Daniel Abraham, also known as one half of James S.A Corey to the very popular Expanse novels, has dipped his toe in the epic fantasy genre with The Dragon’s Path. Set in a world of dozens of races and governments at the edge of war, nobody is safe and we follow several different characters living in these brutal times. What I liked about Daniel Abraham as an author is that he takes inspirations from other fantasy authors, but he takes chances and tries different ideas in the Dragon Path. I won’t say that everything he adds to his story will work for you but the creativity and inspiration is visible and The Dagger and the Coin should be a series on everybody’s radar.
The Dragon’s Path takes place in a world where dragons once existed and ruled the world, but in this series they exhibit great intelligence. Roads and cities were build by the dragons and the world was very prosperous until once day they went extinct and the other races had to fend for themselves. The free cities were built on the founding principles of free trade and even banks were built. However, as we all know, freedom doesn’t last forever and the rise of the Severed Thorn has caused quite a stir among the free cities and the outbreak of war seems inevitable. The characters we follow are caught in the middle of this conflict in more ways than one and you will feel their pain, loss, and desire for change from every single one.
The first character we follow is Marcus. He is an ex soldier and a great military mind we just wants to wither away into retirement. When the rumblings of war reach his ears he wants nothing to do with the battles, but he may have no choice. In order to avoid being drafted into the army he becomes a sellsword/protector of this roaming caravan of entertainers and his story goes down a very unorthodox path for Marcus to discover his destiny. Next we follow Cithrin, an orphan girl working as a ward for a bank. Her job is to smuggle a nation’s wealth across a war zone, hiding the gold from both sides. She knows the secret life of commerce like a second language, but the strategies of trade will not defend her from swords. Cithrin is the character who experiences the most growth over the course of the novel and her chapters we very interesting to read. Finally we follow Geder, sole son of a noble house who is more interested in philosophy than becoming a soldier. His path takes several sharp turns and where he ends up you will not expect. He becomes a pawn in the empires games, but even a pawn a cause great damage on a chess board.
Hidden in the depths of the empire is a secret cult or religious group itching to get back into the spotlight. They worship a spider goddess and the rituals new associated have to go through was disturbing and interesting to observe at the same time. These view point chapters occur in the prologue and epilogue of the novel. The discovery of who the viewpoint character is, I was shocked and I immediate picked up book 2 The Kings Blood. The cults influence is always in the background and you can never tell who is in it.
The level of detail, imagination, and creativity Daniel Abraham puts into his worldbuilding is something special. He is good friends with George R.R Martin and you can definitely some of his influence in the pages of The Dragon’s Path. This is a slow burn of a novel and if you are looking for the big battle scenes, you will not get that in The Dragon’s Path. Characters, plot and worldbuilding drive this story and it worked for me quite well. Whether you are new to fantasy or a savvy veteran, Daniel Abraham delivers the goods and I hope you will experience this great series in the near future.