So lately I really seem to be picking books with really unredeemable characters (see my reviews for the Tales of the Ketty Jay series), and I’m struggling a bit. I read this book in the gym–I’m a nerd and reading while cycling/on the elliptical is one of the only things that keeps me from getting bored at this point–and some points were really exciting, but most of the time I just felt kind of… meh about it. Mostly this is because I found I didn’t care about any of the characters very much at all.
Summary: Follows several different characters whose plots interweave. We have Logen Ninefingers, a pretty stereotypical barbarian type who joins up with an ancient mage, Bayaz; Glokta, an inquisitor whose body has been crippled by torture; and Jezal dan Luthar, a t***. There are also some minor characters who also have POVs, including Captain West, who I thought was the only half-decent human being in this entire fantasy universe until he tries to strangle his bloody sister in a fit of rage. Spoiler alert, but I’ve included it because this might be a dealbreaker for some people who dislike violence against women.
And boy could this book have done with some actual characters in its women. We pretty much only have two: the aforementioned sister, whose basic characteristics seem to be getting drunk and getting laid but not in any sort of good way, and an escaped slave who is bloody bonkers. Only the latter is a POV character (out of about seven), and while I don’t usually get up in arms about this sort of thing, I would have appreciated a different kind of voice.
The book promises on the cover to be ‘delightfully twisted and evil’ (should have been a warning sign?). I’ve also been warned that Abercrombie makes bad things happen to all his characters. I read summaries of the rest of the books because I was vaguely interested to see if this was true. I guess it is, judging from some of the things that happen, but I also found that I just didn’t care. There was no reason to root for any of these characters because they pretty much brought everything on themselves. The cover logline falls flat because yes, I suppose it could be ‘twisted and evil’ in that the characters are all AWFUL PEOPLE (and not even in a funny Ketty-Jay way, just a THEY ALL SUCK way). But it wasn’t really delightful at all. It has a lot of features I usually like–multi-POV, flawed characters–but it’s hard to get excited about something like this when the characters go beyond flawed into irredeemable.
I think I’m done with ‘grimdark’ fantasy. Admittedly, I’m a little bit behind the times, as this book was published over ten years ago, but this is definitely one series and author I have no interest in catching up on.