Review. Daniel Abraham, The Tyrant’s Law

Big epic fantasy series often have one or more volumes that are below par compared to the overall books in the series. Not seldom are these centred around the middle of the series, the so-called middle-book syndrome. These books are build-up for the big finale but often don’t manage to contain a completely satisfying story between its covers. The Tyrant’s Law is the middle book in The Dagger And The Coin series, but if middle-book syndrome is the rule, then Daniel Abraham wrote the exception.

The tyrant Geder Palliako had led his nation to war, but every victory has called forth another conflict. Now the greater war spreads out before him, and he is bent on bringing peace. No matter how many people he has to kill to do it.
Cithrin bel Sarcour, rogue banker of the Medean Bank, has returned to the fold. Her apprenticeship has placed her in the path of war, but the greater dangers are the ones in her past and in her soul.
Widowed and disgraced at the heart of the Empire, Clara Kalliam has become a loyal traitor, defending her nation against itself. And in the shadows of the world, Captain Marcus Wester tracks an ancient secret that will change the war in ways not even he can forsee.

Having survived an attempt on his life, Geder is taking in the reins as lord Regent. Assisted by the priests of the Spider Goddess, he is weeding out everyone who is all but loyal to him and on the go conquering cities nearby to expand his reach. The line between Regent and Tyrant, however, is a fine line to walk and an easy one to stray from. While Geder gets more and more stuck in the webs of the Spider Goddess, Marcus and Master Kit embark on a journey to free the world from said Goddess. But will they succeed in their mission before Geder and his priests enslave every city? Or can two brave women, Cara en Cithrin, make the tyrant’s reign implode from outside as well from within?
Funny thing, The Dagger And The Coin series. In seems that with each book, Daniel Abraham seems to mend what was ever so slightly off about the novel in the series. After the first book, I hoped to get some more sense of purpose and direction in the plot, which was the case in the sequel. After The King’s Blood, I felt like this series missed out on the grand scheme, the epic proportions that other series alike portray. The Tyrant’s Law introduced that epicness in the series, starting with an interesting prologue and an ever so exciting epilogue. The different storylines are coming together as well into one big, explosive story.
know how to play the games of the court
Near the end of the first novel in the series, The Dragon’s Path, I started to favour the ladies’ storyline. The King’s Blood and especially this third book consolidated Clara and Cithrin’s positions as my favourite characters with the most engaging story. They are both turning into cunning women who know how to play the games of the court and how to use people as well as circumstances to their advantage. Their chapters were filled with plotting and intrigue and it made for such an engaging read. For other reasons, Geder’s chapters were very engaging as well. Whereas he started out as the Samwell Tarly of the series, under the influence of the priest he is becoming a loathsome character but because of this insight in his motivations behind his actions, it gives you as a reader a very unique perspective that makes the tyrant grey rather than simply black. There is still room for redemption with Geder, the question remains, however, if he will hold on to whatever shreds of humanity he has left or if he will allow himself to become completely corrupted by the Spider Goddess. Talking of which, The Tyrant’s Law also introduced and element of interest into Marcus’s plotline. While he embarks on the typical Fantasy-quest, Daniel Abraham takes this Fantasy trope and puts his own spin on it and he had me hooked. Just great and a welcome little sidestory, cause while still being connected and part of the overarching plot, it was separated from the other three threads as to allow a moment of reprieve before diving back into the doings of Geder and the women.
hold on to whatever shreds of humanity he has left
In terms of characters, I approve of Abraham’s choice to remain at four POV’s. It would have been tempting to replace Dawson with another, for there are a lot of area’s still uncovered, but instead we get a deeper focus on the four already existing POV’s at it’s a choice that really paid of, at least for me. I am even more convinced that Cithrin and Clara are one of the strongest characters walking between the covers of this series and Geder is fitted for the role of the unintentional antagonist. I’m still not sure about Marcus, but his quest along with Master Kit tagging along made me enjoy his chapters a whole lot more than before.
All this is once again done through some very solid writing. As was the case with the previous book, the pacing is initially slow, but sooner rather than later it starts to build and you’re caught in the web Daniel Abraham is weaving with his words. Great balance, once again, between exposition and expanding the world and the action. This is really some great writing going on.

If I wasn’t already convinced by the end of the second book, then The Tyrant’s Law did the job of making this series one of the ‘buy and read asap’ ones. While clearly being the middle book in the series, it avoids being nothing more than a transition-novel by delivering on all fronts. I am eagerly awaiting the penultimate Dagger and Coin-book, cause after the prologue, I was left slightly out of breath, wanting more of what I just read.

★ ★ ★ ★

Tyrant’s orders, read this!

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