A Little Hatred
The Age of Madness Book 1
Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
By Joe Abercrombie
Publisher: Orbit Books
Release Date: September 17, 2019
I first discovered Joe Abercrombie’s novels back in 2010, with his fantasy revenge story Best Served Cold set in his First Law world. The book was grim – about as grim as they get – with a cast of despicable characters you can’t help but root for despite their questionable morals and actions. It was due to his ability to write incredible character-driven fiction that I continued on, quickly devouring his other First Law novels. Now, almost six years since the publication of his last book set in that same universe (Red Country), Abercrombie has released A Little Hatred, the first book in the new Age of Madness trilogy that brings readers back to the world of the First Law and solidifies Abercrombie as, what his acolytes call him, “the Lord of Grimdark.”
While the Union and the North are entangled in a constant struggle for land, an industrial-era kingdom is teeming on the edge of unrest, as its embittered workers demand change. Caught in the middle and trying to make a difference – whether for others or for themselves – are Prince Orso, Savine dan Glokta, Leo dan Brock, Rikke, Gunnar Broad, Vick, and Clover. As their stories begin to converge, their separate worlds are flung further into chaos.
Abercrombie has done it again. As with his novels that came before, he’s managed to create a group of characters that will surely live on in my memory for years to come. With so many points of view, one could easily lose track of who is who, or even find oneself bored when having to read certain perspectives. This is never the case in A Little Hatred. Every character is fully realized to the point where I found myself – for the most part – knowing how each one would react to certain situations; I could hear their voices (and still do) each time they were introduced; I could vividly imagine what they looked like at any given moment.
Abercrombie knows how to write characters with a depth unmatched by any author I’ve ever read. He has a keen knack for forcing your emotions to grow for each character right alongside their own personal development: first comes excitement, followed by love, which, almost out of nowhere, turns to anger, and ultimately, a sense of overwhelming sadness. Sound depressing? Well, it is! But he does it so well, while adding in the occasional redemptive quality, that you can’t help but want more. And of course, if you’ve read any Abercrombie novel before, some familiar faces show up to help drive the plot forward, while others do so through whispers of their legend.
A Little Hatred is set in a dark world of bitter feuds, violent deaths, constant betrayals, and, as the title suggests, a whole lot of hatred. It’s not a pretty world, but what makes it so engaging and immersive is its unquestionable – and unfortunate – relatable nature to our own world (despite its fantasy setting). This is a changing world, but in many ways, it remains the same: it’s a world in which some strive to do good; it’s a world in which some are only out for personal gain and glory; it’s a world where the masses are exploited by the few; and it’s a world where even those who think they are in power soon come to realize that they, too, are merely marionettes on a much larger stage. A world full of hate is a world gone mad, and you’d be mad not to pick up A Little Hatred.
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…