When Daniel Abraham wrote his debut novel, A Shadow In Summer, it was well received by those who bothered to notice. It was understood by critics, peers, and readers that Abraham was a new force of creativity in a genre growing dark with cliché. But it was quickly buried by other’s popularity.
Hugo Award winning author, Connie Willis, named it “intricate, elegant, and almost hypnotically told.” And there is really something about it – a peripheral sensation, stunningly poetic that manages to remain untainted by an over-abundance of style. By this, I mean to say it’s simply written and intricately thought. The wisdom of the narrator’s voice washes over its readers, leaving them with a notion that something right has just been said. I couldn’t always name it. But isn’t that the hazy definition of the sublime?
My apologies. It’s a bit too early in a post to get philosophical. The fact is, this is shameless promotion of four novels that changed the way I saw fantasy. When I finished the series I was actually surprised to realize that it may have been my favorite series ever.
Why was I surprised? Because these humble, near-perfect novels are not at all flashy. And that might begin to account for it’s dismal shelf life. Tor actually dropped Abraham soon after the fourth was printed. Too bad for them that Orbit picked Daniel up, dusted him off and reprinted the series in a two-part omnibus. And his new series is selling very well.
Taking place in a world rich with Asian culture and delicate as fine calligraphy, Abraham spins a story about two young men growing up in a world that has no place for them. The author’s descriptions of the hubristic Empire and the characters that try to save it reads like a Greek tragedy and will steal your breath.
And the Andat – god-like manifestations of elemental thoughts held as slaves by the Empire’s poets – are an exceptional creation amounting to creative genius. The dialogue of one andat called Seedless made him a favorite character of mine despite the fact that he wasn’t even human. It’s really a joy to read, and keeps you captivated.
So if you have the time and want to read something that fell more in league with Homer than George Martin (Homer has still sold more books) – if you want an epic that won’t leave you unscathed by tragedy – or by wisdom – then delve into an author that will probably never land on the “best sellers” shelf, but shouldn’t escape the notice of aspiring writers and discerning readers.
Because when you finish, you’ll have witnessed a rich world and an amazing story.