The Long Price Quartet
By Daniel Abraham
The word of mouth I'd gotten about this series had been so overwhelmingly positive that I was really excited to experience it for myself. It took me two weeks to get through all four volumes--over 1500 pages--and the only reason it took that long is because of all of those pesky "responsibility" things that keep getting in the way of my reading time. Now, I can't honestly say that it lived up to all of the most hyperbolically superlative instances of hype that I heard, but it was one of the best thought-out and most enjoyable fantasy series I've read in a long time.
What really grabbed me about this series was how well the author managed to come up with a fresh, unique setting. It's not often that you find a fantasy novel where the setting doesn't feel familiar--the genre tropes are pretty firmly entrenched at this point. Abraham's Khaiem, though, felt new and exotic to me to a degree I can't remember last encountering. That might sound a little inaccessible, but it wasn't at all, because even though the customs and structures of the culture of the Khaiem were new, the characters are still recognizably human and very relatable.
But even more than just being fresh, I loved that Abraham took the time to really think through the implications of the world he'd created. He invented a new and interesting system of magic and then created a setting in which only a small number of people in one country in the whole world have access to that magic. What would such a world look like? How would life be affected for both the people inside and outside that country? Abraham addresses these questions in ways that I found interesting and the conclusions were immensely satisfying.
The series has four volumes: A Shadow in Summer, A Betrayal in Winter, An Autumn War, and The Price of Spring. Each one is self-contained, with a beginning, middle, and satisfying conclusion--no cliffhangers here. I'm so used to fantasy series that are really one long novel split into parts that I often refuse to even start a series until it's been completed. (It's for that exact reason that Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind is still sitting on my nightstand, despite the excellent reviews my friends have given it.) So being presented with a series in which each volume feels complete (or nearly complete) in itself while still contributing to a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts--well, I appreciated it.
If you're at all interested in epic fantasy, you should definitely check this one out. It's well worth your time.
Started: 9/15/2009 | Finished: 9/29/2009
On your recommendation (and on the recommendations of some other friends), I got the books from Amazon (my public library didn't have any of them). I'm partway through the first and am really enjoying it.
I'm deliberately reading slowly, though, because I have a long trip next month and I want to have something engaging to read on the plane.
Thanks for the recommendation.