The Tyrant’s Law is your typical middle novel – a little slow going as it maneuvers its players into position, but it does dole out unexpectedly delicious morsels of worldbuilding to pass the time.
The book sees its characters in the midst of journeys – both physical, mental and moral. Where Abraham was content to merely depict his fantasy world and its morals as-is in previous books, he begins to set his pieces on one side or the other of the moral divide. Driven by the false certainty of the spider goddess, Geder has demonised and enslaved an entire race of humanity after having subjugated their kingdoms with the help of the spider priests.
Abraham casts this moral enormity as a trial of fire for Cithrin, who grows as a character as she begins to understand that banking can be more than just about the blind acquisition of money, and begins to help in spending her bank’s money to ensure safe passage for persecuted refugees.
Even though Cithrin’s chapters are a little slow going, Abraham seems to be building her character up as a kind of foil to Geder – where he deals in conquest through war, she does with money; where he is enshrouded by certainty, she finds meaning in the ambiguity and obfuscation that is a part and parcel of her trade. Where he subjugates based on religious faith, she liberates by repudiating her banker’s creed.
This book is also the point where the Dagger and Coin series starts to delve into its own lore. Worldbuilding, insofar as it existed, has very much existed only in passing where it befitted the plot to mention it. In Tyrant’s Law, plot circumstances now allow Abraham to delve into some of the less explored corners of the world – Hallskar in the north, the jungles of Lyoneia – in search of deep history, as Marcus and Kit embark on a wild journey to slay the spider goddess. And there are some very interesting developments in the story from these explorations that are very much up my alley where fantasy is concerned – I like anachronisms, tech-as-magic, and all that, and the very last scene of the book ends on a cliffhanger that left me excited to the point of frustration to start on the next book, just to find out what Abraham had in store for the revelations on the nature of the precursor dragon empire that created the races of humanity.
I give this book: 4 out of 5 Lyoneia beasts