A First Law Re-Read

July 12th, 2018

The first step in the lengthy process of revising and rewriting my new trilogy is re-reading all the other First Law books, the details of which have become in some cases a little sketchy, I will confess, to make sure there’s nothing I’ve forgotten, or got wrong, no useful characters or relationships left out, no dead people wandering in and cheerfully greeting the central characters, no elements of history either of the world or the people that could be usefully incorporated.

This has produced about 14 pages of iPad notes, ranging from recording the famous sayings of Stolicus and Verturio, to physical attributes of characters, to how Glokta’s office was furnished, to the exact nature of the wound Black Dow’s axe made in Caurib’s head, to reminding myself of the colourful careers of, say, Pike (quartermaster, then merchant, tortured and convicted of treason, released from a penal colony by Colonel West, knew Threetrees, Black Dow, and Dogman personally, at the battles of the Cumnur, Dunbrec, Adua, AND the High Places, witness to the death of Prince Ladisla, held a shield for the Bloody-Nine during his fight with the Feared, became Glokta’s personal Practical and later trusted Superior of the Inquisition, overseeing the rooting out of a rebellion in Starikland for which he employed one Nicomo Cosca – what a career).  I’ll now boil all that down into various categories for easier reference and work it into a big document with other character, setting and plot stuff I need to bear in mind when going through the revision.  There’s a lot with a project like this.

But, perhaps more interesting, is the simple question of what did I think of the books?  This, of course, is not the first time I’ve done this.  In fact I read through the whole series in preparation for revising Red Country a horrifying 6 years (!) ago.  Thoughts from my last reread:

The Blade Itself

Before They Are Hanged

Last Argument of Kings

Best Served Cold

My feelings probably haven’t changed hugely.  It shouldn’t need saying that I like these books a lot, of course.  They are precisely to my taste.  Generally reading em, especially after a while, is a huge pleasure.  But with the benefit of hindsight one does of course see all kinds of things one might have improved upon and it’s fascinating how your opinions change about what works really well and what, perhaps, works not so well…

The Blade Itself was tough this time around because I’ve read it a lot relatively recently and that made going through it a bit of a chore, but I’d largely stand by my comments of six years hence about its fundamental good qualities but occasionally clunky writing and lumpy pacing.  Before They are Hanged I still think is the best of the three, the best paced and structured, strong character work in the groups, and the various set-pieces feel distinct and nicely realised.  By Last Argument of Kings it feels like there’s a little fatigue (another massive fight?), but there are some great sequences and this time I wasn’t bothered nearly as much by looseness in the writing as I was six years ago.  The ending ain’t to everyone’s taste, of course, and there were certainly characters and plot threads that did not get served as well as they might have (bit off a few more things than I could chew, perhaps), but considering the degree to which I didn’t know what the hell I was doing when I wrote these books I must say they come together pretty astonishingly well, and the fundamental voice, though rough round the edges, perhaps, is there from the start.

I actually enjoyed the standalones a lot more, mostly because it’s a good old while since I’ve read them, and the Heroes especially was pretty fresh.

Best Served Cold: Hard to believe I absolutely hated writing this book and was sure it would be a career-ending disaster.  Reading it was a lot more fun, thankfully.  The writing has become much more assured, on the whole.  It may not have a real killer character like Glokta or Ninefingers but the six points of view are pleasingly distinct and the settings actually come across nicely and give each part its own flavour.  Friendly, Morveer and Shenkt are vivid and interesting support, and all have their own little stories and surprises to unfold.  Monza and Shivers’ complimentary arcs are effective.  Cosca’s dialogue, is, forgive me for saying, fucking great.  The structure, with the seven episodes and the little flashbacks at the start of each really works.  The section in Sipani may be the best thing I’ve written.  Downsides?  Too long.  It was supposed to be my shortest book to date, and ended up nearly my longest.  Probably should’ve organised it into five or six parts rather than seven but, as with Monza’s quest for revenge, once I’d started there was no going back.  The last section is not the best and perhaps it doesn’t all pay off as well as it might.  I was delighted with myself over the resolution to the Cosca/Morveer feud at the time but reading it again it felt like a bit of a fumble.

The Heroes: Without doubt my most thematically tight book, with everyone’s stories and concerns playing into different notions of what it is to be a hero (or of how it’s impossible to be one, at least in every way and at every time).  Probably my most original, too – fantasy so often concentrating on huge stories in terms of time and distance it’s interesting to see one that all takes place over a few days in one valley, and the frequent crossing of paths of the various characters creates all kinds of interesting interactions.  The chapters of interlinked minor points of view work really well, I must say, and massively help in illustrating the breadth and complexity of the huge event, and the helplessness (or sometimes enormous importance) of the little individuals caught up in it.  The length is a lot better than Best Served Cold, it feels tight start to finish, and given there is by its very nature a lot of similar stuff and, you know, fighting, going on, changes in weather, terrain and point of view keep it pretty fresh throughout.  If there’s a downside it’s that in tackling such a broad swathe with so many different characters on both sides, it’s hard for the individuals to make the same kind of impact they do in some of the other stories.

Red Country: I don’t know whether it took me a while to get into the writing of this one, or into the reading of this one.  Little bit of both, maybe?  The tone felt a bit off initially, trying to hard for that western-y vibe in Shy’s chapters, maybe, while in Temple’s, I dunno, the characters in the mercenary company just weren’t distinctive or appealing as some similar groups I’d done.  But from the scene where we see what Lamb is capable of it all starts to pick up, and the stuff with the Fellowship and Crease is all great, I think.  There’s a good range and variety of female voices, which is nice.  Shy and Temple and their developing relationship are strong, and Lamb lurks suitably terrifyingly in the background.  The fourth part, then, feels a little less assured – the stuff with the Dragon People just doesn’t feel as convincing as it might and the mosaic sequences of many extras just don’t feel as relevant or striking as they did in the Heroes.  Despite my best efforts it may just be that the Union and the North feel like natural settings and cultures for me whereas the American West is that bit more of a stretch.  Still, I do feel it comes together well at the end, with that bittersweet, elegiac quality you hope for in a western, and having two central points of view rather than the usual six or more does give it a focus.  At the end of the other books I had a feeling of, grand, job done.  At the end of this one I actually missed Temple and Shy and, rather pathetically for someone who wrote the book, sorta wanted to know what happened next in their lives…

Sharp Ends: Collections are, of course, collections, and there will always be better and worse stories therein but by and large I enjoyed these.  The Shev and Javre ones are probably the best, and it definitely helps that they interweave through the other stories and provide a kind of unifying thread. Felt more cohesive than I would’ve expected, actually.

And with that, time to leave yesterday’s victories, look forward to tomorrow’s defeats, and do some work

Posted in Uncategorized by Joe Abercrombie on July 12th, 2018.

39 comments so far

  • Michael says:

    Was listening to Steven Pacey reading Reacher Says Nothing last week. And then it dawned on me that rather than scrabble around for my next listen, what could be better than revisiting The First Law trilogy. It has been a while.

    The Blade Itself was my first Audible experience of bringing something new and joyous to a book I had loved to read. The first time a narrator had lifted the story from the page, and made the experience theatrical.

    And it has been a while since you did one, and in the spirit of events in Russia – how about a whisky world cup?

  • Michael says:

    … oh, and I’m loving it all over again!

  • That section in Heroes where the battle POV passes from character to character is a masterful sequence. 🙂

  • Iangr says:

    I personally believe “The Heroes” is the crown jewel of all your bibliography.
    All your books are pure Fantasy but the Heroes is a bit more than that,it borders a historical drama/prose and no mistake.
    Also it just feels more solid,more sturdy.
    If the Blade Itself was your teenager dashing into fights all bravado and enthusiasm and Red Country was the veteran that sizes up the situation and then decides,then The Heroes is the new dad that understands that he needs to stay alive for his family.

  • Jon Chase says:

    Re-re-re-reading the first trilogy myself, and I’m far less critical of it than you seem to be. Every book is still enjoyable, and there’s a great balance of “AWWWWWW SNAP, SON” moments and funny ones.

    I’m going right into the stand alone books after I finished the last one, but I’m fairly confident it’ll be the same.

  • Radu says:

    I liked Best Served Cold best (hah), its length made it feel almost like its own complete and independent story compared to The First Law… just like Styria’s relationship with The Union.

    Red Country is my least favorite exactly because of what you said, it simply felt kind of off, the western and the fantasy fell aren’t very compatible IMO.

  • Kelvin Green says:

    I like all of your First Law books, but I adore Best Served Cold. I’ve recommended it many times to those interested in your work.

  • Théo says:

    I’m rereading everything for the fifth or sixth time. I agree with John Chase. My favourite scenes, my favourite characters, the dialogues, the battles… I can’t choose a book about the 7. Impossible.

    Just awesome. So eager to read on.

  • Michael Luder-Rosefield says:

    You authors *really* need need some wiki software for handling narratives. If there’s nothing out there, perhaps this might be a good pet project for me…

  • David List says:

    (I had no intention of this reaching 400 words. My apple-ogies.)

    It’s cool to hear your matured(?) thoughts on your earliest published works, aka the First Law tril, aka my go-to recommendation for those seeking gritty fantasy reads or those telling me 1st person is more immersive or those telling me fantasy can’t say fuck.

    I’ve always thought it best I avoid publicly critiquing my own debut. However small ASH’s following is, they are passionate and encouraging and the last thing I want to do is indirectly call them morons for enjoying such trite codswallop. In fairness, I’d give ASH 3.5 / 5 stars. Unfortunately, that’s below the ‘recommendation threshold’ for me, as sad as that is.

    One of your observations in this chain of blog posts struck me and I had to comment on it myself. You said
    “[Certain secondary characters] are much more caricature than character, but then the approach has always been for slightly larger than life supporting players (this is fantasy after all, there’s no point in being scrupulously realistic, I don’t think)”

    That strength of your writing had never directly occurred to me until I read that line. I love the overblown side characters. I love making them myself. I’d wager this is the sort of belief that “literary fiction” aficionados would titter about to one another, while looking down and judging from Literary Merit Mountain, where plot lines are as exotic as an ice-water sandwich and conclusions are as conclusive as
    For me, it’s the sole goddamn reason I write. Make monsters of mankind and mankind out of monsters. Of course I want characters that are as tangible as a cross-section of myself. But I also want the ass-kissing, gift-taking, bald and blushing mayor. If nothing else, just to see him go pasty at our hero’s approach and scurry into his heavy-doored office like a mouse into a hole in the wall.

    *Only after pasting your quote did I notice you contradict Logen – “there’s no point in being scrupulously realistic.”
    I won’t tell him you said that.

    While I’m rambling, I also found this quote of yours. It was on the subject of reader feedback (specifically regarding your opinion of a lack of women in First Law).
    “This isn’t about someone else’s opinion, I’m interested in those but ultimately I don’t give a shit unless I agree.”
    I agree.

    Looking forward to A Little Hatred.

  • Theo says:

    I’m rereading everything for the fifth or sixth time. I agree with John Chase. My favorite scenes, my favorite characters, the dialogues, the battles… I can’t choose a book about the 7. Impossible.

    Just awesome. So eager to read on.

  • My favourites to date are The Heroes and Red Country. Before They Are Hanged gave me probably the most visceral reaction to a book ever (had to close it for a good 10 minutes because I feared for Grim, and the ending, while frustrating as a reader, was incredibly freeing as a writer). Best Served Cold was the least satisfying for me because sooo many bad things happen to characters that didn’t deserve it, that it was a really heavy read. Poor Shivers!

  • Twerker says:

    I guess you need to be a “professional author” to actually find issues within your books. I just love each and every syllable of them. I mean, I know it’s all a matter of personal taste and poo but I’ll tell you what? Whenever I read the next “grimdark over-hyped masterpiece”, I know I’ll find it sort of underwhelming because The First Law books are what I’ll compare it to. I’ve been looking for something resembling your style and I’ve frustratingly gone through heaps of books (and I mean literally HEAPS). There’s only a couple of books that managed to cure my severe withdrawal (and those being Michael Fletcher’s “Beyond Redemption” and “The Mirror’s Truth”). So, anyway, thanx a lot for the update.

  • Kevin B. says:

    I disagree with Best Served Cold not having as great a character as Glokta or the Bloody Nine. Best Served Cold is my favourite book of yours and that’s largely due to Monza.

  • Sion says:

    I believe that Red Country while the hardest to start with generally picks up pace brilliantly. The one thing that I loved about it more than any of the other books is the sense of dread that surrounds Logan and the bloody nine. Where as in the others we either see from his point of view or from the pov of friends, where as here we see what he was truly like, and the constant sense of he might decide to just straight up butcher someone on a whim. I also love just how intimidating shivers is whenever he turns up, again he gives of a sense of barely contained anger and menace every time he turns up, with a great introduction that ilistrates the difference between Coscas men who to varying degrees think they’re baddest men around to when they come face to face with someone who is so much more dangerous than they could ever hope to be.
    The other thing I loved was how in LAOK was the way Logan changes his character once he meets back up with his original crew. That he starts almost putting on an act of how he believes he has to be because of his reputation. That he goes from seeming almost like a big brother to Jezel and a love interest to someone who straight up demasculates Black Doe in front of everyone to establish that he’s the alpha. That he becomes more beast like almost.

  • tom says:

    great insights to your thoughts as usual! the heroes is a masterpiece, but all the rest are just so great as well. to say i am looking forward to the new series would be an understatement! keep on keepin on sir!

  • Hawkeyye says:

    While none of your books suck, some are stronger than others.
    Whatever you were doing in your first five books and not in the last two…do that.

  • Gray says:

    One of my all time favorite descriptions of a setting comes from Red Country, Hell on the Cheap, as the party enters Crease:

    “Picture hell on the cheap. Then add more whores.

    The greatest settlement of the new frontier, that prospector’s paradise, the Fellowship’s long-anticipated destination, was wedged into a twisting valley, steep sides dotted with the wasted stumps of felled pines. It was a place of wild abandon, wild hope, wild despair, everything at extremes and nothing in moderation, dreams trodden into the muck and new ones sucked from bottles to be vomited up and trodden down in turn. A place where the strange was commonplace and the ordinary bizarre, and death might be along tomorrow so you’d best have all your fun today.

    At its muddy margins, the city consisted mostly of wretched tents, scenes better left unwitnessed by mankind assaulting the eye through wind-stirred flaps. Buildings were botched together from split pine and high hopes, held up by the drunks slumped against both sides, women risking their lives to lean from wonky balconies and beckon in the business.”

    Simply perfect!

  • katzeee says:

    no comment on the individual books, but i love the development of shivers throughout the books. in the trilogy i was rooting that he gets killed by ninefingers. better for him, better for me, i thought…

    starting with best served cold and culminating in heroes, i loved every single scene where gets to speak (or doesn’t)

  • Toe knee says:

    Strangely enough considering it’s your characterisation I enjoy the most , fresh takes on the standard cookie cutter fantasy tropes etc Black Dow was always my favourite character because you somehow managed to resist the temptation to over explain him

  • Andrew F says:

    I totally agree that Coscas dialog is some of the best writing Mr. Abercrombie has written.. until red country. not that is not a great book, it absolutely is, and although it makes complete sense that Cosca would eventually spiral into dispair i still hated having to imagine him a villain rather than the honorless rogue we all loved to hate. still, i was thrilled to get to read about the Bloody Nine as Lamb. also the chapter in sharp ends with a pre-blad its self was nothing less than pure F#$%ing genius.

  • Steveo says:

    For me hero’s was the best, gorst is the funniest character in all fantasy !

    Red country was good because of 9 fingers and nicomo cosca but missed the mark with the dragon people .

    Favourite scene was when Lamb held his hand up and looked through the gap of his missing finger when fighting glamour golden . Glamour knew he was so screwed upon realization

  • Will D says:

    Cosca went from interesting to my favorite part of the series, barring Bayaz’s big reveal and Ninefingers’s… everything.

  • Tully says:

    Completely agree with Brian Turner and Kevin B’s comments.

    Best served cold is my favourite of the 7. I have introduced many people to reading your books – some of whom rarely did any reading – and most have agreed with me that Best served cold was their favourite.

    I rarely read the same books more than once as there are so many other books out there i’d like to read but your summary of the books above -and because you are taking a while about releasing anymore (!) – has made we want to revist and enjoy all over again.

    can’t wait for the next book!

  • Frank Fitz says:

    I love how you’ve tried to be modest and give each book an “honest” critique but in reality we all know after finishing the lot you sat back in your chair and said, “Fuck I’m good.”

  • SWIM21 says:

    I just finished reading “The Last Argument of Kings” and I frankly don’t know what to think. Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say he knows how to defy expectations. I kept waiting and hoping for some sort of positive resolution at the end, and it just never happened. The sense of futility against tyranny left me feeling quite nauseous, considering the current political climate in the US. Might makes right, indeed, unfortunately. I haven’t read the other 3 books yet, because I’m frankly a bit gun-shy and need a bit of time to steel my nerves before venturing into more dangerous territory. If nothing else, this series has shown me that I am not a very mature reader, after all. I want happy endings, need them even. I mean, the whole point of fantasy is to go to another world that doesn’t work like this one. The First Law trilogy really just drives home the sickening reality I wanted to escape from for a while: No one gets what they deserve.

  • Jacob S. says:

    I can’t thank Mr. Abercrombie enough for his work; The First Law series introduced me to dark fantasy, and to this day “The Heroes” ranks as one of the best novels I have ever read.

    One thing that always bothered me about the world, however, was Logen’s mysteriously vanishing powers. Maybe this has already been discussed, but was anyone else confused by his spirit magic abilities? He carries a fire spirit under his tongue at one point in “The Blade Itself” and spits it in someone’s face, but this power is never expanded upon, used again (despite plenty of opportunities) or even commented on.

    In any case, I eagerly await “A Little Hatred.”

  • Dave says:

    Being a slower reader, it’s rare that I read a book more than once. That said, I’ve read all of the First Law books (trilogy and stand alone) at least twice.

    I first became aware of your books by wandering through the book store, trying to find a new fantasy to read, wanting something different than the cookie-cutter fantasy book, but no idea where to start. My eye happened to fall on TBI, so I picked it up and ended up reading the first chapter right there in the store. I was instantly hooked, so I bought it. But what really got me was Glotka’s first chapter. “Hearing” his thoughts as he goes about his work sucked me right in.

    While I love the trilogy, Heroes is my favorite book. It’s just so well done. I REALLY wanted more Cracknut! One of my top 3 favorite characters. Imagine my glee when I read Sharp Ends.

  • Eric says:

    “Best Served Cold” was my first, and probably favourite, Joe Abercrombie book. The revenge trope has always been a sweet spot for me and that book turned me into a lifelong fan of Mr Abercrombie’s work.

    Since then, I’ve read everything– First Law and Shattered Sea. I’m fond of them all and I would be very hard pressed to rank them.

    Honestly, my favourite aspect of Mr Abercrombie’s writing– and I sincerely hope he continues– is reintroducing previous POV characters into the newer books. I absolutely love the world-building effect this has, and seeing them pop up, sometimes unexpectedly, brings a lot of nostalgia to the experience. Reading a Joe Abercrombie book is always a pleasure.

    Keep up the great work, Joe! Can’t wait (but will) for your next one!

  • Killeraoc says:

    “Best Served Cold” is hands down your best book. Glokta really comes into his own and he carries the whole thing. I was always tempted to skip ahead to his next POV chapter. It doesn’t hurt that he parterns/destroys a solid supporting cast who are introduced during the siege of Dagoska.

    Shylo Vitari, Carlot dan Eider, Cosca. Hell even one offs like Shickel, Shabbed al Islik Burai, and Vissbruck are great. All with Severard and Frost rounding it out. Was there ever a place that introduced more critical faces that kept popping up?

    And it’s all done with a seemless backdrop of world building where you get some fill on on the history of the Ghurks and the motives of the Prophet. The revelation of the Ghurkish endless need for slaves to (literally) “feed” itself puts a lot into perspective. People will put up with ALOT when the alternative is a step below slavery…livestock.

    Funny you hate on Best Served Cold . I think its your best stand alone. Monza is great and I’ve never understood your obsession with where you fell short with her. If you want a female characters that fall short i’ve got two names for you.

    1. Shy South – whose…she just felt flat.

    But Shy’s a masterpiece compared to

    2. Wonderful (and her whole crew…)

    Hears hoping Crummocks daughter knocks her out of the park. Given the background it makes some sense she’d be a bit whacky.

    Without Gourst (whose POV is phenomenal) i’d rank the Heroes as your lowest alongside Red Country.

    Morveer/Day we’re my favorite. Seeing as we’re entering an industrial age be nice to get a clockwork equivalent. I love characters who like to hear themselves rattle and carry a page.

  • Gnatz says:

    I think “The Heroes” is one of the best antiwar-books ever written. This Book combines everything i love about Abercrombie Books.

    “The First Law” triologie is oustanding but i agree that Before They Are Hanged is the best while Last Argument of Kings is kind of weaker – but far away from beeing bad.

    I coudnt get warm with “Best Served Cold” don’t now exactly why, “Red Country” sure its Abercrombie style and that saves the day – but i wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

  • Brandon says:

    I cannot pick a favorite book of yours. I love them all, and I’m really stoked for the new trilogy. I’m glad you do what you do.

  • James says:

    I loved how Logen was written in the trilogy. I’m a bit of a dense fucker and miss the subtle clues a lot so i genuinely thought he wasn’t as bad as everyone made out and felt bad for him. Then very gradually it all goes to shit for him and i love how you could see him slowly giving up hope of not being a cunt and going back to his old ways and just being a leaf in the water. Really well done.

    They’re all good books I couldn’t pick a favourite. The standalones each scratch a particular itch depending on what you’re into. If a mate is on the fence about reading your stuff i’ll try and steer them into whichever standalone i think will get get them hooked best!

  • Mo says:

    I like your blog a lot and look forward to your new trilogy. Very interesting to see your thoughts about your own books. I‘ve read them all and I liked most: ‚Before they are hanged‘‘ and ‚Red Country‘. I didn‘t expect nothing of ‚Red Country‘ (Fantasy-Western? Meh, go away…) and then it was TERRIFIC! Thumbs up!

  • Adam says:

    As a lifelong fantasy fan, your novels have quickly become my absolute favorite…although I have to admit it is hard to imagine them without the brilliant narration of Steven Pacey (I even re purchased the audio of best served cold and heroes when they were re released in US with his narration). Your books helped me get through a very difficult time in my life after a big surgey and hospitalization and I thank you for it! I also wanted to say Red Country has always been my favorite and have been surprised at how difficult you found writing that novel. It captured the spirit of westerns with movies like Unforgiven brilliantly. I never knew fantasy could mix with westerns so well! That speech by Cosca in Ashranc is quite haunting. I cant wait for your next trilogy, you seriously rock dude!

  • Ross Morgan says:

    Been working my way back through the entire series too. Currently on The Heroes. Love them all, The Heroes is for sure a favorite, though the original 3 are still the best.

  • Aaron says:

    I just binge-read all of your First Law books, much like you did before writing this blog, and I find myself definitely wanting more. Of course I love them. Your talent is unmistakable and your characters are, in my mind, like old friends. I hope you read this before the next one is published though, because I also feel like I’m missing something in your stories that may elevate them somewhat. I’m no critic, just a humble reader, but one thing that stands out to me is that all your books are so DAMN DEPRESSING. Your main characters hate themselves more than they hate their enemies and more than they love anything. I get that this makes them all wonderfully complex and interesting, but it would be nice to have a redemptive quality in your characters that survives war, betrayal, and death. I know, its sentimental BS, but its satisfying to readers because at the end of one of your books, we like to come away feeling a little better about ourselves and hopeful for the world. For example, here are some SPOILERS:

    This is one reason why my favorite character was Nicoma Costa in “Best Served Cold”. The line about mercy being the opposite of weakness, instead of mercy being another word for weakness, was heart-stoppingly powerful. It’s why, at the end of “The Heroes”, Calder giving up the chain to his brother was so powerful. But, even these characters always come away from the stories tragically. It would be nice if some of the characters had a semi-happy ending.

  • Waldon says:

    I agree with your assessment of Red Country, but…. the scene where Glama has his realization of whom his is fighting and the word play involved is my favorite scene in all fiction. Then the Shiver’s scene was needed. I want an answer to whether or not Shiver’s name was why he decided not to fight B9 or because he truly didn’t see the point in the violence, however, not having that answer is pretty cool to. Sometimes we all rationalize things we don’t do because we are scared. Can’t wait for the new stuff.

  • BleepBloop says:

    Reading your thoughts on Red Country really touched me, as I think I regard it as my favourite of your books. While it wasn’t a flawlessly written masterpiece (as you sort of mentioned, the Dragon People section seemed a bit out of place), the overall hopeful tone and message of ‘Do whatever you can to be a good person, even if you don’t think you’ll be able to change much’ is a really poignant message, especially in this day and age where the political climate is so turbulent and where we have so little an effect on the powers that be. So seeing our flawed mains face and challenge this threat, grow as people, and doing whatever they can – I dunno, it makes me feel things. Hope? It’s especially affecting in contrast to the rest of the series with their reputation of punishing violence and grimdark – this bit of light at the end of Red Country just shines all the brighter.

    Anyways, I just wanted to express my wholehearted appreciation of the novel, especially because I haven’t seen many people talk about it elsewhere and I wanted you to know that this book holds a special place in my heart,
    with Temple and Shy South being some of my favourite characters in all fiction. Even if they are just fictional people, I really do hope that – whatever happens – they have a good life and continue to live as best as they can. 🙂

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