REVIEW: The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

The Dragon’s Path is an intriguing and character-focused fantasy release that helped me get out of a reading and review slump that has lasted 3-months.

The first entry in The Dagger and the Coin series, The Dragon’s Path mainly follows 4 point of view perspectives, 3 of which I really enjoyed reading. These main characters are Cithrin, an orphan bank ward, Marcus, a warrior of some renown, Geder, an upper-class intellect yet substandard soldier, and Dawson, a man of influence in one of the capital’s leading families, who is friends with the King and an expert dualist. The latter, the individual I’ve written the most about in that brief summary, is the character I enjoyed following the least, however; he was crucial in presenting the views of the upper echelon with the political unrest and turmoil brimming.

Cover for The Dragon's Path by Daniel AbrahamCithrin’s chapters were a joy to follow and some of the most unique. Through her, Abraham presents some really interesting moments where she ponders investments, banking, insurance, loans, and running businesses and it was engrossing. I personally have some experience in insurance and finance so found these parts pretty fascinating. Her progression and growth throughout is one of the novel’s highlights too.

If Cithrin represents the Coin of the series title, then I’d hesitate to guess that Marcus may be the Dagger. This is ambiguous at this point in the series though as there are many elements of mystery and conspiracies throughout this first entry. Returning to Marcus though, he’s got an illustrious past serving the military, has had family tragedy that haunts him, and seems to be a humble caravan guard captain at present. He’s sometimes brooding, intelligent, dangerous (whether this is shown or not in this novel I won’t divulge), and begrudgingly has a sense of duty and right in certain circumstances. His page time crossed over with another character frequently and their relationship is one of the main draws of this book to me. My assessment is that Marcus is destined to be massively important in the overall tale, and his relationship with another main character made me purchase the second and third books of the series before I was even halfway through The Dragon’s Path.

Like Marcus, Dawson’s point of view perspective crosses over with that of another main character, so, although I didn’t like reading Dawson’s views as much as the others, I’d estimate that a quarter of his page-time was through the eyes of another member of the ensemble, so I often forgot my minor irks with him. I’m not sure why I didn’t like him as much. Perhaps due to him being quite pompous and classist, he’s meant to be less likable. Whatever the case, he is still a fine character for this world and the story so far. It might be a frequent trait in multi-POV fantasy novels but I definitely have a soft spot for cross-over point of views, when as readers we can witness the same event and get two very different takes on it, (something John Gwynne does very well in The Faithful and the Fallen).

Geder’s tale in The Dragon’s Path is exquisite, bizarre, unpredictable, and kind of delightful! I don’t want to say too much about his story but I felt like I’d travelled half the map of this epic fantasy world with him, fully witnessing the highs and the lows that some major fantasy characters don’t see the like of in entire trilogies. I found him the most complex and rewarding so far.

The Dragon’s Path is firmly invested in fantasy, yet, in this novel, the extinct dragons, the heroes of old, the magic, and the gods are mainly just the lore and knowledge of the present-day characters. They aren’t showcased as being current and having any major influence on this finely crafted and well realised world. This novel focuses on the people, plots, struggles, hardships, wars, and courtly drama. I think that the otherworldly and strange powers that may be lurking in the shadows of the sidelines will take centre stage in the subsequent novels. If so, I’m interested to see how the stakes change and the effects it has on the characters I’ve very much enjoyed following here.

Another element I’ll quickly discuss is that I love fantasy reads with complex and unique magic systems, where I can try to figure them out and understand the rules. Magic such as this isn’t present in The Dagger and the Coin yet, but the possibilities are hinted at and I await with bated breath if more is revealed in The King’s Blood.

The Dragon’s Path dragged me out of my reading slump where many other highly rated fantasy books failed. I will score it a 7.5/10 which is down to my overall enjoyment, how neatly the stories wrapped up, and I am excited by the potential that is shown here and how promisingly it sets up the series. Abraham seems to be a fine writer, this novel presents good plotting and pacing, fine main characters, and a few gems in the second tier. The Dragon’s Path also features a well-worked mixture of both action scenes and gripping dialogue moments. I took a chance on a series that I knew little about, and am content that I did. The Dragon’s Path, although not quite brilliant, did reinvigorate my passion for reading. As much of that is down to what could come next, on top of what was featured here.

Read The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham