Evil turned out not to be a grand thing. Not sneering emperors, with world conquering designs. Not crackling demons plotting in the darkness beyond the world. It was small men with their small acts and their small reasons. It was selfishness and carelessness and waste. It was bad luck, incompetence and stupidity. It was violence divorced from conscience or consequence. It was high ideals, even, with low methods.
In the Near Country, Shy South
has barely managed to bury her past
. She lives a happy life at her farm with her younger siblings and her stepfather, Lamb. An older, slow and big man, Shy thinks him some kind of coward
. She would be surprised
if she knew his past
. And she will too, as soon as trouble comes.
The past is also something Temple, lawyer for the company of the Gracious Hands
, is trying to forget. He is a coward known for taking the easy way out of every situation. Yet he never seems able to silence his conscience
A series of coincidences will make their paths cross. Amidst a gold rush
, the protagonists will take the road west towards the frontier and the Far Country
. They say anyone can start a new life there. But who can really break the shackles of the past?
After a deconstruction
of High Fantasy
with The First Law
trilogy, a take at a swashbuckler
revenge story set against a backdrop of warring city states with Best Served Cold
, another take at the war novel
genre with The Heroes
, Red Country
is Joe Abercrombie's tentative to crack open and end the fantasy western genre
. The nods, homage, parodies and subversions taking from both samurai films and the westerns they inspired – from the split city shown in Yojimbo
to the Cattle Drive
, from a desperate search for missing loved ones
to a Retired Gunslinger that cannot change
– are too many to be counted.
While all the protagonists are at least flawed
and sometimes even petty or despicable
, Abercrombie's talent is in conferring them a healthy dose of humanity and a faint hope for redemption.
As standalone sequel to The First Law
, it features several previous players from the series, often under different names/nicknames.
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