At the opening of The King’s Blood, we find ourselves back in the remains of the Dragon Empire and the world of the Thirteen Races of Humanity. Geder Palliako is suddenly an important figure in the Antean Court, with the mysterious Spider Priests at his side. Kalliam Dawson, a noble of the old order, works to maintain the tradition of the court while Cithrin bel Sacour struggles to hold on to her branch of the Medean Bank, and Captain Marcus Wester, haunted by his past, works to redeem himself through his protection of the young banker. Intrigue, magic, and blood follow in the second installment of The Dagger and The Coin series.
Like a flower, blooming
The Dragon’s Path was such a success because Abraham, in his skill and knowledge of the genre, took his time in revealing his world to us. He began in medias res, and as the novel grew, so did our understanding of the world. Much like that deliberate pace and reveal, The King’s Blood continues this slow gift of information as, chapter by chapter, our understanding of this world grows. Don’t expect an answer to every mystery, but know that some light will be shed on The Dragon Empire, The Spider Goddess, and more.
Pulling no punches
Personally, one of the biggest strengths I find in The Dagger and the Coin series is how Abraham is not afraid of posing big questions or challenges to his characters and therefore to his readers. He never presents an easy road for either party, and half the enjoyment of the book is in watching the characters navigate the tangle of larger-than-life questions. Is truth subjective? When is it right to go to war, if it ever is? When do you give up and when do you fight? Abraham throws these questions and more at his characters. Watching how they react will not only fascinate you, it will make you think as well.
Character is king
What makes this one of the strongest secondary world fantasies being published today, though, is not the immensity of its worldbuilding or its fascination with big questions, but rather the complexity of its characters. Abraham has created wonderful, strong, incredibly flawed characters, and watching them evolve through this second book is certainly one of the highlights. He allows them to be, well, human. Even the most noble of characters, Kalliam Dawson, is not immune to spite or fear. Watching and hoping a character will make the right choice is all the more devastating when they do not. Feelings such as pain, spite, greed, and fear color the characters beyond simple shades of gray and create characters who, despite scales or wings or pelts, make for some of the most human characters out there.
Why you should read this
The King’s Blood is a triumph of secondary world fantasy, continuing to reveal a complex world with amazing, three-dimensional characters. Daniel Abraham is not afraid to push his characters or his readers to the edge, and even when he rewards you, it may still be bittersweet. If you enjoyed the first book, or if you’re looking for a new fantasy series to get into, The King’s Blood and The Dagger and the Coin are well worth your time.