The Trouble With Peace Read-a-long: Chapters 1-9
Will from Gollancz reached out to David about FanFiAddict joining a reread of The Age of Madness in preparation for the release of The Wisdom of Crowds with our blog specifically covering The Trouble With Peace, Chapters 1-9. Needless to say, I dropped everything I was doing and jumped at the chance to take part. Abercrombie is one of those authors that makes me giddy with anticipation whenever he releases a new novel. The Trouble with Peace is a stunning installment; breathtaking and gloriously brutal all at once. I would go as far as saying it lands as one of my favorites in the entire First Law collection. The stakes are raised in this industrial setting and the hands of power are ever-changing—all overseen by the master puppeteer, Bayaz, The First of the Magi.
Here’s a small recap of where A Little Hatred concluded before we get into these chapters for The Trouble With Peace:
Savine dan Glokta is sick from the horrible revelation that Orso is her half brother and the trauma of being caught in the industrial uprising. After the defeat of Stour Nightfall, Leo dan Brock feels like everything is falling into place for him as the beloved hero. Crown Prince Orso is reeling from the changes in his life; all at once losing the love of his life and becoming King. The North is a bloodbath; Stour has forcefully taken over and Black Calder comes back to a much different place. The Breakers and the Burners, made up of the common working man, have had enough and are out for noble blood. Finally, Rikke leaves us with the chilling prophecy, “I saw a wolf eat the sun. Then a lion ate the wolf. Then a lamb ate the lion. Then an owl ate the lamb.”
Now, let us jump right in:
Chapter One: The World’s Wrongs
Orso is attempting to step into his role as the King with authority. Though he never wanted to be King, he truly wants to be a good one. The Closed Council is determined to lead his way, much to Orso’s frustration. Orso wants to unite the Union and visit every province, to connect with his people. The Council wants Orso to deal with the problems they are currently facing, namely, the Breakers and the Burners. The common man now has access to presses where they are able to print their distasteful opinions of the wealthy and powerful. Needless to say, it is causing much unrest. Orso suggests improving working conditions and the quality of life for the workers and the Closed Council laughs at his naive suggestion. The Council also suggests that King Orso takes a bride and produces an heir, much to his chagrin.
“It seems sometimes,” snapped Orso, rubbing at those sore spots above his temples, “that every decision I make in this chamber is between two equally bad outcomes, with the best option to make no decision at all!”
Chapter Two: A Long Way from Adua
Westport is considering secession from the Union to join Styria. Superior Lorsen is skeptical of the Arch Lector’s recommendation of Vick as an instrument to keep Westport in the Union. In the Hall of Assembly, over 200 men debate over the possible secession. A pro-Styrian leader named Solumeo Shudra speaks brashly on the decline of the Union’s power and its wearing ability to keep peace among the people, along with what their membership is costing them. There is talk that the feared assassin and Eater, Shenkt, has been paid by Murcatto to shift the balance into the favor of Styria. Lorsen and Vick debate over the advantages and disadvantages of going after Shudra before the vote takes place.
Chapter Three: A Sea of Trouble
Savine dan Glotka is seething at her slight loss of power after the events that have taken place recently. Heavily dipping into her pearl dust, she sits through the fifteenth biannual meeting of Adua’s Solar Society, while the collective lament on the tragic string of crises that have taken place. Savine’s pity is mostly for herself and the terror she now feels when she thinks of the Breakers. This is an entirely jarring feeling for someone who had rarely experienced any real fear in her life. Curnsbick is determined to build from the ashes and go on with business as usual, but is worried at Savine’s loss of entrepreneurial heart. Savine’s heartache only gets worse as King Orso appears and snubs her in front of the whole Society. After puking in an alley, she realizes that she hasn’t had her menses in three months, coincidentally right before her visit from Leo dan Brock.
Chapter Four: A Routine
Liddy and May are now able to laugh about their troubled times, having found peace and happiness in their new home under Savine. Gunnar Broad leaves them with laughter on their lips as he goes to do Savine’s dirty work. Broad meets up with Halder and Bannerman to question Gaunt on his part in causing unrest with the diggers and to persuade him to keep the work on the canal moving. As he’s sharing his personal experience with the Breakers, Savine shows up to watch him at his work, immediately putting him on edge. After calmly talking to Gaunt and not getting anywhere, he takes a violent approach, going as far as to threaten Gaunt’s bound child. Terrified, Gaunt promises that there will be no strike.
Chapter Five: The Art of Compromise
Vick visits Filio as he overlooks swordplay and prods him about his past as a competitor in the Contest against the future King Jezal. Her true reason for visiting is to begin the process of gathering votes to keep Westport in the Union. Filio expresses his doubts about the new King Orso, while complimenting Solumeo Shudra for his charismatic speaking and leadership abilities. Filio cannot promise that he will vote in favor of the Union. When Vick leaves, she is approached by Dayep Mozolia, where they further discuss the vote and how, despite being women, they can control the men who are granted the ability to vote. Vick hands over a letter from Glotka offering trade rights that were once controlled by the Guild of Mercers if Mozolia can sway votes for the Union. Vick and Tallow head to a brothel to meet Sanders Rosimiche, who says he’s heard that Mozolia has already been swayed back to Shudra’s side. After dealing with constant disrespect, she beats and threatens Rosimche, who blubbers an agreement to vote for the Union. Feeling defeated, Vick decides the best route is to take Shudra out of the equation.
Chapter Six: Some Things Never Heal
Leo and Jurand spar, as Jurand pokes fun at Leo for how close his duel against Stour Nightfall was. Leo doesn’t enjoy the way his friends tell the tale, much preferring the grand images he has in his head to their truth. To make matters worse, his leg is still heavily injured and gives out on him during their spar, causing him embarrassment and agony. Leo longs for the thrill of battle and debates about whether he should be initiating the fight to reclaim Dagoska, while his friends agree with Leo’s mother that he should be concerning himself with the affairs of Angland as their Governor. Additionally, Leo is infuriated by the raising of taxes in Angland from the Closed Council, all while his mother encourages him to make connections with the King and the Council.
Chapter Seven: With the Wind
Downside, Clover, and Flick look out over a burned village, when Sholla comes to let them know that a group of Shanka got away with some sheep. They decide to track the group and a battle ensues. After winning the overall fight, Clover lets a few escape to send a message. They fill a sack of heads to take back to Stour.
Chapter Eight: Visions
Rikke comes out of her fourth vision of the week, where she sees a river of corpses, two men fighting in the Circle, and two young women holding hands under a golden dome. She also sees someone sitting on a high chair, where there is a flag with an eye upon it in the background. The last thing she sees is what Isern reveals to be a sorceress returned from the dead, who tells her she must choose. Isern is determined for them to visit the corpse sorceress for help. Dogman and his men are in deliberation on whether they want to take part in the Union or in Stour’s scheme. Rikke stares out over a vision of an inn burning, as Shivers reveals that it is still very much intact. Rikke reveals to him how constant her visions are becoming, blurring with real life. Furthering this point, Rikke has the same vision of the sorceress again, realizing that she never actually talked to Isern the first time and that she is losing control on differentiating what is happening in real time versus her foresight.
Chapter Nine: Man of the People
Vick and Tallow stalk Shudra in the market as he visits with the masses. She intercepts an assassin right as they are about to stab Shudra, exclaiming that it is Casamir dan Shenkt. Shugra is extremely grateful and asks her if the Styrians sent her to protect him. Vick laughs and says that the Union sent her and that the Styrians sent Shenkt to kill him.
Well, that’s it for FFA’s portion of this read-a-long. Upon this reread, I was pleasantly reminded how much I really do enjoy Orso’s character. If he had more actual power instead of the Closed Council and Bayaz having the majority, I think he could truly be a successful monarch. He is young and witty enough to change things for the better, whereas the old men are too stuck in their ways to agree to any of it. Abercrombie may have taken a little (or a lot) of inspiration from modern day politics, eh? So much happens in these first few chapters to set up the story for what is to come. Politicking, backstabbing, uprisings, and more! I hope you all enjoy your read of The Age of Madness, whether this is your first or fourth time through the books.
Thank you to Will, Gollancz, and Joe Abercrombie for hosting this read-a-long. Lastly, thanks to David for letting me have the honor of creating this post!
You can read my official review for The Trouble with Peace here. Though, after this reread, I might need to update my review with even more praise!
Here are links to purchase your own copy of The Trouble with Peace (The Age of Madness #2):