When I finished The Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie back on December 31, 2017, I was left with such a hollow feeling in my gut that I put off reading the sequel trilogy for over a year. Then when A Little Hatred was announced, I knew I needed to finally dive back into the First Law world, and I am so glad I did.
Abercrombie’s prose is exceptional. His First Law novels are as successful as they are not only because of the unforgettable characters and the breathtaking twists, or because of the brutal world he’s created, one of the sheerest bloody realistic depictions of a world I’ve ever encountered. He’s one of my favourite authors, and for good reason – I’m not pledging to be impartial, but I will do my best to contain my enthusiasm over the next few paragraphs! Okay, lots of paragraphs. Lots and lots of paragraphs.
I’ll say a few words about each of the short stories in the collection, starting off with whether it’s recommended or downright necessary to have read any of the First Law stand-alone novels to get what's going on.
WARNING: I've hopefully kept things relatively vague and avoided spoilers - but reader beware!
Nothing drives a story quite so well as a good ol’fashioned bout of revenge. Whether it’s the patient efforts of heroes like The Count of Monte Cristo or the general-turned-slave, Maximus Decimus Meridius of Gladiator fame, or indeed the more relentless pursuit of payback found in the likes of The Revenant and Jaws: The Revenge, most people can empathise with that base human need to take an eye for an eye. And in the world of Grimdark… there’s no purer motivation than that.