Fantasy Review: ‘The Widow’s House’ by Daniel Abraham

The Widow's House (The Dagger and the Coin, #4)You follow four great books, and what do you get?

Pissed off at Gedar and a nation in debt.

Finally the ‘Coin’ comes out in the Dagger and the Coin. This after all was the promise of the series; the landscape of the conflict was to involve both violence and economic pressures. How this would take place was anyone’s guess but the hint of what was to come was there from the first time we met the banker’s apprentice Cithrin. And if our first big insight into how economics would take over the world came off a bit too Ayla-like (complex modern system dreamed into existence by one super character), well that is just fine by me.

Because there is a bit of simplicity running through this series. Part of its charm is how easy to read it is; the first book certainly surprised me by seeming almost generic. But things are building upon the blocks laid out in books past and suddenly things that seemed so simple at first are just the start of what we are reading. The Dagger and the Coin has thus far never completely left the ‘classic fantasy’ mold (as in Euro-centric Tolkien inspired), but it carefully steps outside the lines more and more as it has gone on. I think I have said it before; this is not a series that takes every trope and tries to break it. Rather it tries to twist them so far around that they look almost normal again; just with a little nagging feeling that we are being played with in some way.

Book three, The Tyrant’s Law, ended with a pretty mighty reveal so naturally that is where The Widow’s House picks up. The opponents of Geder have picked up a pretty nifty trick to use against him, if they think they can control it. It is something they have to try though because Geder’s march across the land seems unstoppable. The spider priests have brought him victory after victory. The story remains fairly simple from there; Geder pushes his war and pines for the vision of love that he built in his mind. Cithrin genuinely wants to do good but still struggles to control her own way and break the invisible chains the bank has placed on her. Clara does what she can to keep her family safe and undermine Gedar. And Marcus, who would be the main character in many series, fades to the background despite his adventures.

Those little details are what make it all stand out though. The, well let’s call it a secret weapon, that Kit and Marcus found? Turns out it made people over confident, led to an event that could have killed all hope. But as failure seems inescapable a new hope is formed from it. And our pitiful tyrant? I know how nasty he can be, I SEE how nasty he can be, yet often times seeing things through his point of view almost makes me feel sorry for him. Almost, but never will I be fooled again.

I was right about one thing after book three, Clara continues to threaten to take over the entire series. Both of Abraham’s ongoing series have middle aged to elderly women that I can’t wait to read about. Clara is strong, resilient, and cunning. She takes charge when she has to yet knows when to stay back. Her sense of loyalty and duty is so much stronger than her husband’s was in the first book. She has become my favorite character, displacing both Cithrin and Master Kit for the title.

This is a series that gets better and better. It remains simple but subtle. With its tight cast and focused stories lines it will never be the book that requires a binder full of notes to keep tract of but it is gaining in depth with every outing. Each provides just a bit more info about something that happened before, changing the perception of events each time. If you are already reading the series, catch up! This is another solid outing. If you are not reading the series don’t be intimidated; the four books here are shorter than they look but page turners to the last. You will be caught up in no time.

4 Stars

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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