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A Shadow in Summer: Book One of the Long Price Quartet    by Daniel Abraham order for
Shadow in Summer
by Daniel Abraham
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

A Shadow in Summer begins with a student named Otah questioning and eventually rejecting the cruel discipline that develops Poets, powerful 'shapers or makers' who fuel the Khaiem's magical economy with their bindings. The story then segues into the middle of a complex plot to destroy one such Poet, Heshai, in the southern summer city of Saraykeht on the sea, by involving him in the 'sad trade'.

On the plot's periphery is Amat Kyaan, senior overseer for a foreign trading house, Galtic House Wilsin. Her superior, Marchat Wilsin, orders her to find him a bodyguard for a secret meeting. This arouses Amat's curiosity, leading her to dangerous knowledge that soon sends her into hiding in the city's soft quarter. The bodyguard she sent is indentured laborer Itani, who loves her apprentice overseer Liat (Liat is also unknowingly embroiled in the plot). Another key player is young Poet Maati, Heshai's new apprentice, who learned from Otah years earlier. And then there is the unpredictable andat Seedless, Heshai's creation and the key to Saraykeht's economy, who desires only oblivion.

Andat are powerful 'Concepts translated into a form that includes volition'. They provide the Khaiem cities economic growth and defense against other nations, but their numbers are dwindling. The Galtic plot is carried through, but fails in its ultimate intent. Elderly but steely Amat (my favorite character in the book) seeks justice for the victim, and to protect her city, taking an unusual approach to achieve both. Marchat attempts to protect himself and his nation's interests. Kind-hearted Maati seeks his place, and to understand and help Heshai. And Itani, who is of course more than he seems, is forced into a pivotal role in a sequence of events that could devastate nations.

In A Shadow in Summer, Daniel Abraham has shaped a unique and thoroughly fascinating fantasy world, with strong, individualistic characters and a gripping plot that examines hard choices between justice and vengeance, truth and compromise. I'm very glad that this is only the first volume in the author's Long Price Quartet, with Winter Cities, An Autumn War, and one more to follow.

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