Sunday, 27 April 2014

Review: 'The Tyrant's Law' by Daniel Abraham

The great war cannot be stopped.

The tyrant Geder Palliako had led his nation to war, but every victory has called forth another conflict. Now the greater war spreads out before him, and he is bent on bringing peace. No matter how many people he has to kill to do it.

Cithrin bel Sarcour, rogue banker of the Medean Bank, has returned to the fold. Her apprenticeship has placed her in the path of war, but the greater dangers are the ones in her past and in her soul.

Widowed and disgraced at the heart of the Empire, Clara Kalliam has become a loyal traitor, defending her nation against itself. And in the shadows of the world, Captain Marcus Wester tracks an ancient secret that will change the war in ways not even he can forsee.

The word I hear used most often to describe Daniel Abraham’s Dagger and Coin series is ‘good’. Looking back on my own reviews of the first two books, The Dragon’s Path and The King’s Blood, I realise how lukewarm they sound, despite the fact that I clearly did enjoy reading them. I think the relative slowness of the story is the main reason many people aren’t exactly blown away by the series.

However, I’ve come to find that the series isn’t so much slow as it is slow-burn; and The Tyrant’s Law, the third novel in the quintet, finally begins to set the wheels in motion for the anticipated payoff. The story and the action begin slowly and then build steadily as in the other books, but there’s a turning point around halfway through when a sense of real urgency begins to pulse through. The final quarter of the book began a fantastic sequence of convergence between two of the characters that was just a little bit disappointing, simply because the book ended before the sh*t could really hit the fan.

The author’s world-building has always been, in my opinion, one of the strongest aspects of the books: I really like the diversity of the different races, and the sense of culture and history Abraham has created really helps to bring the story to life. This is really emphasised in The Tyrant’s Law, where we get a more in-depth look at the societies of the Timzinae and Haaverkin, and get the sense that all the hints we’ve been given about the role of the various races and the importance of history is about to become integral to the story.

The characters are also still as strong as ever. It’s difficult to pick a favourite, and my preferences do actually seem to change from book to book, but I think I’d have to say that this time I most enjoyed reading Geder’s chapters. The tragic-comic story of his unwitting rise to power continues to be fantastically done: his transition from clumsy and loveably inept minor noble into hateful yet well-meaning tyrant has been so subtle and seamless that it remains hard not to feel sympathetic towards him, despite also wanting to smack him round the head with the sharp edge of Marcus’ culling blade. This, along with each of the other major characters’ chapters, really does make for compelling reading once it gets going.

 I think, for those who have read the first two books in the series and are still unsure whether or not to continue reading, The Tyrant’s Law definitely affirms that you should. The fourth book in the Dagger and Coin series, The Widow’s House, is slated for release in August. Guess what I’ll be pre-ordering come next payday?


Click here to view The Tyrant's Law (Dagger & Coin #3) on Amazon UK

Click here to read my review of The Dragon's Path (Dagger & Coin #1)
Click here to read my review of The King's Blood (Dagger & Coin #2)

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