Thirteen years after the dramatic events in Saraykeht, both Otah and Maati are keeping their heads down. Unfortunately, events are conspiring to bring them both to Otah's childhood home of Machi, a far northern city of huge towers and intrigue where the Khai's grasp on power is slipping and hungry factions jockey for position.
The second volume in Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet sees the story becoming darker and more personal, as Otah is forced to confront the choices he has made in his past and challenge the traditions of the Khaiem. Again, Abraham does not send the story down a traditional or cliched route here, giving his 'villain' a conscience which is increasingly stricken by the dark and murderous things she must do to gain power, but perversely this only seems to increase her determination to win through.
The characters of Otah and Maati are developed nicely, along with new characters like Cehmai, and the story unfolds nicely, building to a tremendously intense and emotional convergence. The ending may be somewhat predictable, but the route to get there is thankfully not. Again, this is a somewhat slow-paced novel, but one that is needed to set up the fireworks of the next book in the series.
A Betrayal in Winter (****) is an effective and enjoyable second volume in this sequence. It is available now in the USA and as part of the Shadow and Betrayal omnibus in the UK.
I previously reviewed the book in its omnibus format here.