Fiction Reviews

A Little Hatred

(2019) Joe Abercrombie, Gollancz, £18.99, hrdbk, 471pp, ISBN 978-0-575-09586-1


Introducing a cast of unforgettable new characters, A Little Hatred is the start of a brand new trilogy set in the world of the 'First Law' which will have you gripped from the very start…

War.  Politics.  Revolution.
The Age of Madness has arrived…

The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep as ever.

On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield, and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall.  He hopes for help from the crown. But King Jezal's son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specialises in disappointments.

Savine dan Glokta - socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union - plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary.  But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control.

The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die.  With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye.  Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another…

Welcome to 'The Age of Madness: Book 1'.  For the first of a new trilogy of books that have seemingly already been written so we expect the next two to arrive as regular as clockwork at annual intervals.  How would you sum up this book?  Probably by calling it 'The First Law: The Next Generation' or 'The Unmagnificant Seven'.  The former because we are back in Abercrombie’s 'First Law' world and while it has been suggested that you can read this on its own if you have never read any of the original trilogy or the other books, many of the lead characters are the offspring, or have connections to, the leading characters from the earlier novels, and some characters from those other books do crop up here, so it would be good to know who they are.  The latter 'seven' description is made because this book is told through the viewpoint of seven – yes, seven, major characters.

Thirty years have passed since the original stories and Magic has more or less had its day for we are at the start of an industrial revolution. Invaders from the North are knocking at the door, meanwhile the Breakers – who are opposed to the mechanical advances that are going on are stirring things up from within the Union.  Within these tempestuous times we have a varied collection of characters to follow including: one who has the Long Eye (the ability to see into the future); another who dreams of fame and glory by helping to repel the invaders from the North; then we have the daughter of one of the most infamous characters from the original books who has used his fame to become a cut-throat businesswoman; another character who has escaped the prison mines of Angland and is now a member of the Inquisition; then we have a waster of a crown prince; a Northman we have encountered in previous books who is on guard duty for a headstrong member of the Northern nobility; and an ex-solider who just wants to live out the rest of his days with his family on his farm – what are the chances that is going to happen?

Thus, we have a varied collection of characters all with their own dreams and ambitions against a backdrop of treachery and societal change. In many ways Abercrombie is just rewriting periods from our history but making them even more bloody, with lashings of sex and violence, but what’s wrong with that? There will be blood, lots of it.  Those new to Abercrombie should go to the beginning and start with The Blade Itself and have fun catching up.  Old hands should turn to the first chapter 'Blessing and Curses' (I do love his chapter titles, 'My Kind of Bastard' being a prime example) and start from there.  Recommended.

Ian Hunter


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