The Widow’s House by Daniel Abraham
It’s getting harder and harder to review this series as they’ll all so slickly competent and just plain good it’s difficult to find much to say about them. The Widow’s House is the fourth and penultimate book in The Dagger and the Coin series and sets things up nicely for the final blow out.
The Widow’s House begins with the awakening of Inys, the dragon discovered by Marcus Wester and Master Kit at the end of The Tyrant’s Law. The supposed war of Antean aggression is simply a proxy for a much older conflict and Marcus Wester sets out to support the efforts against the expansion of Geder Palliako. Geder himself has been crushed by Cithrin’s rejection and turns the full force of Antean might to capturing her, convincing himself that she must be part of the fictional Timzinae conspiracy against him. Cithrin herself is hiding out in her old home of Porte Olivia, using her wiles and limited resources to prepare the city for the inevitable Antean siege. Finally, Clara Kalliam has left Camnipol to shadow the Antean army, led by her son Jorey, to continue as a ‘loyal traitor’, sending insider Antean information to Cithrin and the Medean Bank. The spider priests continue to spread and war looks set to enflame the world.
I’ve mentioned before about how well Abraham has avoided the middle of a series slump and The Widow’s House does not simply feel like table setting for the finale, although it does do that as well. The pace is as snappy as ever, with no time wasted on journeys when the destination is the interesting part. As I said above, with a book as well put together as this there just isn’t much to say. Abraham knows what he is doing and is an incredibly safe pair of hands.
The introduction of Inys is my favourite element of The Widow’s House. He’s a somewhat tragic and unsettling figure, but also at times very funny and oddly human. Abraham undercuts what we expect about the appearance of an ancient powerful dragon in interesting ways, without losing the mystique and epic feeling which a dragon provides. The core cast all carry on fine, with the most interesting development going to Cithrin. She is known as the cause of Geder Palliako’s rage, making her a hated figure to many. She’s come a long way from the scared child fleeing Vanai with the wealth of the Medean Bank. The Dagger and the Coin is boosted along by a good cast of PoV characters, none of which feel like a slog to get through.
The Widow’s House brings us almost to the end of a really good series of books. I’m looking forward to reading the final book and then looking into Abraham’s other works, although I am also reading his Expanse books in collaboration with Ty Franck.