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

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

Jeff

Okay, had a much longer review that Goodreads managed to eat. Nice.Long story short, it had a great premise, I loved the non-western basis for the culture described. But as the series wore on, the author's tics began to bug me. "Grammar" does not mean what he seems to think it means, and the inclusion of a gestural language to modulate the tone of the spoken language winds up being a crutch that tells what characters are feeling instead of showing it.Ultimately, though, events in subsequent books made me realize that I fundamentally disagreed with the author on the nature of his own world, which I honestly think he didn't fully understand or think through. Moreover, as the books wore on, he seemed to favor one character over another in ways that I couldn't really countenance -- I don't mean in terms of events, but in terms of the implicit endorsement of the authorial voice.Also, while I didn't pick up on it myself, once pointed out to me I realized some unfortunate patterns in the portrayal of women that turned what I'd originally thought of as strong female characters into actually being kind of regressive.Still, it had great early promise. If you have the time to read it, it might be worthwhile.

sologdin

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.

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.

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.

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

Michael Kelley

I quite enjoyed this novel by the end, and am excited to check out the rest of the series. With that being said, let me get some negatives out of the way.First, the book was slow at both the beginning and the end. The beginning was especially frustrating. While Abraham has created a unique world with many of its own rules, the way he throws it at you with very little description made it difficult for me to actually IMAGINE that world. The most glaring example is how the characters use posing to communicate words and emotions. I love the idea of this (reminded me of the Adem in "The Wise Man's Fear"), but because every narrator in the book has inside knowledge of this communication method, none of the poses are actually described. What does it look like when a character shows "acceptance" or "compliance" or "disapproval"? The reader doesn't know.Once I overcame this hurdle and started treating the author's descriptions of poses like facial expressions (you can say "he smiled" without detailing the curve of the lip each time), I loved the complex story that was laid out. But for some reason the conclusion of the story also felt slow. What I would call the climax happens about halfway through, and the choices that lead to the ending weren't presented in a fully engaging way.Second, some of the narrators blended together a bit. Liat and Maati and Otah... well, they all come off as slightly young, immature, angsty, and lost. Since their narration makes up the majority of the book, this got a bit tiresome. I first thought that Otah was going to be a wiser youth, based on his introduction, but by the end he seemed about as whiny and confused as everyone else.Now, on to the positives, and there are a good number.First, the world is intriguing and new. A lot of the Games of Throne-ish fantasy novels I've read lately create "new and unique" cultures by picking and choosing historical cultures and mashing them close together (hey, it worked for Robert E. Howard, so why not?). But this novel takes some Asian tropes and adds a number of unique, interesting elements. I especially liked the rules of succession in the ruling class: the first 3 children kill each other until only one remains... the remaining children are sent off and branded as incapable of inheriting. This wasn't featured much in this novel, but will clearly become an issue as Otah grows older.Second, the book didn't rely on exploitation and violence to sell. It's focused on economics and political intrigue for the most part, and while that might sound dry Abraham does a good job of keeping things moving and humanizing the struggles. The only violence in the novel is two brief chokings (with little detail), and another death that is horrific in nature and at the core of the plot (but also only briefly discussed).Third, while Liat is a fairly boring, annoying female character, Amat the older head of the finances of her house is fantastic. She is wise and powerful, without giving up her femininity, and without relying only on typically "male" power like violence. She isn't a warrior woman, as it seems most female heroines these days are expected to be. Instead, she comes out on top by being great at math, observant, and persuasive in the realms of business. I want more female characters like this!So, as long as the idea of low violence levels doesn't turn you off, and as long as you can tough through the first 4-5 chapters while Abraham inexpertly lays the ground rules for his world, this is a great fantasy novel that more mature readers will love.

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.

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

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.

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.

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