“There’s ways you can trust an enemy you can’t always trust a friend. An enemy’s never going to betray your trust.”
So what’s the book about?
Captain Marcus Wester has a tough past behind him. He has learned one thing above all else: in the end, only survival counts. For him, it is time to leave the war-threatened city of Vanai as quickly as possible. Together with the banker Cithrin and a group of actors, they leave the city disguised as a caravan. But that’s when the problems really start, because Cithrin has disguised himself as a young man and is carrying all the bank’s wealth with him. The war has only just begun and is bigger than anyone could have imagined…
“Alle dead man are at peace. That’s what makes them dead.”
These aspects attracted me the most while reading.
- The character traits of the main protagonists were always able to present exciting and varied twists and turns. None of the characters was really good or evil, many actions could be considered evil at first, but through good explanations, one could understand these atrocities. This makes for a very interesting character development, in which one actually cheers on the evil deeds. As a reader, of course, you always have a suspicion in which direction a character or a plot line will develop, but you could always be surprised. At the end, most of the threads are at least partially concluded, but one suspects that things will really get going in the following volumes.
“Death, however clearly foretold, still came unexpectedly.”
What did not work for me!
- Basically, every High Fantasy book requires a certain amount of reading time. You first have to become familiar with the characters, the environment and the political system. The more complex the world structure, the longer this phase takes. My experience with “Dagger and Coin” was that I waited a very long time for the point at which I really arrived in the story and looked forward to the future events. First of all, the book begins with a promising prologue, which is only referred to again much later in the course of the story. After that, you gradually get to know the individual characters. The changes of perspective fit the story and offer enough different points of view. My problem, however, was that despite the extensive thought processes, it was difficult for me to really get into the characters’ heads. Basically, you learn a lot about the motive, but in other places the author is stingy with information. For example, in the whole book you never learn more than a few details about Captain Wester’s past. So the phase of the world development couldn’t give me feeling, that the journey seems to be worth.
- As I mentioned before, I couldn’t really warm up to the characters. For me, the most important thing in a story is the characters and if they can’t convince me, then even the best-built world can’t fascinate me any more. Even though the characters show exciting developments repeatedly, I could only read this as a factual plot and could not build up any feeling about it. I don’t want to say that the characters were bare, but somehow nothing but their actions could define them, indeed they seemed rather spongy and not well constructed to me otherwise.
- The author tries to create some variety and tension with several different storylines from the point of view of different main characters. Unfortunately, this had exactly the opposite effect on me. In other words, I had the feeling that the tension that occasionally arose was stifled. Even if one or two chapters were somewhat exciting, the following chapter was often almost soporific. I was reading how a protagonist deeply entangled in intrigues was fighting for his survival and was then abruptly thrown into a chapter about the most boring banking and trading business, even though I was very much looking forward to this banking story by Cithrin.
“I’ve loved a lot of people, and the word hasn’t meant the same thing twice.”
So what are my final thoughts about it?
For me, this is a prelude with a lot of potential that was not used consistently. The author can write incredibly fluently and yet he took a lot out of the narrative pace, which is why there was no real suspense and also prevented me from reading on. I like slow stories that build up, but this one lacked interesting characters who just couldn’t show any real emotion. The different perspectives offer different points of view, but I didn’t get enough background information about the characters. I think there are much better epic and political fantasy series that deal with these topics better, which is why I can’t recommend this series and I won’t continue it.
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