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Maddalena

Space & Sorcery

My reading adventures in Science Fiction, Fantasy and other speculative fiction genres

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Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
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Pierce Brown

A Shadow in Summer (Long Price Quartet #1)

A Shadow in Summer  - Daniel Abraham

I was aware of Daniel Abraham as one half of the J.A. Corey partnership that penned the Expanse Trilogy, so I decided to try out his fantasy novels - and made a great discovery.  Over the years I've become somewhat picky in my fantasy reading, and whenever I find myself confronted with over-used tropes I quickly lose patience and abandon the book: this was something else entirely

 

The main definition I can come up with for this first volume of The Long Price Quartet is enchanting: the unusual, almost-far-Eastern setting , with its customs and sights and smells, is so very different and so aptly described that I could practically feel it taking shape all around me. 

 

More than once I wondered if there was not some subtle message in the concept of poets giving shape and life to ideas with their thoughts and creating the andats - beings that embody those thoughts and concepts - because while I was immersed in Mr. Abraham's words I considered that he had managed the same feat, to create a vivid world that lived and breathed under my eyes. The same notion that andats do possess a will of their own, often in contrast to the poet's, seemed to reinforce my belief, because sometimes a story does indeed take off in a direction a writer had not foreseen at all.

 

The tale is all about subtle games of power, intricate plots and far-reaching consequences more than about clashes between good and evil or warring empires; struggles are more focused on the inner workings of a character's mind rather than on armies; choices and decisions, and their consequences, have more impact on an individual's moral compass rather than on a kingdom or a world. And yet, for this very reason - and not despite it - the resulting anguish and strife feel more profound and meaningful.

 

This subtlety is mirrored by the fascinating detail of hand gestures that supplement and enhance the spoken language, adding nuances of meaning that cannot be conveyed by word alone; these gestures, together with the different name suffixes that define the various social relationships, are so very pervasive and yet unexplained, adding to the depth of the story in an undefined but very effective way, keeping me awake until the small hours for more times than I care to remember…