Kemp Ridley’s #CBR4 Review #19 – The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham
This book shows why it’s a good idea to stick with something, even if it seems lackluster at first. Although it started out as a fantasy trope-fest, it quickly gained its own identity and became quite good.
Abraham is apparently a friend of George RR Martin’s, and Abraham clearly learned a lot from Martin. This book, the first in an ongoing series, is structured pretty much exactly like A Song of Ice and Fire in that there is a core of scattered characters who swap the point of view from chapter to chapter. Each of them start out as being self-contained but are slowly drawn together, and so on. The characters are, at first blush, pretty standard fantasy fare: the clever orphan; the now obscure but once infamous general who is haunted by A Dark Past; the clueless young lord thrown into the deep end of imperial politics; the once mighty but now failing king. I’ll admit that I was bored, and kept reading the first half of this book out of sheer momentum. I hate leaving books unfinished.
Then, halfway through, the damnedest thing happened. The characters took off, the plot unfolded in interesting and unexpected ways and, all of a sudden, I found myself paying attention. Flew through the rest of it, in fact.
Abraham definitely has some shortcomings. His reach slightly exceeds his grasp when it comes to character. I got the feeling that several characters were supposed to come across as more nuanced than they did in actuality, and some of the bits of the setting came across less like actual places and more as cool names on a map that hadn’t quite been fleshed out. That being said, you could do a lot worse than The Dragon’s Path if you like epic fantasy. The series seems like it’s heading for some interesting places, and I expect the slight glitches will be ironed out as Abraham gets more of the series under his belt. (In fact I’m nearly done with the second book in the series, and I like it a lot. I’ll review it soon.)