Review of RED COUNTRY by Joe AbercrombieOrbit, November 2012
When her younger sister and brother are kidnapped, Shy South, accompanied by her strong but cowardly farmhand, Lamb, go in pursuit. Meanwhile, Temple, a failed lawyer, priest, surgeon and human being, despairs of the mercenary company he's fallen in with. Shy's search leads her to a "fellowship" heading toward the new frontier... a frontier the Union intends to lay claim to through the means of Temple's mercenary company.
The journey across the Far Country isn't easy. Ghosts (American Indians) resent the caravans of new settlers. The work is hard, and many of the travelers are ill-equipped for the journey... and worse-equipped for the destination. Still, Shy intends to recover her lost siblings... and Lamb turns out to have a few secrets of his own.
Joined by Temple's mercenary company in "Crease," (an ancient city marked as a crease on old maps but now the center of life in the booming Far Country), Shy, Lamb and others continue their journey into mountains that are considered deadly even to the ghosts where they find the dragon people fiercely anxious to battle for their land and for their secret in the heart of the mountain.
Author Joe Abercrombie (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of fantasy by Abercrombie) writes a strangely compelling fantasy. Parts of RED COUNTRY were so slow I nearly abandoned the story, but Abercrombie's description of battle, of the ugliness of humankind, of the squallor of life, and of eye-gouging fights gripped me and made me care about this story. The central characters, an unpleasant young woman (Shy) and a man who fails at everything (Temple) aren't typical heroes, which is essentially the point... Abercrombie is fantasy for those who are tired of noble knights, thoughtful Elves or clever but evil sorcerors. His characters, both protagonist and antagonist, are fully human... packed with greed, petty cruelty and indifference to the suffering of others. RED COUNTRY is a bit slow in places, and it's certainly not a feel-good story. Still, it grabbed me and made me think.
Four StarsReviewed 6/04/13
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