A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie (The Age of Madness: Book 1)

‘War? It’s a fight so big almost no one comes out of it well’

First of all, this is not fantasy as we know it. In fact, this is barely fantasy at all. Undoubtedly epic, with more than a hint of magic, this is a high fantasy world with a low fantasy feel. It's a sign of the times- even the big hitters are pursing influence though finance and banking instead of sorcery… The First Law world is, for all intents and purposes, our world. As a result, the book reads a bit more like historical fiction. A lot more like history. If nothing else, the author must have done some serious research into the Industrial and French revolutions to so evocatively and effectively depict this kind of terror, these sorts of turbulent times. It’s nothing less than a deconstruction of humanity. And because of that, it’s the very best kind of story telling. This is history in action, bloody and indifferent. It’s a clear eyed look at who people really are and what they really do, in wealth or poverty, in revolution, in war. Revealed here are the dangers of idealised Progress, especially when it’s really just about Profit, and action for and by the People, especially when it’s just about Power. Look around, fellow readers, at the world we live in now; this isn’t just a book about the past. Fear not though, if this all sounds a bit serious, this is pure Abercrombie. Plots within plots, brutal violence, death and destruction, surprises, and a gold thread of humour to balance the grim.

The author isn’t the only one who has been looking at the past for inspiration, the narrative is steeped in the supposed glory days of what came before. The events detailed in the First Law Trilogy form more than just the backdrop for this book, they inform the actions and attitudes of all the players. Perhaps you could begin your reading journey here but I highly recommend you don’t. Not only are there characters from past books playing significant roles (no, I’m not telling who), many of the issues in play come directly from the other books in the series. Or at least, the memory of them or their legend. Everyone’s favourite psychopath, Logen Ninefingers, figures heavily in the hero worship of this new age of young warriors, exerting the kind of influence that changes the course of the future. If this is a book about what the past has to teach us, it’s clear to me that many of the characters have learned all the wrong lessons.

And what characters they are. Since there’s only limited information in the blurb, I’m not going to spoil any surprises, but at least one of the new introductions is heading towards my favourites list already. Maybe even two. Every flaw, every bit of self-delusion, every failed attempt at virtue is on show, the good in people repeatedly shoved aside by circumstance or self-interest. It’s the kind of real that has you chuckling darkly to yourself in recognition. And if you’re not? Well, perhaps you should take another look… It’s not all gritty inhumanity. Mostly, but not all. Even Abercrombie leaves some room for hope. Except now I’m remembering the overarching pattern of the first trilogy and wondering whether he’s playing on my innate optimism? I wouldn’t put it past him. 

Anyway, this book is exceptional. Indisputably, spectacularly, criminally good. Clever, funny, and packed with cutting commentary, it’s well worth the wait.

ARC via publisher
Emma Davis, 9.6/10

"She knew with one twitch of a sword she might lose her lover, her home, her future. People can be so tough, survive so much hunger and cold and disappointment, take beatings you wouldn't believe and come out stronger. But they can be so fragile, too. One sharp piece of metal is all it takes to turn a man into mud. One little stroke of bad luck. One ill-judged whisper."

Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say he makes me want to smash his books into my face over & over again because they are so bloody brilliant!

To say that I've been eagerly anticipating this release is a ridiculous understatement! Opening the box from Orbit, seeing what was inside? My mind left my body & visited another dimension for a hot second. I was a kid on Christmas morning, hopped up on sugar & caffeine, exploding into a million colors. I CAN SEE THROUGH SPACE & TIME!!

Listen. I'm an excitable person, okay?!? I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity to have read & reviewed this incredible book before it is available to the rest of the world.

A Little Hatred was everything I was hoping for & then some! You have to be realistic about these things, after all. The wait for this has been more than worth it! Banter, battles, badass women! What more could I want?! I am for sure the target audience for this!

I would be remiss to not acknowledge this seriously radical cover. It's quite different from the rest of the books in this universe, but I dig the hell out of it! Design by Lauren Panepinto & art by Sam Weber, the same artist who did the stunning 10th anniversary edition book jacket for The Name of the Wind. Oof.

"And every moment with her felt like an adventure. She could kidnap a conversation and in a breath carry it off into strange territory. You never knew where you'd end up, but it was always honest."

A Little Hatred returns to the First Law universe roughly thirty years after the events in Last Argument of Kings. If you're a newcomer, at least read the First Law trilogy before starting this. I've said it before & I'll never stop saying it.. this series should be READ IN ORDER!! Technically Best Served Cold, The Heroes & Red Country are considered standalones, but trust me. Watching this sprawling, epic beast of a story unfold throughout each book is a masterclass in how to write a fantasy series! The development is unlike any other. Truly. There are very few series where I've given each book five stars... but the First Law is one such rarity! Each & every book, including the short story collection deserve ALL THE BLOOD-SOAKED STARS!!!

As always, the lines between good & evil are blurred in the mud with Abercrombie. His characterizations are some of the most outstanding I have ever had the pleasure to read. A Little Hatred is mostly about the children of these characters from the previous books that we've come to know. There are a few returning characters as well, which is yet another reason why you should shove the original series straight into your eye holes! The backstory that Abercrombie creates for these individuals is immense. Each nuanced detail is pivotal in building this complex world. However, this new trilogy is certainly paving the way for the old to step aside to make way for the new generation. We are entering the Age of Madness, indeed!

The world has become industrialized, technology is on the rise & the North is invading the Union. There's nothing I love more than a rag tag group of characters & A Little Hatred has plenty! It focuses on multiple fantastic POV's, including: Rikke, the daughter of... nah. I'll let you find that out on your own! ::mischievous smirk:: Through the mud, blood & guts, Rikke is just... everything. She is such a vivid, raw character. A new favorite, without a doubt! She wears a gold ring through her nose to keep her tethered to the earth, because of the gift that she has called the Long Eye, which is the ability to see into the future. Women born with the Long Eye are rare. She is accompanied by Isren-i-Phail, a hillwoman. She is essentially Rikke's keeper of sorts, as well as assistant, tutor & best friend. She's pretty damn amazing!

Then there is Savine dan Glotka, daughter of... you guessed it, Sand dan Glokta! One of my all-time favorite characters of EVER! She is ruthless (I mean, HELLO! Look who her father is!) & a savvy businesswoman.

Prince Orso is the son of King Jezal & next in line for the throne. He's spoiled, vain & much more clever than anyone ever expects.

Leo dan Brock is a reckless warrior, taking on the Northern fighters & trying to prove to his mother, Lady Governor, that he isn't a fool. Known as the Young Lion, he has a bit of hero worship for the Bloody-Nine.

By the dead, A Little Hatred was just so fucking incredible! It's a complete & utter masterpiece. In fact, I believe that this is Abercrombie's best book. Everything that he does memorably throughout his novels, he does here. And then goes above & beyond!

Unapologetically bleak, twisty plot twists, uncompromising violence, gallows humor, painfully awkward & deliciously sexy romance, characters with distinct voices, fucking bonkers imagery & of course, the gritty battle sequences. No one writes a battle quite like Lord Grimdark. The reality of the battles, the hacking & slashing, the emotional investment, the palpable energy that radiates throughout. There is a shit ton of blood that gets spilled between the pages of this book & it is glorious! ABERCROMBIE EVEN WRITES ABOUT MENSTRUATION! IN FANTASY! IN GRIMDARK FANTASY, AT THAT! I AM HERE ALL DAMN DAY FOR THIS!

Sometimes you find that perfect book, the one that hits you at the exact right moment. Everything aligns. The writing, the characters & the world-building just makes your soul sing. A Little Hatred is that for me. It's beautifully, authentically First Law. Joe Abercrombie has done it again. Goddamn.
Holly Grimdragon, 10/10

10/10 This book is exceptional. Indisputably, spectacularly, criminally good.

Reviews by and Holly Grimdragon

1 positive reader review(s) for A Little Hatred

1 positive reader review(s) in total for the The Age of Madness series

Joe Abercrombie biography

Joe Abercrombie interview

A Little Hatred reader reviews

from USA

Just finished “reading” this book in audio form. It is just as awesome as previous trilogy, even better. Feel “a little hatred” towards the author because will have to wait for a year until the next book is released. :-) Excellent book. Characters , dialogue, humor , sadness, Everything is so vivid and raw. By The way I also thought that the performance of the audio artist Steven Pacey was top notch. Overall 10 out of 10
10/10 ()

9.9/10 from 2 reviews

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