Review: The Trouble with Peace (The Age of Madness #2) by Joe Abercrombie (Blog Tour)

Rating: 10/10

Synopsis:

Conspiracy. Betrayal. Rebellion.
Peace is just another kind of battlefield…

Savine dan Glokta, once Adua’s most powerful investor, finds her judgement, fortune and reputation in tatters. But she still has all her ambitions, and no scruple will be permitted to stand in her way.

For heroes like Leo dan Brock and Stour Nightfall, only happy with swords drawn, peace is an ordeal to end as soon as possible. But grievances must be nursed, power seized and allies gathered first, while Rikke must master the power of the Long Eye . . . before it kills her.

The Breakers still lurk in the shadows, plotting to free the common man from his shackles, while noblemen bicker for their own advantage. Orso struggles to find a safe path through the maze of knives that is politics, only for his enemies, and his debts, to multiply.

The old ways are swept aside, and the old leaders with them, but those who would seize the reins of power will find no alliance, no friendship, and no peace, lasts forever.

Review:

Thank you to Will, Patricia and Gollancz for sending me an ARC. I was provided an ARC for my honest thoughts, and all thoughts expressed in this review are my opinion.

The Trouble With Peace is the aptest and accurate title to ever describe this book of such magnitude. I finished this in one day (apparently I can consume 500 pages but not 700!) and I am amazed. Not only at the technicality of keeping numerous events in this massive world from not veering off the chart, but through the way Joe has managed to keep such a complex style of politics simple! I was immersed in the politics of the Union a lot more than I expected to be. I wasn’t expecting to relate with so many characters. Be it a politician, a wounded veteran (and there’s a lot of them) and scared soldiers (also a lot of them), and young recruits. This is no small world. This is a very big world, a very complex world, and keeping in-check of all the politics reminds me of so many historical parallels, and at one point when I read industrial, I thought, the wait is this the fantasy version of Anno 1800?

The dialogue is engaging, not a moment is wasted at all. The world-building is well done. I’m caring more about the world-building than I am before. It feels like this takes all the fantasy stuff and gives it a fresh coat of paint. There’s no part I didn’t enjoy. Though while I’d wish to reveal the story, I’m keeping it non-spoiler because there’s a lot of stories here. It’s def continuing from book 1 but here’s the thing. It doesn’t feel grim-dark. You can get into this book if you haven’t read book 1 (Spoilers! Go read Book 1, its amazing! xD). But let me tell you which characters I liked and which I didn’t like the most.

I loved Orso’s development of maturity across his arc, but I did feel that he was too stubborn sometimes. Orso in my opinion has the most interesting characteristic of any King out there. I like his regal stance, his cleverness, his ability to adapt to situations that are thrown across his way. Orso represents in some kind of way, the Charles I of Austria-Hungary in WW1. Cue the historical context: In WW1, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was pretty much a corpse shackled it’s to a competent ally, Germany. It was corrupt, it was broken internally, having to house so many nationalities (A theme you will def find in this book a lot.), and the passing away of Franz Joseph in 1916 caused a tremendous blow to the Empire internally.

Charles had a useless general named Conrad that practically would have been a better commander in the Imperial German Army than the Austrian Army. The Austrians were completely unprepared for WW1, and they were taking the brunt of aggressive Russian attacks, especially the Brusilov Offensive that shattered the morale and backbone of the Austrian army. Charles inherited the throne of Austria but soon it went bascially something like this: A lot of his subjects revolted against him, and then declared independence. Charles was trying to keep the Empire united and tried to negotiate Austria Hungary’s exit from WW1 but the allies were having none of it. Charles even went and allowed the Empire to transform into a federal union. Boom. Independence. Bu the end of 1918, Hungary declared independence, Croats, Serbs, Czechoslovakia were just parts of the empire that broke away. Charles had to renounce participation but was soon dethroned by the Austrian Parliament in April 1919, and exiled to Switzerland. He was then, if I remember, exiled to the Portuguese colony of Madeira, after his second attempt at reclaiming the throne.

This is why I am finding comparisons between Orso and Charles of Austria. I’d say this is the alternate version of Charles in a fantasy context. This is what if, he was giving breathing room to expand his power perhaps? I’ve been watching a lot of series of WW1 episodes from the Great War (a great history youtube channel done by Time Ghost) that show and demonstrate the complexities of politics within WW1. While of course, the combat is medieval in many senses, it reminded me of Pike and Shot warfare quite a lot. Austria-Hungary is neglected out of the study I find, and its a perfect way for authors to pick inspiration from. Bear in mind, this is what came to my mind when I read the first opening chapter.

As for Savine, I didn’t agree with many of the decisions she made. But I cannot help but admire her cunningness. Her ability to manipulate and betray. She is cruel, vindictive, yet brave, solid and a strong lady that knows what she wants. I just feel that she needs to get out of these lands and start fresh. A new empire maybe. She reminds me of Catherine of Russia for one and Empress Theodora of Byzantium. Her father has the wittiest lines that you will be mind-blown at. And Bayaz. I feel this guy needs an entire series of his own. He’s such an interesting character I wished to see more of him. I also liked Clover and his ability to see the situations four steps ahead of everyone else. There are so many characters you’ll love it. And Leo. A bit prejudiced, but he is an innocent man that I feel that he needs to go away from fighting and start a new life. He needs to see whether he can become mature or not.

The action in this book is not as action-packed. I however feel that’s good. It shows the politics and the characters that make those moves. That said, I did want to see more scenes of Orso a lot more. I felt more related to him. I do feel that Savine’s time with Zuri could maybe have been shorter. I also feel that Joe pretty much covered the rest of the story – but maybe some more distinguishing between the Open and Closed Council would also add some more elements. I feel there needs to be a map because this world is big. I wanted to look at a world map and see where Joe referenced other nations, other people. Because he does a lot. There was an Arabic inspired world, and he referenced that character from there. I do wish we will start to see more of the world from other culture’s perspectives as well.

I do wonder if dragons exist in this universe. Plenty of characters, plenty of politics, and it sets things up nicely for the third novel. I just felt by the end, I knew the story, it picked up the pace so well I was like, no. No. No! There was more! There was more to this! And it finished quickly. Just when it got right there. A real cliff-hanger. It’s a lot to summarise, but I enjoyed this story a lot. A total of 10/10 from me. Great novel. Great stuff

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