Review: A Little Hatred (The Age of Madness #1) by Joe Abercrombie

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis

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…

Review

I received an advanced review copy of A Little Hatred in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Joe Abercrombie and Gollancz.

This first novel in The Age of Madness series is set a generation after The First Law trilogy. We are reintroduced to this world as it is in a bit of a crisis. It’s a new age that features the introduction of machinery, a potential revolution, brutal hard labour, and the fear and hatred of progression. It’s reaching a boiling point and that could soon equate to absolute turmoil. Here, once again, Abercrombie showcases why he is still one of the finest Grimdark/ Dark Fantasy writers of all time. The author’s world-building and characterisation are as impressive, detailed and unique as ever and the humour presented is amazing and typical Abercrombie.

Point of veiw characters Orso, Savine, and Rikke are the children of Jezal, Glotka, and The Dogman respectively. Some of the old favourite players are featured here but they don’t take over the mainstage. The new ensemble is well worth reading about and they organically take other the reins that steer this narrative. Abercrombie still creates bastards you love to hate and that you hate that you love. The author is a genius at creating characters that I actually care about however horrible they may be. My two absolute favourites follow were the so-called awful alcohol-addicted King-in-Waiting Orso who deep down wishes to be a good person and a leader – and also arguably the novel’s finest character the sex-addicted entrepreneur Savine Glotka. There a quite a few point of view players throughout and in addition to the aforementioned, Leo, the perfect hero and Broad the formidable warrior with a harsh past are great to follow. Their scenes were stunning to visualise and were the most memorable.

Some of the players may seem two-dimensional initially until Abercrombie deftly expands on their thoughts, emotions and agendas and massages the depth of their personalities into our minds. As mentioned, we see some old legends from the past such as Glotka, The Dogman and Bayaz but the new characters are not in the shadows of their predecessors at all. They truly own the narrative.

I had a brilliant time reading this and returning to Abercrombie’s world. Although I haven’t completed all of The First Law books and even though you probably could start reading here, I think some prior knowledge of at least one or two of the original trilogy is truly beneficial. A Little Hatred does read like the typical first book in a fantasy epic which may build up to truly monumental and stunning moments but it doesn’t really work as a standalone. I believe Abercrombie has completed the remaining two books though and I can’t wait for the next entry and to lose myself here again. Bravo. When I have finished all The First Law books I will return to this and the rating may be increased to 5-stars.

PS. This is a more casual review than normal as I finished the novel a little while ago but haven’t had the internet for a few weeks. Today is the first time I’ve been able to get around to reviewing it.

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