I really like this book. Joe Abercrombie has taken the standard fantasy tropes, young heroes, wise wizards, bold barbarians and distressed damsels and twisted them into the kind of hyperdimensional pretzel shapes that quantum physicists use to describe string theory. I haven’t enjoyed a book by an author I didn’t know this much since the golden age of science fiction (aka when I was 12 years old).
What I like most about it is that while Abercrombie is going for seriously grim (ala Perdido Street Station) there exists within his work a rich vein of optimism and hope. While an iron determination to stick to the ‘life is shit’ zeitgeist keeps the plot spirally down to its nihilist conclusion Abercrombie’s intent is undermined by his pesky faith in human nature.
The result is a wonderful tension between hope and despair that gripped me all the way to the end of the third volume.
Did I mention that the most sympathetic character is a professional torturer, and I don’t mean he’s the DESIGNATED HERO I mean genuinely sympathetic. Got to love a book like that. So I want both of you to go out and buy it right away.