After reading endless glowing reviews of Mr. Abercrombies book series at numerous blogs and from several first hand encounters of his fans at the local super store.. I decided to take the plunge and bought the books. I started reading, and it started out ok.. until hundreds of pages in I found myself wishing a meteor would strike the world which he had created. none of his characters has a single redeeming quality, they torture, rape, murder. They are all scum, none of them are viewable as anything but a long series of antagonists.. I keep waiting for the hero to show up, but I've figured it out after 300 or so pages.. there is no hero..
This series is simply another lame "Grim n Gritty" where the protagonists are so crooked and foul they might as well just be villains.
It's the result of this that I've become less and less interested in any new fantasy books of late, it's always the same couple of writers who get brought up over and over and over again, Bakker, Morgan, Abercrombie, Meivelle. .. well so far of the ones I've sampled I've hated them all, it just goes to prove, just because something is popular dosen't mean it is good. I guess this must have been what it was like in the 60's when Sci-Fi got into its newwave funk and basically never recovered. Seems thats all we get these days, humourless grim purposefully outrage inducing sadomasochistic drek. Well, that or yet another rehash of the tired old "Bad girl kills assorted denizens of the night" stuff.
I don't even know what to review to be bluntly honest, and up to the point where I flung the book across the room with an exasperated grunt and an eye roll which I've not had reason to employ since high school.. by that point absolutely nothing had happened except a long string of tortures, a few near rapes, and a couple of child murders. The only honourable character in the whole book was the bloody cook pot, and he got abandoned in the woods fifty pages in.
You see, people these days tend to like to feel that real life is a series of shades of grey. No one is ever really right or wrong, and their are no moral certainties. But that's not how life really is. Some people are wrong, and some people are right, and fate willing, those who are right get to impose themselves on the rest of us before the people who are wrong do. But this is seldom the case, and I don't wish to be reminded of that, if I want to see the work room floor of the sausage shop, I'll watch the news.
I read Fantasy as a genre because the good guys are identifiable as such and generally do the right thing, even if it's only really out of self interest. the bad guys are bad, and no one expects me to care about their motivation. And everyone is happy when the bad guy's mountain fastness explodes at the end and the hero goes back to the tavern to spend his hard earned gold on booze and wenches or back to his village to start a pig farm, or the girl grows up to be Queen and reclaim her throne.