By Joe Abercrombie
With a departure from swords and sorcery, British fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie, whose First Law Trilogy (The Blade Itself , Before They Are Hanged , Last Argument of Kings ) and follow-ups Best Served Cold (2009) and The Heroes (**** SELECTION Nov/Dec 2011) refocused attention on the genre, returns with the Western-inspired Red Country.
THE STORY: Wanting to gain distance from her violent past, Shy South settles down on a hardscrabble farm in the Near Country (the same world described in the First Law Trilogy and The Heroes), carving out a life for herself and her family. When Shy's brother and sister are kidnapped by bandits, she and her cowardly stepfather, Lamb, a man with a past of his own, set out to get them back. Having joined the company of Temple, a lawyer on the run, mercenary Nicomo Cosca, and a group of prospectors seeking their fortunes in the latest gold rush, they encounter Ghosts, a suitably grubby frontier town, and the reappearance of a legendary outlaw. In the lawless Far Country, all hell's about to break loose.
Orbit. 464 pages. $25.99. ISBN: 9780316187213
Independent (UK) *****
"Joe Abercrombie's Red Country rides in, covered in blood and plains dust, to stake its claim to [fantasy writer George R. R.] Martin's crown.... It's testament to [Abercrombie's] skill that Red Country reads like neither a Western nor a fantasy novel, but something new, fresh and exciting--exactly what a genre still worshipping at the altar of J. R. R. Tolkien needs." DAVID BARNETT
SF Signal ****
"Reading Red Country, the first thing that struck me was just how appropriate the influence of the Western genre was on this particular piece.... Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say he's a master craftsman." NICK SHARPS
"Red Country is completely accessible if you haven't read Abercrombie's previous work, but this tale of outlaw justice fits so comfortably into his canon that fans will get an extra thrill. Crammed with every trope possible, the story feels somewhat episodic as the chase moves from plains to town to hills, and questions are left unanswered about the last act's mountain-dwelling antagonists (we hope they'll be revisited in a future book)." DAVE BRADLEY
Guardian (UK) ****
"Abercrombie rings the changes with his sixth novel, tipping his hat to the Western genre but continuing his mission to drag fantasy, kicking and screaming, into the...