“If you say one thing for Logen Ninefingers, and one thing only, say he’s a killer.”
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Category: High Fantasy
Publication Date: March 2007
Make sure to check out this week’s podcast discussion after our week off!
Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface,
old scores are ready to be settled,
and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.
The quality of the characters in this book is easily its strongest aspect. All of the point of view characters, with the possible exception of one, are remarkably well written and well rounded.
Jezal is kind of the spoiled rich kid that is trying to make a name for himself really for no other reason that the glory of it and the desire to be someone important. His character begins to change due to a romance which is a little cliché but it worked really well. The changes are subtle and believable; he doesn’t fall head over heels for a girl and suddenly he is Mr. Super Nice to Everyone. He is still somewhat of a d-bag…just slightly less so.
Inquisitor Glokta was once a renowned soldier but was captured in battle and tortured until he became but a shadow of his former self. He now works for the Inquisition, a shadow-y form of law enforcement, torturing confessions from those that have broken the law. He is simultaneously bitter about what is left of his life and empty inside because of what happened to him. At his core, it seems like he wants to do what is right but his character is so complex that it is kind of impossible to predict what he will do or say.
Logen Ninefingers is arguably the least dynamic character of the main point of view characters. He used to work for the King in the North but since left his employ over a disagreement and now is following Bayaz, First of the Magi, because some spirits told him to. His motivations are the least inspired (as mentioned, he does what he does almost entirely because some ghosts around a campfire told him to) and by the end of this book, he doesn’t really seem to have a purpose other than acting as a strongman for the group of misfits that Bayaz puts together.
This book is definitely one that could be defined as character-driven. For a single book, the plot left a little bit to be desired. What story there was was good but it almost seemed like this was the middle section of a book instead of a whole book itself. There is no real conflict in this book. There are several smaller conflicts and the hint of a larger one, of the King in the North invading the Union, but not one that would really make this book stand on it’s own, even as a first installment.
It kind of had a little bit of a case of Middle Book Syndrome. Odd as this is the first book in the trilogy.
It would have been nice to see a little bit of Logen’s background with the northern king and how he came to be in the fight that we was in at the opening of the book.
At the other end, there was no real climax. There was an action sequence in the last 50 pages that didn’t really need to be there. Its impact on the story was pretty minimal. It felt like the action scene was there just to give the book a small sense of closure.
Obviously, the conflict is going to spread over the entire trilogy so there is definitely more to come. It is just a little hard to rate this book though because it seems like so much of the story simply was not taking place here.
All of this sounds like any other story that sets out to be a series. Of course not everything was resolved if there are going to be future books. It is difficult to put into words exactly what the difference with this book was. Some foundation was laid with the world-building and who the main players are but it’s almost like that is all that this book was. Like a really, really, really long summary of what is coming.
I liked it and I am thoroughly impressed with the characters I just can’t quite decide what to think of the book until I have read more.
Middling rating with the potential to change after reading books 2 and 3.
Of all the high fantasy novels I have read, this one confused me in a lot of ways. There were so many characters and so many plot lines that I got confused at times. While these things bothered me I still enjoyed this book as a whole. The world building is interesting. It is hard to explain, but in simple terms I liked how it was set up.