New Release Review: Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
A Novel of the First Law World
Publication Date: 23 Oct 2012
ARC Provided by Netgalley and Orbit Books

Synopsis from Goodreads:
They burned her home.
They stole her brother and sister.
But vengeance is following.Shy South hoped to bury her bloody past and ride away smiling, but she’ll have to sharpen up some bad old ways to get her family back, and she’s not a woman to flinch from what needs doing. She sets off in pursuit with only a pair of oxen and her cowardly old step father Lamb for company. But it turns out Lamb’s buried a bloody past of his own. And out in the lawless Far Country the past never stays buried.Their journey will take them across the barren plains to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feud, duel and massacre, high into the unmapped mountains to a reckoning with the Ghosts. Even worse, it will force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, and his feckless lawyer Temple, two men no one should ever have to trust . . .

Christal’s Review – 4 Skulls – B+

This was my first Joe Abercrombie novel and I really enjoyed it. It was gritty, bloody, and violent. Suprisingly, it had a lot of heart underneath all the grime. I’m sure I would have appreciated some of the characters more if I had read the previous First Law World novels, but I never felt lost or like I was missing anything vital. I do know that I enjoyed this one so much that I will be picking up the other novel in Abercrombie’s ‘verse.

I absolutely loved the character of Shy South. She was strong and hard-working, she didn’t give up no matter the odds, and she didn’t let anyone dictate her actions. Lamb, who I have come to understand was the focus of the original trilogy, was an interesting character. He was trying to find redemption but continued to find his past hard to escape. I really enjoyed the interaction between Shy and Lamb; they were probably some of my favorite scenes in the entire novel. Temple was also an intriguing character who played well off Shy. Their back and forths were very humorous. I was happy to see Temple was able to find a kind of salvation and become a better man in the end.

The plot was a little meandering at first, but when Shy and Lamb joined up with the Fellowship and Temple washed up downriver, everything started moving very quickly. The story felt like Oregon Trail crossed with the Lord of the Rings and I totally dug it. I loved learning about all the side characters in the Fellowship and their motivations and aspirations. The only reason I gave this 4 stars was because of the beginning being a little slow and the ending being a little drawn out. Though I liked the way the story ended, it had several different points that felt like they could have been endings. Don’t let that detract you though, this story is pure balls to the wall fun.

This book is full of violence and gore but is mixed with a dry humor and unrepentent determination. If you like movies like True Grit or The Searchers, you would probably love this book. Even though I wouldn’t call it a fanatasy novel per se, I would recommend it to all fantasy readers because of the epic feel. If you like an action-packed story with characters you can really get behind, give this novel a try!

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC copy of this book!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Series Reading Order:
1. The Blade Itself
2. Before They Are Hanged
3. Last Argument of Kings
4. Best Served Cold
5. The Heroes
6. Red Country

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