Thursday, September 15, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Spider's War (The Dagger & The Coin, #5)

The Spider's War, the fifth and concluding entry of the Dagger and the Coin series by Daniel Abraham is a delight. The story has gotten so sprawling, with the consequences for our characters so significant that it is heart-breaking at times. You can see my ratings of the first four books (The Dragon's Path, The King's Blood, The Tyrant's Law, The Widow's House) on Goodreads. I was actually somewhat surprised to discover that I had not written a full review of one of these books for this blog, because they have been on my end-of-year "favorite reads" list multiple times (2012, 2014). Anyway, since The Spider's War is the last book in the series I definitely want to include a full review this time.

The Dagger and the Coin series is populated by a rich set of characters. The main ones are Cithrin bel Sarcour, Geder Palliako, Dawson Kalliam, his wife  Clara Kalliam, Colonel Marcus Wester and Master Kit. Happily (or sadly, depending on your perspective) not all of the main characters who we get to know through the roughly 2000-plus pages of this epic tale survive the denouement in The Spider's War. (In fact, some of the characters I just mentioned don't even make it that far.)

One of the key aspects of the series, in my eyes, is its focus on economics and the verisimilitude the author brings to a fantastical tale involving multiple "races" (really different species) of intelligent, speaking animals together with priests, dragons and war. 

In fact, there is a LOT of war in The Spider's War. (I really think it should be called The Spiders' War since I believe that the  primary conflict is referring to multiple spiders in this case.) What the book does VERY well is demonstrate that along with war comes suffering and death and conquest. I like how the book doesn't sugarcoat the horrors of war. It depicts it as something horrible (but in some situations, inevitable.)

In the end, the fate of humanity comes down to an incredibly suspenseful, action-packed sequence where several of the characters I mentioned are literally trying to save the world; this sequence is very well done and is a fitting ending to not only the book, but the series as a whole.

Although I do think that The Spider's War was was probably not the most compelling entry in the 5-book series, overall I think the series ended quite well and I would recommend the series as a whole to anyone who is interested in intelligent epic fantasy and who has enjoyed the works of  authors like Brent Weeks (The Night Angel trilogy, the Lightbringer series), Brian Staveley (The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne), Michael J. Sullivan (The Riyria Revelations) and Richard K. Morgan (A Land Fit For Heroes trilogy).

Title: The Spider's War.
Daniel Abraham.
Paperback: 528 pages.
Date Published: March 8, 2016.
Date Read: June 2, 2016.


OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).


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