Joe Abercrombie has created a world as real as our own, filled with subtle shades of grey between Good and Evil. He has created a protagonist you can really empathize with who has to navigate a world full of treachery and initial impressions can be reversed by deeds and companionship.
I think it’s rare to find an epic fantasy novel that is so full of nuance and where things are not black and white. Sure, Martin does this very well in the Game of Thrones series, but I felt like those novels were just a slog to get through. Abercrombie has a tightly written, fast-paced action adventure novel filled to the brim with political intrigue and echoes of war all the while building characters that really resonate.
Yarvi is the hero of this story, and he’s also disabled. Imagine a coming-of-age story about a boy that would probably have been best friends with Tyrion Lannister, and see how he does when the worst is thrown upon him. I love that this story champions intellectual prowess over physical strength. And the plot twists! Nothing was predictable, and the story just grabbed a hold and wouldn’t let go. This is definitely going on my list of favorites. I highly recommend it.