This is Book 1 of The Dagger and The Coin series and as such is really not much more than setting up the characters and world of for what promises to be the real meat of the series. Luckily, the adventures that take place and serve to introduce us to the various important folks have enough to them to keep me from putting the book aside and look for another read.
Abraham uses the same narrative device of focusing on one of the major characters per chapter, much like George R.R. Martin does in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. We meet Marcus, the general turned mercenary, Cithrin, the orphan and budding banker, Geder, the bumbling lesser light that goes from being a puppet to something much more worrisome and a few others. And they are lovely characters, I have to say. The strongest part of the book was watching their growth or their unveiling over the chapters.
A couple of my favourite characters of all, were really minor players. Dawson's wife, Clara and their erstwhile bodyguard, Vincen Coe. At one point, they are very much in danger and I feared for them, much more than I thought I would. Master Kit, the leader of the travelling theatre troupe was another favourite with his hinted at mysterious ways and means. I think I know what he's about, thanks to the very final bit of the book, the "entr'acte", but I'm probably a bit off base with that.
There is a bit of an interview with the author added to the book and in it he refers to the House of Niccolo series by Dorothy Dunnett and I have to admit, unlike many people, this is the Dunnett series I have read. (I have the Lymond series on my TBR list and have the first 2.) It's a series about a medieval banking family and oh, can I see the influences in this series. That's a good thing!
So, while this book was a bit of a struggle to wade through, by the time I got to the last say.... 5 chapters of approx 30+, I was invested in these people and really felt that the story was just getting going. Maybe that's what Abraham intended, since Master Kit says in the very last line... <i>"It's begun."</i>
I will definitely be adding the next book of the series to my list.