Where the hell is God? Probably a question you've pondered or perhaps you believe in him as much as Jubair did. Everyone's looking to God while looking to scrape a living out in a world of piss and shit and a whole lot of blood. In Red Country, the grey area that becomes the muck of man's choices is on clear display. No one is truly good and no one is truly evil. They're just human and that ain't always a good thing.
Shy South is looking for her kidnapped brother and sister, with a father figure named Lamb she thought soft, who's got a past far bloodier than her own. Temple tries to figure out exactly who he is, while Nicomo Cosca leads a band of mercenaries down a path ultimately for his own glory, but mostly gold and a drink to drown his sorrows in. The Ghosts only want ears, the Dragon People want back the Old Time, and two countries teeter on the brink of war and peace -- which ever happens to come first. Hope is there in abundance but few people have the luxury of holding on to it for long in the Near and Far Country. Joe Abercrombie has a knack for sticking his characters in the muck and then stamping them deeper into it. This makes for bloody good fiction.
Joe writes as if he's talking to you and makes you feel like you're in the story. The characters talk straight at you, most holding no punches, because they known soon enough, shit's gonna hit the fan. You can see the characters' objective quite clearly, but you wonder what blunders will meet them on the way and it keeps you turning the page. Death's waiting on everyone's doorstep and sometimes it ain't the bad guy that gets what's coming to him. And when the bad guy finally gets it, you realize that maybe he wasn't so bad after all. Just messed up like you and me and everyone else on God's blue rock -- if he's even watching.
In this book, I feel like Joe captures as he always has, the reality of life as it is for most people. Life just turns out this way -- and you can try to run, and try to hide, but you can't avoid yourself no matter where you are. You are who you are and you might as well be that and live true to yourself before Death comes knocking at your door. Everyone's looking for their way out of the rain, doing what they can, hoping for the best, unprepared for the worst, and doing anything at all when there seems to be no good choice to make. Those who don't like violence might steer clear of Joe's work, but I daresay it's not senseless violence. Every death seems appropriately placed, if you believe there should have been mercy for a particular character. Yet, life often has very little mercy for men and women regardless of how good they might be.
By the end of the book I was left satisfied. No end was left untied, as Lamb faces a man who's been looking to settle a debt of blood for a long time. A horrible man hoping to do it all over gets a deserving sword through the chest, and so much more is open for interpretation and more storytelling. So I implore Joe to continue delving into the human condition, and pitting men against themselves and other men hellbent on their own wants and needs. I hope he continues in politics, swordplay, and swindling in the dog eat dog First Law world. And now that I have finished Red Country I again impatiently wait another of Joe's creations, Half A King. In my thirst for all things written by Joe, I think I might not be disappointed. Only the turning of the pages shall tell. You may follow Joe @LordGrimdark
Until next write...
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