Fantasy novel about a deadly tradition for the crown
This is the sequel to “A Shadow in Summer“, so if you haven’t started the series yet, I recommend you start there. I actually had a really difficult time finding a copy of the sequel because the original paperbacks were out of print, and all that was available was these editions combining two books in one. It has been sitting on my shelf for several years now, and I decided in an effort to chip away at my to-read shelf, I would tackle it.
“A Betrayal in Winter” by Daniel Abraham is the second book in the “Long Price Quartet” fantasy series. The story picks up over 12 years after the events of the previous book. Disgraced poet Maati has returned to the village of the Dai-kvo after failing in his mission to bind an andat, an idea made corporeal. When news of his estranged friend Otah’s royal family reaches the Dai-kvo, Maati is called upon to find him and determine whether Otah really was responsible for the murder of his own brother in a bid to take over the Machi throne as per tradition of the Khaiem. However, when Maati arrives in the city of Machi, it appears that there is a much more sinister plot afoot – one that could undermine the security of Machi, and the Cities of the Khaiem.
Abraham is an excellent fantasy writer, and this book is full of just as much intrigue and world-building as the previous on. I really enjoyed reading more about Khaiem culture, such as the use of poses to convey emotion and money being issued in lengths rather than coins. Although a lot of the character are male, Abraham explores the extreme conclusion of what it means for women who have no options in society apart from marriage and motherhood. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition between Maati and the young poet Cehmai who successfully completed a binding with an andat, and seeing the alternative life Maati may have had.
There is quite a lot of politics in this book which slowed things down for me a little, but I think if you really enjoy political books that discuss lines of succession, diplomatic relations and the major influences seemingly minor characters for have, then this book will be very enjoyable. I really liked seeing another andat in play, but I felt like the book could have used a little more magic.
An enjoyable read, and I will definitely be reading the next book in the series.