It feels as if Joe Abercrombie has been mentioning a new trilogy in the world of The First Law since Red Country was released and his young adult novel, Half A King was announced. Finally, A Little Hatred has arrived and has brought the industrial age to the Circle of the World. Magic moves aside and makes way for an era of machines. Whether the progress the world of the First Law has seen is desirable or not depends on your perspective.
Abercrombie’s first book in his new trilogy, The Age of Madness, had to play this balancing act between new readers and familiar ones. He could not rely too much on what has come before or else he would leave those picking up this book for the first time completely lost in the shuffle of the world’s history. On the other hand, the ones returning from either the end of The Last Argument of Kings, the three World of First Law novels, or the short story collection Sharp Ends might not be satisfied with only returning for Abercrombie’s grim and witty writing style. A Little Hatred has more than enough new and familiar to satisfy both.
However, those expecting a reunion with all their favorite characters should leave that baggage at the door. This novel is the beginning of a new story with new point-of-view characters, all of which deserve a chance to shine by the reader, and shine they do. Even as fantastic as the original trilogy was, there were some character’s whose stories you wished to get back to quicker than others. With every point-of-view in this book, there was a feeling of anticipation of what would happen next.
The majority of the point-of-view characters are the children of previous characters though the exceptions lose nothing by not carrying any family ties with them. Those with ties that may be known to the reader do not use that associate as a crutch. Savine dan Glokta is a savvy, sophisticated, and savage entrepreneur aggressive in her dealings to rise to the top of society. She is a hunter in the upper crusts of the Union who the reader will be unable to look away as she seeks her jaws into her prey. Prince Orso is a charming good-for-nothing whose self-awareness of his idleness makes him evermore fascinating. Rikke is the touchstone to the North and the ways of magic as she longs to hone her skills in seeing the future with the power she possesses called the Long Eye. Along with her, Leo dan Brock, called the Young Lion by his admiring soldiers, is the touchstone to the North as the grandson of the previous King of the North seeks to wage war against the Union once again.
The real-world that oftentimes feels grim, especially lately. A new grim fantasy book from Joe Abercrombie might leave you asking do I really want this right now? However, with A Little Hatred revealing the industrial age of the world, it feels more relevant than ever. It’s grim but not without levity. It’s cynical but not without hope. Sometimes you have to be realistic about these things, and as A Little Hatred will teach you, you can do so without making of your heart a stone.
It’s a credit to Abercrombie’s master craftmanship that he can take stories the reader may have seen from him before and create something so refreshingly new. Themes of war, government, royalty, the rich versus the poor, hardship, and magic all with a fresh coat of paint. Each new perspective and experiences the characters bring in this modern age of industry makes those same themes feel new again.
For an old hat coming from way back with The Blade Itself and devouring everything up to Sharp Ends, this book is littered with familiar characters and unexpected treats but what may come as surprising is how soon you lay those things aside to engage with what’s new. Joe Abercrombie’s writing is just too damn good to not be excited for what comes next. The way scenes interweave with different points-of-view to keep the pace going as it plays out will have you flipping the page at rapid speed. A wide-toothed grin will spread across your face as the threads that link characters together, point-of-view or not, dangling in front of the reader until those aha moments hit you. Those hidden pockets of hints of what is to come in the future will keep you up asking yourself what does it mean? Lastly, those big revelations that have you highly anticipating when the next book in the trilogy will come out. It’s all too much to hold on to what occurred before and will make you want to start over and reread A Little Hatred.
Advanced Reading Copy provided by the publisher, Orbit Books, in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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