Plot: War is coming to the Union, from all directions. Traitors are rumoured to be corrupting the system from within, but are their confessions trustworthy? Inquisitor Glokta knows precisely what the prisoners are put through to confess, for he is on the other end of the torture instruments.
Meanwhile, a northern barbarian finds himself caught up with a supposed magician and a wealthy soldier of the Union struggles to find his honour and glory. All of these men will collide to determine the fate of the Union. They are just not sure if they are all on the same side.
Quote: `What is that?” asked Logen, reaching for his pipe. “Some spell? Some potion? Some great work of High Art?”
“Leaves of a certain plant, boiled up in water. It is considered quite a luxury in Gurkhul.” He poured some of the brew out into a cup. “Would you like to try it?”
Opinion: Joe Abercrombie is a name I came across exploring a “best fantasy books” list and I thought I would give the trilogy a go. This is only the first book, but I think he has earned his place on the list. Humour and violence combined, the book offers entertainment from beginning to end.
The plot is complicated and not one that can be explained in a review. War is coming, and several men who hate and distrust each other must come together if there is to be any chance. But the narration jumps between the different characters and their own take of events, making it far more complicated than that. The enemy is a distant one and the battles fought are personal ones rather than against the enemy – no doubt that is to come in the next book.
The characters are all enjoyable. Logen won me over straight away with his straightforward and practical thinking, providing humour from the very offset. I struggled to warm to Jezal due to his arrogance and self-absorption but I think he has potential in the future books. Glokta is the one who I’m torn between love and hate and Bayaz is basically awesome all around – humour, magic and a temper, he has it all.
The level of violence and language in the book is set up from the beginning. So many fantasy books seem to keep it innocent even with battles raging, so it was actually quite refreshing having one telling it exactly how it is. The comments on the cover of the book set me up for the violence, so I was prepared for what was coming and could enjoy it.
This book didn’t grip me in the way others have but I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a good balance between humour and violence, with enough character development in place you want to see who the characters have the potential to be in the future books. All in all, worthy of its place on the list and I look forward to the rest of the trilogy.