As a disclaimer the edition I read this in was an omnibus but since the book is due back I shall have to finish the quartet at a later date. Such a date to be determined in the indefinite future.
I feel one should aim to give most books a taste, unless of course you understand them to be complete rubbish - which it would not be healthy to fill your mind with. So naturally I had to give Daniel Abraham's acclaimed Long Price Quartet
a taste. Unfortunately this taste proved rather bland to my taste buds.
The book is certainly well written, the world building is well structured and all in all the book should work. However, the way in which Abraham plunged his readers into his world prevented a true emotional connection to the characters and the exotic oriental styled world became the main draw of the book. In other words it presented a flashy façade to the reader without having the meat. It was like sitting down to eat a sumptuous feast and finding out it was all made of cardboard. I am all for authors straying from the typical medieval fantasy positions of G.R.R Martin that have come to typify high-fantasy however there has to be a purpose in doing so. I've been watching episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender that I missed and I've realised how skilfully the oriental world has been chosen to fit the story rather than be something different as a setting. Further, a skilfully written story should evoke emotion in its readers and make them care for the situation: [b:Warbreaker|1268479|Warbreaker|Brandon Sanderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1240256182s/1268479.jpg|1257385] here being the case in mind.
The magic idea was interesting however. The idea being that magic is typified in human appearing creatures called the andat. These andat typify a particular characteristic and are bound and controlled by the poets. For instance the main andat in this story is called Seedless and he typifies seed production or fertility as a concept. As a result his magical powers are all bound to being able to produce seeds for a harvest and ripping children from their mother's wombs - which oddly forms the main thrust of the plot, some design to use abortion to throw a poet into madness and therefore derail him so that he can be killed and leave the nation open for war as crops fail without Seedless to produce them.
All of which is certainly interesting but on a personal level the execution failed for me. Perhaps the next few books become more interesting as Abraham gets into the other nations and the concept of a war breaking out. Certainly the first few pages of the next book were far more interesting...
Recommended if you want a different type of fantasy. As I said it is well written, however you may only see, as I did, the aesthetic and not the emotional pull of the plotting.