|We have an even higher page count for the second half of the Long
Price, and its a hefty tome indeed. This is Books Three and Four,
published in the US as the separate volumes An Autumn War and The
Price of Spring back in 2008/9, but in the UK as a single volume. One thing
I wish said publishers wouldnt do is to slap a glowing appraisal from another
writer, who is known to collaborate with the author in question, right on the front cover.
As far as Im concerned, thats no recommendation.
That said, there is much
to commend here. In An Autumn War, our hero Otah has become Khai
Machi, and now the Galts are about to invade. Which wouldnt be much of a problem,
except that the Galtic General, Balasar Gice, is a man with a mission. He wants to get rid
of the andat, the magical personifications of principle who are the both the Khaiems
weapon of mass destruction, and vital to their economy. Moreover, he is a man with a plan,
and hes figured out how to achieve that objective. With the aid of a renegade poet,
and with their deterrent gone, the Cities of the Khaiem topple like
dominos before his armies. He kills the poets, and burns their books
It all looks
hopeless. And in desperation, Maati, one of the last poets, in the far mountain city of
Machi, succeeds in summoning an andat. But it isnt quite bound, and it exacts its
price on both the Khaiem and the Galts.
Which brings us to The Price of Spring and a truly messy
situation for Otah, who is now the only remaining Khai, and Emperor of a very literally
dying empire. He tries for a political solution, beginning with marrying his son to the
daughter of a senior member of the Galtic council. Meanwhile, Maati has gathered around
him a secret school of clever young girls who are developing a new, womens grammar,
in the hope of summoning and binding new andat. Naturally, neither of these plans go
particularly smoothly, and there is a lot more pain, suffering and death, before a wise
and brave young woman brings it all to a satisfactory conclusion, bringing a very literal
healing to both nations.
I remember one writer declaiming to us at a convention that classical fantasy was a
dying genre, and that the life was now in the offshoot genre of urban fantasy. Im
glad to report that he was wrong. While writers like Daniel Abraham are producing great,
innovative work like the Long Price, fantasy surely has to be
one of the liveliest, most creative genres in literature today!