Yarvi, second son of the feared King Uthrik and the ruthless Queen Laithlin of Gettland, was born with a useless hand, and cannot hold a shield, or make fast a knot, or pull an oar, or do any of the things expected from a man. Left an outcast, he's surrendered his birthright and been given a woman's place as apprentice to Mother Gundring, Gettland's Minister, training to be an adviser, diplomat, healer and translator.
But when his father and brother are murdered by Grom-gil-Gorm, King of neighboring Vansterland, Yarvi is forced to take the Black Chair and become king himself - or half a king, at least - swear an oath of vengeance against the killers of his father, and lead a raid against the Vanstermen. Betrayed, left for dead, and enslaved on a rotting trading galley, Yarvi will need all his Minister's wit and cunning to escape, and all his diplomacy and knowledge to keep a rag-tag band of other slaves together on a month long trek across the frozen wastes of the utmost north. Among them are Sumael, the ship's single-minded navigator, Rulf, an ex-raide, Jaud, an ex-baker, and Nothing, a mad old man with a mysterious past and an almost magical skill with a sword. And their owner, the brutal Captain Shadikshirram, will be dogging their heels at every step. Father Peace may be the patron god of Ministers, but to reclaim the Black Chair, Yarvi will have to strike a deal with Mother War, and once you've invited the mother of crows to be your guest, there can be no telling whose blood will be spilled.
©2014 Joe Abercrombie (P)2014 Recorded Books
A fan of epic fantasy...the darker the better!
There's no doubt that Joe Abercrombie is one of the best authors in modern fantasy. What I love most about his previous books is the dark, raw, and utterly fascinating world he creates. While this book is good...it doesn't feel like Joe Abercrombie. It lacked the humor, the grit, and it felt so rushed. We barely know the main character and I really didn't care much about him. I feel like he was pressured to write a more tone downed family friendly book. It's good, just not what we've come to know and love from Joe Abercrombie.
The narration works for this novel...much more innocent. I think John Keating did an excellent job.
Maybe it's unfortunate that Joe Abercrombie set the bar so high with his previous books, but this was a woeful anticlimax. Having come to expect masterly character development I found these characters rather weak, not believable in the same way as Glokta and the Bloody Nine.
Perhaps my review could have gained another star had the narrator been Steven Pacey, but this reader was not into the story in the same way.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
Perhaps Joe Abercrombie is a little weary of seeing the word "gritty" attached to his name in every other review, however accurate it may be. But formulaic is not an alternative to gritty; it's just...formulaic. Most of this book you have read before. Admittedly Abercrombie does it at least as well and mostly better than others, but it is impossible not to sigh and wonder why he decided to attend the party without his best clothes on. Still, reweaving old threads into a costume which is perhaps somewhat more stylish than the original demonstrates skill, albeit little inspiration. Less wise was his impulse to rework a peerless piece of stitching (a scene from Hamlet) and leave it hanging tattered on the rack. The advice comics give to their peers, "If you are going to steal, steal from the best," is not necessarily good counsel for writers.
All that being said, this is still Abercrombie, and his second or third best work is well worth reading. The ending, in particular, is very well crafted (will we have to wait until a sequel or two have come and gone before we can get you fully back, Joe?), and I was never really bored or confused. I certainly do not regret the credit, though I was also never astonished, never shocked, never terrified, never convulsed with laughter, never deeply moved, never transfixed by an image. Much more tender, much less muddy. But oh how the mighty have fallen. An extra star off for the descent from the heights, I'm afraid.
John Keating does a perfectly creditable job with the narration. Stephen Pacey or Michael Page, as much as I admire them both, would have been poor choices for this wide-eyed, coming of age story. Keating uses a variety of Scots, Irish and English dialects to set and identify the characters, and he only occasionally misses a meaningful inflection. It is strange hearing him read Abercrombie only because this is not the JA we are all used to.
I'm a teacher and a 30 year reader of genre fiction. Urban and Epic fantasy are my main jams.
To Everyone Who Hates or is Disappointed in This Book Because It's Not A Depressing Slog That Includes The Loss of a Major Appendage,
You aren't impressing anyone. This isn't the next book set in The First Law's world, but it's fine. Engaging and sweet, cliche at times but still solid. It's short and to the point and I'm curious about what's next. For a YA book. that's enough.
Sorry, but it is hard to believe this was written by the author of The First Law series. Very disappointed. I found myself not caring about any one character in the whole novel.
Let me start by saying that I love Joe Abercrombie as an author. I have read all six of his previous novels and I was excited to read this novel as soon as it came out. I was however, a bit hesitant when I heard it was going to be a young adult novel, because one of Abercrombie's best writing skills is his harsh gritty books. He did not strike me as an author of young adult fantasy. I was partially right. This book was like no young adult novel I have ever read. It was much more violent and a good deal more serious. However, you could tell that Abercrombie's style was fighting threw during the entire novel. It was what I would call Abercrombie toned down, that is without the gory battle seens, sex, and harsh language. After finishing this book I must say that I prefer all of his previous novels. I am not saying this was a bad book at all, I gave it 4 stars, but it wasn't the same break neck rush of combat, intrigue, and gritty characters as his first six novels. The first third of the book kind of disappointed me a bit, it just didn't have the same flare his first books had, I just couldn't get hooked. However, I am a firm believer in giving books a chance, so I kept reading. The second third was much better and because this is not a long book, I easily flew threw the rest to the end. And oh boy the end was a treat, the way Abercrombie raps everything up is incredible. The last third of the book sold me on reading the next one for sure. Everything is put in place to create an excellent and more action packed and intrigue filled sequel. This review was a little different from most of my other ones I have written because I assume the people who are reading this novel have already read some of Abercrombie's other books and understand the quality of his writing, the complexity of his plot, and the skill of his characterization. The two small issues in this book in my opinion are that the plot took some time to get interesting and there was much less of Abercrombie's usual cruel humor as in his previous books. As a final note the narrator Mr. Keating did a fairly good job. His character voices were differentiated enough to tell them apart and his voice inflection was also very good. I would recommend getting this book if you like Abercrombie even though it isn't quite as good as his previous works, it is still better than a lot of the books out there.
Audible what happened to Steven Page? First it was Michael Pacey who had no clue what he was doing, and now, even when I thought it impossible to be worse than Michael Page, you have gone and managed to get a narrator even worse than Page. John Keating has only two voices in his repertoire, a bad British accent impersonation, and an even worse Irish accent impersonation. Everyone sounds the same. It is "terribad". The only saving grace is the story itself which was awesome.
PLEASE PLEASE BRING BACK STEVEN PACE AND RERECORD THESE BOOKS WITH HIM. The story here was great but the narrator was atrocious.
No one. The performance is terrible. Mumbled words, falsetto's and so on. I love the author and story, but for the first time, I could not listen fully to one of his books. It required too much work to follow what the reader was saying.
Almost everything. Annoying performance.
While I greatly enjoyed the story, as I do all of Joe Abercrombie's work, the narration style was very distracting. I felt it substantially detracted from my enjoyment of the book.
If you have read other books by the author and enjoyed them you will enjoy this book as well. There are entertaining characters, lots of peril and plenty of time sitting in the car listening while it idles.
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