Rating: 5 out of 5
Mr Abercrombie’s realism, style, and sense of humour are enough to keep one coming back. The universe, quite familiar to old-time readers by now, still has its gems to offer, though the activity in Adua, the North, and faux-Italy bears semblance to what has happened in these places in the past. There’s nothing inherently bad about that: what we see are sons and daughters of parents committing similar mistakes to past ones.
Rikke’s storyline—definitely not my favourite in the first volume—grew on me here. It doesn’t hurt that she has some of the finest sidekicks in Caul Shivers and the other Northerners. Stour Nightfall’s court is another (joyless) place, made more enjoyable by the witty internal reflections we see in the characters there.
Meanwhile, the action between Leo and Orso is thoroughly interesting: though at least for me, I was hoping the horror of that plotline would end and reason rule. I’ll let the reader to determine what happened… Similarly, the few scenes where Orso and Sand dan Glokta acted together were absolutely excellent, especially after following Sand through so many books.
I’m not sure how deliberate it was, but Mr Abercrombie’s style was best proved to me when he decided to write something all-so-similar to a scene many would recognise from pop culture. At that point I thought what an obvious move this was… but I was, most naturally, misled… What a joy to read such a book!