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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
The Dragon's Path (The Dagger and the Coin #1) - Daniel Abraham Torn. Torn like a flag in the wind, between three stars and four for The Dragon's Path. For the most part the story and characters are largely forgettable. Not even sure I'll read the next installment. And yet...even when the horde of novels on my Kindle beckoned, I kept plowing through this longish tome of political intrigue.

Because at the moment it's the best known epic fantasy, George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) is the inevitable comparison that comes to mind when reading The Dragon's Path. Both stories are told from multiple point of views, with chapters named after the POV character. Except in The Dragon's Path, the cast is a bit more restrained, alternating between just a handful of characters: Cithrin, the teenage ward of a Medean banker; Captain Marcus, a cynical war veteran; Dawson, an arrogant lord; Geder, a bookish, low-ranking nobleman; and briefly, Clara, Dawson's wife.

As political upheaval threatens her home city, Cithrin is sent away, disguised as a boy, charged with smuggling the Medean bank's wealth out of town in a mule cart. Her path intersects with Marcus and his mercenaries who are guarding Cithrin's caravan train. With the exception of his second-in-command, Marcus's warriors are actually actors, since Marcus couldn't find any real soldiers to replace his previous command (who had been arrested after too much drunken carousing in town and were likely to be conscripted into the army).

Geder, meanwhile, begins the story being hazed by his fellow noblemen while on a military campaign, i.e. getting dropped -- Splash! -- into a latrine. Thanks to the machinations of politics, he soon finds himself in an unlikely position of power, the pawn in a larger political game.

Dawson, meanwhile, is the Viscount of something or other, loyal to King Simeon, and unyielding in his definitions of honor and whatnot. Even though it's Geder who will do something absolutely awful, downright evil, in the course of the story, it's Dawson who is my least favorite character. Actually, he really doesn't do much plot-wise, except whine about the King's inaction. He's sort of an Eddard Stark, only not as personable. Perhaps, that's why his wife, Clara is given a few chapters; to offset Dawson's arrogant dickishness. To the author's credit, he pretty much nails the attitude of a nobleman perfectly.

The world of The Dragon's Path is well realized and interesting, and the plot suitably tangled in the twisty threads of political intrigue. For me, the only thing missing, that factor that keeps the characters and story as utterly captivating as Game of Thrones, is the absence of humor. Basically, there's no Tyrion, Jaime or Arya. No character that I absolutely fell end-over-ass in love with. The tone is pleasant, and sometimes vaguely amusing, but the voice lacks that extra sparkle to hook me on a longer series. Which is sad, because chances are good, Abraham will actually finish this storyline, as opposed to G.R.R. Martin who seems to be having a grand ole time NOT actually writing. (Yes, I know. GRRM is not my bitch.)

Oh, heck, four stars because I'm feeling kind.