StoryTellerShannon's Reviews > A Shadow in Summer

A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham
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Mar 18, 14

bookshelves: fantasy-scifi, books-reviewed, the-sweeping-epic
Read in January, 2008

When you've read fantasy for as long as I have you get tired of the fact that 90% of fantasy tales revolved around a dumb farm boy who is the missing heir to the kingdom or to long gone magical powers, he has a good heart but can't seem to get the girl, he has to leave home and help the world/nation/kingdom against some Dark Lord, who tends to be archetype and has some old mentor who gives him the sword/magical talisman to win and kick the beejesus out of the Dark Lord. Oh, and then he gets the girl usually or finds someone better than the girl because the girl wasn't a very nice person. Heh.

Back then there weren't too many variations on this tale unless you wanted to read Michael Moorcock or maybe H.P. Lovecraft, though, he's more horror than fantasy.

Nowadays, fantasy is beginning to shift to grittier/realistic tales; George R.R. Martin being at the forefront. So, now, it isn't about such tales so much and if it is the dumb farm boy might not be such a nice guy or he may lose against the enemy. Maybe, unlike traditional fantasy, someone can wear black and not be a bad person.

So, saying all that for those who have walked with the fantasy genre as long as I have, we finally get to encounter a novel that takes another spin.

A SHADOW IN SUMMER has a distinctive Asian flair to it with almost no focus on the usual medieval European setting. Moreover, there isn't some Dark Lord to defeat.

The tale focuses on politics between various factions within the city of all cities. This city has gained the powers of a powerful spirit that has the ability to give the city a major up in the cotton trade by taking the seed out of cotton plants, thus, giving them a huge advantage upon other cities that need to hand pick the seeds out of each cotton bushel.

Naturally, other cities, most notably one similar to a European one, wants to free that spirit or control that spirit so that they can then monopolize the cotton trade.

So the whole story is about various groups either trying to do this or about other people investigating this plot, not quite realizing the full details until later.

One of the world details I liked about this world and that is based on historical facts is that the people communicate very much in body language rather than words so people will be talking and then take on a pose of apology, love, joy, anger or conciliation. It's definitely a nice touch.

So read this book if you like intrigue, court politics and strong characters, who are not the usual archetypes and are actually doing something besides running the from the minions of the Dark Lord.

STORY/PLOTTING/EDITING: B to B plus; CHARACTERS/DIALOGUE: B to B plus; SETTING: A minus; INTRIGUE: B plus to A minus; OVERALL GRADE: B plus.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Scott (new) - added it

Scott I'm coming back to fantasy after almost a decade of reading mysteries (and an occasional fantasy)...gotta tell you....I miss the farm boy fantasy's...the grittier fantasy is just not as much fun.


StoryTellerShannon Then there are a lot of choices out there for you, Scott. :)


David "proud member of Branwen's adventuring party" Great review, Shannon! As much as I love the fantasy genre, I have to agree that too much of it seems to be crafted with a cookie-cuter these days! If you want to read a different kind of fantasy, you may try The Killing Moon, it's refreshingly original!


StoryTellerShannon Thanks, David.


message 5: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie Cool, I'll try both of these out!


message 6: by Richard (new)

Richard Farley If you are looking for a great,but somewhat harder series to read then look no further than,
Steven Erikson. The Malazan book of the Fallen
Is the best story of Fantasy I've ever read. And his Co-Author Ian C Esslemont.


message 7: by StoryTellerShannon (last edited Aug 10, 2014 10:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

StoryTellerShannon Thanks for the input.

I've heard good things about the series but tried the first book twice and it wasn't my cup of tea.


message 8: by Richard (new)

Richard Farley Ah,well that's to bad. I really enjoyed your review though. I can say that the first book kind of throws you in deep water, several people in the Facebook group have said they started on the second book,first and were hooked. Anyway I'll look for your reviews in the future.


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