Saturday, January 30, 2010

Review - An Autumn War

An Autumn War
by Daniel Abraham
Tor, 2008
Copy provided by yours truly

ISBN: 978-0-7653-1342-3

As I write this, I've already begun The Long Price of Spring. I couldn't help myself. Even though I felt convicted to stop and write the review for An Autumn War, I had to find where the story was going. An Autumn War is the third book of Daniel Abraham's The Long Price quartet. The story is set, roughly, fifteen years after the events of A Betrayal in Winter.

Otah has been an unorthodox Khai for the city of Machi. A fact not appreciated by many. Also, the Galts are muddying the waters all over again. An ambitious and relentless general of the Galts has two things that may neutralize all of the Khaiate's andats. Without them, there will be nothing to stop an invasion of trained and professional fighting forces waiting to sack the wealthiest cities in the world.

What irked me: Upon completion, I was a bit pissed. It was over a particular conversation surrounding an event in the book that seemed to be significantly weighted, to me. The Galtic general orders a mercenary captain to kill a man, that was used as a tool by the Galtic forces, in order to prove his loyalty. The mercenary captain does so and leaves. The general's closest advisor remains unconvinced. When the general asks why, the advisor states, "Seemed like he might be trying to keep the poor bastard from saying something."

That stuck with me throughout the remainder of the story. The general's advisor was dead on the money about the mercenary captain throughout the entirety of the story, and so I expected it here as well. I spent over half the story waiting for the other shoe to drop. I kept waiting for the 'big reveal' about what "the poor bastard" had told the mercenary captain. I was sucked into believing it was some particular knowledge that would factor greatly in the ending of this book. It never materialized or showed up. Maybe I've nothing to blame but my own intuition.

What I liked: Absolutely everything else. As before, Abraham continues with several of the same characters we've seen through three books now. We started with some as children, and others as teen-agers. We pick up a few more here. The main characters are well into middle age here, most with children of their own.

There are still none of the usual suspects one would find in your garden variety BFFF series (i.e. no quest object, no magical/all-powerful artifact, no deus ex machina). The characterization is flawless. The trail Abraham leaves for the reader, following along with each character's wandering thoughts, is amazing. In reading his story, you actually live the character's life; revelling in triumph and suffering as they do.

Even with my one complaint withstanding, this was more of the same: phenomenal. Especially the ending. It was splendidly horrific, brutal, just and final. It was an ending to take every last ounce of fight out of you and leave you sitting on the porch step beneath the mental fatigue and ache of vain pondering. Thus, I cracked open The Price of Spring immediately. I can't even begin to speculate where Abraham will go from here, but the needle on the expect-o-meter is pegged and ready to break its spring.

Verdict: Seriously?! What are you waiting for? This is as Must Read as it gets.


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