A Little Hatred, Joe Abercrombie – Book Review

Hello Humans! We’ve all got them, those authors that – for whatever reason – we just haven’t read yet! For a while mine was Brandon Sanderson – but I’m working through that backlog now. So who was next? Well, it felt silly to be friends with Justine from over at I Should Read That and not have read any Joe Abercrombie!

Enter Joe’s latest book A Little Hatred and with more than a little trepidation I set out to read.

A Little Hatred

Goodreads Summary:

The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep as ever.

On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield, and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. He hopes for help from the crown. But King Jezal’s son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specializes in disappointments.

Savine dan Glokta – socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union – plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary. But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control.

The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another…

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Content warnings apply – this is grimdark so expect violence and gore, also incest. Happy to give more specifics – do get in touch.

I’m very willing to concede that reading this as my first ever example of Joe’s work may have been…not a mistake… but possibly not the best plan. I definitely got the feeling that this would have been more impactful if I had read the other books in this universe first. I still had a great time reading but I think I probably missed a lot of nuances and would have had more ‘oh it’s you’ moments if I hadn’t done that. I know Justine is on the blog tour for this so check her review out if you’re looking for a fan’s perspective!

So what did I, a Joe Abercrombie ‘virgin’ – gosh I hate that term – feel about this book?

I loved it.

It’s interesting. I wasn’t sure whether this would be the nail in the coffin of my attempts to read Grimdark. I read Godblind a while back and hated it, I read Blackwing and was less annoyed but still not keen. Was it that my poor little heart just wasn’t cut out for books known for being brutal?

Or was it that I hadn’t found the right book?

Because this book was amazing. I had a bit of a blip at the beginning where I really thought I wasn’t going to get into it, it’s not the longest book but it is quite dense (there are a lot of plotlines to follow) and I’ve been so busy – it could have been a disaster. However, as happens with great books, I soon had a character whose story I cared about more than the others and that carried me through to the end, along the way I learned to tolerate or appreciate the other characters too! It’s the best way that multiple POV books go for me.

But what makes this book good? I liked that, even though the characters (or some of them) have a lot of power and decision making to do within the story, you really get the sense that they are caught up in events bigger than themselves. The actions of one thread of the story may not seem relevant but they all affect each other, as the reader you have the privilege of a ‘bird’s eye view’ on the story and it’s so satisfying to feel like you know what’s happening.

I’m not going to deny that this book is bleak. Those looking for happy heroic fantasy should probably look elsewhere – but that’s never missold to you, it doesn’t feel like victory is being snatched from you gratuitously. This is a book about hard times and thus the characters go through a lot. None of them are perfectly nice people and perfectly nice things don’t really happen to them. There are some books which feel relentlessly brutal, this book manages to give you the breathers you need. It’s not peaks and troughs necessarily, but it is a balance of the grim and the…slightly less grim.

I would absolutely recommend this book, especially to those who, like me, are sure they ought to like Grimdark but haven’t found the right book yet! I think my recommendation would be to go back and read the other books in this ‘series’ (the book stands alone but it is off the back of previous works) and you’ll probably get more out of it.

Who knows – maybe by this time next year I’ll have caught up?

Looks anxiously at my TBR.

Ha.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

A Little Hatred is available now!

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

What say you? Are you a Joe Abercrombie fan? Who is your big ‘I have yet to read this’ author? Let me know in the comments below!

J

 

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