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


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


A fantasy whose conflicts are political and social rather than physical. Long Price takes place in a non-specifically Asian themed environment that feels real and rich without being a copy of any historical Earth society.The story focuses around the andat - ideas given form, volition and power my magi known as poets. The Khaniate cities are the only ones that know the art of binding andat, giving them tremendous military and economic power.The conflicts in the story are between an andat and his poet. Between a failed poet trainee and the world. Between a foreign trading house and the powerful monopoly the andat has enabled. And between people trying to do what's right in a cold world.It's difficult to describe this book adequately without giving the story away. I found it enthralling, and Abraham's use of language was excellent.

Catherine Fitzsimmons

This is a debut novel from a colleague of George R. R. Martin, author of the Song of Ice and Fire series, which is one of the book’s primary selling points. It’s an eastern style fantasy about a city that thrives in the cotton trade with the help of the earthbound spirit Seedless, which keeps the city safe from invasion, and a conspiracy that would spell its downfall.This ended up being an okay read, but it was hardly enthralling. It got off to a bad start with the typical cliche and melodramatic lonely, abused child at boarding school scenario, and before the prologue was even half over, the lead character was given an opportunity and instantly became completely unlikable. None of the characters through the book was especially interesting or likable. The andat Seedless almost hit on a good archetype with the mysterious, playful, cunning, treacherous not-antagonist, but didn’t quite make it enough to be really interesting. The plot wasn’t exciting, which isn’t necessarily a problem as in George R. R. Martin’s works, but this world didn’t have the depth and complexity to back it up.One problem a number of reviews I read online had with this book was the way people posed as part of dialogue. I don’t have a problem with the idea of posing being a formal method of communication, but I felt that the way it was written was something of a cop-out. What exactly entails a pose of regret or greeting or question? The author touched on the elaborate nature of the poses occasionally, as in the cant of a character’s wrists portraying sarcasm, but at least ninety percent, if not ninety five percent of the time, the character simply, “took a pose.” I understand it’s a lot to ask from an author, let alone a reader, to explain the dozens of different poses mentioned in the book, but when one is going to introduce a wholly unique and fundamental part of a culture in a book, one should expect to put the effort in to make the reader understand.I like the idea of an eastern style fantasy, and there were some interesting original concepts in this book. But it wasn’t gripping and the writing, world, and characters weren’t enough to make up for it. It’s not a bad read, but I’m not enticed to seek out the following books in the series.


So this is the first in a series of four books (thankfully complete) that are supposed to be a fresh approach to the fantasy genre, moving away from swords and armour and dragons in Western Europe and into the trade and economic conflicts of Asia. The "knights" of this story are poets, who don't really break it down in rhymes but rather they manage to summon concepts into being. Unfortunately, these "spirits" don't have any awesome fire magic abilities but are instead capable of removing the seeds from cotton in an instant or making it rain, thus giving the city that controls them a pretty big competitive advantage in trading. Oh, and they also wear funky names such as Petals-falling-away and Seedless. The one character that stands out for me is Amat, who is the overseer of a trade house and a damn good accountant, and then takes over a "comfort house" in order to take down her former boss. Bad ass! :DWhat was a bit off is that training to become a poet starts when you are young and your family abandons you to a sort of "training academy" where everyone gets treated like shit (hello Ender) and then the key to graduate and not be the underdog anymore is basically showing compassion to others and courage to stand up to the supervisors. Myeah, so everything we teach you is wrong and you're supposed to do the exact opposite in order to prove you are worthy. A "meh" book IMO but I did giggle at this quote as it seems so true:"Can you love someone you don't trust?" "Absolutely," he said. "I have a sister I wouldn't lend two copper lengths if I wanted them back. The problem with loving someone you don't trust is finding the right distance." "The right distance." "With my sister, we love each other best from different cities. If we had to share a house, it wouldn't go so gracefully."


S'alright. Annoyed that certain literary personages, who are apparently of some economic and narrative importance, are not under armed guard at all times. Rather liked the postures & gestures. Had a hard time getting too interested in the nauseating adolescent lust plot, and am hoping that one of the adolescents doesn't turn out to be both a hidden monarch and a member of the pokemon master club. Loved the other plot, regarding the consigliere. The pokemon was slick, and the text could've meditated more on what it is, what it does, the literatures that generate it, and so on. I suspect that an ounce of explanation that creates a mystery is more valuable than 200 pages of exposition, though. Hoping that author exposes more about the pokemons as the story progresses.

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.


"A Shadow in Summer" has been on my to-be-read radar for quite a while now even though I can't quite recall exactly why I put it on the list. But when Jaws Read Too began her Summer of Series program, I looked over at the first installment in the series, sitting on my to be read pile, mocking me mercilessly and decided it was a good time to commit not only to reading the first book, but also the entire "Long Price Quartet" series as well.So, I pulled the book out of the pile, cracked open the pages and began to read.And, again, tried to recall what it was that drew me to the book in the first place. I think part of it was a desire to sample more fantasy novels and to sample series that actually had a chance of being finished sometime within my lifetime. Reading "A Shadow in Summer," it appears that Daniel Abraham had not only a plan for this book, but also his entire series. And, thankfully, this is an entry in a series that has a definitive plot arc that is resolved by the end of the book. Yes, there are still some threads left open for future development, but it doesn't feel like a massive build-up to a cliffhanger or a 300 page preview for book two in the series.Instead what Abraham has done is set up a remarkably believable world with some well rounded, interesting characters. Yes, there is a magical system at work here, but reading "Summer" I was reminded of Laura Anne Gilman's "Flesh and Fire" where the magical system was more limited and while there are powerful people within the magical system created here, it can't always be used as a way to easily get out of a situation (aka the equivalent of the sonic screwdriver on "Doctor Who" where its use is defined by whatever situation the script needs to get the Doctor out of without too much effort). The system is also one that the world we're reading about is built around and it has implications both positive and negative to all the various players we see inhabiting the book.In this world, poets are powerful men who can create andats for a specific purpose. The novel includes one called Seedless who can remove the seeds from things, which is vital to the economy of the setting here. The city is dependent on the cotton crop and the ease of removing seeds is necessity for daily life and the economic survival of the city. But the power extends beyond just the removal of seeds from various plants and into the arena of being able to remove an unwanted pregnancy. And that plot forms the basis for the political maneuvering that drives much of what unfolds in "Summer." In many ways, the unfolding story is one that can be deceptively slow moving, allowing for the full implications of what's really going on to slowly occur to the characters involved and the reader. Abraham clearly assumes an intelligence by his reader and doesn't have page upon page of infodumps that can bog down many of the bigger fantasy names (I'm looking at your Terry Goodkind). He also avoids the habit of excessive recapping of events and having characters ponder what's gone on before in minuscule detail. The characters do reflect on what's happen, but it feels more authentic and real than I saw in another fantasy book I plowed my way through last summer that could have been shorter had we not had a recap or a character reflection every ten pages.Thankfully, the novel is also inhabited by a set of fully realized characters, all of whom you'll like and dislike to various degrees as the novel progresses. Abraham takes the tactic of having the characters who serve as the antagonists for the story clearly believe that the story is presenting them as heroes and the novel works better for that. And his presentation of characters as having both noble and un-noble qualities is a nice touch.And, again, it resolves the main storyline of the novel by the time the last page is turned, even though we have some indication of where things could head for the next novel and possibly the rest of the series.In short, it's a successful standalone novel and a successful start to an intriguing new series.


...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

John Margaritsanakis

The first part of the Long Price Quartet came recommended by several respected Best-of-Fantasy lists and I figured I'd give it a try. So I went into the book fully intending to like it.And, truth to be told, there was much to like. It featured decent character development (but with a bit too much exposition - I prefer being shown rather than told what characters are driven by), lively descriptions (but which sometimes slowed the pace down) and an interesting, engaging and unique plot - no qualifiers there.The action takes place on a vastly rich, powerful nation safeguarded by the andat; spiritual concepts given flesh and substance by magician-poets who capture their essence and anchoring them to the world. They all wish to escape this form of slavery and, as they can never be recaptured by a similar set of words twice, they become all but impossible to retain over time.The cast features a wealth of interesting characters... but ultimately I was left unsatisfied by the resolution. Perhaps it's how slowly things were moving along or, maybe, the fact none of their personal struggles seemed important enough for me to care about them in the first place, but although I can't pinpoint what was lacking something was. I might keep reading the series at some point but after putting down the first book, I don't have to.All in all, 3.5 out of 5 stars from me.


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!


** 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


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.

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.

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.


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).

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