I received my copy from Orbit through Nudge.
And so, in part three of the Dagger and the Coin series, the story continues. The tyrant, Geder Palliako has started a war, chasing those who plotted against him and Crown Prince Aster. But every victory only brings reasons to push the conflict further and as Palliako’s power spreads so does the influence of the Cult of the Spider Goddess.
Clara Kalliam finds herself in very different circumstances after her husband has been executed for treason against the Throne and Palliako. No longer a prominent lady in Court circles, Clara has to adjust to life on a limited budget while living in rented accommodation. However, her reduced circumstances don’t stop her from planning the downfall of those who destroyed her happy life. She is secretly plotting against those in power in order to save the country she loves. But while her scheming appears to be successful, Clara will find out that the best laid plans can have unexpected and unwanted results.
Cithrin bel Sarcour has, at last, been accepted by the Medean Bank but has to serve a learning period with one of the branches; a posting that will put her directly in the line of war and force her to both grow up fast and make decisions that would have been impossible to even imagine in the past.
And while the war spreads ever further Captain Marcus Wester and Master Kit are on a quest to find a way and the necessary weapons to stop the progress of the Spider Goddess. This is a quest that will take them into inhospitable areas, shatter long held believes and lead to a surprising conclusion.
As I mentioned above, this is the third book in this series and while it could be read as a stand-alone I would really advice against that. These books work as well as they do because they are a series and there is a clear build-up through out the books. We slowly but carefully get to know the characters and the world they inhabit. As the story continues we get an ever better idea of the dangers this world faces and the connections between the various players. With every book the tension is heightened and the dangers become clearer. It is a pleasure to experience the story getting ever more intense, and the only way to fully enjoy that is to read these books in sequence.
This is not an action packed, thrill a minute sort of fantasy series. Abrahams takes his time with the story and his characters. A lot of the tension is just below the surface and it is to the author’s credit that he can make me feel that danger and the accompanying urge to keep on turning the pages without resorting to endless scenes of danger and violence. In these books the characters, what happens to them and their reactions to those events are what drive the story. And those characters, despite the fact that a lot of them are described as looking nothing like us, became so real to this reader that I found myself forgetting I was reading a fantasy at times. None of these characters are only good or bad. Palliako may make some despicable decisions but he never loses his humanity and it is easy to believe that he may be under the illusion that he is doing the right thing for all the right reasons. At the same time Markus and Master Kit may be our questing heroes, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t make mistakes or take wrong decisions. All of which results in the story becoming more intriguing and harder to put down.
The cover-blurb, by George R.R. Martin states:
“Everything I look for in a fantasy”.
I agree. This book does deliver it all and then some; a well developed world, characters that are as fascinating as they are credible, a well plotted and even better presented story-line and a tension that is slowly but steadily building to a crescendo that can’t be too far away. This world and these characters have captured me and I can’t wait to see where this journey will take us next. My only regret is that I will have to wait a year before I find out how this story will continue and whether or not the fourth book will bring the conclusion or more tension build-up. And, if I’m honest, I’m not sure whether I’m hoping for that conclusion or the pleasure of more books to look forward to in the future.