A Shadow in Summer (Long Price Quartet, #1)

ISBN: 0765313405
ISBN 13: 9780765313409
By: Daniel Abraham

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About this book

The city-state of Saraykeht dominates the Summer Cities. Its wealth is beyond measure; its port is open to all the merchants of the world, and its ruler, the Khai Saraykeht, commands forces to rival the Gods. Commerce and trade fill the streets with a hundred languages, and the coffers of the wealthy with jewels and gold. Any desire, however exotic or base, can be satisfied in its soft quarter. Blissfully ignorant of the forces that fuel their prosperity, the people live and work secure in the knowledge that their city is a bastion of progress in a harsh world. It would be a tragedy if it fell.Saraykeht is poised on the knife-edge of disaster.At the heart of the city's influence are the poet-sorcerer Heshai and the captive spirit, Seedless, whom he controls. For all his power, Heshai is weak, haunted by memories of shame and humiliation. A man faced with constant reminders of his responsibilities and his failures, he is the linchpin and the most vulnerable point in Saraykeht's greatness.Far to the west, the armies of Galt have conquered many lands. To take Saraykeht, they must first destroy the trade upon which its prosperity is based. Marchat Wilsin, head of Galt's trading house in the city, is planning a terrible crime against Heshai and Seedless. If he succeeds, Saraykeht will fall.Amat, House Wilsin's business manager, is a woman who rose from the slums to wield the power that Marchat Wilsin would use to destroy her city. Through accidents of fate and circumstance Amat, her apprentice Liat, and two young men from the farthest reaches of their society stand alone against the dangers that threaten the city.

Reader's Thoughts

Duffy Pratt

I want to like this book more than I actually did. I like the basic premise: "Poets" capture ideas and give them flesh. These ideas, called "andats", then have the magical power embodied with their ideas. The only problem is that the andats want to escape their captivity, and when they do, they get harder and harder to capture, with a greater price. On the other hand, depending on the idea involved, an andat can be extremely powerful.All the really great ideas have already been used up, and the poets need to stretch to find ideas that are useful. Here, the andat involved is called "Seedless". His main use is as a super quick de-seeding element for cotton. This gives the city an enormous advantage. Thus far, given the revolutionary nature of the cotton gin, this power seems plausible and is quite clever. Seedless is also an idea abortionist, and that's where the problems start. Seedless, together with some enemies of the city, conspire to bring about an unwanted abortion on an unwitting girl. They hope that this will break the spirit or mind of the poet who controls Seedless, and allow Seedless to escape his captivity. This is what Seedless wants, and the enemies of the city are looking to get a trade advantage.It's a nice set-up, but it doesn't bear close inspection. The enemies of the city do not shy away from war. The poet who controls Seedless is an easy target. He regularly gets drunk on his own, and there's no guard on him. Why the big conspiracy? They have some hired thugs in the city who are more than willing to do dirty work. I see no good reason why these thugs would not just kill the poet, thus releasing Seedless. The only reason I come up with is that then there would be no book, and that just doesn't cut it.If you forgive that loophole, then the book works well enough. Abraham's writing is graceful and pleasant. He's created a number of distinct characters, and I think two of them are notably good: Amat, who is a middle aged female accountant set on getting revenge/justice. Hers is one of the fuller characters I've read in a book like this, particularly for a first time author. And there's also Otah/Itani. He's more of a typical rogue character, not buying into any conventionality, and guided entirely by his conscience. But in this instance, his character doesn't strike me as being cliche. Moreover, this is just the beginning of this series, and I honestly cannot predict where is character is headed. That may be my lack of foresight, but I find it refreshing for a change.Finally, there is a smallness about this book that I enjoyed. The magic is there, but not much is made of it. The implications of the actions that occur are vast, but they are as yet only implications and possibilities. As a result, the effect of the action lies more with the characters than on the world as a whole. I expect that will change some over the course of the four books, but it's good to see a writer working with some limitations, at least at the start of this series. Overall, I liked this book enough that I will probably continue to the next one, and I think Abraham is a promising author. But I'm not yet completely sold.

Angela

A friend of mine gets kudos for recommending A Shadow in Summer to me, the first book of Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet. I very much enjoyed this and am definitely looking forward to reading more of the series.The worldbuilding is excellent, a refreshing switch from a lot of fantasy I've read, on the grounds that the culture depicted on camera is one clearly influenced by Asian real-life cultures, not European ones. Characters address each other with honorific suffixes. With a a couple of specific exceptions, they're clearly not white--which is easy to miss until you get to the bit where the young female character Liat is described as having skin like "dark honey", and the two outlander characters are called out as unusual because of their hair and skin color. The food and architecture and clothing choices are all described with Asian influences clearly in mind. And most importantly, one of the most revered ranks in the entire culture is that of "poet", an interesting title for one whose function is to control certain abstract concept/thoughts embodied into physical form for the purpose of magically managing the society. That in particular struck me as very, very Eastern.Abraham's writing is also excellent. He has a vivid way with a word that lushly portrays his world without drowning you in detail. The pacing is rock-solid, the characters intriguing, and events proceed along with a mounting sense of doom that leads me to really wonder how he's going to bump up the bar as the series proceeds. For this installment, five stars.

Chris

The world building here is far more interesting than the characters that live in it.Abraham's world is one where poet's controls spirits, where stance is more important than words, and brother can kill brother. The name makes the magic.It also is a world controlled by guilds. The idea of magic is great here, but I found myself hard pressed to actually cared what happened to anyone besides Amat, who is a rounded character.

Christopher

** spoiler alert ** Wow! Amazing depth of writing. The plot is incredibly complex with many players all angling for position. The author has created an extremely complicated word, at the same time only showing us a little. The characters are all very three-dimensional with their own set of motivations and desires. As the book goes on it becomes more apparent as to why some of these characters are doing what they are doing and why. The is the feeling of of great disaster about to befall these characters but I suspect thats lining up in future books. The culture's that are portrayed in the book have elements borrowed from many different people's and time and this works extremly well. Overall excellent! Next! :D

Candiss

I must admit I expected to find this story tedious, as I often do multi-volume fantasy epics. But I was very pleasantly surprised. Daniel Abraham's world-building is top-tier, and his characters are complex and realistic. There are no moral absolutes here, thankfully...I've always despised broad strokes of black and white laid out to clue the reader in to "good" and "evil." (This is one of my biggest pet peeves with fantasy literature in general.) The reader is just as likely to feel genuine empathy for a "villain" in this story as to become disgusted by a beloved "hero", and for me this keeps the story believable.The magic in A Shadow in Summer, such as it is, is unusual and language-based. (Thought-based, will-based, or imagination-based might be better ways to describe it. The wielders, rather than being called wizards, sorcerors, or witches, etc., are called poets, and it is an apt term.) There's no flash-bang tide-turning effects here, no battle magic, no incantations or hand-waving. The magic of the Andat is long-term, subtle, insidious, dangerous to the wielder, and vital to the prosperity of the people. It is also ethically questionable in the extreme, as it involves enslaving a being to one's will...or rather creating a being of one's will and then enslaving that part of oneself. It's complicated and darkly beautiful. The people's language (of communication, not of magic) is both subtle and complex, full of ritualized gesture and nuanced body language. The characters - young men, old men, young women, old women, laborers, thugs, scholars, merchants, kings, demigods - were varied and colorful, and I enjoyed getting to know even those I did not actually like. The city of Saraykeht fairly breathed, steeped in the sensuality of food and scent and sound, as well as alive with the hum of local industry. I found there was just enough detail to make me believe and drift into imagination, but not so much as to see me skimming past descriptive passages or becoming bored.The plot was well-paced and twisty, with some surprises I genuinely did not see coming. I love when an author actually puts one past me, as I am as jaded a reader as you will be likely to encounter. Ethical dilemmas, intrigue, tension, realistic and unsappy love, grinding guilt, wrenching sadness, betrayal, tenderness, lies, respect...Abraham writes all these well and affectingly and stays largely free of cliché in the process. Even though this is the first of a 4-part series, the author wraps up the story neatly by the end of this first installment, so it works nicely as a stand-alone work. I have stated many times that I am not really a series reader, and that statement still holds, but I am already missing the vaguely Asian-meets-Arabesque atmosphere of the cities of the Khaiem, with something of the feeling of melancholy that permeates the story itself. I will most likely be drawn to read the second entry in the Long Price Quartet soon.

Cynthia

I find it very hard to give A Shadow in Summer an accurate star rating that would fully capture my thoughts. It is very well-written, enough so that I will certainly be picking up the next in the series. That's not always an easy thing to find and I'm generally quite picky when it comes to writing quality in sci-fi/fantasy. The ideas that went into the worldbuilding - the idea of the andat and the poets, mainly - are both original and very interesting. That being said there are also some rather significant flaws. The conspiracy that lies at the heart of the plot and drives everything that happens seems... very roundabout and poorly thought out. A lot of trouble seems to have been gone to without hope of achieving all that much. It doesn't make much sense, and since it is the heart of everything that happens in this book, that's a problem. I don't particularly like most of the characters either. Granted, good writing often involves creating flawed, realistic, and at times unlikable characters but a lot of the ones in Shadow seem to be underdeveloped or portrayed in a rather inconsistent way. I'm mainly thinking of Liat. There were some moments with her character that seemed to ring false and didn't fit with what we know of her. Still, I have already started reading the next volume of this series and perhaps some of the flaws will be resolved there.

Petra Eriksson

My first thought while reading this books was that I did not really understand how the magic worked, I got confused with what they called themselfs, poets, and it was not until then end I got a hang on it. I don't really know if the story suffered from it, I guess not, since magic does not have that big part of it, it's more about the characters and it was those that made me like this book. Specially Itani becuase I have a soft spot for the quiet brooding type and he is one of the best when it comes to that. He has insight and understanding, but I did not like Liat for she is annoying and Mati is helpless but I guess that's ok. I like the depth and the storyline but it can be somewhat confusing and I confess that I like this book mostly becuase of Itani, as I said, I'm soft for characters like that.

Roshio

Not sure what went wrong really. The first few chapters seemed like your typical fantasy books that I tend to love but I found myself less and less drawn to the plot. Firstly I really enjoyed reading about Otah but soon his character so deteriorated I didn't care one bit what happened to him, I hated Liat, did not care for Maati. I did like Seedless, but not enough to continue. I'm quite disappointed as it seemed like a genuinely new and interesting world. Honestly it was a case of judging a book by its cover. I'm going to have to get over that!

Dustin

A Shadow in Summer is book #1 of the Long Price Quartet, and I can't say that I'm particularly stoked about 2, 3, and 4. This is the first Daniel Abraham novel that I've read, so perhaps I'm suffering from an unfamiliarity with his writing style. The book was pretty concise and the events happen fairly rapidly. One of the main issues I have with this novel is the lack of personality that is expressed by the characters. I just didn't find myself rooting for any one particular character or the other, nor was I particularly sad when one or another met a less than favorable demise. I kept waiting for the story to reveal a little more of at least one of the character's back story in order to shine some light on their rationale or decision-making. There were also no prejudices, predispositions, political leanings, religious fervor, anger, hatred, fanaticism, or emotion expressed by the characters. I found them to be rather two-dimensional. I do have to give credit to the magic system however. The concept of poets and bringing ideas to life was really interesting, and I can see how many other reviewers have described this series as an "economic fantasy". There is nearly no action to speak of, and all of the magic use is directed towards edging out the next city's economy. If I do decide to continue the series, I do hope to see it flushed out a little more. The world building seems to be pretty well thought out. I won't go any further on this topic because I don't feel like I've read quite enough fantasy to be a decent judge on world building. At present, there is a larger, more militant nation that is kept in check by the more independent Summer Cities through the use of the magic system. Most of the plot deals with the concept of crime and punishment. One party strives to seek individual justice for a wrong and the other is seeking to circumvent a more global catastrophe should the former get their way. It's all a very delicate balancing act and one can sympathize with both parties. While I was able to appreciate the story, I didn't find it very entertaining to read. Once the ball started rolling, I was compelled to finish it simply out of a desire to make sure that I didn't judge the book prematurely. All in all, I don't think that the rest of the series will be on my immediate to-read list. I might come back to it when I find that I lack anything else of interest. With such a high average rating, I'm optimistic that the characters will be flushed out a little better throughout the series. It has a few things going for it, but I'm afraid that Abraham's writing style just doesn't do it for me at this point in time. Maybe I'll grow into it in the future.

edifanob

All in all it is a remarkable debut which doesn't look like a debut. A Shadow in Summer is a great example that fantasy can be so multifarious. A more subtle, sensitive, emotional novel which unperceived casts a spell over you. It is obviously not a book for everyone. I would not go as far as to say that it is fantasy for highbrows.But if ink, pen and words are your preferred weapons.........Read my full Review: A Shadow in Summer

Danica

So disappointed, again. I picked up this book because my heroes Connie Willis and George R. R. Martin, hands down my two favorite scifi/fantasists writing today, had been quoted as saying generous things about this series. Obviously the lesson here is to never trust blurbs, ever, even if you think the people writing them have bigger brains than you. I mean, it started out well enough. The first scene with Maati and the andat was hair-raising in its eeriness, and I liked the idea of poetry transcribing an essence so perfectly that it could give that essence a corporeal form, beauty of face, volition, and of course the ability to snark indiscriminately and at length. Seedless had a lot of potential as a symbolic entity -- there's little more profoundly scary to humanity than the idea of fertility made forcibly void (+ all the accompanying symbology -- blood on a birth bed, blackened and collapsed vegetation). The hobbling old ass-kicking accountant grandma was cool too.BUT THEN IT WENT NOWHERE. Or at least nowhere that wasn't frustratingly contrived and/or yawnworthy. This makes me sad because I was so ready to /like/ this book, if only because GRRM liked it -- god knows I come across a single volume of worthy genre fiction about once every few months. The characters were drawn without any sort of depth or even certainty. Like, really? Otah the granite-faced, brooding, commitment-proof wanderer? Watch him angst and moan for pages on end. Liat the beautiful young woman who everyone loves for no apparent reason whatsoever? Well I guess she's hot. Maati, oh god: for the poet who will inherit the greatest burden of the day he sure snivels a lot, even when he becomes a "man" by the end of the novel. IN FACT, THEY ALL SNIVEL A LOT. And their angst is characterized by a frenzy of "her guilt was a stone in her stomach", "she murmured her sorrow into his hair". I don't mind reading pages of self-reflective angst in which the protagonist gazes tearily at her reflection in a still pool of water as the cherry blossoms swirl down around her in a symphonic haze -- it's just that Abraham isn't very good at rendering it in a convincing or sympathetic way. Pseudo-restrained but too self consciously artsy. Not to mention the propensity of slaves to burst into (beautiful, melancholic) song at every opportune moment and how every open market place smells like tea lemons and almond cake. Even Seedless, conniving and serpentine, doesn't reach the levels of awesome that he should've. What a waste (of time for me).

Pauline Ross

I read this as the first part of a double book - combined with 'A Betrayal in Winter' these are the first two volumes of 'The Long Price' quartet as 'Shadow and Betrayal'. The remaining two volumes, 'An Autumn War' and 'The Price of Spring', are combined into a second double book, 'Seasons of War'.The central conceit of the book (and the only magic so far) is that after long training, poets are able to write a poem of such power that it can embody (literally) an idea. The idea then takes anthropomorphic form (called an andat), but bound to the will of the poet. The cities of the Khaiem then use these 'andat' beings to enhance trade and to deter invasions and avoid war.In the first book, one of the powerful trading nations attempts to pervert this power in a way that would kill the poet and thereby release his andat, thus leaving the region undefended against invasion. The method used is quite complicated, and ultimately fails, and it seems to me that it would be far, far simpler just to kill the poet directly. He seems to move freely around the city, regularly getting drunk, so it would hardly be difficult, and far less risky than a public ceremony where there are bound to be recriminations. Since there seem to be very few poets with an andat (only one per city), it would surely not be too difficult to arrange a mass killing of poets, and release all the andat beings at once. And why, when the power of the Khaiem rests almost entirely on these few poets, are they free to do as they please, unrestrained and unprotected (quite apart from the unwisdom of letting the andat loose to brew his plots).Logic flaws aside, the book is well written and absorbing. It is set in an eastern-esque world with a Japanese or perhaps ancient Chinese feel, with robes and teahouses and an intriguing use of 'poses' with the hands to add layers of meaning to spoken communication. The city of Saraykehm is nicely drawn, civilised and more or less orderly, a hub of trade and politics, and perfectly believable. I liked the idea of kilns and food carts on every street corner, the public bathhouses where much of the private discussions go on, and the beggars who sing for their charity, a nice echo of the elegant slave songs which are the backdrop for the Khai's courts.The andat is actually the most interesting character, with his perfect form and his deeply flawed personality and his determination to defeat his creator and return to a state of 'unbeing', all a creation of the poet Heshai's own mind. The other characters behave with strange logic. Liat, who appears to be capable of loving two men at once without understanding the consequences (she thinks they will all be friends!), is quite unbelievable. Amat, who has such a horrible time held captive (essentially) in the brothel, yet chooses to buy it later purely to fund herself, is not particularly believable either. By the end, I was finding it increasingly hard to suspend disbelief long enough to follow the story. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book, and I hope that the second volume is a little more soundly based.

J.C.

Refreshing Fantasy. Promising Start to a Good SeriesA SHADOW IN SUMMER was a wonderful read. It accomplished everything that a first fantasy book should. It introduced an engaging world, created interesting characters that were equally engaging, and completed the story while leaving the door open for the entire world to develop in future volumes.I sometimes have difficulty starting new fantasy series because sometimes there is simply information overload on the world, the history, and the unique sociological intricacies. A SHADOW IN SUMMER creates a fantastic world with very unique (and refreshing) characteristics (i.e. the poets, trade and commerce, contracts, and family houses) but he does so in such a way that does not overwhelm the reader. The author, Abraham, introduces characters and things but does not fully develop them at that time. He gives you enough to be fascinated and curious, but not enough to bog the story down. Throughout the story, he continues to introduce more information in relevant places. This book is filled with basic political intrigue. The intrigue is not overly complicated and is easy to follow, while remaining interesting and plausible. While we see only a small portion of the entire fantasy world, there is enough dialogue and actions that give the reader a taste of the overall world, which is presumed to be more involved later in the series.Abraham is a fantastic writing. He creates a very concise and cohesive story (which is refreshing in the world of epic fantasy tomes). I cannot recommend this book enough to fans of the fantasy genre. Abraham is an author to keep on your radar.Good reading,J.Stonerhttp://plantsandbooks.blogspot.com

Jeff Young

A Shadow in Summer has an eastern flair to it and a uniqueness that fantasy recently has lacked. Unlike most fantasy it is much more about the characters and their personal actions and choices than grand sweeping epics. Don't believe that the individuals in the story have no power though, they are players in a game to topple empires or ruin cities. But it is presented with such grace that sometimes it feels that the tension is less than it might be. Seedless is a very well done character. While he maintains the aspect of humanity, the lack of concern, societal morals or even decency is what sets him aside as the godlike andat. I am certain that as the series progresses that more will be shown about these mysterious creatures that are the crux of life in the rememnants of Empire in the following books. The ending is bittersweet. It does not disappoint, but again is of a nature that those who have become enured to the climactic battle will find it lacking. Closest comparision would be to Sean Russell's books. Enjoy.

Rob

...A Shadow in Summer is a very promising start to a good fantasy series. It got a lot of good reviews over the years but apparently the sales were nothing to write home about. Tor didn't bother with a mass market paperback edition of the final book. That is a shame really. The Long Price Quartet is a refreshing piece of writing. Concise by the standards of the genre, but without sacrificing the details that make the world believable. In his new fantasy series The Coin and Dagger, he has shifted his approach somewhat to a more conventional approach to fantasy. I enjoy those books but I like these ones better. Hopefully Abraham will move on to something a little more daring once he is done with that series. In the mean time, you could do worse than giving this series a try. It is well worth your time.Full Random Comments review

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