. Almost a decade later Otah under an assumed name meets a former pupil, Maati, who kept on the traditional paths and succeeded in training to be a poet. The two soon find themselves caught up on a insidious conspiracy to ruin the city of Saraykeht that is instigated by the andat, magically being that is thought made flesh and leashed to a “poet”, Seedless who hopes to undermine his handler Heshai who is to teach Maati.
A Betrayal in Winter: Set fifteen years later after the first volume, Otah and Maati take different paths to the city of the former birth Machi. The sons of the Khai kill one another for the honor to succeed their father, something Otah has no intention of taking part in as he continues his assumed existence. However this eldest brother is murdered, but neither of the other two claim responsibility and conspire with the Dai-kvo to find the murderer is Otah by sending Maati to find out what’s going on. Both men soon find themselves caught up in another conspiracy instigated by a surprising source allied with a not so surprising accomplice.
As stated before the two stories are independent from one another thanks to the 15 years separating them from one another, however they are connected through minor storylines seen in Shadow that are expounded upon in Betrayal. The stories center around Otah and Maati primarily, however both do feature a significant female point-of-view character that helps bring another perspective to the story that improves its overall quality. Abraham slowly explains his magical system that employs the andat by first seeing them from the training poet Maati’s point-of-view in Shadow and then from the point of view a poet handler in Betrayal in which Maati’s observations expounded upon.
On grading both stories on their own merits, Shadow is the weaker of the two as it seemed to meander a few times and would have been graded around a 3.5 out of 5 while Betrayal would have rated a solid 4 out of 5. After finishing Betrayal I was left looking forward to seeing what would happen in An Autumn War, the third volume of the Quartet, a feeling I didn’t really have after finishing Shadow but was quickly forgotten since I was able to immediately start Betrayal thanks to this omnibus edition. Overall I did enjoy both stories and so I recommend this book to lovers of characters, well-rounded stories, and fantasy.
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