five-stars

Daniel Abraham has stated that he started this series with two goals: “I wanted to understand what epic fantasy was, and I wanted to make one that scratched all my personal itches.” Mr. Abraham, I don’t want to be too personal or intimate, but it seems that you and I share all of the same itches.

The Dagger and the Coin has a lot of familiar elements to it. The setting is similar to Renaissance Europe, with professional soldiers, mercenaries, nation-states, and even mercantile banking. There was an ancient civilization that fell thousands of years before, which had enslaved humans and created different human breeds for different functions. The modes of travel, apparel, food, and technology will be familiar to most epic fantasy fans.

The story coalesces around four main characters: Marcus, the grizzled veteran; Cithrin, the orphan girl who’s a financial prodigy; Geder, the socially inept army officer and minor noble; and Dawson, the old-guard noble who’s trying to protect the status quo. These seemingly ordinary characters initiate larger-than-life events when they come into contact and conflict with each other. There are large battles, narrow escapes, quests across continents, and political and economic machinations.

As with The Expanse, where this series excels is in execution. This is unsurprising since Daniel Abraham is one half of the writing team that authors The Expanse series.

The entire series is tightly plotted, with enough set pieces to usher the narrative forward at a good pace. However, it never feels contrived. All of the action and events feel organic and character-driven. The prose is steady and not too flowery. The voice fits the story and allows the reader to inhabit the characters and empathize with their actions while still remaining separate enough to recognize their flaws.

What Makes it Epic Grit:

  • Adventure and Wonder: Oh, yeah. There’s quests, battles, escapes, far-flung settings, and mercantile banking.
  • Believable Characters: The characterization is incredible. Every action is believable and within character, an amazing feat given the tight plotting.
  • Real Consequences: Yup.
  • Epic in Scope: There’s a large war and an insidious menace infiltrating humanity.
  • Subverts “Good versus Evil” Tropes: Definitely. The real enemies are mass delusion, self-righteousness, and the conflicts that they cause.
  • Different Perspectives: There are a good deal of POV characters, representing diverse perspectives.

Verdict: five-stars

If you only ever read one epic fantasy series, The Dagger and the Coin would be a great choice. It is a prototype for postmodern epic fantasy.

Review: The Dagger and the Coin Series by Daniel AbrahamThe Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham
Series: The Dagger and the Coin #1
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Release: 2011
Type: Novel
five-stars

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Review: The Dagger and the Coin Series by Daniel AbrahamThe King's Blood by Daniel Abraham
Series: The Dagger and the Coin #2
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Release: 2012
Type: Novel
four-half-stars

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Review: The Dagger and the Coin Series by Daniel AbrahamThe Tyrant's Law by Daniel Abraham
Series: The Dagger and the Coin #3
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Release: 2013
Type: Novel
five-stars

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Review: The Dagger and the Coin Series by Daniel AbrahamThe Widow's House by Daniel Abraham
Series: The Dagger and the Coin #4
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Release: 2014
Type: Novel
four-half-stars

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Review: The Dagger and the Coin Series by Daniel AbrahamThe Spider's War by Daniel Abraham
Series: The Dagger and the Coin #5
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Release: 2016
Type: Novel
five-stars

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