A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham Review

A Shadow in Summer is a beautiful book. I don’t mean the physical book looks beautiful, and I don’t mean that it has particularly beautiful prose. However, the concept and execution of this story is beautiful.

The first book of the Long Price Quartet, iA Shadow in Summer is set in an Asian inspired group of cities that were part of a now defunct empire. The city we are based in is a political player on the world stage, based on one thing. Cotton. I know the cotton trade sounds like a wonderful thing for a book to focus on, super interesting right? RiGhT?!?! Well honestly, yes.

The magic of this world allows complex concepts to be spoken into being, by poets. The concepts they capture become a humanoid and sentient form, intrinsically linked to the poet, called Andat. Removing-the-part-that-continues, AKA seedless is used to increase the speed and efficiency of cotton harvesting and processing. Again sounds super interesting right…

Well Abraham does a wonderful job in this book of addressing concepts and themes not always dealt with in fantasy. We have probably all heard the idea of the pen being mightier than the sword, but in this series we get to deliberate on where money and economics fits into that equation. Does being an economic powerhouse protect as effectively as having a military presence? If so, how can this be leveraged as a political tool?

Many other issues are touched on here aswell, trust, justice, loyalty, slavery, human worth and so much more. What I love is that Abraham isn’t here to preach to us, he allows so much of this discussion to occur naturally and much of it is cleverly woven in and left the subtext.

I have seen people compare this book to a Shakespearean tragedy and I find that an apt comparison. There is so much to think on, and I felt conflicted dealing with so many of the characters we see here. I think this is the kind of book you could study. You could go deep on its themes and perspectives and I know I will be thinking about this book for a while.

For those wanting a fast paced, exciting swashbuckling adventure, give this one a miss. For anyone wanting something to get under your skin, and keep you up at night contemplating, you need to read this book.

I am so excited to continue this series after a brilliant first instalment.

4.5 Stars

Go forth and read


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