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

Daianara

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mark Newton

I was sent the omnibus by James Long at Orbit, who thought I might like it. He was wrong – I loved it.I’m not going to review it (not that I really do reviews that much). You know when you enjoy a book so much, you enjoy the nuances, and you know that none of this can be captured in a write-up? It’s almost pointless. There are so many layers, and none of the reviews I’ve read have seen the same city and characters as I have – which goes to show how much I enjoyed it. This really is a splendid book. A gentle piece where characters grow, rather than an all-out action romp. There are some marvellous complexities and twists, too. We talk a lot about grown-up novels, and sometimes we think sex and violence makes a book grown-up. It doesn’t, and this book proves my point – it’s as mature as fantasy writing can get, and does so without being visceral. This is a sensual, balmy afternoon of a novel: a travelogue, a character study and a textbook example of intricate world-building.When I grow up, I want to write as well as Daniel Abraham.

Michael

"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.

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.

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!

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

Xenophon Hendrix

I liked the book, all things considered. I didn't enjoy the characters. I didn't dislike them, but I didn't really like them, either. That damages my pleasure in a novel. It also could have used some comic relief, and it ends pessimistically.On the other hand, the book is more inventive than the typical fantasy. The author uses a setting that's different from the standard fantasyland, and he has an interesting take on magic. It balances out to have been worthwhile reading.

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.

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

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