My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Epic in scope, with a massive cast and a set of actions taking in multiple corners of a fascinating and immensely complicated political world, this volume introduces Abercrombie’s gritty and bloodstained ‘realist’ take on the fantasy genre, as well as characters who will come to dominate five further novels set in this fascinating world: Logan Ninefingers, known as ‘The Bloody Nine’; Bayaz, First of the Magi; Black Dow; Bethod and his sons; The Dogman… they all make their entrances, and set themselves for and against each other to varying degrees.
And in essence, this is what is wrong with the novel: it isn’t really a novel proper, merely the opening act of a longer work. Nothing resolved, nothing is completed, nothing ties together at all, and it finishes with the kind of overt ‘To be Continued’ endings I have grown to loathe over many years of reading fantasy novels.
I’m a big fan of Abercrombie, having read his 3 standalone books before starting this trilogy. I love his characters, his style, and the wry, cynical, bloody reality he portrays. This is the first book in a long tale, and not the best one. It’s all foreplay and no action, and my frustration was the equal to my pleasure.