Author: Joe Abercrombie
This was a weird book. It’s high fantasy low magic, and is set in a pre-established universe. The previous books in this world, The First Law Trilogy, are pretty highly spoken of on r/fantasy. But people on r/fantasy also speak highly of Branden Sanderson so I probably shouldn’t be trusting their recommendations (fight me).
The story is bleak. It’s set in the typical European fantasy world just hitting industrial revolution. We follow three characters as they deal with war, modernization, and politics, and the book doesn’t pull punches. The story is interesting, but because the book is spread out over three separate threads it doesn’t feel like much happens.
On the other hand, Joe Abercrombie does some fantastic character work. The three protagonists have clear lessons set out for them, and in most other books we’d see them learn, grow, and overcome their flaws. These characters start flawed, have some experiences, and then end up with different flaws, and in some cases, PTSD. They feel surprisingly human.
I don’t really know how I feel about this book. I don’t typically care about prose; if I know who’s standing where and what kinds of swords everyone has, I’m usually fine. But the writing in this one felt kind of—jagged? Jarring? It was the reading equivalent of running my hand over a rough stone wall and it sort of tired me out.
So…would I recommend it? Maybe? I’m glad I read it, I learned a lot from the character work. But I’m not sure I had fun along the way.