Eric's Reviews > Red Country

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
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's review
Apr 09, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, western, book-club
Recommended for: Anyone who thinks 'gritty fantasy western' sounds like a good mash-up
Read from November 28, 2012 to July 09, 2013

How could I not read the return of Logen "The Bloody Nine" Ninefingers, my favorite character from The First Law trilogy?

I wrote that last April when details from Red Country first started appearing on the Internet, and then it was released in the States last November, so why I am just getting around to writing this review now, eight months later? Because I had a tough time getting into this book, and an even tougher time finishing it, for a few reasons:

- The book kept alternating between the chase/revenge plot-line of Shy and Lamb, and the secondary plot-line of Temple escaping The Company of the Gracious Hand. This secondary plot-line could have been mostly eliminated, or at least greatly trimmed, to aid the pacing of this overlong adventure.

- Beyond that, there were tertiary plot-lines that also didn't add much to the narrative, such as the awkward appearances of Shivers interspersed throughout the book. (view spoiler)

- The book, for as slow as the first three-quarters of it was, had too many climaxes at the end. (view spoiler) It was a bit overwhelming how many plot-threads needed wrapping up.

- I didn't like the book's final ending. (view spoiler) I can only see two reasons to why it ended how it did. First, to set up conflict for a sequel, which could have better been done at the beginning of said sequel, if that is the reason, and second, is the possibility that Joe Abercrombie felt the need to maintain his "gritty" image, despite all logic suggesting a different ending.

Overall, the book felt a bit bloated, which is a shame, because there were some great scenes in this book -- like when Temple jumps out of a window naked, or when a mercenary gets unexpectedly pushed off a cliff, etc. They were just a bit too few and too far between.

I get the overall impression that Abercrombie had too many masters to try to please writing this book. Both the fantasy and western genres have rich histories, and a mash-up is bound to disappoint from one, or both perspectives. Additionally, this being a stand-alone book, and not part of the First Law trilogy, Abercrombie had to account for new readers as well as readers like myself, who were looking forward to revisiting characters such as Logen and Cosca, among others.

That said, I did enjoy every moment I got to spend with Logen/Lamb, which also may explain my bias against the other plot-lines. Maybe I didn't get the fast-paced Logen-goes-beserk-on-a-pseudo-Wild-West book I wanted, but the book still has a lot of redeeming qualities and is impressive solely for its stretching the boundaries of speculative fiction.


I read the following on Joe Abercrombie's blog today.
Though I’m very happy with and proud of the result, Red Country was a difficult book to write. I felt at times somewhat uninspired. Somewhat burned out.
This "burn out" showed, and explains a lot of why I feel how I do about this book.
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Reading Progress

06/03/2013 marked as: currently-reading
07/10/2013 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Manuel wait, the Bloody Nine appears in this book? Did Joe Abercrombie say so or is this only speculation?

Eric If you look at the cover launch article, you'll see a few tidbits there, without them explicitly saying Logen's name:

"But it turns out he’s hiding a bloody past of his own. None bloodier."

"I know there’s been heated speculation over the cast of characters to be expected, and I have to admit, I think our cover lets a very serious cat out of the bag."

And if you look at the cover, I swear the guy holding the sword only has nine fingers. So, maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but I think that all adds up to his return.

Manuel Good points. Looking forward to reading this book even more now!

Matthew WOW, I am freaking excited! Finally, the bloody nine will preach again. Thanks, I would have never known if I did not read it here.

Eric You're welcome -- I just hope I am right, and not getting everyone's hopes up for no reason!

Matthew I think you have it right, read this.... I just dont think he would have mentioned "Blood" three times if it was not Logan

Paweł Paprota My favorite character must be Nicomo Cosca - I hope he's in this book as well :)

William Pasteris I just hope Friendly is still around too!

message 9: by Sam (new)

Sam Wow, spoiler alert. That was a pretty dick move.

message 10: by Eric (new) - rated it 3 stars

Eric Sam, look up the definition of a spoiler, will you? I am simply guessing Logen will return from what I saw on the cover and the pre-release info from the publisher. Material the publisher and author wanted out in the world. So how can my opinion based on my speculation of that material -- which could be wrong -- possibly be a spoiler? The only dick move here is you trolling my post.

message 11: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee LOL hardly a spoiler if he hadn't read the book.

message 12: by Sam (new)

Sam Sorry dude. I assumed you had read the book. I didn't care enough to look into your life history. Chalk it to a draw.

message 13: by Ali (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ali Juhdi he dies!

message 14: by Missy (new) - added it

Missy Nelson (Barbiere) You have to be realistic about these things.

Silvana I agree with your review. Some of the twists were even predictable. He did get burned out. I hope his next novels would be better. I had high hopes for him, as my next fave author after GRRM.

Silvana Oh and I wish Goodreads Android app allows me to like your review. So consider it done :)

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