Quintessential Abercrombie: trademark humor, horrifying violence, grim wisdom, and an ending that will leave you craving for more.
It doesn’t last, sure, but the titular argument of Abercrombie’s latest takes a stab at determining why. The grim conclusion is that taking sides in governing a nation – even if it’s crystal clear that one is trying to ‘do the right thing’ – is that it’s going to lead to dangerous division and potential war.
Ask Orso, a ne’er-do-well prince who finds himself crowned King far earlier than he had imagined. He grew up thinking his father was a terrible King as there was nothing that seemed to get done. But as Orso settles into the role, he realizes that keeping a delicate balance of power between all the nobles of the Open and Closed Councils as well as the true power players behind the curtain is the real challenge of his kingly duties. A good king is a king that manages to keep the peace, even if terrible sacrifices must be made from the less fortunate sect of society to appease the wealthier side. It’s a terribly unfair system, but such is the nature of power and wealth.
The straw that breaks the camel’s back is a case of rape and murder from a member of the Open Council, who is also the son of one of the most powerful nobles in the country. The rapist and murderer’s act was witnessed by fourteen citizens in a tavern, clear as day, and should be an open-and-shut case in court. Orso’s judgment should be quick and merciless for such a vile criminal. But the machinations of nobles aren’t to be underestimated, and a long-simmering hatred of Orso’s family has turned this case into an opportunity for treachery and mutterings of a coup.
Orso’s story is Adua is one of three stories that eventually merge. We also jump back into Angland, visiting our old friends Leo, Rikke, Clover, The Great Wolf, and various other Northmen and Anglanders who are itching for action. And across the continent, Vick is working some political magic while investigating some rebel groups who might turn the tide in a coming war. Each story shows a different perspective from different levels of society at what peace means, and what drives a person to fight.
And there is fighting. It couldn’t be an Abercrombie book without a The Little People chapter, a chain of POVs that depicts the horrors of war as the reader leaps between one minor character’s point-of-view to another.
This one has it all. The Trouble with Peace is a quintessential Abercrombie story that draws pieces from all seven First Law novels before it. It features all your returning favorites: trademark humor, horrifying violence, grim wisdom, and an ending that will leave you craving for more. At this point, would you expect anything less?
Review by Adam Weller
In 2002 Joe Abercrombie began the writing of a fantasy trilogy based around the adventures of Logan Ninefingers. The First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings) has since been publi [...]
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