The Price of Spring by Daniel AbrahamI’m in the final pages of Daniel Abraham‘s A Shadow in Summer and am absolutely in love. The Cambist and Lord Iron, which first appeared in 2007’s Logorrhea Anthology and is included in his upcoming short-fiction collection, Leviathan Wept, is different in tone than The Long Price Quartet, but it’s still a great introduction to Abraham’s work (or a great read, if you’re already familiar with him.

Born Edmund Scarasso, Lord Iron had taken his father’s title and lands and ridden them first to war, then to power, and finally to a notorious fame. His family estate outside the city was reputed to rival the king’s, but Lord Iron spent little time there. He had a house in the city with two hundred rooms arranged around a central courtyard garden in which trees bore fruits unfamiliar to the city and flowers bloomed with exotic and troubling scents. His servants were numberless as ants; his personal fortune greater than some smaller nations. And never, it was said, had such wealth, power, and influence been squandered on such a debased soul.

No night passed without some new tale of Lord Iron. Ten thousand larks had been killed, their tongues harvested, and their bodies thrown aside in order that Lord Iron might have a novel hors d’oeuvre. Lord Biethan had been forced to repay his family’s debt by sending his three daughters to perform as Lord Iron’s creatures for a week; they had returned to their father with disturbing, languorous smiles and a rosewood cask filled with silver as “recompense for his Lordship’s overuse.” A fruit seller had the bad fortune not to recognize Lord Iron one dim, fog-bound morning, and a flippant comment earned him a whipping that left him near dead.

There was no way for anyone besides Lord Iron himself to know which of the thousand stories and accusations that accreted around him were true. There was no doubt that Lord Iron was never seen wearing anything but the richest of velvets and silk. He was habitually in the company of beautiful women of negotiable virtue. He smoked the finest tobacco and other, more exotic weeds. Violence and sensuality and excess were the tissue of which his life was made. If his wealth and web of blackmail and extortion had not protected him, he would no doubt have been invited to the gallows dance years before. If he had been a hero in the war, so much the worse.

And so it was, perhaps, no surprise that when his lackey and drinking companion, Lord Caton, mentioned in passing an inconvenient curiosity of the code of exchange, Lord Iron’s mind seized upon it. Among his many vices was a fondness for cruel pranks. And so it came to pass that Lord Iron and the handful of gaudy revelers who followed in his wake descended late one Tuesday morning upon the Magdalen Gate postal authority.

You can download a PDF of the story HERE (right/Option click, save as) or listen to an audio version HERE.

  • Dave December 29, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Odd. A Shadow in Summer disappointed and bored me. I felt no compulsion to continue the story. I guess people have different tastes after all, eh! Are you going to post a review? I’d be curious to see what you felt the strong points were. I liked the “poses” in conversation, though it was overused I felt… and I liked the idea of the warrior poets, and the way they could capture and personify an idea, but I felt that was underused… just Seedless and a couple quick references… I would have liked to have seen that idea explored a bit more.

    Beyond that, I was just bored with it all, and didn’t really care for any of the characters. Maybe I just wasn’t looking at it right or something… I read lots of positive stuff online about the series. I just didn’t see it…


  • aidan December 29, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Yep, I’ll definitely be posting a review. Likely tomorrow. Hopefully there I’ll be able to make clear what I love so much about the novel. I can certainly see how it wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea, though.

    As for the andat and the poets, I enjoyed Abraham’s subtle exploration of the magic in his novel, and can only assume that they’re explored more and more through the final three volumes of the series.

  • Arachn December 30, 2009 at 12:15 am

    I just finished reading The Price of Spring and absolutely loved it. I guess NeoGAF’s “aidan” and ADOI’s Aidan are the same person? If so, thanks again for the great advice!

    The only problem I have with the world so far would be the “pose” communication system. As a fantasy fan, I have gotten quite good at suspending my disbelief, but I just couldn’t read the words “Soandso adopted a pose of…” without rolling my eyes at times. I don’t know why, really.

    Amazing debut novel, anyway.

  • aidan December 30, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Yep, you caught me! I’m the same ‘aidan’ that post on GAF. I’m surprised anyone outside of PhotoGAF recognizes me, though.


    I’m finished with A Shadow in Summer now and absolutely loved it. Hard to believe that it’s Abraham’s first novel. I’ve got the rest of the series on my bookshelf, but I may spread them out over the next few months, so I can savour the experience.

    I still have a bit of a hard time wrapping my head around the poses, and how dramatic they are in real life. Eventually I just stopped trying to picture the characters doing the ‘poses’ and just used them as a device to set the scene.

  • Joe Sherry December 30, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    “The Cambist and Lord Iron” is a fantastic story. I really wish it had won the 2008 World Fantasy Award (nominated). I can’t argue the Hugo loss to Ted Chiang’s “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” that year (still, nominated), but I’m a big of fan of this Abraham story.

  • Patrick December 30, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Daniel Abraham also writes Urban Fantasy as M.L.N. Hanover. It’s more popcorny fun than his more traditional fantasy work but it’s very entertaining.

  • Jeff C December 31, 2009 at 9:35 am

    This reminds me that I need to get around to reading The Price of Spring. But Aidan, if you like book 3 will blow you away.