My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Advances and deepens the actions of the first novel in the trilogy in satisfying ways, drawing several of the chief characters together in an unexpected manner and providing a quest narrative to give them impetus. Despite Abercrombie’s best effort, his intended main character– Logan Ninefingers, ‘The Bloody Nine’– never manages to rise above a two-dimensional barbarian. Instead, it is the twisted torturer Glokta who captivates the reader and dominates the narrative with his wry, cynical commentary and cheerful obeisance to the cruel vagaries of fortune.
Had this been a standalone novel, with closed caps at beginning and end, it would have made for a perfectly satisfying text. As an adjunct to the somewhat underwhelming ‘The Blade Itself’ it goes a long way toward redeeming the trilogy and setting the reader up for an epic and thrilling climax.