Review: The Price of War

Posted: December 28, 2012 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: Daniel Abraham, Epic Fantasy

It is with no small amount of irony and quite a large piece of humble pie that I finally sit down to write this review a full month after the book’s release.  With how much I harped on the poor treatment Mr. Abraham received surrounding the publication of his Long Price series and the single fact that I consider Daniel Abraham to be my current favorite fiction author today, you’d think that I’d be more on top of things when it came to the release of this book.  The U.S. trade omnibus paperback treatment of his story has been a long time coming–longer than I think it had any right to be–but I am supremely happy to see it finally happen.  In my mind, this is one of those stories that deserves all the praise and publicity that can be heaped upon it.

THE PRICE OF WAR (Amazon) is an omnibus of the final two novels in the Long Price quartet: AN AUTUMN WAR (Amazon) and THE PRICE OF SPRING (Amazon).  The first two are found in the omnibus, SHADOW AND BETRAYAL (EBR Review), which was released earlier this year.  The four books in this series make up one of the most engaging and engrossing fantasy stories that I’ve ever read.  It’s just that good.

AN AUTUMN WAR picks up about 15 years after the close of BETRAYAL IN WINTER.  The characters that we’ve been introduced to in the first half of the series have grown again from those that we know.  Maati, the andat Poet.  Itani become Otah Machi and Khai of the Cities Khaiem.  Liat, past lover of them both and mother to Maati’s child.  New to the cast of characters is the Galtic general, Balasar Gice.  The story herein revolves around these few as the Galts finally come within reach of their ever-present drive to destroy the power protecting the cities of the Khaiem and thus the people themselves.  Although there is little actual “war” in this book, the characters and their lives are all intimately affected by the results of the devastating punishment inflicted upon the cities of the Khaiem by the Galts.  It is devastating and yet supremely powerful in its portrayal of the events.

THE PRICE OF SPRING comes in another 15 years after the close of AN AUTUMN WAR and brings to a close the story of Otah and Maati that began in A SHADOW IN SUMMER (Amazon).  The people of the Khaiem are suffering the effects of the Galtic war, reeling from the blow dealt to their power and learning a new way of living.  But there are those that will not give up the old ways, those that want the Khaiem to return to their position of power, and they will give anything to see them have it once again.

The ultimate strength of this series is found in the presentation of its characters and their intimate connection both with the world at large and with each other.  They are strong and nuanced and driven.  There’s no real “bad guy” in this series, and although the Galts can definitely be seen as the antagonist of the series, their motives and passions are relayed to us through Balasar Gice and given a humanity and level of sympathy that makes the lines of “good” and “evil” disappear completely.  It is through these characters, through the morals and decisions of each, that the world is shaped and changed.

And oh boy is it changed.

It was so easy to get caught up in these books.  Every story line and every character was my favorite.  I loved them all.  Seriously.  So often in books there’ll be a character or two that I just want to get done with.  I think we all have them.  There weren’t any like that in this series for me.  True, the story is a fairly slow-moving one.  None of these are books that fly by and quickly forgotten.  They build slowly and surely, and every piece weighs upon the next.  The amount of extraneous in this series is essentially nil.

THE PRICE OF WAR's ultimate strength is found in the presentation of its characters and their intimate connection with the world and each other.

Don’t read this series to learn everything there is to know about the Khaiem and its people, although you will learn of them.  Don’t seek to understand completely their religion or the economy of their enemies, but you will see plenty.  Find these characters and let them live and breathe through the pages.  It’ll be an easy path from there.  Mr. Abraham will take you on a trip through their lives and the strength and heartache and even devastation that comes to both them and the world around them.

This is an amazing series and not one to be missed by anyone that loves fantasy.  This guy has everything in his stories that I, over three decades of reading, have come to love and admire.

He makes me believe.  And a little bit more of that is exactly what this world needs.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: Infrequent but strong
  • Violence: The war fallout gets pretty brutal
  • Sex: It's been a while since I read these, but I don't remember there being much


  • mtbikemom says:

    I remember the sex content in this book! Surprise, surprise . . .

    There is a graphic scene in Shadow and then nothing that isn't quite wonderful and wholesome thereafter. I do wish authors would be more consistent in this regard, though this is one of the only complaints I can dredge up for Mr. Abraham. Or whatever his name is. By any name, he is wonderfulness personified.

  • mtbikemom says:

    The “graphic” scene is really just very sensual, and would only be offensive to those who dislike reading about pre-marital relations. I don't believe it's even a “sex scene.”

  • Daniel B. says:

    I hate it when there's a series or a book that I've been putting off reading, and you guys go and give it an amazing endorsement. It means I have to move it to the top of the pile STAT.

    Thanks for the great review.

  • Irene_J says:

    Daniel Abraham will lead you into a strange, seductive world in this book. Highly recommended.

  • Unknown says:

    I couldn't finish the first book. While I agree with everything you said about the writing and the characters, I was just constantly thrown out of the story whenever a 'pose' came up. I imagined the characters going into full-body spasms, arms and legs in some weird configuration, usually in the middle of a conversation, and it threw me out every single time.

    I know Abraham is an excellent writer, though (I'm actually in the middle of The Dragon's Path right now, and loving it) and I'll likely give Long Price another try sometime.

  • Irene_J says:

    There is much to love in the Long Price Quartet. It is epic in scope but character centered, with a setting both unique and utterly believable. The storytelling is smooth, careful, and—best of all—unpredictable.


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