Monday, April 24, 2006

Daniel's On A Roll

I’d like to give a shout-out to my friend and colleague Daniel Abraham, who has been blessed with a brand-new daughter and a published first novel in the same month. How cool is that?

And how much cooler would it be if he won the Nebula Award for which he’s been nominated?

We in the New Mexico writers’ community have got all warm and soggy about the arrival of Scarlet Allison Kyira, who is doing fine along with mom Kat. Daniel is doing a remarkably coherent job in his blog describing the newfound joys of parenthood, so from this point I’ll just talk about the novel.

A Shadow in Summer is described as “Book One of the Long Price Quartet,” and it’s got a map in the front. If you’re a certain type of reader— like me, for example— you may take these details as indications that this is exactly the sort of book you aren’t looking for. “Another endless, multi-volume quest through some made-up landscape,” you might think. “There will be magic swords and dragons. And probably a Lost Prince or two. How yawnable.”

Well, okay, there is a lost prince. (Sort of.) But the book is far from yawnable. Daniel has created a starkly real fantasy world and populated it with plausible, fascinating, well-rounded characters. Saraykeht is so real a city that you don’t need a map: you can smell the sweating, odorous dockyards, see the bedrooms softly lit by scented candles, hear the chants of the beggars. Saraykeht isn’t a city filled with swaggering adventurers brandishing their swords; it’s a sophisticated culture where a gesture can communicate volumes, and where a Poet can give flesh to the Word.

If you like your books character-driven (and if you’re reading my blog, I’ll assume you do), then by all means check out Daniel’s book. And because I have an advantage over the rest of you— I’ve read the next two books in the series— I can assure you that the Long Price Quartet just keeps getting better and better, and that once you start it, you won’t be disappointed.

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