Saturday, June 9, 2012

Best Served Cold

This is Joe Abercrombie's followup to his First Law trilogy, which I read a little while ago. It's a tale of revenge and redemption, in which a mercenary captain, betrayed by her employer, seeks revenge on the seven men who betrayed her. It is set in Styria, a land distant from the main action of the previous books, a few years after the first series, so there isn't too much direct effect from the events of the first story in this one.

It suffers from a common flaw of followups to popular trilogies, where a suspiciously large number of characters from the previous story happen to end up embroiled in the new plot (I'm looking at you, George Lucas). Apart from that, it's a good read - a story of seven revenge attacks could easily get repetitive and dull, but at no point does the pace of this story flag; a range of minor characters - some well rounded characters, some caricatures - kept things lively, and the main plot is sufficiently epic, twist-filled, and interesting.

The world-building in this novel is much stronger than in the previous trilogy - partly because it had already been partly done in the trilogy, but also because this story isn't spread across quite so many continents, so Abercrombie gets a chance to fill in the details. This means it feels like a story set in a real world, rather than one in which the world is merely just another prop used to move the story forward (I still can't help but compare it to A Game Of Thrones, where every minor village a character wanders through seems full of people with personalities, and each of those people has a personal history, and awareness of how they have been affected by the wider course of history).

It's an improvement over the first trilogy, and I'm getting the impression Joe Abercrombie is going to become a very good writer.

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