Red Country, Joe Abercrombie, Orbit, ISBN 9780316187213, 451 pgs., $25.99

Shy South’s family has been stolen from her and she’s intent on getting them back. Problem is, her kids have been taken by a group that’s out collecting children for a purpose far from where Shy lives. So, gathering her oxen and taking along her stepfather, Lamb, she sets off after them. She joins with a red countrycaravan heading more or less in the right direction and across the barren plains they go, ending up in a frontier town, just off the map. Soon she finds herself face to face with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, and his lawyer, Temple.  These, and many more people end up playing key roles in Shy’s quest to get her kids back.  But whether they are for her or against her or just waiting to see is pretty hard to tell and Shy doesn’t have the time to waste so she’s moving forward, consequences be damned.

As with Abercrombie’s other stories, there’s rich characterization here and a lot of commentary on life done through a filter of tired cynicism, none more tired than Cosca’s lawyer, Temple.  There’s plenty of space here for Abercrombie to develop all of his characters in a way that is much richer than most writers.  Even tertiary characters seem to have back stories and agendas here.  This create a rich tapestry within which the characters move and as a reader you are never sure how these individual tales will come together or act in opposition to each other.

I have to admit that I really enjoy reading Abercrombie. I put him in the same group with Erickson and a few others who write with a swatch of dark humor and optimistic cynicism.  It fits my own world view but it’s also fairly humorous which lightens up the fact that so much of the work is grim and death laden.  In some ways this book kept reminding me of a western.  Maybe because they wagon trained across the waste and ended up in a frontier town.

Highly recommended as I recommend all of Abercrombie’s work.  If you like character driven fiction then you’ll probably like this.  And, if you’d like to go out and get your very own copy all you have to do is click here: Red Country

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About damnaliens
Writer, reviewer, home provider to the Damnaliens

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