This is a post for those of you who come here for the book recommendations...run right out and pick up Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. That would be, in order:
The Blade Itself
Before They Are Hanged
Last Argument of Kings
These were just blow-me-away, don't-want-'em-to-end, good. I kept putting off reading the end of the last one. I eked those last 100 pages out over this past week (one reason for lack of posting of late...I've been immersed in these books). Alas, though, now they are read.
Okay, not everyone is going to love these books. Some people don't like fantasy. Though these are not sparkly unicorns, fairy dust and pointy-hatted wizards sort of fantasy. There are wizards...but some of them aren't very nice. And none of them wear pointy hats. In fact, for most of the people in this fictional world, magic is something from history...something made up or, at least, long gone from the world. And the books are...bloody. Lots of battles, described in lots of details. Torture. War and destruction. Anyone who likes George R.R. Martin's series should definitely check these out.
As in Martin's series, the characters here are unforgettable. Logen Ninefingers, from the North, a hero who speaks to the spirits and wonders if it is possible that he could become a good man. And indeed, when he's possessed by The Bloody Nine, he's not a good man. At least, not a man that differentiates between friend and foe.
There's Ferro, a woman from the South, with little room in her heart for anything but seeking vengeance against the Gurkish, a nation that took everything from her, raped her and enslaved her. (Note: She makes a good start on that vengeance in the books.)
There's Jezal dan Luthar, a callow youth who becomes a man...of sorts.
There's Bayaz, one of the aforementioned wizards, who gathers these three and a few others for a purpose that remains hidden until near the end. No pointy-hat wearer, he.
And there's Glokta dan Sanden, a hero in his youth, who is now broken and crippled after years of torture in the prisons of the Gurkish. Now he is home and in constant pain and...what's this?...working as a torturer for the Inquisition. He's a twisted mass of flesh and bone, with missing teeth and toes...and yet, somehow you come to sort of like him, sympathize with him, admire him.
And the end? Let me just say - Along with unicorns and fairy dust, Joe Abercrombie apparently doesn't believe in happy, happy endings. Satisfying perhaps, but not happy.
Great, great read.