The Dragon's Path

Mea culpa: Although I own every volume part of Daniel Abraham's The Long Price Quartet, I have yet to read the first installment. Hence, this would be my first foray into the author's long form works. I absolutely loved Leviathan Wept and Other Stories last summer, and I was thus looking forward to reading the opening chapter in The Dagger and the Coin sequence.

Though certain facets of The Dragon's Path show a lot of promise and potential, I had mixed feelings about the novel as a whole when I reached the last page.

Here's the blurb:

Summer is the season of war in the Free Cities.

Marcus wants to get out before the fighting starts. His hero days are behind him and simple caravan duty is better than getting pressed into service by the local gentry. Even a small war can get you killed. But a captain needs men to lead — and his have been summarily arrested and recruited for their swords.

Cithrin has a job to do — move the wealth of a nation across a war zone. An orphan raised by the bank, she is their last hope of keeping the bank’s wealth out of the hands of the invaders. But she’s just a girl and knows little of caravans, war, and danger. She knows money and she knows secrets, but will that be enough to save her in the coming months?

Geder, the only son of a noble house is more interested in philosophy than swordplay. He is a poor excuse for a soldier and little more than a pawn in these games of war. But not even he knows what he will become of the fires of battle. Hero or villain? Small men have achieved greater things and Geder is no small man.

Falling pebbles can start a landslide. What should have been a small summer spat between gentlemen is spiraling out of control. Dark forces are at work, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon’s Path — the path of war

The worldbuilding is at times brilliant, but this aspect also leaves much to be desired in other instances. The entire back story regarding dragons and their fallen empire was utterly fascinating, and I wish we could have learned more about it. The many vestiges of the dragons' civilization definitely added depth to this tale, hinting at countless secrets from the past left to be discovered. Another concept which could have been interesting but turned out to be a failure to launch was the various races. For reasons that remain unexplained, humanity is now split into thriteen different races, all of them born from the Firstblood mold. Problem is, other than disparate physical traits, it appears that humanity, as a whole or sundered in its myriad forms, has no history, mythology, and religion; nothing to give each of the races its identity as a society. So much had been made concerning the thirteen races prior to the book's release that I was persuaded that this would set The Dragon's Path apart from the competition. I was expecting a panoply of diverse cultures, all with their own traditions and beliefs. Sadly, the total absence of depth in that regard -- thus far -- was a definite letdown.

The politicking isn't polished enough, I felt, and in the end everything seemed a bit too contrived for my taste. In terms of court intrigue, not every author can be as talented as George R. R. Martin or Katherine Kurtz. And yet, if a good chunk of your premise depends on this, then the politicking needs to be up to snuff.

The characterization did nothing for me, unfortunately. Which is odd, given the fact that it's not because the story isn't populated by well-defined protagonists. Most characters are nicely realized men and women, each with his or her own back story. But for some reason -- and God knows I've tried to put my finger on it in the last two weeks -- the characters all left me indifferent. Which doesn't really bode well for me. One must give Daniel Abraham credit for playing with our own preconceptions of fantasy stereotypes. The author managed to mix things up by using popular genre tropes, only to turn the table on the readers later on. Still, Marcus was never able to rise above the clichéd warrior who has seen enough of violence. The same can be said of Dawson, the typical nobleman. Though she did nothing for me as a character, Cithrin's storylines is likely the most interesting of the bunch. Abraham tackling commerce and everything it encompasses as an arc shows a lot of promise. The most intriguing character remains the Apostate, and I'm curious to see how his plotline will influence the rest of the series.

The pace is a bit uneven here and there, yet the novel's narrative flows well for the most part. The prose doesn't grab hold of you the way I anticipated, but it does create a vivid imagery.

The structure of the book follows that of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Instead of regular chapter, the book is divided in POV sections. The Dragon's Path features the points of view of Marcus, Geder, Cithrin, Dawson and his wife Clara, as well as that of the Apostate.

All in all, though it might not be the sort of opening chapter I was expecting, The Dragon's Path shows a lot of potential. Whether or not Daniel Abraham can up his game in the second installment remains to be seen. Yet, as many have pointed out, The Long Price Quartet got better and better with each new volume, so here's to hoping that it will be the case here as well.

Though The Dragon's Path is a solid effort, in several aspects the execution fell a little flat.

The final verdict: 7.25/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

19 commentaires:

Daniel Abraham said...

Hey, Pat. Sorry it didn't work for you better, but thanks for taking the chance on it.

Jake said...

There's no other reviewer who disagrees with me so consistently--not that I'm bashing you at all, Pat. Just seems like you give all the books that blow me away a 7.something score while the ones I think were mediocre get 8.5's and 9+s.

IanS said...

I'm looking forward to this one and will pick it up as soon as it's available on kindle.

Mavis said...

I am 2/3 of the way through and have to kick myself everytime I read a Dawson chapter. I keep ruiting for him...(damn those treasonous bastards!) But wait, he is really in the wrong here...right?!? Darn you Daniel!

Laura said...


It's available on Kindle. In fact, the ebook version (from Amazon and others) includes an ARC of Leviathan Wakes.

IanS said...


I've checked Amazon and the kindle is not available in Canada. Not yet, at least.

Patrick said...

Daniel: There are enough good elements to make me want to read volume two. I'm a bit scared of the fact that the characters left me indifferent, but the Apostate and Cithrin's storylines were interesting enough to make me curious as to what comes next. And the back story alone has me hooked to a certain extent, so I'll be giving the sequel a shot. And no worries, I will be reading LEVIATHAN WAKES!

Jake: Variety is the spice of life, don't you know!?!

Anonymous said...

I didn't care for this book. Never grabbed me..

Jebus said...

Just arrived in the mail, likely to be read once I finish The Crippled God.

Jeff said...

I just finished the Kindle version of this book and was surprised to see the ARC of Leviathan Wakes after the interview section. I just figured my version was messed up since it said I had only read 44% of the book when it ended.

That said, I did like this book. I wanted to like it more, but some of the characters were near misses for me. On the other hand I found myself kind of rooting for people whose actions made them IMO morally bankrupt, so that is pretty good writing to me. I track and rate all the books I read (about 70 a year) and I gave it an 8/10. I will definitely buy the next one. The Apostate and Marcus sample chapters from the next book gave me hope that those characters will come more into their own in the next book.


Roland said...

Pat has discovered a unique rating system that ranges between 7 and 10 and is not even linear:

Still, you write good reviews Pat and I like your blog! :)

Daniel Abraham said...

Jeff: Yeah, Orbit is doing the Ace double thing with Dragon's Path and Leviathan Wakes. Anyone who gets the ebook of one gets both.

Ash said...

Interestingly after reading the first two books of the Long Price Quartet I thought characterization was Daniel Abraham's strength. I'll definitely be picking up this one and Leviathan's Wake (hopefully the 2 for 1 ebook deal applies in Canada too).

Ash said...

Update - yes, the combined edition ebook is available in Canada - Kobobooks has it for $9.99 (if only I could find the Price of Spring for anything close to that).

Paul D said...

You can get a Kindle in Canada.

IanS said...


Where did you find it? I can find the kindle version for the UK and the US, but, when I try to purchase it, Amazon tells me the book's not available for my region (ie. Canada).

Ash said...

Paul D - yes, you can get a Kindle in Canada, but a lot of Kindle books aren't available outside the US - something that isn't generally evident on the Amazon web page until you actually try to buy the book. I believe Kobobooks currently has the largest selection available in Canada (in EPub format - readable by pretty much any reader except a Kindle), and also in most cases the lowest price. There are several other ebook sellers that also have more books available in Canada than Amazon (again mostly as EPub).

Ash said...

Ian S - I found it at Kobobooks (the ebook arm of Chapters/Indigo), but Kindles don't have native support for EPub since Amazon don't want Kindle owners to buy books from other sellers. If you're really desperate you could buy it there and find a tool to strip the DRM (still legal in Canada, though probably not for long), then convert it to MobiPocket format using Calibre. I imagine it will eventually come out for Kindle in Canada though.

Askelladd said...

I'll give it a solid 8. The characters weren't as compelling as the ones in his book A Shadow of Summer. But there is enough good things in the book for the experience of reading the book worth it. I also got the feeling that the main characters, story will become stronger in the succeeding books in the series.