A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
|A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
|Reviewer: Alex Mitchell
|Summary: Featuring a unique setting, witty dialogue and a plethora of likeable and well-written characters, this dark, brutal tale shows a rapidly industrialising world where the old ways refuse to die.
|Date: September 2019
Adua is going through a period of rapid industrial revolution, the old social structures being thrown into chaos as the factories go up. But, the old ways die hard in this land. In the north, young heir to the Governorship Leo Dan Brock and his allies fight off the invading armies of Scale Ironhand and his nephew Stour Nightfall. He desperately wants reinforcements from the crown, but the debaucherous, self-loathing Crown Prince Orso is all they can spare. Savine Dan Glotka, investor and daughter of the High Inquisitor, plots to ascend to the top of the social hierarchy no matter the cost. But, with hatred and discontent growing among the working classes, her plans might never come to fruition. Under the tutelage of the world-weary old witch Isern-I-Phail, young Rikke struggles to control the Long Eye, something she was blessed (or possibly cursed) with. However, seeing the future and affecting it are two very different things...
The setting is one that’s not often explored in fantasy literature, and definitely makes it more interesting. The world depicted in A Little Hatred is neither completely medieval European-style fantasy, nor completely Gaslamp-style fantasy, but a world that is transitioning from the former to the latter. The chapters set in Leo and Rikke’s point-of-view involves the province of Angland repelling a much larger invading force in the form of the armies of Scale Ironhand, king of the North, his brother Black Calder and his nephew Stour Nightfall, which seems much more like a classic fantasy novel plot. Meanwhile, the Union is on the brink of an industrial revolution, which is mostly told through the eyes of Savine and other characters. It doesn’t shy away from showing the ugly side of industrial revolution, either, child labour is often used to maximise profits and workers are being put out of employment by these new machines. As such, there are also rising factions of this world’s equivalent of the Luddites: the Breakers, who just want to smash the machines that have taken their jobs, and the Burners, who are much more anarchical and want to bring down the entire ruling class. Thankfully, the plentiful dark comedy and dry wit acts to alleviate some of the more depressing moments in the book.
The characters in the setting are varied and each show a different aspect of Union society. As mentioned previously, Leo dan Brock, the Young Lion, a warrior and heir to the governorship of Angland, who is desperately trying to find glory on the battlefield and make a name for himself. Alongside him is Rikke, a young woman blessed (or cursed) with the Long Eye, which is the ability to see into the future (usually after having a violent fit). She is guided by Isern-i-Phail, a very caustic, world-wise woman who acts as both Rikke’s friend and tutor. The other side of the conflict is shown through the eyes of Clover (formerly Jonas Steepfield), a rather lazy combat teacher who only looks out for himself. In the south, the action is told through the eyes of Savine dan Glotka, a particularly ambitious, cut-throat member of the landed gentry, and daughter of High Inquisitor Glotka. She is in a no-strings-attached relationship with Crown Prince Orso, heir to the Union, a hedonistic young man with a self-deprecating sense of humour. The operations of the Breakers and Burners are told through both the eyes of Gunnar Broad, a family man and former soldier who really doesn’t want to be involved in more violence, and Vick Teufel, a secret agent for the Inquistion. With such a variety of characters, it does a good job of showing all these different facets of Union society.
In conclusion, this is a dark tale packed with likeable characters and witty dialogue, set in a unique world where - despite the rapid industrialisation - the old ways refuse to die.
Similar books by other authors:
Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie, one of Abercrombie's previous books.
We Are The Dead by Mike Shackle, a much more serious fantasy story which also takes place from multiple viewpoints.
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