REVIEW: The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham

The King’s Blood is another strong entry in Abraham’s politically charged, character-driven fantasy series, The Dagger and the Coin.

Cover for The King's Blood by Daniel AbrahamThe Dragon’s Path helped get me out of a reading slump and The King’s Blood features more of the same fine elements that kept me engaged during the first entry. Complex and often misunderstood lead characters, excellent drama, high stakes, and detailed point of view perspectives that sometimes intertwine. Every action and decision that a character makes seems to have consequences, some causing shocking and unexpected outcomes in The King’s Blood, and some, do doubt, planting the seeds for what is to occur in The Dagger and the Coin’s remaining three novels. Words and truths are powerful here and have lasting effects.

“I think he has a long memory, though. Anyone who crosses him while he’s weak will answer for it when he’s strong.”

The way that Abraham writes and the pacing really connects with the rhythm of my thoughts, creating vibrant and clear images, feeling almost meditative to me, and had me truly engrossed. Hypnotic almost, yet, not in a sleepy manner, in a way that kept me fully focused and attentive. The series is adult in nature and it has a similar tone to A Song of Ice and Fire with political maneuvering, backstabbing, plotting, and ambitious characters aplenty. The King’s Blood doesn’t feature many detailed lengthy battles or as much bloodshed on-screen as some fantasy mainstays, although there is a war ongoing throughout the duration of the novel and also a potential revolution. When these moments do occur, though, they have a massive impact. There is one moment in particular with Geder; the climax of which stands out in my top ten most haunting and sure to be most unforgettable moments I’ve ever read.

In a similar fashion to the first novel, Geder is an absolute gem of a creation, and I don’t want to say too much about him because the way he changes, the consequences of his actions on himself and others, and the mythology that seems to surround him makes him an enticing lead player. The fact he’s a point of view perspective – where we follow his actions and thoughts as if sitting on his shoulder – makes it really interesting and occasionally harrowing to see how he is witnessed, differently, by other point of view characters. Whether they are misunderstanding his ideals and intentions or not.

“(She) listened, her hand around her mug. She forgot to drink from it. Instead, she listened to story pile upon story pile upon story as Geder Palliako grew toward legend.”

Dawson is similarly stubborn in nature and loyal to the crown as he was in The Dragon’s Path yet I enjoyed following him more this time. His partner Clara is another point-of-view perspective, and it starts to develop here how important, I believe, the whole Kalliam family will be to the overarching story. It’s nowhere near a neat analogy yet I think this family will be the closest this series has to the Stark family as The Dagger and the Coin progresses further.

Like Geder, I don’t want to say too much about, arguably, the series’ other main character, Cithrin. That being said, I can confirm she has many excellent moments, shares the screentime with some important players, and her tale goes down unexpected avenues. I’m often completely drawn into the way her mind works and how her analytical nature makes her a success with finances, and in other areas here as well. Captain Marcus Wester has a few important and exciting moments in The King’s Blood but he seems to drift away to being a secondary character, however; his importance to the overall series is blatant and I can’t wait to follow his arc further in The Tyrant’s Law as the novel sets where his journey will go next nicely.

The Dagger and the Coin is building up exquisitely with its detail, drama, layers, intrigue, and very real consequences. The novels in this series don’t work as standalone so might not be suited for fantasy fans who want a quick-fix, adrenaline rush. This is a series for those who will embrace its intricacies, its depth, its wonderful characters, the build-up, the stand-out moments. The more time I spend in Abraham’s world, the more intense and invested I will get. Although parts of this series have been a slow burn, I’m absolutely invested now. Let’s see how The Tyrant’s Law ups the ante.

“And I suppose it would be entirely too much to ask what this mysterious errand is that’s calling you away?” she asked. And then, contradicting herself, “You owe us that much.” The apostate licked his lips, searching for words he hadn’t used, even to himself. When he found them, he chuckled. “This may sound a bit grandiose,” he said, scratching at his beard with one long finger. “Try me.” “I’m off to kill a goddess.”

Read The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham