Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Shadow in Summer

By Daniel Abraham. This is the first of four (planned) books in his Long Price Quartet, the meaning of which becomes clear shortly into the story.

The central fantastic premise is clever and original, or at least novel to me. I don't think it's one I've seen before. The magic is based on poetry: a skilled poet can describe a natural force, enslaving it in a human form that can be controlled at the poet's will. The central one in this book is sterility, as personified in Seedless, whom I actually found to be one of the most sympathetic characters. However, if the poet fails to use an original and worthy description, a price is exacted by nature: death.

Unfortunately, many of the characters are not very likeable. Several strike me as spoiled, drifting children who lack perseverance in the face of adversity. Having difficulties in a relationship? Just give it up and find someone else to love. This is what bothered me most about this book. At the end of it, very few people have grown appreciably; in fact, they seem to shrink, stripped of the illusion of maturity. (The Galt's household manager is one exception.) While the world-building is very good (in my opinion, of course), the story is not emotionally satisfying. Perhaps the next three books will change that, but I am not in the mood to see; perhaps when they're all out I'll look at them again.

No comments: