Daniel Abraham’s Blade of Dream pulls back the curtain on the city of Kithamar, simultaneously uncovering truths while cloaking mysteries yet to be revealed. The sequel layers the events from Age of Ash by deepening the reader’s knowledge and changing their perception.
Blade of Dream follows the existing timeline in Age of Ash, but the focus shifts to Garreth Left, the first-born son of an important merchant family. Trained from birth in trade, Garreth adheres to his family’s policy and understands what his future holds, but what’s the worth of a life without choice? A fated encounter with a mysterious stranger leads him down a path of love and secrets, altering the course of the great city of Kithamar and enflaming the ancient gods who dwell there.
In comparison to the way other sequels expand a standard narrative structure, Blade of Dream is irregular. Rather than building on top of Age of Ash to progress the story forward, the novel wraps around its predecessor, further fleshing out different areas of the city, the class system, and the society. This perspective shift is the book’s strongest element, casting light on darker areas of Kithamar and all those who call her home. Kithamar acts as a giant web: its threads are the connections for the dynamic character relationships Abraham excels at and the birthplace for the book’s main theme of love.
The choice to cover the same span of time within multiple books is a risky one. Once a reader thumbs through all of a book’s pages, the surprise is gone. However, Abraham’s command of the narrative, specifically the ability to keep the reader engaged over the course of the same timeline from new points of view, shows an intricate balance of supporting key plot points from Age of Ash while investing readers in new aspects solely belonging to Blade of Dream. Though you are amongst familiar places and known characters, the book does have a slow buildup. Your patience will be rewarded the further you venture down the multiple paths within Kithamar.
The element in Blade of Dream grimdark fans will appreciate comes in the form of the characters. Abraham establishes his characters as fully realized, complex individuals with difficult choices to make: “The things we can change, and things we have to live with. So interesting to see which ones are which” (201). Each of these choices comes with a hefty cost. Behind their actions, at each character’s core, lies the same motive: love in all its brilliant shades and styles.
I’m looking forward to Abraham’s final reveals in the last book of The Kithamar Trilogy.