Book Review: A Little Hatred (Age of Madness #1) by Joe Abercrombie

A Little Hatred Age Of Madness Joe Abercrombie

Rating:  ★★★1/2

Here’s a review I never expected to write.  This is my first Abercrombie, and if there were any of the fantasy greats I thought I might get along best with, but haven’t read yet, it’s Abercrombie.  His name gets tossed in with that of Mark Lawrence a lot, his books are described as grimdark.  I always had the sense they were exciting and action packed and filled with morally grey warrior-types.  Which is why A Little Hatred, sort of baffled me.  I went in with the wrong expectations, which is not really fair to the book, but that’s what I do.

I don’t even know how to tell you what this is about- mostly because it would take me too long, but also because there isn’t any strictly defined plot here.  We follow the lives of seven characters spread across Adua from different walks of life.  And while the characters grew on me in the end- at first I struggled with how very much I did not like almost all of them:

Rikke – One of the few I did like, almost immediately.  She has fits and what is referred to as “the Long Eye.”  The ability to see into the past and future.  Walks to the beat of her own drum.  Tough.

Savine dan Glokta – My reaction to Savine was immediate, visceral rejection.  I disliked everything about her.  I daresay I even hated her a little.  Something about her viciousness came off as fake, or trying too hard for me.

Leo dan Brock – Warrior.  But not the best warrior.  Young and Proud.  A momma’s boy.  Also a fool.  A whiny fool.

Prince Orso – Another whiny, spineless, gluttonous fool. Heir to the throne of Adua.

Vick – Another POV I disliked and continued to dislike, but can’t say much about here for sake of spoilers.

Clover – Another POV I liked at first.  An old warrior, dry sarcastic humor, cleverer than his betters- I got the sense he was a part of past books.

Broad – Another warrior and survivor of the Styrian war.  Liked him immediately, but failed to see what his contribution to the story would be.

I mean- when you initially hate 4 of 7 view points… It doesn’t bode well.  It’s grimdark… but it wasn’t fun for me.  I didn’t expect them to be shining examples of humanity, I just expected them to be smarter, cleverer, more interesting than they came off as initially.

I did grow to like them, eventually, but in some cases it took awhile and in some cases I never did get around to enjoying them.  Plus, the number of POVs crammed into a 470 page book was kind of overwhelming.  Can you pick this up and read it without having read The First Law trilogy?  Yeah.  Do I recommend it?  Not particularly.  I felt like if I’d read The First Law I would have enjoyed or appreciated this much more.

The second thing that threw me off was the inclusion of industry and manufacturing.  This I had been warned about from various reviews… But it still felt like an odd mix for me.  Sword fights and industry.  By the time industry comes into the history pages of the real world, guns have been around a long time, and multiple wars have been fought using them.  The battles felt medievalish while the cities felt more like the late 1800s.  It just didn’t work for me.

Now towards the middle of the book, where we work up to what very much feels like the climax, I was invested.  The characters had grown on me a little, I’d had a lot of the world building figured out, the action was picking up and it was written well. But again, I had a really bad feeling following all that action because it seemed to come to a complete stop so we could watch all the romances in the book disintegrate. *eye roll*

The pacing in this book was all over the place.  Boring, Exciting, More Boredom, Brilliant Ending.  And what’s more, I didn’t feel like any of those 100+ pages between Exciting and Brilliant Ending were really necessary.  I skim read a lot of it.  I still didn’t care enough about the characters to want to read that much of their inner monologues or see how they interacted at diplomacy parties.

I’m sorry okay?!  I know most reviews I’ve seen have been glowing, and those readers aren’t wrong.  Abercrombie’s writing is perfect.  Truly some his lines had me grinning ear-to-ear.  But his structure and pacing and character building often didn’t work for me particularly.

I will probably go back and read The Blade Itself and see if that book agrees with me more.  I mean, who doesn’t want to read about about a guy called the Bloody Nine?  He *sounds* like much more of what I expected in this book, which I hope will make me appreciate The Age of Madness just a little more.

A Little Hatred can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.  Thank you to all the buddies who read this with me and tolerated my moaning and groaning.  I’m sorry.

 

16 thoughts on “Book Review: A Little Hatred (Age of Madness #1) by Joe Abercrombie

  1. My God! This one sounds…I don’t know …..I wanna say horrible but…I mean….I AGREE WITH ALL OF YOUR POINTS HERE! Not caring for/liking almost half of the characters is just…..IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! And since the characters didn’t grow on you, it’s only natural that the book as a whole, which was devoid of a clear plot as you said, was a disappointment! ☹️☹️

    I am SOOO SORRY that your first Abercrombie read wasn’t up to your expectations, Sarah! But I still enjoyed reading your review! ♥️♥️♥️ I just hope that the next one will be a better read! ♥️😘😘

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  2. I actually adored the story of the Bloody Nine and thought that trilogy was excellent. I have not read this one but judging by the names, these people seem to be the descendants of people featured in the first trilogy. I think that for me all the other books set in the First Law world just don’t work for me in the same way as the trilogy. I kept trying to read them and just got bored. I am going to give his shattered sea series at try at some point. I think they be set in a different world. And I think I own all of them.
    x The Captain

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    • I am glad I am not alone then! I was actually a little scared to post this review because most of the ones I’ve seen have been overwhelmingly positive- and I was, like you and the later books, very bored most of the time. I have seen a handful of reviews that agreed First Law is better.

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  3. I’ve never read Abercrombie either and I definitely wouldn’t start with this one. I guess I’d try The Blade Itself since I have a copy. But I’m confused by all his series and books!!?

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    • I think The Blade Itself is probably the best place to start. I think there’s a second trilogy after that (Heroes?) also set in the world of First Law. And then he has another series called Shattered Seas that’s supposed to be good.

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  4. I think that I will stay far away from this one. I’m very hesitant about grimdark to begin with, because I read to escape and grimdark isn’t usually where I want to escape to. 😉 But I’ve been having major issues with books that have too many POV characters lately, so I think this one would drive me nuts (at least right now.)

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    • You wouldn’t be alone. We had a buddy reader quit for exactly that reason. I also thought about quitting a couple times. If I wanted 87 POVs… I’d read Game of Thrones…. lol.

      I kid I kid. But seriously- it was just too much to be thrown into all at once.

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  5. My reaction to this book was the opposite, and it ultimately drove me to finally start with the First Law trilogy, but I can understand how you might not have connected with this book: characters are the pillars of a story, and if you don’t care for them – or worse, hate them outright – it’s not easy to enjoy their journey. Abercrombie’s characters are, on the whole, unsavory people, but in my experience they are not-nice people I end up caring about, not in spite of their flaws but because of them. When all is said and done, fictional people are like flesh-and-blood ones we meet every day: inter-personal chemistry dictates whether we like them or not, whether we can establish a connection or not.
    Better luck next time? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know I didn’t hate it, and I didn’t mean to get so down on it. I think what I was expecting was a lot of unlikeable characters in terms of their morals, but also characters who don’t really take crap from anyone, characters who are cunning and clever and set traps.

      And I think what I got was a lot of whiners and cowards and schemers but not necessarily clever ones? Like Clover, not at all likeable, not even particularly brave, but he is self aware. He doesn’t try to be any of those things and freely admits he isn’t. I could respect that. Whereas Orso whines constantly and then when he decides maybe he actually wants to make a difference he doesn’t stand up and take the reins. Like for all their talk of being big powerful people at the end of the day none of them were really standing up for themselves or what they believed was right, it just made me bonkers. Savine is probably as close as I got to what I wanted, but I felt like I never really saw any of that cleverness we were told she has. And the telling with the lack of showing irritated me.

      So I do understand why some would love it- I’m ragging on it because I’m pouting that I didn’t get a book full of Uhtreds and Prince Jorg’s (who is despicable, but in an omg, I just have to see what he does next, sort of way).

      Sorry. That’s my very long response. I do think I’ll try First Law, because I think that was more what I was hoping for here. (I’ll also withhold too many expectations, since I now have a better idea what it’s about.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • The… Whining Guys (Orso and Leo) don’t fare too well, granted, and that’s the reason I enjoyed both Rikke and Savine as characters, and I have great hopes for their development. Savine is not an easy character to like, I’m not even sure I *like* her, but I’m curious to see how the harrowing experience she went through will change her. If it will… 🙂

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  6. Hahah you definitely shouldn’t be sorry for expressing your most honest opinion. This definitely isn’t your fault although I am sorry that it didn’t go a bit better for you! I guess it all really came down to how connected you would be to those various characters. I do think that reading from the start, and remembering everything, so… probably by binging them all, would help readers appreciate this even more. Hope your expectations won’t kill your First Law experience now hahaha Great review, Sarah! 😀

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    • I don’t even have anything to complain about technically. Abercrombie is a great writer, that is obvious. His action scenes are well written which is hard. His characters, even If I didn’t like them, are fully fleshed out.

      I think his writing/character style just didn’t agree with me in the end. I don’t want to say I’ve “lowered” expectations for First Law, but I’ve definitely adjusted them, so I should have an easier go of it.

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  7. Pingback: Month in Review: November 2019 | Hamlets & Hyperspace

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