My love affair with Joe Abercrombie continues. This closes out the last of the books written in the First Law universe (except maybe the Half a King series but its bit unclear…at least to me). I won’t gush too much about how awesome a writer he is, how his action sequences are great, the dark fantasy setting manages to be depressing and compelling all at once, that the characters he creates and re-introduces throughout the stretch of 6 books (All of the First Law trilogy, Best Served Cold, The Heroes, and finally Red Country) are developed in such powerful ways they make a jaded almost-30-year-old man giddy like a 12-year-old opening his first comic book…nope, I’m not going to do that.
I want to focus on the setting, which is as compelling and interesting as anything else in the book. As much as Firely was a Space Western, Red Country is a fantasy western. There aren’t any gunslingers or gunfights, but there is a gold rush into a barren, uncharted country, historically under the control of an under-developed but proud people (In this case called the Ghosts). Complete with boomtowns, Oregon-trail style caravans, and back-stabbing piled on top of more back-stabbing, and over all of it the spectre of nine-fingered ghost from the past, I couldn’t put this one down. Seriously. I read all 400+ plus pages in about 4 days. And I work 40 hours a week. I can’t give a book much higher praise than that.
I’ve always been fascinated with trying a western-style story imported into a fantasy or sci-fi realm, and one of my favorites authors attempting the juxtaposition was a welcome discovery. I’m of the particular opinion that these books are better than the Game of Thrones series and would also make better TV adaptations. Yep. I said it. Because it’s true. The books are definitely better, the characters are just as complex but more relatable, and actually make more consistent decisions (You’re rooting for a crippled torturer and a homicidal maniac…what could be more compelling?)
All in all, I highly recommend Red Country, or anything Joe Abercrombie writes. As usual. I give this particular book 5-out-of-5 bloody severed heads on pikes.
P.S. there’s way more than 5 in the book.