As someone who loves the world Joe Abercrombie has created for his First Law trilogy and the stand-alones that go with it, I couldn’t miss out on Red Country.
Shy South has only one goal after she comes home to find her farm burned down and her siblings stolen: get them back. Together with her cowardly step-father Lamb, she embarks on a journey across the barren plains, through frontier towns and into the very mountains. But Lamb has a past, as does she, and it won’t stay buried in the past forever.
Man, it’s great to get back to the world Abercrombie so masterfully crafted for these books! Especially after not reading any Abercrombie for a while – I have a large TBR pile which I’m working through steadily, though somehow it keeps growing. Shy South was an interesting character to follow along, especially the hints to her past and her interactions with her step-father Lamb. They both have their secrets, and they both fight to keep those secrets buried. Her growing uneasiness with the man she always considered a coward as he sheds more and more of his ‘persona’ is great, especially because you as the reader will have an inkling, or might have already figured out, who Lamb really is.
I for one was very happy when I realised who he was, because I was counting on never seeing him again, but I was also incredibly glad with the live he’d built all these years later. There were also some great crossover characters from Abercrombie’s other books, like Nicomo Cosca, Friendly and Caul Shivers from Best Served Cold and some mentions of events that happened in some of the other books. There were new characters a plenty as well, like Dab Sweet, a legendary scout, Temple, a legendary coward, and the boy Leef who endured the same thing as Shy South and Lamb.
This book had the feeling of a Western, yet didn’t feel out-of-place with the other novels set in the same world, and I enjoyed the tone immensely. The ending was appropriate, if bitter-sweet. But what else would you expect from a novel by Abercrombie?