lørdag 27. juni 2009

On Best Served Cold.



From the author of The First Law trilogy, that was a very nice read, especially the last one. One of the books that dared to reveal themselves to me, making me break my "read one book at a time" trend I had finally got going. Interestingly enough, the book contains rather a lot of "a man can change, but he has to be broken utterly" or "a man can change, but can change back even faster" and stuff along those lines. If I didnt know better, I'd blame the author for knowing and putting it in the book just to spite me.

The book is about vengeance; the progatonist - a mercenary general barely survives through a murder attempt by her employer and watches her brother get killed while at it. She swears revenge on everyone present during the betrayal, and recruits several miscreants (a convict obsessed with numbers, a barbarian trying to become a better man, a poisoner and the most infamous drunk in the nation amongst them) to do the job. It is strongly character driven - although they wander throughout the nation where they hang about, mostly all of it is character interaction - the task at hand is dark work, the group of vengeance seekers are hardly a happy family and their enemies even less so, making for a lot of interesting conversations and stuff that happens underway. Weirdly enough you still get a good idea about the places they visit anyway (things gets broken, buildings inventory and the local residents ends up being in the way or something along those lines in fights and so on, smells are noticed so you get a good idea what kind of industry is there, vandalism speaks about the local political climate, the works really, even if its just bits and pieces), so all of it ends up being quite "alive". And getting all of that done in just over 500 pages is a feat in itself..

Just like The First Law trilogy, this book feels at first (especially if you just read at the back, or inside the cover depending on the release I suppose) like something you have read 100 times before, or watched or heard about. In First Law it was the heroic quest to save the nation more or less, here it is the wronged person with some pretty standard archtypes having a just cause to kill someone back. But like in the trilogy, the characters are hardly heroic types, there are no fantasy creatures, survival, greed, feelings about one another, grudges and suchlike ends up governing the fate of a nation and the protagonists, not the typical mighty "have at thee" charges or incredibel captain obvious plans saving the universe. And slowly but surely the rest also changes, so even if the plotline is oh so very unorginial, the book makes it all original, stealing the spotlight from all the stuff you remember it reminding you of from before. This time around, it reminds me the most of Black Company, just more "human" than that, and with an extra slice of Machiavelli. Which is enough to make it love the book, really.

On the good sides, there's tonnes. Fast paced, yet not lacking details or humour, well written and although some phrases are reused here and there it fits. At first I thought the characters would have a hard time competing with characters that could be developed through 3 books, but they really make it out on their own in 1. One of the characters, Friendly, is possibly my favorite in the bunch, talk about nutcase, but the way he sees at things makes it all understandable, and even a little endearing. The characters are also wildly different, the way of their minds and how they talk make for loads of funny and interesting scenarios and fights and when you jump characters, you get to grips with it at once. The action is also very much to my liking how it is done - battles is a confusive mess except if you get a good view, small (like one on one or one against a couple and so on) fights is hardly Star Wars, they remind me of MMA gathered with Mortal Kombat, only with weapons. Simply brilliant. ANd how it ends, and how the characters develop and end up after the book also is near perfect in how I like my endings.

If I have one complaint about the book, it's one of the assassins sent after the would be assassin protagonist - he gets a healthy dose at words for a while, then he just dissapears for a long time before he returns at the end. He somehow becomes the most underdeveloped character in the bunch, except for getting the impression he is very dangerous and has some agenda on the side, only the very dangerous bit gets shown off properly. A couple of pages more really couldn't have hurt him.

So all in all, a very good read, when it comes to entertainment. So now I have two dreams of books coming out; a Black Company prequel (like an origin kind of thing) and an Abercrombie book that is set in a Prophet vs Emperor conflict kinda thing (with progatonists somehow close to them, although it doesnt have to be set in the homeland). Mmmm, one can dream.

Rated:
Entertainment: 10/10
Thought Provoking: 5/10

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