by Daniel Abraham.
If you’re the kind of person who likes Gene Wolf or Umberto Eco but is left wondering whether you really understood what was going on, don’t read the rest of this description, just read the book. It’s be more fun to be surprised.
A Shadow in Summer is a fantasy about…hm…let’s say it’s about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. It’s set in an alternate (or future?) India-type city in which the Western world is being dominated by an empire. A few cities have achieve a kind of independence through the power of their poets, who capture the embodiments of ideas and trap them in human form (called “andat”), with incredible powers. The problems are that 1) re-trapping an idea is harder every time and 2) each poet can only hold one such idea in his or her head at a time.
The story revolves around the current poet and his andat, Seedless, who ensures the city’s prominence by removing cotton seeds from bales of picked cotton. Big deal, eh? But Seedless also deals in the sad trade, or abortion, when required, and could drop the next generation of the empire’s children in a heartbeat, if he so desired. The poet, in a moment of self-loathing and doubt, created Seedless, and is now forced to carry his own nemesis with him: Seedless is conspiring to destroy the city and the poet himself.
That’s not what the story’s about. As for that, go find out for yourself.
A master-level book. This is the first part of a quartet: where the hell will it go from here, only reading the rest of the series can say.