Read-a-long: Joe Abercrombie’s “The Age of Madness” Trilogy

Hello hello! Welcome or welcome back to a very special post. Today I’m sharing my part of the read-a-long for Joe Abercrombie’s The Age of Madness trilogy. You’re joining me as the fifth stop out of thirteen bloggers and journalists who are reading these books together to celebrate the upcoming release of book three, The Wisdom of Crowds. This epic fantasy series follows an interesting selection of characters as the ages of magic and machine clash, in society, and on the battle fields.

Synopsis
The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep as ever.

On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield, and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. He hopes for help from the crown. But King Jezal’s son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specialises in disappointments.

Savine dan Glokta – socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union – plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary. But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control.

The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another… 

Here are the links to the first four posts before I share my thoughts on my designated chapters:

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week Four

All Equal

We see Vick and the Breakers encounter an area that The Burners have taken over, shredding it to the ground, painting mottos, and destroying what remains. They speak to a woman presiding as Judge over a court of fools, but it’s no joke at all the sentances she is passing.

Young Men’s Folly

Leo, Lady Finree and the Dogman discuss battle tactics. Having lured the upcoming offensive into thinking they are in retreat, Lady Finree reveals she plans for them to battle on the ground surrounding the keep where they are currently standing. Dogman and Leo are both delighted; Dogman heads off to send word to all battalions.

The Party’s Over

Savine works with a party of other women and children passing buckets of water towards a burning building. Throughout her thoughts drift to the damage caused, the people hurt, and her own situation. As they rest on the river’s edge after, May reveals that Crown Prince Orso is heading in their direction, and she feels a spark of hope.

Eating Peas with a Sword

Crown Prince Orso surveys the damage of the city through an eyeglass, and wonders whether Savine is safe. After discussions with various members of his team, he decides to arrange a negotiation talk with the rebels, while keeping the cannons in clear view of all. He seems very aware of the fact that he can make promises but achieve nothing, with not actually being king.

The Battle of Red Hill

As so named, this is a battle chapter. Written in such a way that it seems very much a hard to call thing, both sides have their moments of highs and lows; both have planned traps for the other, and it’s only towards the end of the chapter we hear which way the wind will blow…

Settle This Like Men

As the battle continues to rage, Leo pushes forward, now knowing they’re on the back foot. It’s a hard, messy, bloody battle. At the very end, Leo comes up against Nightfall, and in the midst of battle, both know they can only settle this one against one.

Part III

“Love turns, with a little indulgence,
to indifference or disgust;
hatred alone is immortal.”

– William Hazlit

Demands

Crown Prince Orso meets with the three leaders from the Breakers to discuss a truce. To his surprise, in their list of demands is a note secreted away telling him what to say for success, written by one of the three he is meeting with. They agree to terms, shake hands, and the Breakers depart. Orso shares the note with Pike.

Taking The Reins

This chapter was very much about the perils of being a woman in a man’s world. From being designated as healers when they are capable of fighting, to Lady Finree being overruled in the final pages with a simple letter appointing her son as Lord Governor, despite all she has done. Rikke’s father and Lady Finree try to persuade Leo not to fight Nightfall but he is certain he will win, following a vision from Rikke.

Overall Thoughts

A lot occurs over the course of these chapters. A Little Hatred is action packed and full of a range of characters give us multiple insights to the beginning of this epic fantasy series. From various perspectives, we are able to empathize with all the different positions, seeing where they overlap and headbutt against one another. The writing of the battle scenes was particularly vivid, with descriptive work so clear that the horrendous scenes were easy to picture.

Thank you for joining me for this read-a-long stop, I hope you’ll enjoy the stops I shared at the beginning along with these snippets. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next stops on the route, and please come back for daily posts.

My thanks to Will at Gollancz for inviting me to join in with this exciting adventure!

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