Abraham (A Betrayal in Winter, 2007, etc.) ratchets up the stakes with the third entry in his epic fantasy series.
For years, the city-states of the Khaiem have not bothered to maintain armies, believing that the power of the poets, who bind the magical, lawless beings known as the andat, was sufficient to keep them safe. They are about to discover the error of that assumption: General Balasar Gice of the Galtic empire is determined to forever rid the world of andat, and he seems to have discovered the means to do it. As his armies roll over the largely helpless Khaiem, the poet Maati searches for a defense that may prove worse than anything the Galts can unleash. Abraham is a welcome addition to the fantasy writing school of which George R.R. Martin is principal. He has joined a select group of authors who don’t flinch from inflicting truly terrible fates on sympathetic characters.
The series title—The Long Price Quartet—says it all: The characters are paying a price for the way their society has been constructed. And it’s very interesting to watch that price being paid, in all of its excruciating permutations.