Saturday, July 5, 2014

[Rogues] Daniel Abraham: "The Meaning of Love"

Behind the boring title of this piece is a very good fantasy story that in terms of style and tone and writing could fit right into George RR Martin's Westeros (or rather, the setting feels like it could have been part of it - in particular, the setting in The Meaning of Love reminds me of a better detailed, more original Flea's Bottom in King's Landing, with a dash of the Free Cities thrown in).
The main character, a rogue female named Asa, could just as well be a Martin character, and the other characters present in the tale too.

I was a bit skeptical at first as the story opens with a long paragraph describing the highly independent city state within a city, but it works really well because Abraham evidently is a master of setting description, making it come alive before the mind's eye so much the setting becomes a character unto itself. The story, too, is pretty solid with, indeed, shades of love but mostly shades of immorality, Martin-style. It is a story that feels like a chapter taken out of a larger epic (maybe it is, what do I know), and I'd like to read more about Asa, the exile prince, Rouse, and the setting (again, maybe the setting is featured in other Abraham works, but it feels like a new invention, the way he goes out of his way to describe it). Come to think of it, I actually have a collection of Abraham stoires - Leviathan Wept and Other Stories - somewhere deep in my to-read pile, and now I want to move it closer to the top. The only other work I've read by him was A Shadow in Summer and I wasn't able to finish it because it just didn't keep me hooked - something The Meaning of Love definitely did.


  1. I was under the impression while reading the story that Asa is male.

    I liked the setting of this story too. The story was not bad. Asa is an interesting character.

  2. Yes, Asa is male, which is supposed to make his unrequited love for the prince ironic somehow. Daniel Abraham is a poor man's George RR Martin. Don't accept substitutes, demand the original

  3. My impression is Asa was female, but disguised as and living as a female (note her statement to the Prince's love interest). Also I loved the description of the independent city within a city, because it was a perfect fantasy parallel to Kowloon.

    1. Asa is male. Remember, he bedded the prince's love interest. He is actually in love with the prince and decides not to tell him that he slept with her.