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TheKing's Blood

TheKing's Blood (utgåvan 2012)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4472041,429 (3.85)18
When an act of harrowing betrayal threatens to burn the cities, a courageous young woman becomes the world's only defender against a universal darkness in a confrontation that reverses the fortunes of powerful and oppressed people.
Titel:TheKing's Blood
Info:Little, Brown Book Group (2012)
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


The King's Blood av Daniel Abraham



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I have no serious quibbles with this book, which generally continued everything I liked about [b:The Dragon's Path|8752885|The Dragon's Path (The Dagger and the Coin, #1)|Daniel Abraham|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1292362307s/8752885.jpg|13626110]. I rate it one fewer star only because I'm grading on a curve: it didn't surpass the sequel despite higher expectations for it.

But rather than discuss the plot, characters or writing, I want to focus on what to me — if perhaps not for you — is the most interesting part of the series: its treatment of epistemology.

That's the philosophical study of truth, and it's not just an important theme of "The Dagger and the Coin" series, it's also vital to the plot. In the grand tradition of speculative fiction using unreal elements to actualize themes — vampires representing illicit sexual desire, stigma against mutants reflecting racism, sudden infertility inciting an exploration of hope — the most significant use of magic in Abraham's grand fantasy world revolves around truth.

Alongside petty magicians and draconic remnants, Abraham introduces a mysterious cult whose devotees have two different supernatural abilities:

- an ability to detect when people are lying, and
- an unnatural persuasiveness

When these cultists reemerge into the world, they drive much of the overarching plot. But they also raise unsettling questions for both characters and readers about the nature of truth.

As the character Kit describes his power, it appears to grant the ability to discern truth and falsehood. But what it actually detects is *certainty*. Someone who is utterly convinced of a falsehood will not register a lie to this magic, while someone saying something true that they believe to be false will be register as a liar.

This isn't just a plot point. It's the whole point. Truth and certainty are easily conflated.

"I dislike certainty because it feels like truth, but it isn’t," Kit says, after having abandoned the cult.

Indeed, while it's good to be certain about truths, it's easy to be certain about not-truths, too. All of us can remember a time when we realized we were wrong about something we believed to be true. There are abundant historical examples, too, of very intelligent people who believed things like the sun orbiting the Earth or the unsuitability of women to vote. What moral or physical facts are we certain about today that will later turn out to be wrong?

But certainty can be a powerful, even useful, thing. Abraham's character Geder is young and insecure, and he craves certainty. Another character, Dawson, derives his moral force to resist evil from his unshakable certainty in how the world ought to work — even if many of Dawson's beliefs are what many today would consider backwards or oppressive.

Uncertainty can easily lead to inaction, which in the face of imminent danger can be suicidal. Think of Hamlet, who loses everything, versus Fortinbras, who acts boldly and gains all.

But certainty without truth can be worse than suicidal: it can be homicidal.

"If justice is based on certainty, but certainty is not truth, atrocities become possible," Kit warns.

What are we to do then? Kit's solution (expressed in the prior book) is a sort of skepticism:

"There is evil in the world, and doubt is the weapon that guards against it," he says.

"But if you doubt everything," another character responds, "how can anything be justified?"

"Tentatively. And subject to later examination," Kit says. "It seems to me the better question is whether there's any virtue in committing to a permanent and unexamined certainty. I don't believe we can say that."

Is there a time, though, when there is a a virtue in committing to certainty? Fantasy literature often says yes. In both The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, the fundamental moral question was not Kit's query about how to ascertain what is good and evil, but rather whether good people will have the courage to stand up against evil.

I'm only through Book 2 of the series, so we'll see how else Abraham develops this epistemological dilemma over the next thousand-odd pages. ( )
  dhmontgomery | Dec 13, 2020 |
A thing similar to the "Fantasy-With-Magic" that I've always liked, is the "Obeisance" / "Renumeration" system in "Darker than Black". (契約対価 [Keiyaku Taika] in Japanese, literally meaning "contract compensation"). The way it works in the anime series, is that characters known as "Contractors" have abilities of varying strengths, and, after using their abilities, they must pay some kind of debt for the powers they've used, the severity often in direct proportion to their ability. For some it may be excessive drinking, others have to spill their own or someone else's blood, some grow older, some fall asleep, some must fold origami, etc. Contractors who don't perform their Renumerations die, so while it isn't strictly magic, it's a pretty good example of the systems you are mentioning.

Should we have Fantasy with or Without Magic? I do think that there are ups and downs to either system. If there are too many limits, it can hinder storytelling, and if it's too vague, it can seem like a get-out-of-jail-free card in any tense situation. Even in the case of Brandon Sanderson’s magic system they have to break their own imposed rules, but the way they do it comes off as exciting and unexpected, because the viewers have gotten used to the limits.

In the stories where almost no magic is utilized like “The King’s Blood”, I often find that it is coupled with seeing the magic from the perspective of someone who wouldn't know what they were seeing (as in Dawson’s case, when he watches the spider Godess priests doing their “thing” when attacking Asterihold). In this way, it makes total sense, and would break the narrative by a non-magician suddenly being really knowledgeable about magic (without a reasonable backstory to explain why), or the narrator expounding about it, establishing rules, etc., when it should remain mysterious because of the PoV from which it's being observed. So, the various degrees of "solidity" of the magic systems in stories, tend to go hand-in-hand with whatever perspective the story is seen from I think.

I think the reason why the magic remains vague in “The King’s Blood” is due to the fact that the majority of characters don't know how to perform magic, and thus the reader should have the same ignorance, rather than being able to understand something that most of the characters don't, which could result in an unintentional narrative of the readers being far more knowledgeable than the characters. Granted, that might be the outcome intended for some stories, but likely not for serious stories that are meant to surprise you (which tends to be most fantasy stories for some reason), since it's usually a narrative mechanic employed more often in comedy.

I personally love Fantasy-Without-Or-Almost-Without-Magic for storytelling (K. J. Parker’s SF comes to mind). There is something ancient and spiritual about not understanding why things happen the way they do. A story can't rely on magic for resolving issues, but it sure works amazingly as a representation of a chaotic magical approach to nature. Light magic like “The King’s Blood” works amazingly well if it's mostly used for creating conflict - it comes off as especially deadly and unpredictable. ( )
  antao | Nov 1, 2020 |
Where to begin with the second volume of the Dagger and the Coin? This is still the story of a brazen girl turned banker and a bookworm too afraid to know when to stop. It's still the story of a mercenary and an old defunct priest as they head out to deal with a goddess whose priests have spiders for blood.

But it's also so much more.

The second volume is no place to start the series, but it is definitely a good place to continue it. Some of the elements are almost reminiscent of Martin's Ice and Fire series - empire in turmoil, dragons, and (SPOILER - can't tell you that bit). The execution, though, is completely different, and where Martin draws a long, deep story out, Abraham punches you in the stomach runs away laughing maniacally.

It's books like this that make Daniel Abraham such a force to be reckoned with in the fantasy genre. I read this book on an e-reader, and more than once I found myself flailing with my free hand to find a bookmark before I remembered it would do me no good. The King's Blood is an engrossing novel that seems slow to suck you in at first, then races all the way to the finish line.
( )
  kodermike | Jul 31, 2020 |
This is a great series. GREAT. Everything I think world fantasy should be: political, interwoven, complex, full of people doing the things they think are right at cross-purposes to each other. It's got that unflinching, despairing ruthlessness of Georgey Martin, with far less sex and violence and a lot more vicious mercantile instinct. And it's compact. It gives us just what we need for the story moving forward, and no blathering further.

And I love the characters. They are magnificent and sympathetic and broken and they all break my heart and wheeeeee it's great. Special mention this time round for Clara: a sterling, magnificent arc.

So looking forward to the next one. ( )
  cupiscent | Aug 3, 2019 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Daniel Abrahamprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Roberts, ChadMapmedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Benshoff, KirkOmslagsformgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat

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When an act of harrowing betrayal threatens to burn the cities, a courageous young woman becomes the world's only defender against a universal darkness in a confrontation that reverses the fortunes of powerful and oppressed people.

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