What Makes This Book Worth Reading: The Long Price Quartet

The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham
ISBN 978-1-250-18658-4

This post is about a four-book fantasy series by Daniel Abraham that was published in one volume as “The Long Price Quartet”. The four books in the series are:

  1. A Shadow in Summer (2006)
  2. A Betrayal in Winter (2007)
  3. An Autumn War (2008)
  4. The Price of Spring (2009)

Daniel Abraham is one half of the team that writes as S.A. Corey (the team that wrote The Expanse).

What first attracted me to the series were the outstanding reviews from other authors and book review sites. On the strength of those reviews, I purchased the first book, “A Shadow in Summer,” at Half Price Books on clearance for $2.00. I enjoyed the book so much that when I finished it I wanted to be able to read the rest of the series immediately. The cheapest way to get the other three books was to buy the four book omnibus edition from Amazon. (I put the first book up for swapping on paperbackswap.com and it was claimed within two days.)

Authors who praised the series include George R. R. Martin, Connie Willis, Kate Elliot, Brandon Sanderson, Jo Walton, and Patrick Rothfuss.

Connie Willis (Grand Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy) said it is “utterly original and incredibly seductive.”

Brandon Sanderson said it was “Exactly the kind of book I love.”

Locus described it as “Heart-stoppingly surprising and exciting”

Kirkus Reviews said it was “Impressive”

SFX wrote it was “A compelling, emotionally brutal and edgy fantasy that’s genuinely worth of comparison with genre heavyweights like George R. R. Martin…exceptionally well written.”

Bookpage said it was “Full of hope that nen and women can be equal and that systems which degrate us can be changed.”

Asimov’s Science Fiction’s review praised Abraham saying that “Abraham has an interesting set of distinctive characters, a good sense of plot, and a fresh take on several of the usual fantasy tropes. He’s also willing to examine real-world issues a lot of popular fantasy doesn’t look at.”

The four book series spans a period of about 70 years set in a low-tech world dominated by city-states that are all that remains of a fallen empire that once dominated the world. Each city-state has a sorcerer that has cast a spell that forced a different aspect of nature to become embodied in a human-like form, under the complete control of the sorcerer. The sorcerers are known as poets and the embodied powers are known as andat. The andat constantly struggle against the sorcerers who control them desiring nothing more that to be released from their enforced embodiment and servitude.

A few generations before the story begins the empire fell when the poets waged war with their andat against other poets unleashing forces so powerful that world-wide cataclysms resulted. Other countries that have no poets of their own have no great love for the remains of the fallen empire but they cannot risk open conflict with the city-states without suffering retaliation from a poet and his andat.

But the country of Galt has advanced more technologically than the rest and is constantly scheming to undermine the fallen empire and its poets.

Author Abraham has created a fantasy world with intricate customs and interesting cultures. The fallen empire’s culture is Eastern (oriental-like) whereas the count of Galt is more Western-like.

The system of magic is quite unlike anything I’ve encountered in fantasy literature before. At the beginning of the series only men can bind nature forces into andat and only selfless men who are unlikely to abuse their power are trained to become poets. By the fourth book in the series, attempts are made to train women to be poets. The results are world-changing.

The series is refreshingly free of explicit sex. In fact, there’s not much sex in the series at all. Abraham puts his energy into dealing with other, non-sexual, adult themes and he does so very well.

One other positive aspect of this series is that Abraham has finished it, so you won’t have to wait an inexcusable amount of time for the author to wrap things up (unlike Patrick Rothfuss and his Kingkiller Chronicle that has been waiting for the final book for more than 9 years).

I’m very glad that I didn’t wait to get used copies of the last three books in Long Price Quartet and I recommend it highly.

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