The Dagger and the Coin
is a fantasy series written by Daniel Abraham. The first novel in the series, The Dragon's Path
, was released in 2011. Its sequel, The King's Blood
was released in the spring of 2012. The third book, The Tyrant's Law
, was released in May of 2013. The fourth book is titled The Widow's House
In ages of the distant past the world was ruled by dragons who united the lands with a network of indestructible jade roads. They also divided the human race into thirteen distinct subspecies. These ranged from the "normal" Firstbloods, to the canine Tralgu, to the insectoid Timzinae. Other sub-races had subtler traits, such as the Dartinae whose eyes glow - even through their eyelids - and Cinnae with their pale, elfin appearance.
Now the dragons are no more; victims of a civil war of mutual destruction, the jade Dragon Roads and the divided human race the last remaining traces of their influence. As the story begins the Firstblood kingdom of Antea has declared war upon its former vassal, the Free City of Vanai. Nobleman Geder Paliako is a reluctant soldier and the butt of his comrades' practical jokes. But he soon discovers that the war for Vanai has deeper, darker political motives and he is a pawn in a political game he can't hope to understand, let alone win.
Meanwhile, Marcus Wester, a military hero turned mercenary has problems of his own. He has to find a way to guard a merchant caravan fleeing Vanai without his usual soldiers, and one of the cart drivers is hiding his real identity and hauling a cargo worth more to the Anteans than anything else Vanai has to offer.
Elsewhere, in the far-flung deserts of Keshet, one monk learns a disturbing truth about the goddess he worships and others make plans for her return...
This series provides examples of:
- All of the Other Reindeer: A typical day in the field with Geder involves his "friends" dumping him in the latrine pit and tricking him into burning a valuable book.
- Arc Words: "Bound is not broken."
- "Would that be enough?"
- "The Righteous Servant."
- Affably Evil: Rivals Dawson Kalliam and Curtin Issandria, who seem to genuinely believe in the rules of courtly behavior they abide by.
- Even after Jumping Off the Slippery Slope Geder never stops being a genuinely nice guy. It only makes him more disturbing in the end.
- Basrahip is an earnest, friendly, at times even jovial man. He's also a Knight Templar determined to conquer the world in the name of his goddess.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: Dawson's wife Clara abruptly becomes a viewpoint character during the last quarter of The Dragon's Path.
- Badass Longcoat: Geder gets one.
- Batman Gambit: Qahuar Em knows Cithrin is sleeping with him in order to gain access to his office and look at his shipping proposal so he replaces it with a fake one.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Geder is a genuinely pleasant, well-meaning, if socially awkward, man. If he feels backed into a corner, though, watch out. He's capable of some really horrible things if he feels driven to it.
- Big Bad: The Spider Goddess is shaping up to be this. Except she may not actually exist- the physical goddess at the temple in the Keshet was just an elaborate statue, though something powers the spider-priests' abilities. If she's not real at all, that probably makes Basrahip the Big Bad.
- Bodyguard Crush
- Body Horror: The spider priests' powers are fueled by actual spiders that live inside their bodies.
- Book Ends: The Dragon's Path opens and closes with scenes from the POV of The Apostate.
- Break the Cutie: The stress of her husband's plotting has this effect on Phelia Maas.
- Casanova Wannabe: Sandr. His charm works on girls when he first meets them but people who spend any length of time around him see him for what he is and are happy to put the brakes on him.
- The Chessmaster: As befits a deadly decadent court, most of the Antean nobles are this to one degree or another. Cithrin also gets her day as one when she becomes Magistera Bel Sacrour.
- Chewing the Scenery: Master Kit's acting style. He does it so well that he can even win in Ham-to-Ham Combat against a bandit leader. Although that fact that he's a former spider priest probably helps too.
- Colonel Badass: Wester.
- Compelling Voice: A power of the spider-priests; as the flip-side of their Living Lie Detector abilities, they can also make anyone who talks to them long enough believe that what they say is true.
- Cool Sword: The monks' dragon-forged blades.
- Cult: The priests of the Spider Goddess.
- Deadly Decadent Court: Antea.
- Deadpan Snarker: Yardem. Wester actually values his advice for this quality, and Wester occasionally shows signs of it himself when the two banter back and forth.
- Decoy Protagonist: Decoy Villain Protagonist. Dawson is one of the core four PO Vs introduced in the first book, and is shaping up to be a major player, perhaps even the Big Bad. Then in the second book he goes against Geder and is rather messily executed for his trouble- so far, the only POV character to die.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Magister Immaniel and his wife are presumed killed off screen in the Vanai fire.
- The Empire: Antea.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Dawson Kalliam has slaughtered babies in front of their mothers. He is also a fantastic racist who is contemptuous not only of other races, but of all Firstbloods of lower rank than him. He is also truly and deeply in love with his wife.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: A possible example. It is deliberately left unclear whether Basrahip is the monk leader's title or his actual name. The Tyrant's Law confuses the issue further- Master Kit, a former spider-priest himself, treats Basrahip as the high priest's name. However, the high priest himself at one point describes himself as a basrahip, lower case. Maybe it's just a Meaningful Name.
- Evil Chancellor: Basrahip, though at this point its unclear if he's really a Well Intenioned Extremist or not.
- Eviler than Thou: Dawson ends up getting upstaged by Geder and Basrahip in this deparment.
- Evil Overlord: Deconstructed with Geder, whose storyline so far is basically that of the transformation of an ordinary person into what the rest of the world sees as an Evil Overlord, with the focus being on how he nonetheless retains his human foibles and weaknesses while really being a pawn for outside forces.
- Face-Heel Turn: Geder
- Five-Bad Band:
- Five-Man Band, or another Five-Bad Band depending on how you view their leader's motives:
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Geder
- Guile Heroine: Cithrin. Clara too, eventually.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Though all the races are considered "human" in-universe, Cithrin is half-Firstblood (baseline human), half Cinnae. Other hybrids also appear or are mentioned.
- Heroic BSOD: Having been burdened with a terrible responsibility and thrust out from the only home and family she's ever known, Cithrin spends the first half of The Dragon's Path in this. She has a smaller one later when Qahaur Em outsmarts her and gets the shipping contract.
- High Priest: Basrahip.
- Lady Macbeth: Inverted. Dawson is an ambitious, ruthless, arrogant, if hidebound nobleman, and his wife Clara is attractive, highly intelligent, deeply in love with hin- and usually his conscience.
- The Lancer: Yardem.
- Large and in Charge: Basrahip.
- Left-Justified Fantasy Map: Played as straight as could be. The map looks more like Europe than a casual cartographer could draw. Word of God indicates the culture of the setting was intended to be heavily influenced by Rennaisance-era Europe, so this is unlikely to be a coincidence.
- Living Lie Detector: One of the powers the Spider Goddess grants her servants.
- Loving a Shadow: Geder is in love with an idealized version of Cithrin. When the real Cithrin decides not to play his games anymore, he goes into full Villainous Breakdown.
- The Man Behind the Curtain: The Spider Goddess is just an inanimate statue.
- The Neidermeyer: Geder's subordinates see him as this. To be fair, they probably realized their mistake later.
- Omnicidal Maniac: According to The Apostate this is the Spider Goddess's true nature.
- Our Dragons Are Different
- Our Elves Are Better: The Cinnae certainly evoke this with their ethereal appearances and reputation for both intelligence and aloofness.
- Pet the Dog: When Geder finds the bank's fortune he decides to spite his masters by ignoring it and moving on. He even gives Cithrin a smile and a wink as he does so.
- The Plan: Cithrin's plan to found and keep her bank branch in defiance of her superiors.
- Replacement Goldfish: Cithrin comes to fill the void left by the death of Wester's wife and daughter. He is savy enough to see it happening.
- Retired Monster: When his son breaks down over participating in the burning of Vanai Dawson reveals that he himself committed similar atrocities as a soldier. He feels no regret and sees such things as a normal part of warfare.
- Running Gag: Wester never enters a crisis without first asking Yardem if today is the day Yardem wants to kill him and usurp his command.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The spider goddess. In an unusual subversion, her followers actually do not mind. They prefer their solitude and distance from the world and are content to wait until the day she decides to reveal the person who will spread her influence. In The Tyrant's Law, Marcus and Kit discuss this trope, and come to the conclusion that the spider-priests were driven to their isolated temple by some outside agressor and became content with the situation as a side effect of using their Compelling Voice on each other.
- Start of Darkness: Geder's story arc in The Dragon's Path.
- Take a Third Option: When forced to choose between trying and most likely failing to deliver the bank's money or simply trying to pocket the money and run Cithrin uses it to found her own bank branch instead.
- Upon realizing he has been set up for a fall Geder neither admits defeat, nor does he keep struggling only to fail anyway. Instead he crosses the Moral Event Horizon.
- Villainous Breakdown: Basrahip is able to talk Feldin Maas into one.
- Villain Protagonist: Geder starts out a Classical Anti-Hero but gradually morphs into one of these across The Dragon's Path. He becomes one full time in subsequent books.
- Dawson Kalliam is a snobbish, cruel, petty nobleman who is determined to stop a dire threat to his kingdom: giving the people a say in how the country is governed.
- White-Dwarf Starlet: Opal fears her life is becoming this. It affects her judgment.