Review: Red Country (First Law World #6) by Joe Abercrombie

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis

They burned her home.
They stole her brother and sister.
But vengeance is following.

Shy South hoped to bury her bloody past and ride away smiling, but she’ll have to sharpen up some bad old ways to get her family back, and she’s not a woman to flinch from what needs doing. She sets off in pursuit with only a pair of oxen and her cowardly old step father Lamb for company. But it turns out Lamb’s buried a bloody past of his own. And out in the lawless Far Country the past never stays buried.

Their journey will take them across the barren plains to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feud, duel and massacre, high into the unmapped mountains to a reckoning with the Ghosts. Even worse, it will force them into an alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, and his feckless lawyer Temple, two men no one should ever have to trust . .
RED COUNTRY takes place in the same world as the First Law trilogy, Best Served Cold, and The Heroes.

Review

Thanks to Orbit for my review copy of the Red Country audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

Also, I can’t talk too much about the plot as it’s pretty spoilery for other Abercrombie books.

Red Country proves that Abercrombie can write any genre into The Circle of the World and do it in a masterful way, with characters that disappoint, surprise, and astound at every twist and turn.

My Abercrombie read continues! In truth I finished Red Country a couple weeks ago but couldn’t get my thoughts on it quite straight, as I started diving right into A Little Hatred. I’ll post that review tomorrow.

Red Country is a story of vengeance told with the style and setting of a Western. Out in the Far Country, entrepreneurs, vagabonds, brigands and pilgrims all migrate in search of a new life and new opportunity. There’s little law beyond the edge of a blade, which Shy South is no stranger to. A bandit in her former life, Shy tries to keep her past buried in her life on the prairie with her siblings and stepfather Lamb. Shy is sharp as a whip, able to barter the pants off a banker. Her stepfather Lamb is as gentle as his name suggests, always shying away from conflict or hardship.

When Shy’s siblings are kidnapped, she is determined to find them and exact revenge on their captors. Shy is surprised when Lamb, too, jumps at the chance for vengeance.

“I didn’t want no trouble,” said Lamb. “It blew in anyway. Trouble’s got a habit, that way.” He pushed his hair out of his wet face and his eyes were wide open and bright, bright. Mouth open too, breathing fast, and he was smiling. Not like a man working his way up to a hard task, like a man enjoying getting to a pleasant one, taking his time about it. All of a sudden Shy saw all those scars anew, and felt this coldness creeping up her arms and down her back, every hair on her standing.”

Shy and Lamb’s journey grows bloody as they track down the outlaws, and each of their bloody pasts begin to resurface.

“WHO ARE YOU?” he roared, fists aching like he’d been beating a tree. Lamb gave a smile like an open grave and stuck out his red tongue and smeared blood from it across his cheek in long streaks.

Along the way the pair meet the jack of many trades, master of none, Temple. You’ll remember Temple from Sharp Ends, an acolyte who was too terrified to step in on behalf of his master when the Eaters attacked. Temple is Nicomo Cosca’s lawyer, a man who at this point needs no introduction. Cosca is on contract with His Majesty’s Inquisition to root out dissent in the Far Country.

“How ever did it go so wrong, Temple? I had so many advantages, so many opportunities, all squandered. All slipped away like sand through a glass. So many disappointments.
“Most of them you brought on yourself.”
“Of course!” Cosca gave a ragged sigh. “But they’re the ones who hurt the worst.

There’s a ton more to get into, but suffice it to say that the trio encounters a gold rush village full of debauchery, a turf war, a fight in the circle, Ghosts, betrayal, murders, and all of the brutally thrilling twists that Abercrombie loves.

One last thing – the high noon showdown at the end just about made me shed a tear. Beautiful way to end a book with two characters who have so much bloody history between them. Probably my favorite end of an Abercrombie novel.

And, it almost goes beyond saying, Steven Pacey does a fantastic job in the audiobook. Each character voice is so distinct and consistent that I can tell who’s talking without all the he said she said. Fantastic.

Go grab Red Country and get strapped in for A Little Hatred, which comes out tomorrow!

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